A truth then: people can be changed by what they read, or hear, or see. And yet an influential pocket of opinion - including Guardian editorials and Michael Winner - has always stubbornly excepted one phenomenon. It insists that there is no evidence that violence on film, television and video leads to violence on the streets and in homes. Proof that one particular film led to one particular piece of cruelty is indeed hard to come by, no matter the speculation in the Bulger case. But such specific examples of simple cause and effect are equally hard to come by in, for example, the work of Christian missionaries in Africa. The scientific method cannot apply here; this is not cigarettes and lung cancer, but ideas and culture. There is growing uneasiness about a culture in which lavish cruelty is sold as entertainment. Professor Elizabeth Newson and 25 other eminent doctors and academics spoke to the heart of that gathering anxiety last week when they admitted that they had been 'nave' in their previous dismissals of public concern. Their recantation is welcomed.
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