Watching TV (with poll)

Watching TV (with poll)


A reader who prefers to remain anonymous writes in asking about the television-watching habits of philosophers. He notes that philosophers and other academics are often proud to abstain from television, and to not even own one of the infernal contraptions. (“How do you know someone doesn’t own a television? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you.” See also: here, here, and here.) But he also points to a study which suggests that

time watching TV or playing video games can have a powerful restorative effect – just what many of us need after a hard day. This benefit isn’t found for everyone, and in new paper Leonard Reinecke and his collaborators propose that a key reason has to do with guilt. The researchers think that it is people who are mentally exhausted, who are most likely to experience guilt after vegging out with a [television] set or video game. This is because, in their depleted state, these people see their behaviour as procrastination. This leads to the paradoxical situation in which it is the people who could most benefit from the restorative effects of lounge-based downtime who are the least likely to do so.

TV watching could be good for you? I thought we knew a priori that it couldn’t be. My correspondent wanted to know whether philosophers watch TV (or television shows using Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and other such services), and about how much.

Finally, readers, we have come across a topic worthy of the scientific precision available via an internet poll:


For comparison, according to the 2013 American Time Use Survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American spends 2.8 hours per day, or 19.6 hours per week, watching television. The Nielsen media company reports much higher figures of nearly 5 hours per day, or 35 hours per week, on average.

In addition to completing the poll, your suggestions of which shows philosophers might like are welcome in the comments.

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