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I wish we didn’t have atheists saying this

It’s enraging that we have blinkered, stupid Christians declaring that a shooting spree is caused by evolution, or liberals, or atheism. Why? Because there’s the obvious fact that the perpetrators of such crimes are usually not biologists, liberals, or atheists, but also because it is logically fallacious and offensive: the majority of atheists are not committing crimes, and there’s nothing in the principles of atheism that even implies we should be freely slaughtering other members of our communities. It is also the fallacy of mistaking a specific particular for the general properties of the whole; it’s like arguing that one cold day means the climate isn’t warming.

Atheists wouldn’t make such a stupid mistake, though, would they? The killer in Colorado was a church-going Presbyterian — we’re not going to see atheists crowing in triumph and saying that that shows the Christianity turns you into a mass-murderer, are we? That would be just as false as blaming it on evolutionists — the overwhelming majority of Christians feel no compulsion to murder, so it seems to be a rather ineffective ideology for encouraging killing sprees. One could argue that it does short-circuit critical thinking, and that at least the American version seems to endorse destructive policies, but pinning the actions of one unusual individual on the teachings of a religion? We wouldn’t be dumb enough to make that mistake.

I’m disappointed to see that we do have stupid atheists. Witness Why James Holmes’ Rampage is the Result of the Teachings of Christianity. I hang my head in shame. That’s no different than what Rick Warren or the American Patriarchy Association or any of a thousand other ideologues playing the blame game have done.

Christianity is piss-poor at doing more than providing lip-service against violence, but it’s at best a passive enabler. Blame it on the real causes: a culture that glorifies violence, easy availability of deadly weapons, and mostly James Fucking Holmes. Anything else is a distraction from correcting the real causes.

Comments

  1. upprunitegundanna says

    I came across this blog post earlier today, and was enraged by the stupidity of the headline. However, I started reading it and the opening paragraph is much more thoughtful than the headline implies: saying that if you teach people that they are by nature sinful, they are more prone to commit sinful acts. I don;t necessarily know whether or not I agree with this, but the point is an interesting one. However, I began to sense the article taking a turn for the worse, and I stopped reading after the first paragraph.

    This time round, I have read through it again, and it is indeed a stupid article. But I think the opening paragraph is worth consideration.

  2. says

    Oh, Loftus. I’m not at all surprised it’s him who decided to stick both his feet so far into his mouth they’re peeking out his ass.

    upprunitegundanna:

    saying that if you teach people that they are by nature sinful, they are more prone to commit sinful acts.

    That’s not thoughtful, it’s a mouthful of mushy crap. Theists are prone to doing the same damn things non-theists do, that is, they behave in human ways because they are human beings. Full stop. Loftus is simply using this incident as an excuse to show what a thoughtless ass he can be. Again.

  3. anuran says

    The real tragedy here is that the US mental health system has been eviscerated for thirty years. It’s incredibly difficult for people of modest means who want services to get them. It’s damned near impossible for those who don’t come forward to get evaluated let alone treated.

  4. Rich Woods says

    @uprunitegundanna #2:

    However, I started reading it and the opening paragraph is much more thoughtful than the headline implies: saying that if you teach people that they are by nature sinful, they are more prone to commit sinful acts. I don;t necessarily know whether or not I agree with this, but the point is an interesting one.

    The point is very interesting. Even the suggestion of it implies that we should be careful to teach our children that the idea of inherited sin is purely mythological and that they are ultimately responsible for their own actions. Once rid of that cultural garbage we will hopefully find it easier to teach them about the intricacies of reality rather than the authoritarian dualism which too many people espouse.

  5. says

    Oh noess. Didn’t see the new thread. Hope it’s okay to crosspost this: For those Americans interested in gun control, now would be a good time to re-enact the ban on large magazines. Strategically, it would be best NOT to expand such a bill. The NRA has a tough time arguing for large magazines.

    On Gun Control- Expired Ban would have made a difference

    The Federal Assault Weapons Ban went into effect under Clinton in ’94 and expired in 2004. It limited the sale of magazine to 10 round clips.

    If it were still in effect, it would have certainly reduced casualties. Holmes simply emptied a 100 round magazine into a crowd without having to reload.

    Holmes’ AR-15, reported on the Fox News crawl as an ‘AK-47 like assault weapon’ is actually an M-16 limited to semi-automatic, but even an amateur can shoot 3 rounds a second.

    The AK was banned in the bill, but you could still buy an AR-15, so the bill was essentially protectionist legislation for Colt and other domestic manufacturers.

    The only real thing the bill did was limit magazine size. That would have made all the difference. Holmes would not have done as much damage if he had to fumble around with small clips while wearing a gas mask.

    Maybe he would have thought better of it, perhaps chilled out and switched from neuroscience to biology, maybe start a blog or something.

  6. says

    upprunitegundanna @ #2: The premise in the initial paragraph is only valid if you consider that what Christianity deems sinful consists, in most cases, of regular stuff people do every day — feeling lust for your secretary, gluttony, failing to acknowledge God as devoutly as you should. These are minor moral crimes that people can do without great harm to anyone, but they pray and feel better about it, and it’s all good.

    Mass murder is a bit beyond the moral event horizon. And while Christianity might actually tell us it is in our nature to do the most violent and despicable things, I think deep down most Christians would concede that’s not the case with us in reality. Most people, religious or atheist, are not psychotically violent as a matter of course. As an evolved, social species, we possess a measure of empathy that makes it difficult for anyone but our more sociopathic specimens to willingly hurt others. So if the implication of the premise is that Holmes was sufficiently indoctrinated so as to think he was such a vile sinner by nature that — well, fuck it — there’s no reason not to gun down dozens of moviegoers, I’d have to say it’s a weak to the point of asinine argument lacking (to put it mildly) any evidence in support.

    The only way this article could have had any validity would have been as a parody of Rick Warren’s statement, showing how fallacious he was by simply flipping his remarks 180°. But I see no indication that was the intent. This article appears to have been written with a perfectly straight face.

  7. klatu says

    I really do not understand why anyone would be so eager to exploit these atrocities for ideological means, especially when it’s happened so recently. The victims and their loved ones are being made assets to a contemptible and inevitably misguided effort, without being asked or even considered beyond their utility. No matter what the respective ideology is, all it can lead to is a muddying of the waters. Not to mention that it dehumanizes both the victims and the perpetrator.
    Why would anyone want to be that special kind of asshole?
    Despicable.

  8. AtheistPowerlifter says

    Oh, Loftus. I’m not at all surprised it’s him who decided to stick both his feet so far into his mouth they’re peeking out his ass.

    I think the article was written by a Cathy Cooper, not Loftus?

  9. says

    I’m skeptical that any ideology has much influence on the behavior of psycho or sociopaths.

    Not sure if Holmes was is a psychopath, but his behavior was sociopathic.

    If we infer that Holmes is a classic psychopath, there is no need to debate whther or not he’s a coward. Psychopaths are by definition fearless, they are emotionless. This is well- discussed in criminology, psychology and literature.

    Murderous psychopaths are often on a quest to do something so awful, they’ll actually feel something.

    Dr. Scooter, based on the irrefutable evidence form the Journal of Fox News diagnoses Holmes as a suicidal psychopath. I think his bloody shooting spree may have actually rattled his brain and he froze up at the end instead of finishing off with death-by-cop. I’m guessing that was the original plan, otherwise, why all the bullet-proof battle gear?

    Must murderous psychopaths are known for a well developed sense of self preservation, but even they can be suicidal. I’ll base my professional reputation on this interpretation.

    Either that, or he was actually a hologram. The damage was done by explosive charges wired into the movie theater. This was orchestrated by the Bush administration in exile to get Mitt Romney elected so he will invade Iran.

  10. upprunitegundanna says

    @Cain, Fleur du Mal (Baudelaire fan I assume?) and Martin

    Cain, I did make sure to point out that I don’t necessarily agree with the statement “if you teach people that they are by nature sinful, they are more prone to commit sinful acts”, just that it was an interesting formulation, and worthy of consideration.

    As to Martin’s point, there is an easy-to-spot, yet rarely-defined distinction between “sinful” and “immoral”, which you handily pointed out. “Sinful” is a word that seems to be reserved for alleged moral infractions that have no discernible negative outcome, such as masturbation or “covetousness”. Immorality, on the other hand, does refer to acts which either harm, or are unjust to an individual/s. Clearly a barbaric act of this kind is way over the moral event horizon, as you put it, and I don’t for a moment think that merely being taught that you are sinful will result in crimes such as this. Anyone would have to have engaged in a great amount of tortured reasoning to get to a point where they would do something like this (he had apparently been planning for weeks), and I suspect that he did so without any reference to his religious beliefs.

    So I have shifted from “not necessarily know[ing] whether or not I agree with this” to outright disagreeing with it.

    The statement “if you teach people that they are by nature sinful, they are more prone to commit sinful acts” is not that dissimilar to the other statement we have heard in the past 24 hours from Rick Warren: “when students are taught they are no different from animals, they act like it”. I have always thought the opposite, which is that if you DON’T teach people that they are descended from tribal primates, then they may very well behave like tribal primates without prompting, and assume that, because their feelings of tribal aggression come to them naturally, that they must be justified. Knowing that I am an evolved creature prompts me to second-guess my gut feelings and analyse them to make sure they are justified, which almost always leads em to conclude that aggression and violence are unjustified.

  11. andyo says

    Modern religion doesn’t do its killing through individuals, it cooks wide and slow. It’s evolved to be able not to take responsibility for it.

  12. Jeebus says

    Skooterskutre, please read the thread Caine linked. Don’t turn the killer into an Other by labeling him a psychopath (NB: “psychopath” is not a proper mental health term).

  13. says

    Just a good post from PZ, nothing controversial about it.

    For those here, and no doubt there are some here, who insist on some sort of absolute freedom regarding the right to bear arms, a quick look at the stats concerning gun deaths per 100,000 per year on wiki – not hard to find.

