Brody: Newtown – Prediction still a dream

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An elementary school in Newtown, CT, was the stage on Friday for 27 murders and a lock-down at nearby Danbury Hospital. Irony: Newtown was also home for a state mental hospital, Fairfield Hills, from 1933-1995.

Predicting the future is an old addiction for genes and humans. Wild creatures migrate, others grow fat, and still others move to caves. A mother bear, feeding her cubs, is a soothsayer just as was true for Nordic hags who read not tea leaves but shells and bones.

People who are happy in crowds assert that owning a gun predicts more murders and suicide. Despite popular leftist convictions, John Lott showed clearly that the opposite is true . . . private gun ownership cuts crime.

Prediction has a second problem . . . no one, no one, can do it although everyone can “explain” an event after it happens. Such is true for murder in Newtown. Such is true for the weather or the stock market, it is true for suicide – we must lock up at least 1000 with identical symptoms in order to prevent one suicide. Likewise, for predictions about which pot smoker will have irreversible schizophrenic episodes, or even, which future dodderer will make your perfect mate. Even electricians are asked to read crystal balls when insurance companies ask them to predict fires from knob-and-tube wiring. The electrician who complies with this strange request treats the homeowner not as a victim but as a customer who avoids incineration tomorrow from old wires if he spends $10,000 today on new wires.

Most of us handle this task in a simple way – we pick teachers, lovers, work associates, and bowling partners because they are similar to us and, often, have been so from birth. We are less upset by what Mr. Lanza did but more by how different he was after he shot 27 people. But, then, he wasn’t so different – his mother chose to have three guns.

As for Adam’s mother – she was a fan of guns and shooting them and owned three. She also trained Adam to shoot accurately. Genomics tells us that she had two X chromosomes, he had one. Thus, whatever errors were on one of her chromosomes would likely be buffered by her second one. He had no such crutch and displayed not only Asperger’s but also schizophrenia. Thus, his behavior is explainable although, unfortunately, still unpredictable despite whatever Bloomberg or Obama tell you.

References:

Badcock, Christopher (2009) The Imprinted Brain: How Genes Set the Balance between Autism and Psychosis. London: Jessica Kingsley.

Brody, James (2008) Rebellion: Physics to Personal Will. Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse.

Buss, David (2005) The Murderer Next Door: Why the Mind Is Designed to Kill. NY: Penguin.

Lott, John R. (2000) More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Also in Dead Cats and Clippings, 12/17/12. and at http://www.teapartynation.com/profiles/blogs/newtown-prediction-still-a-dream


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