One group of subjects read a piece rich with detail, describing the chirping birds in the forest, the sound and vibration of the saw and the snapping of branches that comes with the crash of the mighty redwood. Another experienced it through advanced gaming technology.
This Stanford study concluded that the virtual reality experience could help people make better environmental decisions (the gamers used less paper in cleaning up spilled water). The readers apparently wasted 20% more paper towels.
Yes. Virtual reality can sometimes change behavior, and while more study needs to be done, we know that some changes can be very bad.
What does this mean for book lovers? Relax. We all know paper books are recyclable, reusable, lendable, and, in electronic form, completely paper-free! Did the Stanford researchers factor that in to their results? Why, no! Did they address the level of environmental consciousness in the book reading public? Why no!
Put your joysticks down and keep reading!