    In Britain guns are heavily controlled, perhaps too heavily, though we do have freedoms denied to Americans, like the frredom to have a game of poker on-line.

    We have about 40 times less gun deaths per 100,000 population per year than the US.

    Go figure!

    David B

  14. Jeebus says

    Bah, now I realize the comment was supposed to be ironic. I really ought to read more carefully before I comment.

  15. says

    upprunitegundanna:

    (Baudelaire fan I assume?)

    How did you ever guess? ;D

    Jeebus:

    Skooterskutre, please read the thread Caine linked.

    Skooterskutre was involved in that thread, which is obvious upon reading. Try reading his posts with your humour and sarcasm meters turned on, it will help. ;)

    andyo:

    Modern religion doesn’t do its killing through individuals, it cooks wide and slow.

    Beautifully stated.

  16. joed says

    Just a bit more tragic bleak everyday Americana.
    Like the guy on tv said, guns created this nation.
    Guns are necessary to make slaves and servants do their work and guns are big corporation profits.
    the outcry of “citizens” comes about because the killings were done outside the ghetto, outside the barrio. This is a tragedy on many fronts and levels.
    Will be interesting to hear what your politician class has to say and what they may propose is a remedy for such tragic deaths.
    However, the potus and congress are killing at least as many civilians each day for years in Iraq and Afghanistan, Pakistan and countries in Africa.
    the potus personally chooses specific people to destroy.

  17. andyo says

    If anyone understands Spanish, Joaquín Sabina has a song about an individual like this called “Ciudadano cero”. That song, like many of his, really moved me when I first heard it, even though of course it was long before this happened.

  18. says

    Jeebus,

    I was following that thread last night, which is why I brought up the ‘cowardice’ reference.

    The word ‘psychopath’ is still in use.
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=what-psychopath-means

    I’m using it as a layman. As opposed to sociopath, which is associated with behavior. Not all psychopaths are sociopaths, many learn to fake it and do not become serial murderers or Wall Street bankers.

    I think Holmes became ‘the other’ the minute he opened fire. We don’t shit about the guy, so it’s a speculative argument from ignorance on my part.

    His plan was long in the making, complex, and designed only to inflict maximum random human carnage. It doesn’t strike me as the work of somebody suffering from crazed delusions and paranoia. This guy was high functioning on a level absent all human empathy. Kind of like a psychopath.

  19. Shplane says

    Well, while I think it’s silly to connect this specific set of murders to Christianity, Christianity can and does support murder. While most Christians can rationalize it away, the Bible explicitly states that certain people are supposed to be murdered, and some small number of Christians will act on this. Add in the “nonchristians are lesser people” theme seen in so much of Christian doctrine, and it really says a lot about the human ability to entertain cognitive dissonance that Christians aren’t all murderers.

    All else being equal, Christians have one more reason to commit murder than nonreligious people. It is not at all unreasonable to note that Christianity makes one more likely to murder.

  20. says

    Andyo

    Modern religion doesn’t do its killing through individuals, it cooks wide and slow.

    Good one. Religion is indeed awesome for building armies.

  21. jaybee says

    In some cases the case can be made that a mass killer was motivated by their perverse religious beliefs — say, Jim Jones, or on a smaller scale, Andrea Yates. But in this case, I don’t think we know enough about the killer’s motives to say much.

  22. says

    I absolutely agree that it doesn’t matter who is capitalizing on the demographics of the latest mass murderer. It’s wrong.

    Even the gun control stuff is a bit uncomfortable – it’s sort of a “too soon” thing. I get that it is at least more relevant, but it seems opportunistic to use the emotion of the moment to advance any agenda even if it is a good one.

    I created a meme for anyone who has relatives or friends who are already blaming Occupy or Obama for this; or Christians or anyone else for that matter.

  23. FluffyTheTerrible says

    I thought PZ had decided not to link to Loftus’ site anymore – or was that only for links in the comments? Anyway, I stopped reading that site after Loftus wrote that ridiculous post about women atheists and posing in calendars.

    Regarding the wrongness of blaming religion for what Holmes did, I agree it is not a justifiable position. However, surely the fact that Holmes was actively involved in church means that he was exposed from an early age to the easy justification that religion offers.

    I mean, if he had a shred of doubt about what he was going to do, and felt a single pang of remorse, he could always take consolation in the fact that by simply asking Jeebus’ forgiveness, he would find redemption.

    Not only that, but choosing to play the religion card would also sometimes get you people’s support – apparently, if you say you found Jeebus in prison and express some regret for your crimes – even if you are not sincere – a lot of people will use you as a poster child for Jeebus saves and champion your cause.

    Anyway, this comment is more about the readily built in excuse system of religion, where all transgressions, even mass murder, can be forgiven, if only you accept god into your heart. Most importantly, I hate it when people accept this bullshit, and start to defend criminals who committed unspeakable horrors just because they turned religious in prison.

  24. says

    As I asked on the thread about Rick Warren’s vulturous exploitation of the Aurora tragedy: has anyone done a demographic analysis of the religious beliefs / lack thereof of spree killers?

    A cursory examination of the criminology literature gave me demographics based on race, age, and gender of the shooters, but nothing on religion/irreligion. It is clear that, as PZ said, religion is at most a secondary effect, but I would like to know what the data say on how little it matters.

    And, again echoing PZ, it is far too easy for civilians in the United States to get too many guns with too many bullets.

  25. FluffyTheTerrible says

    @ M.A. Melby

    I know exploiting such tragedies is wrong, but considering the opposition to restricting gun ownership laws in the US, and the very real likelihood that this sort of mass shooting will happen again, I don’t think it’s so wrong to use this particular case, and all others, to push for changing the legislation.

    I mean, at this point, it would be understandable if people were getting a bit desperate, and willing to use emotionally charged cases, like this one, to try to change people’s minds.

    I am too lazy to google for examples now, but in many situations it took one particular crime, committed by one individual, to lead to the law being changed, or a new one passed.

    Doesn’t it make it less of a tragedy if it can prove a catalyst for positive change?

  26. pipenta says

    Blaming religion for shootings like this is on a par with blaming video games for violent crimes. And don’t people just. It’s the trench coats, it’s the goth music, it’s dungeons & dragons, it’s comic books, it’s OMG KINGDOM OF LOATHING.

    http://gamepolitics.com/2008/03/13/kingdom-of-loathing-gamer-sentenced-to-death

    Nope, I don’t think video games don’t turn people into killers. But video games aren’t an answer for dealing with violent people who commit horrific acts. And it just toasts my cheese when people act like religion is any good at preventing this sort of tragedy. It’s such a misdirection of effort and resources.

    And now a national day for prayer and reflection? Really, Mr. President? You might as well have called for a national day of video games.

  27. klatu says

    @FluffyTheTerrible
    It’s the onslaught of opportunistic vultures that follows every case like this that makes it problematic. It’s the “your believe system X is wrong because perpetrator Y belonged to X” BS coming from every which way that gives most of these discussions a vibe of dishonesty, because it’s no longer about fixing the problem. It’s about indulging in largely unrelated pet peeves.
    IMO, the issue of gun control is relevant to these discussions because easy access to firearms directly enabled it. The same cannot be said about such killings WRT the perps’ beliefs.

  28. kyoseki says

    I’ve seen people using this incident to argue both for and against gun control, claiming somehow either that a person with a handgun could have stopped a guy dressed from head to toe in body armor (there’s no fucking way) or that a lack of access to firearms would have stopped him seemingly forgetting that the guy’s apartment was rigged with explosives. Even if we could have prevented this asshole getting hold of firearms, the only difference here is that we’d likely be talking about a movie theater bombing instead of a shooting.

    I think I’m somewhere in the middle, I think that access to firearms is far too easy in the US, but I don’t think an outright ban would work either.

    Regarding high capacity magazines or assault weapons, it’s worth noting that the Virginia Tech shooter was equipped with 2 handguns and magazines that held no more than 15 rounds, so reinstatement of the assault weapons ban wouldn’t solve the problem either (and you know that if you tried to pass such a ban, there would be plenty of people out there stocking up on firearms and magazines to get them grandfathered in – shit, people are doing that NOW because they’re convinced Obama is out to get their guns).

    I honestly don’t know what the answer is here, even the UK hasn’t stopped mass shootings, a guy armed with a (legal) .22 rifle and a shotgun killed 12 people there in 2010 (Cumbria shootings).

    I guess you could try completely banning ALL firearms, but as we’ve seen from the war on drugs, making something illegal does not make it go away, so I don’t see how a ban on firearms would be any more effective (and you know that there would be plenty of Waco/Ruby Ridge style incidents if you ever tried to impose such a ban, leading to further loss of life).

  29. says

    The point with religion and crime is not that religion leads to crime, but that it does not lead to less crime. And even then it’s a matter of “it depends”.

    I linked a while ago to this study that found that belief in a hell is a predictor for less crime in a society, whereas belief in heaven is associated with higher crime rates. Study here.

  30. says

    Even the gun control stuff is a bit uncomfortable – it’s sort of a “too soon” thing.

    What crap. After every mass shooting over there this topic comes up, and the lobbyists spring into action and damage control mode, until it dies down again, and as a result Hank from Huntsville can keep his arsenal, and Dick from Detroit can buy as many guns and rounds of ammo as he likes. As a result of which, we have another 15 dead people now. It’s not “too soon” for these people, it’s entirely too late.

  31. says

    @kyoseki:

    My reading of the criminology literature this morning turned up this report from 2005: http://hsx.sagepub.com/content/6/4/271.short

    The conclusion, based on US data from 1977-1999: concealed-carry laws have no measurable impact on the rate of mass shootings. Shooters are not deterred by the presence or absence of armed people in the groups that they target, and (as you said) civilians with handguns are not an effective way of stopping a shooter.

