Experiments Without Explosions

News outlets often discuss scientific research investigating possible causal relationships between two factors. One such causal relationship that is frequently discussed in the media evolves around the question ‘Does playing violent video games make people aggressive?’ (for example, see these articles by CNN, The New York Times and The Guardian). But when it comes to such topics, how can we actually know whether a causal relationship really exists? Social scientists often run an experiment to find out. However, news articles discussing the results of such experiments usually do not explain what social scientists actually do when they run an experiment. The typical image of a scientist doing

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