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Q: What's one of the more startling things that can be said about the people who went to see the rather violent movie "American Gangster"?

A: The effects of viewing media violence are well known: Both children and young adults exposed to violent movie clips show more aggressive behavior immediately afterward, noted the American Medical Association and other public health organizations, as reported by Daniel L. Schacter et al. in "Psychology: Second Edition."

Yet when economists Gordon Dahl and Stefano Della Vigna (2009) analyzed crime and box office statistics looking for a correlation, they instead found that on evenings when more people went to see violent movies, there were FEWER crimes committed! Why this NEGATIVE correlation? The researchers theorized that violent movies are especially appealing to those most likely to commit violent crimes. "Because they are busy watching movies for a few hours, violent crime drops."

So do violent movies really make for peaceful streets? As Schacter put it: "One thing we know about the people who went to see the movie 'American Gangster' is that for 2 hours and 37 minutes they didn't shoot anybody."

Send questions to StrangeTrue@compuserve.com.

Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, April 24, the 114th day of 2014. There are 251 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We learn that it is a contemplation to start a paper mill in Rock Island during the summer by a gentleman from the East.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The gates of Oklahoma were swung open at noon today, and a throng of more than 30,000 settlers started over its soil.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Iowa Coliseum Co. was incorporated with $40,000 capital and planned a building on 4th Street between Warren and Green streets in Davenport.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Plans are being discussed for resurfacing the streets in the entire downtown district of Rock Island.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Some 45 jobs will be created at J.I. Case Co.'s Rock Island plant in a expansion of operations announced yesterday afternoon at the firm's headquarters in Racine, Wis.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Gardeners and farmers cheered, but not all Quad-Citians found joy Saturday as more than an inch of rain fell on the area. Motorists faced dangerous, rain-slick roads as the water activated grease and grime that had built up during dry weather.

(More History)