Science isn't all bad: Video is getting more realistic all the time and that goes for video games as well. They can be useful and virtual reality can be more than a game. Scientists use it to explore human behavior in ways that were not possible in the past, by putting people in virtual situations and asking them questions. It can be used to train future astronauts for weightlessness as well.
Since the participants know that they situation they are in is a virtual reality, this also avoids charges of unethical research methods. In one virtual experiment, male volunteers experienced themselves as a young girl, and then experienced violence done towards her. Since they had felt fear themselves, while in the virtual state, they returned to their normal male state with more empathy towards her than they might otherwise have had.
In BBC News, David Reid quotes psychologist Mel Slater as saying, "I want to know whether you can use virtual reality, not just to transform the place you are in, but also to transform your very self. In a kind of empathic way, we can learn what it is like to be the victim of racism. Or understand what it is like to experience abuse in different ways. And therefore especially for the abusers, they may learn what sort of damage they are inflicting on others from a psychological point of view. This virtual reality technology opens up the door for studying--in an ethically fine way--these kinds of issues."
What does it feel like to return to Earth after a long stay in space? Until now, it has been difficult during astronaut training to realistically simulate the dizzying effects the human body can experience. Now researchers have developed a virtual reality system called GVS that safely induces the sensory and mobility disturbances commonly experienced by astronauts after returning to Earth
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