    Re. stricter gun control not eliminating all spree killings: that is certainly true. But the rate is much lower in the UK than it is in the US.

  32. klatu says

    I’m not a USian, so my understanding of the whole gun control issue is barebones at best. I understand that access to firearms is historically seen as a fundamental right, which naturally makes any attempt to restrict that access so contentious.

    But it also seems obvious to me that excess of lethal weapons in combination with lizard/primate brain is not ideal, to say the least. The statistics show that the US have a comparably higher homicide rate than other western nations. I doubt people are more aggressive or malevolent in the US. But killing is easy.

    So yes, incidents like this are of course part of a debate that cannot be separated from certain ideologies. But to hijack them as a means to prove some (largely) un-related party wrong is petty and obscene. And from a practical perspective the gun control debate is one of the few that have the potential to tangibly change things in the near future.

    (That is, unless someone has some revolutionary clue on how to change human nature [not being demeaning here])

  33. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    scooterskutre,

    Not sure if Holmes was is a psychopath, but his behavior was sociopathic.

    You are wrong.

    Sociopathy is chronic.

    We know very little about his behavior over the course of his life. Therefore it is impossible to say that this is part of a chronic pattern.

    I’m using it as a layman.

    Well, this isn’t an excuse to be wrong. Be careful that you have a handle on the professional debates.

    As opposed to sociopath, which is associated with behavior.

    No. There’s debates about whether psychopathy and sociopathy (and ASPD) are the same personality disorder, but sociopathy is a personality disorder.

    It’s not simply a word for certain behaviors.

  34. kyoseki says

    @michaelbusch

    True, but the UK was never so enamored with guns and violence as the US is (I’m British, moved to the US in 2004), we’re talking about a fundamentally different attitude among the populace.

    I’m having a hard time believing that simply limiting access to firearms (even if you could, I think the ship’s pretty much sailed on that one) is a miracle cure though – if simply limiting access to guns solves the problem, how come Canada & the UK aren’t radically different in terms of murder rate (or spree killing rates), despite the fact that guns are far more prevalent in Canada than they are in the UK?

    I think the problem here is a combination of a populace that seems happy to resort to violence coupled with easy access to means that escalate that violence.

    With something like 290 million guns currently in circulation, I suspect we can probably address the first part of that problem more easily than addressing the second.

  35. says

    ixchel

    What do you think of the idea that people can be born psychopaths/sociopaths and learn to cope or not, but they are totally absent empathy and emotions in general. Just born that way.

    AND/OR people can be traumatized enough to develop these traits. Even liberal socialization involves suppressing emotions.

    Fascinating stuff.

    However you break it down, there is no question that SOMETHING is going on.

  36. says

    @kyoseki:

    I don’t know how to separate the effect of violence-glorifying culture on the homicide rate from the effect of the number of guns in circulation.

    But the Canadia v. UK v. US comparison doesn’t work to argue that limiting gun ownership wouldn’t dramatically lower the number of homicides. Wikipedia informs me that the homicide rate in Canada is ~1/3 what it is in the US, but still ~4/3 that in the UK.

    It also informs me that there are ~89 guns per 100 US residents, ~31 guns per 100 Canadian residents, and ~6 guns per 100 residents of England, Wales, and Scotland (North Ireland has ~23 guns/100 residents).

    So we still have a strong correlation: the more guns people have, the more often people get shot. The UK has reached a limit where decreasing gun ownership further wouldn’t decrease the overall murder rate dramatically, because only ~15% of murders in the UK involve guns.

  37. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    scooterskutre,

    What do you think of the idea that people can be born psychopaths/sociopaths and learn to cope or not, but they are totally absent empathy and emotions in general. Just born that way.

    I don’t believe the “absent emotions in general” part — blunted affect seems prevalent, but if they lacked any emotion then why ever hurt people when there isn’t a non-emotional reward for doing so? Anyway, Antonio Damasio’s The Feeling of What Happens has convinced me that animal cognition is impossible without emotion, it is literally built up of emotion, so I don’t think the premise of a person without emotion makes sense.

    Absent empathy, well, tbh I prefer not to think about it. So I haven’t thought much about it. Someone here a few months ago posted this article which had a couple of hopeful notes; Ctrl-F for “Frick is willing to go further” if you want to skip there.

    AND/OR people can be traumatized enough to develop these traits.

    This is what’s sometimes called secondary psychopathy or sociopathy. I don’t know enough about it to feel like I can form an educated opinion; all I want to say is it sounds plausible.

  38. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    … secondary psychopathy or [secondary] sociopathy …

  39. kyoseki says

    @michaelbusch

    If we’re going to take that route, Canada appears to have a similar level of gun ownership as France, Germany, Austria & most of the Scandinavian countries, all of which have a lower overall murder rate than either the US or Canada, so clearly there are other factors at work – I’m specifically excluding Switzerland because of it’s national service laws requiring firearms ownership, so I don’t think it’s a fair comparison.

    Then, of course, there are countries that buck the trend in the opposite direction;
    Brazil, for example, has a firearms ownership rate of 8 per 100 people (Small Arms Survey 2007 – not sure why it’s not in the Wikipedia article about gun ownership per capita, since it’s the same source as your other figures), yet the Brazilian murder rate is ~25 per 100,000 people, which is what? 16x that of Canada, which allegedly has four times the number of firearms. Shit, it’s 5x that of the US, which has FAR more guns.

    Additionally, we’re going off guns per capita, which is a pretty iffy way to do it, since a lot of guys out there own more than one gun. Whilst it’s true that there’s something like 90 guns per 100 US residents, I believe the last Gallup poll I saw put gun ownership per household at around the 55-60% mark – amazingly, it’s actually very hard to find solid data on how many people own guns rather than just the number of guns in circulation.

    The solution is not nearly as simple as the idea that banning guns means less murder, even assuming that banning guns made them all go away (which it won’t), you have to have a culture that doesn’t WANT guns (as in the UK) rather than simply trying to limit access to the things.

    You can’t stop people wanting (or even getting) something just by making it illegal as the war on drugs has shown.

  40. eggmoidal says

    I have agreed with PZ on pretty much every issue ever since the cracker incident, so it feels strange to disagree here. Read the end of the article. It says:

    “I hypothesize that this combination of factors including the double bind message of Christianity that he was taught and believed, combined with the stressors of his life, led him to his rampage.”

    The title of the article is a typical obnoxious editor’s teaser. Though parts of the article are written poorly, the actual conclusion is quite reasonable.

    <gauntlet>
    Guns are a completely unnecessary evil, fetishized and foisted on modern societies by paranoid and/or emotionally stunted individuals with power and control issues.
    </gauntlet>

  41. rogershrubber says

    Projecting but it’s the right age for Schizophrenia to be rearing it’s head, and the problems are deeper for people who also are rather introverted. It affects 0.5% of the population. You can actually do something about it by making a little extra effort to invite people to have lunch, get a coffee, otherwise engage: because the problems are lessened when people are less isolated. It’s not a panacea, but human contact helps.

  42. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    Fuck you, rogershrubber.

    (1) There is zero evidence of schizophrenia here.

    (2) Most mass murders are committed by people without schizophrenia.

    From 1 and 2, the Bayesian thing to say is that he probably does not have schizophrenia.

  43. crocodoc says

    The article seems to be an eye for an eye response to Rick Warren. I’m not sure if that’s appropriate but there’s a lot of truth in it.

  44. says

    @Crocodoc

    No there isn’t.

    If you’re doing an eye for an eye response to Warren that’s self defeating as you clearly have no problem with what he’s doing (ie fucking corpses) other than that it’s not you.

  45. says

    scooterskutre:

    What do you think of the idea that people can be born psychopaths/sociopaths and learn to cope or not, but they are totally absent empathy and emotions in general. Just born that way.

    If they lacked emotions, why would they do anything that offers an emotional reward? Revenge or lashing out in anger are driven by emotions. Our ability to judge what we desire in material goods is largely driven by emotion as well.

    My nephew has ASPD, so I often think of him when this kind of topic comes up. He’s a fascinating–and unfortunately destructive–person.

  46. says

    I get that gun control is relevant to violent crime, but so are a whole lot of other things. Violent media is relevant as well, even though people who play violent games don’t want to admit that despite what studies tell us. A compelling case can be made about how social stress in the U.S. also contributes to our crime rate; and the culprits there are economic disparity and out-group stress.

    However, we know that guns don’t directly make an individual kill people and that even without guns you can kill people. We know that the vast majority of those who play violent video games or watch violent media do not kill people. The vast majority under extreme socio-economic related stress do not kill people.

    If there are particulars of the case that are pertinent to aspects of gun control policy – go for it. If I recall, that was the case with Cho.

    I agree with the “too late” thing – I think we might agree really. If there is something wrong, you try to fix it. The best way to fix something is to understand the comprehensive nature of the problem, figure out what you can and can’t or won’t do to solve the problem, and then construct solutions. You don’t wait until something goes terribly wrong and use a single atypical case to ram your reactionary agenda through.

    I realize that sometimes that’s what it takes for legislators to act – it just shouldn’t be.

    Of course, “the shooter was a [blank]” therefore *those people* are dangerous or have less of a respect of human life or any other such crap makes me much more upset; or the crap Rep. Gohmert said…that’s just indefensible.

  47. says

    However, we know that guns don’t directly make an individual kill people and that even without guns you can kill people.

    So how would he kill that many people with a knife?

  48. dinamalar says

    MR HYPOCRITE PZ Myeres
    Yea,.. If every atheist has to be ashamed of that, then every atheist should be ashamed of you too PZ inconsistent Myers.

    Well, you didn’t care to say anything about this

    “What it takes to be a Christian”
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/singham/2011/08/03/what-it-takes-to-be-a-christian/

    Even in lots of post in the past, from that Virginia killer to White house shooter, you were so happy to point out Christianity, but all of a sudden Mr PZ Myers woke up and try to finding out a pragmatic path.

