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Category: violence

Last week, I questioned whether we should believe research purporting to show that global warming will make the world "a very violent place by mid-Century."

I haven't reported the story, and I am not in...

Last week, I questioned whether we should believe research purporting to show that global warming will make the world "a very violent place by mid-Century."

I haven't reported the story, and I am not in any position to referee a debate on this question, but I note that Keith Kloor, at his Discover blog Collide-a-Scape has posted a skeptical analysis rich with links to his own and others' previous posts.

During the past decade, he writes, "a cottage industry was born and it built on the climate/conflict meme." Kloor condemns what he calls "the long-dead corpse of environmental determinism."

Whether or not climate change increases the likelihood of...

Seth Borenstein at the AP has written a perfectly good story on a study in Science that says that "aggressive acts like committing violent crimes and waging war become more...

Seth Borenstein at the AP has written a perfectly good story on a study in Science that says that "aggressive acts like committing violent crimes and waging war become more likely with each added degree." And here's the money quote, further down in the story:

"The world will be a very violent place by mid-century if climate change continues as projected," said Thomas Homer-Dixon, a professor of diplomacy at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Ontario.

"In war-torn parts of equatorial Africa, [the study] says, every added degree Fahrenheit or so increases the chance of conflict between groups— rebellion, war, civil unrest—by 11 percent to 14 percent," Borenstein writes. And the researchers parse their predictions even finer: In the U.S., "the...

The lead story in the opinion pages of yesterday's New York Times was a fine reflection on children and gun violence by Alex Kotlowitz...

The lead story in the opinion pages of yesterday's New York Times was a fine reflection on children and gun violence by Alex Kotlowitz, a distinguished reporter formerly of the Wall Street Journal, and the author of the acclaimed bestseller "There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America," about a violence-plagued public housing project. 

Kotlowitz's Sunday piece was entitled "The Price of Public Violence," and it deals with the problem not of children who are murdered, but of those who are wounded or who witness violence. "What is the effect...

Donna Gordon Blankinship of the AP wrote a story yesterday in which she did a wonderful job of explaining why she should not have written the story.

The study was about children...

Donna Gordon Blankinship of the AP wrote a story yesterday in which she did a wonderful job of explaining why she should not have written the story.

The study was about children's TV watching, and her lede was, "Teaching parents to switch channels from violent shows to educational TV can improve preschoolers' behavior, even without getting them to watch less, a study found." She goes on to write that "the results were modest and faded over time, but may hold promise for finding ways to help young children avoid aggressive, violent behavior, the study authors and other doctors said." Or not--a study with modest results that quickly faded probably doesn't offer promise of anything. 

Then she explains how the study was done. Parents filled out diaries recording what their children watched...

On Sunday, Mark Roth of the Pittzburgh Post-Gazette launched an ambitious three-part series on schizophrenia, looking at its toll on...

On Sunday, Mark Roth of the Pittzburgh Post-Gazette launched an ambitious three-part series on schizophrenia, looking at its toll on individuals; the efforts to understand and treat the disease; and its connection to violent behavior. 

The series is part of an even bigger project, a year-long effort to explore five brain disorders. In addition to schizophrenia, they are autism, depression, phobias, and chronic  traumatic encephalopathy, the disorder that is now increasingly being found in former football players. This is a stunning exercise in advance planning, and it apparently means that Roth can't take a day off until sometime in 2014. It might also mean that Roth's services will not be available for spot news coverage of mental illness or other medical stories. But that is the...

Many people think there are no answers to the problem of violence and mental illness, including such journalist luminaries as Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour. As I've noted here, that's not the case;...

Many people think there are no answers to the problem of violence and mental illness, including such journalist luminaries as Gwen Ifill of PBS Newshour. As I've noted here, that's not the case; her brief commentary on the issue was wrong

Now David Brown of The Washington Post shows up with a story that makes my point. He reports that there is a lot known about the links between mental illness and violence, and that researchers have identified things--such as alcohol and drug abuse--that can increase the risk of violence in people who are mentally ill. 

Spoiler: No, there is no screening test that will...

It now appears that Washington will engage in a debate over gun control, and possibly go beyond a feckless "national conversation" and actually do something. Gun control is on the agenda: but beware who is controlling the agenda.

Much of the talk in the first two business days after the Newtown, CT...

It now appears that Washington will engage in a debate over gun control, and possibly go beyond a feckless "national conversation" and actually do something. Gun control is on the agenda: but beware who is controlling the agenda.

Much of the talk in the first two business days after the Newtown, CT shooting involves suggestions to restrict the use of guns by people with mental illness, as reported in Science Times by Richard A. Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan and a regular Times contributor.

It's hard to argue with that. Guns shouldn't be in the hands of crazy people who are likely to use them to commit murder. But there are two problems with this emerging "national conversation" about guns and mental illness. 

First,...

The photograph of a bald, grinning, seemingly defiant Jared Loughner is the face that launched a...

The photograph of a bald, grinning, seemingly defiant Jared Loughner is the face that launched a thousand diagnoses.

Psychiatrists, psychologists, news anchors, and others have shown little reluctance to diagnose Loughner, whether or not they know anything about psychiatry, and in the face of what might seem to be a rather large impediment: None of them have examined the patient.

From the Arizona Daily Star, we learn that Loughner "appears to fit the criteria" for court-ordered care for someone "persistently and acutely disabled." That evaluation comes from Charles "Chick" Arnold, "a leading Arizona expert on mental health...

Yesterday, I...

Yesterday, I posted on some of the issues raised by the Supreme Court review of a California law restricting the sale of video games to minors. And I suggested that we get together again today to review the coverage. My contention is that this is in part a science story, because it turns on whether video games are bad for kids. That's an empirical question; not a matter of opinion or legal doctrine. And it's critical to the case: If research shows conclusively that video games are not bad for kids, the law is a remedy for a problem that doesn't exist--and great legal minds shouldn't be wasting their time on this. I suggested...

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on a California law that would restrict the sale of...

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on a California law that would restrict the sale of violent video games to minors. As Andrew Moseman reports in a clip round-up for the Discover aggregator blog 80beats, the case raises interesting first-amendment questions, and prompts reconsideration of the restrictions that already apply to minors--such as those regarding alcohol and tobacco.

I don't want to minimize the importance of the first-amendment issues; such things are critically...