50 Years Ago

The Television Research Committee was appointed by the Home Secretary in July 1963, to initiate and co-ordinate research into the part which television plays, or could play, as a medium of communication and in fostering attitudes ... The evidence seems fairly clear that television does not stimulate interest or broaden horizons to any greater degree than would happen in its absence ... Several studies show that the heavy use of escapist material is associated with tendencies to anxiety, social maladjustment and frustration ... There appears to be no evidence that television makes children passive and there is little to make us believe that violent programmes on television reduce the likelihood of violence in real life ... On the whole the weight of evidence is behind the conclusion that the heavy dosage of violence in the mass media, while not a major determinant of crime or delinquency, heightens the probability that someone in the audience will act aggressively in a later situation.

From Nature 2 January 1965

100 Years Ago

Plague and Pestilence in Literature and Art. By Dr. Raymond Crawford — Dr. Crawford has treated his subject as much in its mental and moral aspects as in its physical, and the result is a wise and very interesting book ... From century to century ... theories of its causation are rife. It is the work of malignant demons; it is sent from heaven in punishment for sin; it is the result of evil magic exercised by man on man; it is engendered in the clouds ... The contagious character of the disease was recognised by lay observers long before it was accepted by science ... Science does move, moreover, even though it be but slowly, slowly.

From Nature 31 December 1914