    You hypocrite, again and again you always try insinuate that atheism means something of an ideology and ridicule who deny it as dictionary atheist. Whether you like it or not, atheism is non – acceptance of theism and other nonsense. So freaking stop your stupid dreams.

    I am not ashamed of someone who called himself atheist said something stupid because we one big thing in common is that we both reject idiocy and irrelevance of theology and religion and all its practices. Other than why should I am ashamed because of him ? Did he say all those stupid things in the name of humanism ? or in the name of Naturalism ?
    What you blabbering about you hypocrite PZMyers.

  49. bromion says

    Whoever wrote that blog has apparently never met a run-on sentence s/he didn’t like!

  50. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    Here is a side of avocado vinaigrette for the word salad you’re trying to eat, feralboy.

  51. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    What you blabbering about you hypocrite PZMyers.

    What are you blabbering about hypocrite Xian. You believe in the twin fallacies of your imaginary deity existing, and your holy book not being mythology/fiction, and there is no evidence for either presupposition. There is no true Xian, since all Xians are delusional fools hypocrite. Show us your solid and conclusive physical evidence for both your presuppositions, or they are WRONG…

  52. says

    A knife? I think that’s a pretty intense false dichotomy there. Even though I have a bunch of alternatives in my head right now…perhaps we shouldn’t “go there”? If you search around, there are plenty of examples of extreme mass killings that did not involve guns.

    You can have a society where almost everyone owns a gun and they don’t kill other people. Having guns around doesn’t magically compel you to kill people. Of course, I grew up in an area where almost everyone had about two to five guns in the house – but they were for killing rapid dogs or hunting. One of our good friends was a collector and had a small arsenal. Just sayin’

  53. marinerachel says

    “MR HYPOCRITE PZ Myeres” is how PZ should refer to himself from now on. I like it.

  54. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ll find out in morning what the starfarter is going on about. Starfart class irrational rant. Bedtime.

  55. says

    (1) There is zero evidence of schizophrenia here.

    One of the markers of schizophrenia is deterioration in functioning below what is expected of the person associated with the onset of the disturbance. (http://behavenet.com/schizophrenia)
    According to media reports, Holmes had once been a brilliant student but during his PhD candidature his marks began to slump, he failed an exam, and decided to withdraw from his studies. Apparently he began building an arsenal after this.(http://www.smh.com.au/world/you-have-the-right-man-says-mother-20120721-22gy1.html) Furthermore, when police arrived after the shooting, he claimed he was the Joker. If he was serious, I would say that is definite evidence of a psychotic delusion. I’d also like to note that in the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia, higher level mental processes remain relatively intact, so detailed advance planning such as Holmes showed, is still possible.
    Considering he meets at least two of the criteria for schizophrenia (bizarre delusions, social/occupational dysfunction), I think there is a reasonable probability that he is psychotic.

  56. says

    @kyoseki:

    It took a bit of digging, but Wikipedia does include references for how many people own guns in the US – ~12% of women and ~40% of men. The average US gun owner owns something between three and four guns; with enthusiasts with considerable disposable income offsetting the large fraction of gun owners who only own one gun.

    Taking the examples of the other countries with low homicide rate – again, all other things being equal, there is obviously a threshold where having fewer guns does not significantly decrease the homicide rate. Canada and the other countries you list approach that threshold, the UK is below it. The US appears to be far above it.

    Certainly there are other countries where the homicide rate is far higher despite a lack of access to guns. That gets into social problems, which certainly need to be considered.

    Re. gun control: I don’t think banning drugs is a fair analogy. Meth and LSD can be cooked up in a kitchen. It takes a large factory and precision machining to make a gun that is more dangerous to other people than it is to the person holding it (zipguns not withstanding).

  57. says

    I had no idea how easy it was to diagnose someone with schizophrenia.

    Apparently every stressed out person who discovers that what made them academically exceptional as an undergrad isn’t cutting it as a doctoral candidate is a schizophrenic. It’s not like there’s any difference between what leads to fantastic grades as an undergrad and what’s expected of you as a doctoral candidate, right?

    None at all! Must be schizophrenia!

  58. nms says

    Nerd @57

    I get the impression dinamalar is an atheist, not a Christian.

    -

    psychexpert @61

    One of the markers of schizophrenia is deterioration in functioning below what is expected of the person associated with the onset of the disturbance.

    That is also a marker of pretty much all the things, as well as lots of things that aren’t even things.

    when police arrived after the shooting, he claimed he was the Joker. If he was serious…

    that’s quite a leap

  59. rogershrubber says

    Jeepers, I admitted I was projecting about schizophrenia, however, it is anecdotally informed by having watched a few people succumb. Yes, it could be many other things. A few anecdotes don’t make for a reliable diagnosis. More important than guessing here is noting that it isn’t rare, and you can make a difference sometimes (and sometimes not). If your response to my first comment is “fuck you”, then don’t invite somebody for coffee, you probably aren’t the right sort to help somebody who is struggling.

  60. ericpaulsen says

    I agree that us blaming religion for this crime is just as ridiculous as those blaming atheism, HOWEVER…

    When I was just a wee tot excitedly telling my grandmother about this wonderful new game I had discovered, Dungeons & Dragons, I remember her becoming unhinged because of everything she had heard about how it drove children to all manner of unspeakable acts. Who did she hear this nonsense from? Why good Christian church going people, who heard it from other good good Christian church going people, who heard it from other good good Christian church going people. Anyhow the point is that all she had heard was a narrative crafted by idiots and pushed upon the gullible that had no opposition so became common wisdom. I certainly don’t mean to suggest that we need to stoop to their level of dishonesty but if we let them craft the narrative, however odious and moronic it may be, it will by default become the common wisdom with the low information crowd.

  61. says

    I certainly don’t mean to suggest that we need to stoop to their level of dishonesty but if we let them craft the narrative, however odious and moronic it may be, it will by default become the common wisdom with the low information crowd.

    Because that actually worked with D&D? I mean we all remember how video games and D&D went out of business right?

  62. kyoseki says

    @michaelbusch

    Can you be more specific about that threshold? Where, exactly, is it? Considering that the countries listed all have varying levels of murder rates with a consistent level of gun ownership (and varying levels of gun ownership for a given murder rate), I fail to see how you can draw that conclusion.

    … and while meth & LSD can be cooked up in a kitchen, opium, heroin, cocaine and pot, for example, cannot, and represent the bulk of America’s drug problem (and imports). If we can’t stop the flood of drugs coming into the country (or being manufactured here), I really don’t see how we can stop the importing of guns (should we propose that they be made illegal) – and that’s even assuming we can get rid of the 290-300 million guns that are already here (and seriously, if you think you’re getting rid of a lot of those without a significant number of deaths on the part of both law enforcement and gun owners, then you’re unfamiliar with the level of paranoia in the far right).

    You are also vastly overestimating the amount of equipment necessary to produce firearms; A large factory? Sorry, not even close, with the exception of the barrel, you can find everything needed to manufacture a firearm in a typical high school machine shop.

    You only have to look at the number of people out there producing aftermarket parts for firearms to understand how widespread these manufacturing facilities are – Google the amount of companies out there manufacturing aftermarket parts for AR-15s, the facilities to produce one of these guns from scratch are actually pretty common, the only part that really requires specialist equipment is the barrel, the rest of it can be produced by any machine shop with a decent CNC machine (and seriously, look up the number of companies that make gun barrels to get an idea of how common they are, there are literally hundreds in the US alone).

    Believe me, if I thought that actually banning guns would solve anything, I’d be all for it, but as eggmoidal put it, guns absolutely are fetishized in this society, that is the issue that needs to be addressed, enacting draconian gun control legislation (even assuming you could get it passed, which you couldn’t) is only attempting to address the symptoms and not the cause.

  63. kyoseki says

    Oh, and just so as we’re clear, I *do* happen to agree that it is WAY too easy to get hold of firearms in this country, but I cant buy into the idea that even an outright ban would solve anything unless you can achieve a major psychological shift in societal attitudes towards the things.

  64. says

    What you blabbering about you hypocrite PZMyers.

    What you talkin bout, Willis?
    .
    .
    .
    I must confess to having left a comment on one of the other threads here that might be construed as blaming Christianity for this tragedy. I don’t really feel that way; it was an angry response to Rick Warren trying to finger science education as the culprit. But really, if we’re going to make the (unjustified) leap of assuming it was something he was taught that made the shooter go on his rampage, why not Christianity? He was taught that, and the Bible does teach that mass slaughter is morally OK if God orders it. It’s also pretty clear about the relative importance of earthly life in the greater scheme of things.
    Maybe God promised Holmes he could live in the theater after he cleared it out. But I doubt it.
    No, Christianity doesn’t seem to have been the cause. But science education? My rudimentary science education has taught me that I’m related to every living thing on this planet, that human beings are social animals who thrive best when they cooperate, that humans have unique (at least in degree) abilities to detect patterns, understand how the universe works, and accumulate knowledge to pass down through the generations. And as we do that, life gets longer, less nasty and less brutish.
    As for what caused the rampage, we don’t yet know, and we may never really “know.” When the details come out, I suspect they will either not make sense or seem like a perfect storm.
    One thing we know for certain, though: he used guns. He had no problem acquiring them. And, judging from the many tweets and comments from guys who insist they could have handled the situation, being armed when they go out in public, a lot of people who buy guns fantasize about opportunities to use them. And these fantasies are not realistic; the idea that a guy with a handgun, who trained by shooting at a paper target, could deal with a guy in body armor firing an AR15 in a dark, crowded, smoke-filled theater without making the situation worse is ludicrous.
    .
    Ah, I’m getting long here. I’ll just conclude with this: I finally understand the whole “we have to fight the terrorists over there, or else they’ll come here” mentality. If the terrorists come here, they can get all the weapons they need down at the fucking mall.

