Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Thursday, October 05, 2017


People, including the Las Vegas sheriff and reporters are all obsessing over discovering Stephen Paddock's motive for mass murder. That's actually a very easy question.

He was fucking nuts.

In case you don't want to take my word for it here's neurobiologist David Eagleman explaining the possibilities. Just to summarize, Paddock wasn't schizophrenic -- that has onset typically before age 25, and he clearly was fully functional his whole life. And while it's conceivable he had some psychopathic tendencies, there isn't really any evidence of that. He wasn't the most sociable guy but he seemed generally well behaved. And even if he did have a lack of empathy that would not affirmatively motivate his actions.

The likely possibilities are a brain tumor - as Texas Tower sniper Charles Whitman was found to have on autopsy -- or frontotemporal dementia. Unlike Eagleman, I'm leaning against FTD, because Paddock didn't seem to have any noticeable impairment other than the selection of a highly abnormal purpose in life. Usually signs of FTD include such symptoms as aphasia or cognitive impairment along with personality changes. But a tumor would work.

The reason I bring this up is simply to clarify that this incident had nothing whatsoever to do with anything about the culture. It was not the result of the decline of morality, or community. It did not result from atheism or religion, liberalism or conservatism, the abandonment of traditional values, multiculturalism, or any other cause you happen to dislike. It happened because the human cerebral cortex, which we tend to take for granted because we all have one and in fact it is the very essence of what we are, is an awesomely capable machine that can also go haywire. Set it to work on the wrong objectives and you get Las Vegas, or the Holocaust.

Paddock's actions could not have been prevented by a better mental health system, because he was never ascertained as mentally ill and he never sought treatment. They would not have been prevented by him finding God, or joining a bowling league, or Making America Great Again. The only way to prevent this catastrophe would have been to make it much more difficult for him to obtain a massive arsenal of weapons of war, that have no conceivable purpose other than killing people. A registration system that alerted authorities to a guy acquiring 30 or more assault rifles, high capacity magazines, and thousands of rounds of ammunition might have been helpful. Outlawing the manufacture, import and sale of all that crap would have helped as well.

That's why this kind of thing only happens in America. By the way, owning guns does not make you more safe, it makes you less safe. Gun owners are more likely to be shot than non-gun owners, and much more likely to kill themselves. And the successful use of firearms by law abiding citizens in self-defense is vanishingly rare. You don't have to take it from me.


Mark P said...

America's psyche has a brain tumor.

Gay Boy Bob said...

The mass murder in Nice, France by a truck was much more deadly than the Las Vegas murders. In the US, 35,000 highway deaths yearly can be attributed to automobiles. No one is suggesting that trucks or autos be banned because we all understand they have value to society and the misuse by a few, however disgusting, does not warrant taking that value away from the rest of us.

What's missing from the gun debate is the fact that firearms, also, have value to society. Incidences of prevented crimes are not usually reported and don't create easily visible and reportable statistics.

Gary Kleck, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University in Tallahassee and Dr. Mark Getz have conducted multiple research into the gun issue and have estimated that American citizens use privately owned firearms to defend themselves against criminal attacks in far greater numbers and that these defensive acts far outnumber the criminal use of firearms.

I could name more research by other criminologists and even economists that wholly disagree that guns have no value to society and actually contribute billions in saved property from crime, but I don't think science will change your mind. This is clearly an emotional issue for the left.

I might add that the police are charged with preventing and stopping crime. They use guns. If there was something more portable and more effective against crime, they'd be using that instead.

You're not required to own a firearm. So, don't have one if you don't want one.

Gay Boy Bob said...

It happened because the human cerebral cortex, which we tend to take for granted because we all have one and in fact it is the very essence of what we are, is an awesomely capable machine that can also go haywire.

It's always problematic when one attempts to diagnose disease from a distance without examination.

Joe Lombardo said and exam of Paddock's brain has revealed 'no abnormalities' while girlfriend Marilou Danley had 'no concerns' over his mental health.