Monday, November 21, 2005

Drug Addiction Example of Attributing Properties to Physical Inputs

New Scientist, reports: "Gaming fanatics show hallmarks of drug addiction"

(via Slashdot)

I think we're meant to be surprised by that. We're supposed to think that the game is somehow acting like a drug. But unlike a drug there's no physical thing you're addicted to, there's not chemical substance with addictive properties. At most, calling it an addiction, like drug addiciton, is mere analogy.

This is good example of how people tend to attribute a property associated with some 'input', in this case, addiction, to be the result of the input having that kind of property. That is, if something is addictive, it's because the input has the property of 'addictiveness'. But often the properties are really more to do with what we do with thoes 'inputs'. Sleeping tables don't make you sleep because they have some 'sleepyness' property (I mentioned an example of this kind of thing, concerning carcinogens, in this post - scroll down to the paragraph starting with 'The second section moves from...').

Addictiveness has to do with our pysiological/psychological processing of 'input', and there's no reason to assume that a 'physical' input like a drug is fundametally different from a 'non-phyiscal' input like a computer game.

I think this case is also an example of how people think of physical 'things', in this case, drugs, as somehow more 'real' than -- supposedly -- non-physical things, in this case, playing computer games.

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