  65. klatu says

    certainly don’t mean to suggest that we need to stoop to their level of dishonesty but if we let them craft the narrative, however odious and moronic it may be, it will by default become the common wisdom with the low information crowd.

    Are your fee-fees hurt? Because that must be EXACTLY what those close to the victims of the shooting must be going through right now. It must be JUST LIKE when someone told them their hobby was evil! It’s so unfair!

    /sarcasm

    Get a fucking grip, you fuck!

  66. klatu says

    kyoseki

    @kyoseki
    The difference between guns and drugs is that if they DON’T work, only one of them kills.

    enacting draconian gun control legislation (even assuming you could get it passed, which you couldn’t) is only attempting to address the symptoms and not the cause.

    Define “draconian”, please. And what cause, specifically, are guns (or their use) a symptom of?

  67. says

    @kyoseki:

    I would estimate the limit at ~1.5 per hundred thousand per year, or between one third and one fourth the murder rate in the US. This would be consistent with the differential in gun ownership between the US and Canada and other countries with comparable gun ownership but lower homicide rates. It would also be consistent with the fraction of homicides in the US that involve guns (~65%) as compared to that in Canada or the UK (~20%). But I am not qualified to make quantitative sociological predictions.

    I do not know how to appropriately enforce stricter gun control laws, but certainly many things could be made harder to obtain than they are now, your concerns about home production and arms smuggling aside. Encouraging people to turn over their current weapons is another hard problem.

  68. klatu says

    Ah, I’m getting long here. I’ll just conclude with this: I finally understand the whole “we have to fight the terrorists over there, or else they’ll come here” mentality. If the terrorists come here, they can get all the weapons they need down at the fucking mall.

    Except, you know, it’s only terrorism when it’s commited by THOSE people. You know? …kinda … BROWN people?
    Bombing of medical facilities and entertainment venues (this) is only terrorism when there are Mooslims™ involved. No terrorism here, no siree!

    /sarcasm

  69. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    Scott McGreal,

    According to media reports, Holmes had once been a brilliant student but during his PhD candidature his marks began to slump, he failed an exam, and decided to withdraw from his studies.

    Boy, that’s a huge stretch, isn’t it.

    If you start from the premise that he has schizophrenia, you can try to make anything fit — James Morrison in his DSM-IV Made Easy reminds that “you can force a patient into a variety of diagnoses if you are strongly enough motivated to do so.”

    So Scott, tell me about your differential diagnosis.

    Furthermore, when police arrived after the shooting, he claimed he was the Joker. If he was serious,

    If he was serious. What evidence do you have that he was serious?

    I’d also like to note that in the paranoid subtype of schizophrenia, higher level mental processes remain relatively intact,

    Did you not notice that this argues against your idea that his grades are evidence?

    Considering he meets at least two of the criteria for schizophrenia (bizarre delusions, social/occupational dysfunction),

    Except that he doesn’t meet either one of those criteria.

    I think there is a reasonable probability that he is psychotic.

    Cf. Morrison, above, again.

    Then go fuck yourself.

  70. ericpaulsen says

    Get a fucking grip, you fuck!

    Brilliant point you sloppy bag of dicks, are you hopped up on beer and testosterone and looking for a fight or are you one of the low IQ crowd and are feeling all butt hurt? Like I give two shits what you THINK my point was.

  71. left0ver1under says

    If the guy at “debunkingchristianity” had said this incident shows that religion doesn’t make you moral or any better than anyone else, it would have been okay and true.

    Trying to use the shooting as a cheap shot, the same sort of cheap shot the christians often use, is an epic fail.

  72. kyoseki says

    @klatu (I’m assuming that barada and nikto are in a phone booth changing clothes or something)

    The difference between guns and drugs is that if they DON’T work, only one of them kills.

    Well that’s a confused statement, I can think of a number of ways that both guns and drugs can fail to work that don’t result in fatalities.

    Define “draconian”, please. And what cause, specifically, are guns (or their use) a symptom of?

    The most draconian gun legislation I can think of is an outright ban, which seems to be being proposed here, something that I really can’t believe would have a significant effect, at least not within the next 50-100 years (and I can well believe that we’d be looking at a drastic increase in the number of spree killers/mass murderers in that time).

    Less draconian legislation would be bans on certain types of firearms based, no doubt, on the same kind of ill informed discrimination between models that led to California’s firearms laws (for example, despite California’s extension of the federal assault weapons ban, you can buy every weapon that this asshole used perfectly legally – there’s just a simple modification necessary to import the assault rifle, a modification that can be undone with a screwdriver and mail order parts in a matter of minutes and you might have to drive to Nevada to pick up magazines).

    As for the symptoms, guns seem to be being held up as a cure for feeling weak and powerless in modern society. In political circles you have one group saying that only guns can protect you against the evils of the government, whilst at the same time entertainment media is always showing people performing superhuman feats with firearms and saving the day. The combination of the two leads to a populace with large numbers believing that their problems (real or imagined) can be solved with violence and that guns are a means to that end.

  73. DLC says

    This annoys me, not only because it’s a massive logic fail, but because it’s entirely futile to speculate on the shooter’s motives or religious beliefs or lack thereof. In a not quite related matter, it’s entirely repulsive to me to see people calling this some kind of divine retribution or because of “moral decay”.

  74. klatu says

    @ericpaulsen

    [...] the low IQ crowd
    [...] the low information crowd

    Wow, you must be from that famous High Information Crowd™! You must have lots to say. I can’t wait! What great wisdom will you impart on me?!

    Like I give two shits what you THINK my point was.

    Ooops! My bad. Shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions prematurely.

    OTOH, you did take the effort to respond. So… uhm… what is your point?

    PS: The beer’s great! Want some?

  75. kyoseki says

    @michaelbusch

    Oh, sorry, I was looking for a suggestion as to the level of firearms ownership that would correspond what you would consider an “acceptable” level of murder.

    As long as there’s any level of available firearms, I’m not sure that there’s anything that can be done to stop spree killing and even if you did remove all firearms from the scenario, it isn’t going to stop unabomber/IED style attacks – and like the unabomber and this guy, the perpetrators of mass killings often ARE intelligent loners who could easily devise alternate means of killing if firearms were denied to them.

  76. kyoseki says

    @Ing: Gerund of Death

    I’m attempting to address the likely issues that would come about with an outright ban, I believe that the UK has already done everything logically short of an outright ban and they haven’t stopped spree killings on this scale.

    As I say, I’m honestly not sure what the real solution here is, I don’t know how to engineer a fundamental shift in public attitudes, but I just can’t bring myself to blame the weapons themselves, I know too many people who shoot safely (recreationally) to suggest that all gun owners are psychopaths just looking for an excuse to blow someone away.

  77. klatu says

    you can buy every weapon that this asshole used perfectly legally

    This is in accordance to a less draconian restriction?
    If I read your post correctly (taking it at face value*), the less “draconian” ban you specify actually allowed said asshole to legally aquire his weaponry? How is that remotely draconian? It seems pretty lax to me. Whatever precautions are being made right now, they obviously did not preclude Holmes from aquiring these weapons.
    I’m either misreading you or utterly baffled.

    As for the symptoms, guns seem to be being held up as a cure for feeling weak and powerless in modern society. In political circles you have one group saying that only guns can protect you against the evils of the government, whilst at the same time entertainment media is always showing people performing superhuman feats with firearms and saving the day. The combination of the two leads to a populace with large numbers believing that their problems (real or imagined) can be solved with violence and that guns are a means to that end.

    OK. So… eh? All I can discern from this interpretation is that you believe that fetishizing violence leads to violence. How is that different from saying that fetishizing guns leads to more violence with guns?

    * I’m not a USian. I will concede outright that I have virtually no technical knowledge of or familiarity with firearms nor any specific legislation concerning them.

  78. says

    @kyoseki:

    I’m not suggesting an outright ban on guns, which would be impossible to enforce, and would not be a good idea in areas where hunting is common (e.g. in Wisconsin, hunting is necessary to prevent overpopulation of deer, since there aren’t any wolves left in the wild). But I’ve never understood the justification for concealed-carry permits, or why a civilian would need an AR-15.

    Again, you’re quite right that stricter gun controls would only reduce the homicide rate so much, and that a motivated and sufficiently intelligent killer can always find a way to cause a lot of damage. A little thinking about this leaves me somewhat encouraged that such events are as rare as they are, while simultaneously dismayed that they still happen.

    The social forces you described go into what PZ called “a culture that glorifies violence”. I don’t know how to effectively combat that either, except perhaps slowly and on an individual basis.

  79. says

    I’m attempting to address the likely issues that would come about with an outright ban, I believe that the UK has already done everything logically short of an outright ban and they haven’t stopped spree killings on this scale.

    Strawman

    Are the number of incident lower and/or is the degree of incident lower.

    As I say, I’m honestly not sure what the real solution here is, I don’t know how to engineer a fundamental shift in public attitudes, but I just can’t bring myself to blame the weapons themselves, I know too many people who shoot safely (recreationally) to suggest that all gun owners are psychopaths just looking for an excuse to blow someone away.

    Jesus fucking christ is that ever a strawman.

  80. says

    Again, you’re quite right that stricter gun controls would only reduce the homicide rate so much, and that a motivated and sufficiently intelligent killer can always find a way to cause a lot of damage

    What about a motivated unintelligent killer?

    The issue is that high powered fire arms reduce the motivation and intelligence required to preform such an act.

    Again, you’re quite right that stricter gun controls would only reduce the homicide rate so much,

    FFS, no one is saying the realistic goal is 100% irradiation. It will reduce the homicide rate. Acting like people are talking about magic rings of sauron is dishonest and frankly moronic. It’s trying to distract from the key point that these are powerful sophisticated tools that make killing easier

  81. Menyambal --- Sambal's sockpuppet says

    If we restrict the guns, we might also be able to remove the gun mystique.

