THE FIVE MYTHS OF TELEVISION POWER: by Douglas Davis (Simon and Schuster: $20; 237 pp.). The mere fact that TV is so pervasive , argues journalist Douglas Davis in this lively polemic, does not mean that it is all-powerfully persuasive . Marshall McLuhan's notion that "the mere reception of a transmitted image means acceptance" was misguided, Davis argues, pointing out that the encroachment of CNN and HBO into all corners of the globe has hardly spawned a rash of American flag-waving: "In certain parts of the globe, indeed, most of all the Middle East, televised access to other cultures has intensified religious fundamentalism and a vigorous retreat from globalism." Unfortunately, like a guest on a TV talk show, Davis prefers simply to assert questionable beliefs rather than to substantiate and develop arguments. He states, rather than explains, for example, that "our memory of the Gulf conflict is primarily aural, not visual." And he implies that because he bought a Pirandello play a day after seeing one on TV, TV must encourage reading.
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