Streetwise Professor

January 10, 2011

Hypothesis Testing

Filed under: Politics — The Professor @ 10:05 am

Not risking cutting themselves with Occam’s Razor, the mainstream media and leftish commentariat (but I repeat myself) is fixated on pushing the convoluted hypothesis that Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Rush Limbaugh, yadda yadda, drove a clearly deranged individual to shoot AZ Rep. Giffords and murder six people.

All right, let’s take that as a hypothesis, and generalize it a bit.  The more generalized hypothesis is that language and rhetoric that describes or depicts or advocates violence, no matter how metaphorically, routinely leads otherwise normal people to commit heinous, violent acts.

Let’s now consider some implications of that hypothesis:

  • Rap lyrics that extol cop killing and rape are directly responsible for the murders of policemen and rapes.
  • Video games that graphically depict wholesale slaughter cause those who play them to commit violent acts.
  • Death metal music is a direct cause of violent crime, including the Columbine massacre.

Indeed, given that the language and images that supposedly triggered the AZ killer were (a) disseminated far less widely and for a far shorter period than violent metal or rap, or video games, and (b) were far less graphic and suggestive than any of these, it would be reasonable to hypothesize that rap, etc., should be tied directly to an immense body count.

I’d love to hear from Krugman, et al, a serious discussion of this hypothesis and whether the evidence supports it.  Because if the data rejects the more general hypothesis, it is ludicrous in the extreme to assert that the more limited Sarah Palin Did It hypothesis is valid.

As for me, I’m sticking with Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation: Crazy people do crazy things.  And trying to rationalize crazy is nuts.

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6 Comments »

  1. Violent metal, rap and video games though perhaps more graphic do not focus hate on specific inviduals. Sarah Palin’s ad specifically listed out individuals. Democrats also put out crazy ads like that in the past. But those ads were not continually amplified/propagate through a movement like the Tea Party. Now there is evidence that Tea Party attracts whacky types and lets them collectively grow hatred. This combined with a focus on specific indivdual could ptotentially be more powerful than diffuse influences of music/games on dispersed individuals.

    Comment by Surya — January 10, 2011 @ 4:00 pm

  2. Yup, sure:
    http://www.binscorner.com/pages/d/death-threats-against-bush-at-protests-i.html

    Comment by Gordon — January 10, 2011 @ 5:49 pm

  3. When deranged individuals like those in the above link come together, it definitely has a bigger effect than some random games/music. No doubt gatherings like these led to increased security threats on his life. And Obama has recorded 400% more death threats than Bush. But then these two guys have a huge security detail. Not every one who faces increased security threats due to mass propagated hatred gets a security cover. But we have to admit that there can be situations where specific actions/gatherings pose bigger threats than the generic plain vanilla variety. In the case of Gabrielle Giffords, Sarah Palin’s hateful & egocentric ad did pose such an enhanced threat. Perhaps this particular incident wasn’t induced by the Palin ad….perhaps.

    Comment by Surya — January 10, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

  4. As for me, I’m sticking with Occam’s Razor, the simplest explanation: Crazy people do crazy things. And trying to rationalize crazy is nuts.

    Except when Muslims do it (and hence we must kick them out of the army, harass them at airports and forbid them from building mosques).

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 15, 2011 @ 11:56 am

  5. S/O–Still full of it even after your big trip. Major fail re Major Hasan, Ground Zero, etc. If you can’t tell the difference, you are beyond help.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — January 15, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

  6. Hyperbole is a valid rhetorical device – no? 😉

    I actually agree with most of your post, but there’s a crucial (IMO) distinction between Palin and rappers / video game designers. The latter are artists; Palin pretends to serious politics. She can plaster sightmarks over the interwebs to her heart’s content, but many Americans would be glad if she fully retired into talk show radio punditry beforehand.

    PS. I’d appreciate it if you kept Facebook and blog separate. Thanks.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — January 16, 2011 @ 1:28 am

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