    The gun mystique is a major factor. People believe the second amendment guarantees them all kinds of guns, people believe guns can do anything. It is truly like a religion. God and guns go together in many minds—but I am not saying that is the case for the latest shooter.

    For instances, most gun owners are members of the National Rifle Association, and think their guns will stop an invading army. The NRA sells its membership lists to anybody—all an invader needs to do is buy the list to know where most guns are. And, an invader with tanks, bombers and chemical weapons isn’t going to give a damn about rifles, especially if they know where all the owners live.

    Hollywood portrays guns in a very unrealistic fashion. Ensample; I just saw a guy fire a shotgun one-handed, inside a car, with the muzzle directly in front of the driver’s face—he was in the front passenger seat and the bad guys were outside the driver’s window. The recoil was negligible and the muzzle-blast wasn’t deafening. The bad guys, of course, went away. The good guys kept chatting.

    It’s easiest to call folks gun nuts or gun-crazy, but there is some serious level of delusion about guns in America.

  82. says

    As I say, I’m honestly not sure what the real solution here is, I don’t know how to engineer a fundamental shift in public attitudes, but I just can’t bring myself to blame the weapons themselves, I know too many people who shoot safely (recreationally) to suggest that all gun owners are psychopaths just looking for an excuse to blow someone away.

    Why not sell bazookas then? Gun owners are responsible right and nothing about them will magically make people killers

  83. says

    Gah. I skimmed that article, but was overcome by the sheer stupid and quickly gave up.

    Look, here’s the deal: Mass shooting episodes are thankfully very rare. Meaning that the people who commit them are necessarily unique. Without bothering with all the statistics, suffice it to say that many thousands of people die every year by gunshot wounds in the US. The number who die in “mass shooting” events of this kind depends on how you define such events, but even with the loosest definition, we’re talking about a tiny percentage of all murders, and an even tinier percentage of all murderers.

    It is absurd to try to relate this heinous crime with any demographic group that the guy may have belonged to. James Holmes was a white guy, a young guy, a native of San Diego, an educated guy, a current resident of Aurora, a PhD student, maybe a Christian, and probably lots of other things. If anything, the sheer normalcy of the guy is what’s odd, but any attempt to pick some generality and say this contributed to it is just plain wrong. These events can only be understood by understanding the individual. They are too rare to draw any other conclusion.

  84. krubozumo says

    In reply to comment #1, Mr. Davidson, I assume you are aware that that is already a popular point of view? Yes I am being a bit snarky.

    Reality is actually a pretty tough nut to chew when you get right down to it. First of all there is virtually nothing you can do to change it. No second chances. Second of all, there are plenty of people out there willing to tell you that whatever reality is, it just ain’t so. That is the excuse that religion provides for not only the intrinsically dire circumstances of nature but the far more dastardly motives of other humans who have no hesitation at all about inflicting disaster and suffering on millions of others. In other words what is familiarly known as greed.

  85. dinamalar says

    ok … all you pz myers worshiping pseudo atheist, i am not a freaking christian nor follows any religion. I am atheist and just a ‘dictionary atheist’ as per hypocrite pz meyers term.

    I see theism, religion, and faith are irrelevant to reality and facts.

    But, how convenient for mr hypocrite pz myers disparage an atheist when he used to do the same thing in the past ?
    He did blame White house shooter as christian follower, and blamed the religious people for that.
    He did blame all other religious murderers for their religion.
    If someone should be ashamed of, then it must be PZ who must be ashamed of himself for his hypocrisy.

    I am an atheist, I am not ashamed of being atheist for another dumb atheist try to find a causation and blames it on the religion and christians for the recent murder. Just because he is an atheist doesn’t make that person to find a causation to blame the christianity. If that is the case any non-christians would blame the tragedy on christianity and christians, not just atheist.

    So, just stop you BS ashamed of atheist PZ Myers.
    Goodness, you people are just freaking worship this guy, half baked associate professor for the rest of his life, no freaking critical thinking and can’t even have a voice against him.
    This Pseudo PZ Myers atheist spontaneously succeeding in making you blind followers of him as his cult.

    Atheism is neither an ideology nor a community. It is just non acceptance of theism, faith and religious ideologies.
    If you wanna community out of atheist people, try to find a common ideologies between those atheists, like humanism, feminism, voyeurism, PZ Myers Voyeurism, PZ Myers Masturbationism, red meat eating pz myers and co fatism, and so on.

    I can say as an atheist I am ashamed being atheist of PZ Myers and his unhealthy eating habbits, and all his fat and cholesterol in his body and groin, can’t I PZ Myers ?
    I do not have unhealthy eating habbits, nor excessive fat and cholesterol in my body and groin, Mr PZ Hypocrite Myers.

    After all we are fellow atheists, aren’t we ?

  86. Matt Penfold says

    Look, here’s the deal: Mass shooting episodes are thankfully very rare. Meaning that the people who commit them are necessarily unique.

    That is a novel use of the word unique. Hint: It is not a synonym for rare. You cannot have more than one instance of something unique, so whilst people who carry out mass shootings may be rare, they are not unique.

  87. says

    According to media reports, Holmes had once been a brilliant student but during his PhD candidature his marks began to slump, he failed an exam, and decided to withdraw from his studies.

    by that logic, I’ve been schizophrenic since 8th grade, and have become un-schizophrenic last spring.

    jesus but this is stupid. and pathetic, that so many people react with denial to the reality that people like this guy are simply outgrowths of our society, and instead instantly go for the “his brain must be completely broken” comforting lie.

  88. andyo says

    I am atheist and just a ‘dictionary atheist’

    From the way you write I don’t think you even own a dictionary.

  89. Beatrice says

    Thanks for that pdf, Jadehawk.
    Reports aren’t very detailed, but one has to notice in how many there was some kind of a fight and then someone pulled out a gun. But I’m glad NRA is fighting for the right of any man to shoot his girlfriend and their kid in the face when he gets annoyed.

  90. says

    all you pz myers worshiping pseudo atheist, i am not a freaking christian nor follows any religion. I am atheist

    Thank you, dear Sir. You rather splendidly prove my point that being an atheist does not confer intelligence or knowledge per se. Well done.

  91. Gregory Greenwood says

    @ dinamalar;

    That’s some quality word-salad you have there. Did you grow it organically, or did you use some non-sequitur fertiliser?

  92. says

    I do not have unhealthy eating habbits, nor excessive fat and cholesterol in my body and groin, Mr PZ Hypocrite Myers.

    Oh sweet Jesus, it’s obsessed with PZ’s groin. What next.

  93. says

    He did blame White house shooter as christian follower, and blamed the religious people for that.
    He did blame all other religious murderers for their religion.

    Citation please. Searching through the Pharyngula archive, both here and on ScienceBlogs, and a cursory search on Google does not show me anywhere where PZ said anything of the kind.

    Incidentally – there are many things that I do not agree with PZ on. Most of the ones I’ve identified are matters of opinion on what are interesting questions in science (I’m an astronomer – the stuff I work on is usually too far away to interest him) and on what constitutes funny humor, but I’m sure I could find more.

  94. says

    If eating red meat and fat collected in the groin, I’d be making a fortune in porn.

    You aren’t ? Oh no, wait, you’re making a fortune in radio.

    ;)

  95. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Starfart starfarted again. Another incoherent rant. Still don’t understand the point other than it is angry. Spooky angry. Probably not about the OP, which it apparently fails to understand, but other things which it can’t enunciate clearly. Hence the word salad incoherence. Try breathing, then one idea, and only one paragraph post, at a time.

  96. nms says

    This Pseudo PZ Myers atheist spontaneously succeeding in making you blind followers of him as his cult.

    Pseudo PZ Myers?

    Imposter!

  97. says

    michaelbusch:

    (e.g. in Wisconsin, hunting is necessary to prevent overpopulation of deer, since there aren’t any wolves left in the wild)

    No. There are an estimated 762 to 832 wolves in the wold in 204 wild packs in the state of Wisconsin.

    This wonderful news has been met with Governor Walker signing a bill that allows wolf harvest.

    If we stopped fucking shooting the animals, they might actually be able to maintain one another’s populations.

    I’m not even anti-hunting in theory, but hunting as necessary is complete bullshit, at least in the state of Wisconsin. We had the opportunity to let nature keep some sort of balance and our response was to start shooting the natural predators again.

  98. kyoseki says

    Why not sell bazookas then? Gun owners are responsible right and nothing about them will magically make people killers

    You actually *can* buy/build bazookas legally if you have a Class III Federal Firearms License marking you as an importer or manufacturer of destructive devices, so it is actually possible to own these things as a civilian (or at least as the civilian in charge of the LLC required to get the license).

    Since you keep saying that you’re not talking about an outright ban, *exactly* what legislation are you proposing?

    Bear in mind:
    A: Public access to ANY kind of firearm results in incidents of spree killing.
    B: The vast majority of firearms deaths in this country, even mass shootings, are the result of handguns and not high powered firearms.
    C: Any legislation that requires people to surrender any of their existing firearms WILL lead to deaths on the part of gun owners and law enforcement (and if you don’t think so, then you’re unfamiliar with the current levels of paranoia on the far right and the gun loving crowd generally).

    Yes, the availability of firearms acts as a force multiplier for violent societies, but until you can change people’s attitudes towards guns, any hypothetical legislation isn’t going to do a goddamned thing.

  99. Drolfe says

    Because that actually worked with D&D? I mean we all remember how video games and D&D went out of business right?

    Well, it sort of did work in that every time there is a tragedy some bunch of assholes is blaming goths, D&D, backmasking, and 100 other things on the “good Christians don’t do” list.

