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Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television Paperback – March 1, 1978

4.4 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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About the Author

Jerry Mander holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Economics, spent 15 years in the advertising business, including five as president and partner of Freeman, Mander & Gossage, San Francisco, one of the most celebrated agencies in the country. After quitting commercial advertising, he achieved national fame for his public service campaigns, leading the Wall Street Journal to call him "the Ralph Nader of adevertising." In 1972 he founded the country's first non-profit ad agency, taking leave of that in 1974. Mander is co-author of The Great International Paper Airplane Book.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (March 1, 1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688082742
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688082741
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,367 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Written by a former "big six" ad executive, "Four Arguments" is a book that CONSIDERS the long term effects of television and other post industrial revolution technologies on:

1. The critical thinking skills of human beings
2. Our relationship to natural environments.
3. The physical and mental health of human beings.
4. The knowledge/power balance in a democratic society.
(not in that order)

CONS
1. Not a simple read. This book is probably organized too well. Mander coherently and methodically plumbs through each argument and sub argument with no regard for the lazy or quick fix reader. His adherence to his own structure is relentless. The payoff is cumulative as the book gathers momentum. Clear but tedious.

2. This book is pretty depressing. For me the resulting sobriety was worth the cold shower, but perhaps not for everyone. Only the most determined of readers will be able to reject all of ideas presented in this book, and unfortunately this book offers a bleak but well painted picture of our predicament. Blue pill enthusiasts beware.

PROS
1. This book asks important and obvious questions(You'll say "yeah that is a good question!, why didn't I think of that?) about how man made technologies and environments are affecting us. They are questions that most of us would agree need to be answered, yet amazingly, few if any of which have been adequately answered to this day. (The book was written in the 70's)

2. This book is both spell binding and spell breaking. Mander reaches into the silent, unsure parts of our minds that we have become experts at ignoring.
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Format: Paperback
Mander presents four main arguments, and dozens of corollary arguments, against having television as any part of our lives. Any one of them alone might seem plausible but perhaps overblown, but the overall effect of their combined presentation is overwhelming. I closed the book absolutely revulsed by the nature of this technology and how it has manipulated us. I can anecdotally attest to its ill effects in my case, certainly -- I can recognize thousands of brands but only a few plants. My direct knowledge of the world has been reduced by about 20,000 hours' worth of actual experience interacting with real people, time that I spent instead glued to the boob tube, absorbing hundreds of thousands of commercials. I don't have a TV anymore, but whenever I am around one that's turned on, I find myself hypnotically drawn to stare at the screen, irrespective of content. This occurs even if I am in the middle of an interesting conversation -- to my embarrassment and dismay, my eyes dart as of their own accord toward the flickering images. I have to stand facing away from the TV to prevent this. What I consider to be my natural aesthetic sense has been perverted such that I can hardly look at a man or woman -- or myself in a mirror -- without automatically, subtly judging the person's appearance against an internal metric, a deep and narrow palette of beautiful faces and lithe body parts, implanted by hundreds of thousands of advertising images. This phenomenon subtly cheapens and distorts many interactions I have with people.
....
Just scan the table of contents to Mander's book, ..., and you will begin to see the array of influences these forces have in our culture and in our individual minds.
Please buy the book, give it to everyone as gifts this year, ***especially to parents of small children***. I see parents use the TV as a pacifier, but as you will read, it is an incredibly high price to pay just to keep the kids temporarily quiet.
....
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Format: Paperback
Written in the late 1970's by a former advertising executive, Four Arguments is a coherent diatribe against television. He explores four areas: (1) Television as a poor mediator of experience; (2) television as a way to influence audiences' perceptions en masse; (3) the "dumbing-down" effects of TV on the human being; and (4) the inherent biases of television and how they limit real information flow. The first couple of arguments are more attacks on capitalism and the development of television as a capitalist tool, but overall, they are solid statements that stand on their own.
However, TV has become a central part of the American lifestyle, and it would be hard, if not impossible, to get rid of. But I definitely feel the truth of his arguments. When I was in India, much of the time at my host family's place, they would sit around watching television while doing chores. It felt empty somehow. Where was the richness of the culture? Here I am in India, and I'm sitting here watching a stupid Hindi movie instad of interacting in a meaningful way. And when I came back home, I felt the shock of the media doubly. Everything on TV looked slick, fake, contrived, absolutely ridiculous. We have been so inoculated to all of this by now that it's hard to see unless you go away and come back again.
It's tough to break any sort of addiction, and I think television is an addiction. It is part of the problem of a society that always looks for the next best thing, that promotes the loudest, noisiest, most violent thing, that can't sit still for half an hour to soak in the beauty of quiet stillness.
In some ways, this book is hard to read. It's easy to grasp but it's difficult to take this kind of attack on such a commonly accepted lifestyle even though you know it's wrong. Plus it's a lot of information coming at you at once; I had to digest it in little bits and pieces to give it time to sink in.
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