26 Dec 12

True enlightenment, from another psychologist:

“Predicting gratuitous violence at any particular place and time, and on the part of a particular individual, is impossible and represents a perfect example of what we call ‘The Base-Rate Dilemma’

Violence is extremely rare among our general population, especially mass violence of the Newtown/Aurora/Columbine kind. That is why, when it happens, it makes headlines.

Even if we had a magic method by which we could, without fail, specifically identify every single person with a propensity for violence, it would be of almost no value, because only a minuscule minority of people so identified would ever actually carry through with any species of violent act. For the balance, it would merely represent a particular pattern of electrons swirling around within their brains, and nothing more. By the way, we are nowhere close to having any such ‘method.’

This is the inauspicious nature of psychological measurement, in fact of all medical predictions! When you want to make the highest percentage of correct guesses, you’d guess nobody would ever be violent, and you would be right almost all the time. Of course, you’d be wrong a tiny fraction of the time. These would be ‘false negatives,’ vastly outweighed by the large number of ‘true negatives.’

Conversely, when you predict everyone with a ‘violence-score’ over a particular, arbitrary number will be violent, you will be wrong almost all the time. These would be ‘false positives.’ However, a precious few of those predictions would be correct, but nowhere close to being enough to outweigh your errors.

That being said, the foregoing does not consider the cost of false positives and negatives, nor the benefit of true positives and negatives. Consider the Aurora, Columbine, and Newtown murderers as false negatives. What is the ‘cost’ of lives they ended and injury they caused? Is there even a metric to express it?

On the other side of the issue, imagine several hundred-thousand innocent people arbitrarily rounded-up and imprisoned indefinitely, because, according to some ‘formula,’ they are one-hundred times more likely to act violently than are members of the population in general. In there somewhere may be that one potential mass-murderer, and the forced incarceration of all the rest may prevent him from ever committing a crime, but at the cost of multiple gulags filled with the innocent. Is there a metric that accurately counts that ‘cost?’

The only logical way to address this issue, and simultaneously preserve our freedom as Americans, is make reasonable preparations for the small chance of violence, knowing that it is certain to happen somewhere, sometime. We pay a price to live in a free country!

Sadly, that’s the last thing leftist politicians ever want to do, being much more willing to sacrifice everyone’s civil liberties and individual rights (except their own, of course!) on the altar of wishful thinking.”

Comment: Filling gulags with their political opponents, who have been arbitrarily declared “dangerous,” is a wet-dream of every tyrant. That is what scares me about current mental-health discussions and editorials.

What scares me even more is current discussion of forced confiscation of all guns, because it might prevent one person from misusing one. I know, right now leftists are talking about particular kinds of guns, but their feeding-frenzy will soon embrace all guns, as it already has in the UK.

Let us not con ourselves! The individual rights and freedoms of all of us, and of all future generations of Americans, must be sacrificed “if it saves one life” That is leftist “logic!”

“‘Necessity’ is the plea of every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants, the creed of slaves.”

W Pitt