     

    Good Christians are never going to outlaw everything on their no-no list, or drive all unspeakable businesses and fads to extinction so worrying about it is a diversion. Instead we can look at the real effects: this stuff gets cooked up by some goofy pastor, gets repeated by all the Goods, until it’s common knowledge among their set, then it’s printed in tracts and newsletters and uncounted websites until one day it’s repeated on air during a Conservative Radio Talkshow. The next day it’s on Fox and Friends and by that evening one of their news readers is reporting what, “some in the media are saying.” From this moment whatever goofy meme will get repeated for a few days by all the Fox watchers, including fellow travelers and satirists, they’ll nod, we’ll laugh, and then the rest of the news networks will have been shamed into covering the “story” by the rightosphere and angry letters to the editor. Finally, the meme is mainstream and e.g. Everyone knows goths are suicidal satanists that are one slight away from blowing up their school. For Gods sake don’t be goth! Role-play! Video-game! Rock and Roll! Read comics! Read zines! Do science! Drop out of science! Etc!

    The same process applies more or less to mainstreaming conspiracy theories. Wingnut Wurlitzer! Yay.

  100. kyoseki says

    @michaelbusch

    I’ve never understood the justification for concealed-carry permits, or why a civilian would need an AR-15.

    I’ve never felt the need to concealed carry, but I’ve been in states that allow it and never felt threatened (and I have friends who carry concealed weapons in those states and have no problem with them doing so either) – that said, I’d be totally ok with mandating some pretty serious levels of training before people are allowed to do so.

    Regarding AR-15s, I also don’t see the attraction, the vast majority of them are just used as toys at the gun range (and even in California, which continued the assault weapons ban, you see a LOT of them at the open air ranges). I’ve shot them, and insofar as I can tell they just seem to be a really good way to blow through a lot of money very quickly.

    The high rate of fire and the fact that they can accept easily detachable magazines containing anything up to 100 rounds does mark them as significantly more dangerous than any handgun or bolt action rifle, so I’d be totally ok with some kind of tiered licensing system for these things, but I’m not sure what requirements you’d put in place for that or even if they’d be effective at stopping these kinds of events.

  101. bunkie says

    Some of PZ’s quotes have been incorporated in MSNBC’s (NBCNews) Cosmic Log, currently riding the front page with the title, “Don’t Blame the Shootings on Darwin (or God’s Wrath).

  102. says

    That is a novel use of the word unique. Hint: It is not a synonym for rare. You cannot have more than one instance of something unique, so whilst people who carry out mass shootings may be rare, they are not unique.

    Thanks for the vocabulary primer. I’m not sure what we’d do if not for people like you who add such clarity to the discussion.

    I think it was pretty obvious what I meant.

  103. says

    what the fuck is your definition of “very rare”?

    What is with the gratuitous use of the word “fuck”? Are you angry about something?

    Anyway, I’m pretty sure I qualified what I meant by “very rare”. Ah yes, here it is:

    Without bothering with all the statistics, suffice it to say that many thousands of people die every year by gunshot wounds in the US. The number who die in “mass shooting” events of this kind depends on how you define such events, but even with the loosest definition, we’re talking about a tiny percentage of all murders, and an even tinier percentage of all murderers.

    Cleverly hidden right below the part you quoted.

  104. says

    out of curiosity. what do you think makes an individual who they are?

    Hm, well, a combination of genetic and environmental factors filtered through one’s life experiences. I’m not sure what the point of this question is.

    The point I was trying to get at is that broadly shared experiences — like say, being a member of a religion held in common by 80% of Americans — cannot explain the highly atypical behavior of one individual. Or in other words, the general cannot explain exceptional. I would have thought that would be uncontroversial.

  105. says

    Hm, well, a combination of genetic and environmental factors filtered through one’s life experiences. I’m not sure what the point of this question is.

    the point of the question is to point out that this dude shared “environmental factors” and “life experiences” with a lot of other people. genetics, too, for that matter. he’s not so unique as you’d like him to be.

    The point I was trying to get at is that broadly shared experiences — like say, being a member of a religion held in common by 80% of Americans — cannot explain the highly atypical behavior of one individual.

    I get your point. However, you’re exaggerating the a-typicalness of such individuals. In the language of statistics, mass shooters would be not so much outliers as the tail of a normal distribution

  106. says

    I think it was pretty obvious what I meant.

    words mean things. if you’re relying on people “knowing what you meant”, you’re not communicating clearly.

    What is with the gratuitous use of the word “fuck”? Are you angry about something?

    what do you have against “gratuitous” use of words? at least I’m not using them incorrectly. Also, where do you live that people only use “bad” words when they’re angry?

  107. dinamalar says

    andyo

    From the way you worship myers, how many dictionary you may own, are not enough for you. And BTW FYI, be good at English is not about having knowledge, you can be fluent in other language and still be a knowledgeable person, you dictionary owning moron.

  108. dinamalar says

    Moron andyo

    You are welcome to find out whether I own a dictionary or not, now. Do you own a dictionary for this now ?
    Would you say yes please, mr moron ?

    செறிவறிந்து சீர்மை பயக்கும் அறிவறிந்
    தாற்றின் அடங்கப் பெறின்.

  109. andyo says

    dictionary owning moron

    I think that’s about the greatest insult that’s ever been thrown at me. Thanks.

  110. says

    @Caerie:

    You are quite correct, and I was wrong to say that there are no wolves at all in Wisconsin.

    However: pulling the Wisconsin DNR population maps, there are no wolves in southern Wisconsin and in central Wisconsin from near Stevens Point to Green Bay, and the deer population is highest between Stevens Point and Green Bay. It’s gotten to the point that Stevens Point has hired sharpshooters to cull the deer population, since the normal rate of hunting is insufficient to keep it stable. Some level of hunting will be necessary around there for a long time yet, since any other approach (re-introducing wolves, maybe deer contraceptives?) will take time to bring the population down.

    I heard this story from a friend who lives in Green Bay, and clearly misunderstood. I’m sorry.

    @Area Man:

    If 100% of spree killers were religious, then we could say that religious belief was correlated with spree killing. As it is, that correlation is not one-to-one, and religion is not directly related to this particular form of violence.

    @kyoseki:

    I also don’t understand why most civilians (some security personnel exempted) need to keep handguns in their homes/their cars/on their persons rather than store them at the gun range. I have heard of people carrying a pistol as a backup to their rifle while hunting, but that seemed a little contrived to me. But I agree there would have to be a social change to convince the bulk of the gun-owning population that they don’t need their guns.

    And again, the motivation for stricter gun control in the US would not be to eliminate all killing, but to decrease the rate by a factor of several.

    @dinamalar:

    You have not yet provided a reference showing that PZ said anything like what you said he did. Also: having once said the opposite of what he says now would not make PZ a hypocrite, as long as he admitted that he had been wrong and explained why he had changed his mind. PZ has been wrong many times, and fortunately does admit to it.

  111. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    From the way you worship myers,

    Alright, fuckwitted idjit, show us paying tithes, reading his holy book, praying to him for forgiveness, etc., or shut the fuck up.

    SHOW US THE EVIDENCE FOR YOUR CLAIMS, OR SHUT THE FUCK UP.

    Welcome to science, which is evidence, not your inane claims, based.

  112. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    dinamalar,

    And BTW FYI, be good at English is not about having knowledge, you can be fluent in other language and still be a knowledgeable person

    Yes, that is true. And you seem knowledgeable enough.

    I would like to point out that you are wrong about something, though:

    Atheism is neither an ideology nor a community.

    There may have been a time in the past when atheism was not a community. That has changed. Our collaborative presence here, qua atheists, demonstrates the fact that atheism is a community (or, more probably, many communities).

  113. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    dinamalar

    , if you want a rational discussion lose the ‘tude. Your screaming of unproven hypocrisy and worshippers of someone who isn’t worshipped gets in the way of any real discussion, and makes you sound delusional. Then lead with the the evidence, not opinion of the evidence.

  114. ixchel, the jaguar goddess of midwifery and war ॐ says

    makes you sound delusional.

    Nah, it just makes dinamalar sound like a troll. Delusions are qualitatively different than standard trolling tactics.

  115. says

    Well, it sort of did work in that every time there is a tragedy some bunch of assholes is blaming goths, D&D, backmasking, and 100 other things on the “good Christians don’t do” list.

    And these people and that narrative is SO the dominant one in society right? Goths, D&D, and Judas Priest were all run out on a rail?

    These things are seen as ridiculous by most people, and it’s because it was countered FACTUALLY not by counter bullshit.

  116. says

    In the rush to assign blame for this event, it seems all too easy to say that it’s the fault of society, culture, video games, the NRA or any other group or cause that is vague enough to be demonized. How about we assign blame to where it belongs. Squarely on the shoulders of the man that got dressed in combat gear and went into a movie theater with the intent of killing as many people as he could.
    By saying this is a cultural or social issue is ignoring the fact that this sort of thing doesn’t happen multiple times a day throughout the country. There are three hundred million people in this country. Sadly there are going to be individuals that are truly fucked-in-the-head within that number.
    It wouldn’t matter if every media outlet in this country showed nothing but sunshine and puppy dog kisses, there are going to be unbalanced minds that seek to harm others. Banning fire arms is another false solution because a citizen that is hell bent on harming others will simply resort to another method of destruction in a different venue.
    So what’s the solution? Well if you happen to find it, you’ll be able to end all wars and violent acts that human beings perpetrate on each other in one fell swoop. Just my 2 cents.

  117. John Morales says

    neilschmidt:

    Banning fire arms is another false solution because a citizen that is hell bent on harming others will simply resort to another method of destruction in a different venue.

    Leaving aside that a partial solution is an incomplete rather than a false solution, you reckon that it’s pointless to even try to ameliorate the problem somehow. Very defeatist of you.

  118. says

    So what’s the solution? Well if you happen to find it, you’ll be able to end all wars and violent acts that human beings perpetrate on each other in one fell swoop.

    FFS why are you people always so fucking stupid?

