Hideki Wada of “The 80-Year-Old Wall” Issues a Warning! Watching TV Makes You Stupid | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hideki Wada of “The 80-Year-Old Wall” Issues a Warning! Watching TV Makes You Stupid

The horror of the "two-part thinking" that is ingrained in us without our realizing it.

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Hideki Wada, the much-talked-about psychiatrist, warns of the horror of “two-part thinking” that can become ingrained in us without us realizing it! Photographed by Fukuoka Kozo

When you watch TV, you become an idiot.


When you watch TV, your brain’s information processing goes haywire and you become an idiot.

Dr. Hideki Wada, a psychiatrist who has written more than 800 books, including the bestseller “The 80 Year Old Wall,” says that the most important thing he wants to say right now is the reality that “watching TV makes you stupid.”

TV programs are designed to summarize information in a short period of time and to make it more popular. Therefore, they make decisions about what to cover as black and white. But in the real world, there is always gray between black and white. Moreover, there are gradations from light gray to dark gray.

Ignoring all the gray areas in between, we assume things and introduce them as such. What do you think will happen if you do that? The people who are watching acquire that ‘black and white = two-part thinking.

Inappropriate thinking patterns make people stupid.

As children grow up, they learn how to think. They learn that there are grays between like and dislike, good and bad, black and white. The more kinds of gray there are, the more cognitive maturity and deeper thinking there is. To recognize an abundance of grays is to be an adult. But television reverts adult thinking, which has grown so much, back to a two-part thinking, only black and white.”

Dr. Wada, who also provides counseling at his clinic, sees many patients with depressive symptoms.

Cognitive therapy is one of the most important treatments in psychiatry for depressed patients. In the past, it was a way of helping patients understand that their pessimistic views had no basis in reality. Now, however, we counsel patients to think flexibly about their assumptions. In other words, we modify the judgmental way of thinking and encourage the patient to think in a variety of ways, which leads to treatment. Television, on the other hand, is just the opposite: it encourages people to make up their minds.

It makes us stop thinking in terms of black and white. The more they watch TV, the more they fall into such “inappropriate thinking,” “stop thinking,” and become stupid.

Don’t jump to “plain justice.”

In the case of the Ukraine issue, too, TV is only broadcasting a uniform, easy-to-understand justice. Good and evil should not be such a clear-cut dichotomy. It’s not just that. Jealousy and disregard for learning swirl around TV. This is also a big problem.

And in the end, it only says the obvious. Television is nothing but a medium that blurs our frontal lobes. Its sins are grave.”

He says that the danger lies especially with the elderly, who tend to stay at home due to the COVID-19 crisis, and with people in their 40s and 50s, for whom TV viewing has become a habit.

“Young people don’t watch TV anymore,” he said. If you ask a question in a university lecture, you will find that out of 60 students in the classroom, only one or two, sometimes none, are watching TV. What worries me is the middle-aged and elderly. You should turn off the TV right now and fall in love. When you fall in love, you think about things, you take care of your appearance, and it activates your brain. It also affects the functioning of your hormones.

Are you in love, too?

Let’s talk about it some other time.

All of the books on his bookshelf are his own. He has written more than 800 books based on his extensive clinical experience and insights from his own unique standpoint.
Dr. Hideki Wada is a graduate of the University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Medicine. In addition to psychiatry, he also runs a cram school for entrance exam guidance (photo: Red Gate of the University of Tokyo).
  • Photo by Fukuoka Kozo

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