  119. kyoseki says

    @michaelbusch

    I’m still waiting for a definition of “stricter gun control” from someone – California has some of the strictest gun control statutes in the country, but we’re still above the national average in terms of murder rate, so obviously there’s still problems with the “stricter gun control” argument.

    Some of California’s “stricter gun control” ideas are also completely asinine (some aren’t, of course, but it’s pretty obvious that a lot of these are written by people who really don’t know what the fuck they’re doing).

    That said, and since no-one else has provided any suggestions, how about these?

    Generally:
    1: We adopt a set gun control policy nationally and we don’t enact state or city level restrictions – what’s the fucking point of banning a particular firearm or accessory in California if I can just drive to Nevada and buy it there? California has a “safe” gun list, I shit you not, where’s the logic in this?
    2: All new gun sales are registered and all new gun transfers are registered – we do this for fucking cars, I seriously can’t find a decent argument against this for firearms.
    3: NICS background check for all sales and transfers, waiting periods can be waived for any new firearm of a type already owned by the person applying (seriously, if I already own 18 guns why do I need a “cooling off” period for the 19th?) – FYI, I don’t own 18 guns, this is a hypothetical.
    4: “Stand your ground” laws can go fuck themselves – I believe that the right to carry a concealed weapon is an individual choice (and statistically it seems to make no significant different on firearms deaths) but the duty should always be on the person with the firearm to retreat unless doing so jeopardizes another person’s life.
    5: CCW (concealed carry) permits are “shall issue” but should require some fairly extensive training (seriously, it takes more work to get a goddamned driver’s license and that’s fucked up).
    6: All firearms not being used as a carry piece (actively on a person, no leaving it in your goddamned glove box) should be stored unloaded and either within a safe or in pieces (this is one of the few California statutes I agree with, if a kid gets hold of your gun and shoots someone with it, you should be on the hook for manslaughter or negligent homicide).

    Firearms:
    1: Stop banning certain guns because they look scary – this is a classic example of California stupidity, they banned the AR-15 by name and attempted to ban any gun that looks like it – they didn’t ban it based on lethality, only appearance, I can own a gun that shoots the same round with the same accuracy and the same rate of fire, it just has to have a funny looking stock instead of a pistol grip.
    2: Introduce a tiered system of rating firearms, you can own an AR-15 clone if you like, but you have to have owned another firearm for a couple years previous without any issue.
    3: Safety training and testing on all firearms – California has a handgun safety certificate program which is 30 questions of which you should get at least 25 right. Quite frankly, if you’re conscious and have thumbs, you should have no problem, but it’s a good way to weed out idiots who have no place anywhere near a firearm.
    4: For rifles with detachable magazines, anything over 30 rounds should be put in the same category as silencers/suppressors, you can still own them if you want to, but it’s a fuckton of paperwork and someone at the FBI is keeping track of these things
    5: For handguns, the magazine may not extend below the level of the grip, all rounds MUST fit within the firearm itself (typically this will limit most guns to at most 15 rounds or so, but I don’t like the hard limit of 10 because it’s arbitrary, 10 rounds is perfectly OK but 14 is too dangerous? Sorry, no).

    Right, so how’s that? Have at it.

  120. Drolfe says

    Ing,

    Good Christians are never going to outlaw everything on their no-no list, or drive all unspeakable businesses and fads to extinction so worrying about it is a diversion.

    We’re violently agreeing. My comment was mainly to vent my dissatisfaction with the Fourth Estate’s tendency to give these dumb assholes an outsized voice. Most of the general public don’t believe Pres. Obama is Kenyan; most of the general public don’t believe role playing games (or comic book movies) turn you into Satanists or murderers, so why are they giving voice to these fringe, demonstrably false views?

  121. Drolfe says

    Quoting myself, the part of the comment you ignored to bring up the unvictory of Christians over backmasking.

  122. Drolfe says

    And yet Christians are still on the news telling me what parts of popular culture are to blame for every tragedy. So if their propaganda isn’t working why is it still on my teevee?

  123. Lyn M: type en colère en jupe caniché of death says

    @ Drolfe

    And yet Christians are still on the news telling me what parts of popular culture are to blame for every tragedy. So if their propaganda isn’t working why is it still on my teevee?

    Could it be because there are wealthy people who see an advantage in continuing to support such positions? Money gets a lot of things put on TV. It seems to me that what Ing is saying is that the presence of such material does not necessarily result as the presenter of it intended, which is a good point.

  124. says

    Well my goodness, you few certainly showed me the error of my thinking. Defeatist attitude even. Wow. So tell me you forward and progressive thinking problem solvers. How do you intend to deal with this sort of situation? (outside of deriding a post on a blog) I think it’s pathetic that I would have to spell out the exact intent and meaning of an opinion to those of you who insist on finding the most extreme context to judge it by but then again what would be the point. Already I can imagine a few of you leaping to your keyboard, pulse pounding in your head ready to drop nuggets of profound wisdom all over even this post.
    For those of you who appeared to miss my original point:
    Human beings are animals. Sometimes despite our assumed culture and refinement, we act like animals. You can ban guns so that only the government and criminals have them, you can force a G rating on every movie made from now on and you know what? It isn’t going to change a damned thing. Call me defeatist if you want but I know that people are going to do foul things to each other regardless of how many feel good initiatives you force into place. Say, instead of telling me that I’m deluded or a defeatist, how about you offer up some of your own ideas eh? Or are you just so impressed with yourself that all you can do is throw rocks at the observations of another?

  125. Drolfe says

    Ing,
    I agree, counter bullshit is not necessary.

     
    Lyn,
    Rich people want Christians telling me Batman is to blame for murderers on the news? What happened to journalism? Rhetorical, we all know it’s gone to shit thanks to fake-balance, insiderism, both-sides-ism, infotainment, corporate consolidation, ad revenue supplanting subs and numerous lesser failures. All of which is OT and beside the point.

    This is my complaint: Rick Warren and other Falwell-style pastors shouldn’t even be invited to give their harebrained opinions during “news analysis” segments during news shows and during tragedy coverage, but there they are telling me about gays or gamers. What some reverend said about a secular crime or natural disaster shouldn’t even be considered. I don’t want bullshit to counter their bullshit. I want them off the news. I want their ridiculous, widely ignored opinions marginalized as they should be. Enabling these assholes hurts us indirectly — poisoning politics, misinforming voters, etc. I’m ok to leave it here if I’m not too wrong.

    (The news needs to not suck. I don’t think it’s controversial.)

  126. Lyn M: type en colère en jupe caniché of death says

    @ Drolfe

    Enabling these assholes hurts us indirectly — poisoning politics, misinforming voters, etc. I’m ok to leave it here if I’m not too wrong.

    I don’t want them on the news, either. My response to you was to point out that Ing nailed it. Even with this crap spewing forth like ash from Iceland, reality is refusing to co-operate.

    As for what I want on the news? I could stand a nearly all physics station, with some timely breaks for shots of Johnny Depp. What is out there? *Sigh* Well, it ain’t even Johnny most of the time.

  127. gravityisjustatheory says

    neilschmidt
    22 July 2012 at 6:03 pm

    By saying this is a cultural or social issue is ignoring the fact that this sort of thing doesn’t happen multiple times a day throughout the country. There are three hundred million people in this country. Sadly there are going to be individuals that are truly fucked-in-the-head within that number.

    But this sort of thing happens proportionally more in the US than elsewhere, so presumably there is something about America or American society or laws that enables or encourages it.

    I was comparing statistics earlier.
    For the US in 2010 there were 12,996 murders in the US. Of those, 8,775 were caused by firearms.

    That makes 4221 murders not involving firearms.

    US population (as of 2012) 313,967,000
    UK population (2011 census) 63,100,000
    (Both stats from Wikipedia)

    Scaling the US murder rate to UK population would give 848 non-firearm murders.

    The UK had just 550 homicides in the 2011-2012 period.

    So the American non-gun murder rate is significantly higher than our total homicide rate (any/no weapons, and including non-murder homicides).

    Meaning that even if all guns were removed from America (not possible), and noone who was going to shoot someone found an alternative way to kill (not plausible), the US would still have a higher murder rate than the UK.

    Clearly there is something wrong in America independent of the number and availability of guns.

    Sources:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2011/jan/10/gun-crime-us-state)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_USA
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_UK
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18900384

  128. says

    @ Matt Penfold

    Look, here’s the deal: Mass shooting episodes are thankfully very rare. Meaning that the people who commit them are necessarily unique.

    That is a novel use of the word unique. Hint: It is not a synonym for rare. You cannot have more than one instance of something unique, so whilst people who carry out mass shootings may be rare, they are not unique.

    Are you a linguistic prescriptivist? The original meaning of “unique” may be preferred in formal English, but it has acquired a secondary informal meaning of “unusual, uncommon” that dates from the mid 1800s, so it’s not really novel! (Unless you are a vampire?)

    @ dinamalar:

    செறிவறிந்து சீர்மை பயக்கும் அறிவறிந்
    தாற்றின் அடங்கப் பெறின்.

    Didn’t திருவள்ளுவர் tell us that we should restrain our anger, refrain from harsh speech and use gentle words? What use is quoting திருக்குரள் if you don’t practice it?

    But seriously, I read the link you posted to Mr Singham’s post, in which he talks about Christians distancing themselves from Anders Breivik. You claim this is proof of PZ’s hypocrisy. However, Anders Breivik specifically stated in his manifesto that he was defending the historical Christian character of European civilisation from Islam, and even started on online “order” of Crusaders, awarding himself some cyber-medal for being a good defender of European Christendom.

    If James Holmes had made similar statements, discussing a possible Christian motivation for his acts would be justified. However, all we know about him is that he said “I’m the Joker.” Unless “the Joker” is a secret Christian name for Jesus, the two cases simply cannot be compared.

    Your name calling about fat people and sweaty groins or whatever is just making you seem childish and distracting from any valid points you may have.