• What we know, and what we can do, about school shootings

    Since the early 1970s, school shootings at American elementary, secondary, and higher education institutions have been a painful reality for American society; after each incident — like the recent attack in Newtown, Connecticut — there is voluminous dialogue about what can be done to prevent the next such tragedy; a new study explores what we have learned about these tragic incidents, and what can be done to prevent them

  • Connection between goth subculture, mass shootings appears tenuous

    Classmates of the otherwise bland and elusive Adam Lanza, who last Friday killed twenty children and six adults at the Sandy Hook school in Newton, Connecticut, described him as “goth”; is there a “goth” connection in the Newtown school shooting? The question is asked because news reports have connected several perpetrators of both mass shooting and killing on a smaller scale to goth culture; a closer examination shows that the relationship between goth and mass shooting is tenuous

  • NRA shuts down Facebook page in wake of Connecticut shooting

    In the immediate aftermath of the Newtown shooting, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has deactivated its Facebook page, just one week after celebrating the fact that it has gathered 1.7 million “likes” on the page; the debate about whether the United States needs stricter gun controls continues, though

  • Increase in negative messages about Muslims in the media: study

    Organizations using fear and anger to spread negative messages about Muslims have moved from the fringes of public discourse into the mainstream media since the 9/ 11 attacks; to reach these conclusions, a University of North Carolina sociologist used textual detection software to track the influence of 1,084 press releases about Muslims from 120 organizations on more than 50,000 television transcripts and newspaper articles produced from 2001 to 2008

  • Why typhoid fever pathogen targets only humans

    Salmonella typhiis a particularly nasty bacterium that targets only humans and causes typhoid fever, which kills hundreds of thousands of people annually; scientists explain how evolution shaped the pathogen to be so selective

  • “Black swans” and “perfect storms” are often lame excuses for bad risk management

    The terms “black swan” and “perfect storm” have become part of public vocabulary for describing disasters ranging from the 2008 meltdown in the financial sector to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, but some argue that people in government and industry are using these terms too liberally in the aftermath of a disaster as an excuse for poor planning

  • Evidence suggests that three-strikes law does not deter crime

    Contrary to what police, politicians, and the public believe about the effectiveness of California’s three-strikes law, researchers have found that the get-tough-on-criminals policy voters approved in 1994 has done nothing to reduce the crime rate; a criminologist finds that decline in alcohol consumption is most responsible for decreasing crime rate

  • The negative effects of increasing computerized surveillance

    To understand the effects of continuous computerized surveillance on individuals, Finnish researchers equipped ten Finnish households with video cameras, microphones, and logging software for personal computers, wireless networks, smartphones, TVs, and DVDs – then followed what happened

  • The historical and future probabilities of 9/11-size terrorist events

    On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, two statisticians apply statistical methods to try and accurately estimate the probability of a 9/11-size terrorist attack occurring during the next decade; examining the historical data from 1968 to 2007, they show that the likelihood of a 9/11-size attack occurring within this time frame was between 11 and 35 percent; looking forward, the likelihood increase to between 25 and 50 percent – and, under certain circumstances, to 95 percent

  • Men in maritime disasters save themselves first --“women and children first” is a myth

    Since the sinking of the Titanic, there has been a widespread belief that the social norm of “women and children first” gives women a survival advantage over men in maritime disasters, and that captains and crew members give priority to passengers; a new study find that the Titanic disaster, in which 70 percent of the women and children on board were saved compared to 20 percent of the men, is a glaring exception to the rule; during maritime disasters, men use their relative strength to save themselves; what is more, studies of human behavior during natural disasters show the same results: in life-and-death situations, it is every man for himself

  • Selfish-herd theory confirmed

    Many animals spend time together in large groups not because they enjoy each other’s company, but rather because it lowers their own chances of being eaten should an uninvited guest arrive on the scene — or so the theory goes; now, researchers who have strapped GPS-enabled backpacks to flocking sheep and a herding dog provide some of the first hard evidence that this “selfish herd theory” is true

  • Social identification, not obedience, is the motive for unspeakable acts

    What makes soldiers abuse prisoners? How could Nazi officials condemn thousands of Jews to gas chamber deaths? What is going on when underlings help cover up a financial swindle? For half a decade or so, the dominant view – following the famous Milgram experiments – has been that people engage in barbaric acts because they have little insight into what they are doing and conform slavishly to the will of authority; new research suggests that we need to rethink obedience as the standard explanation for why people engage in cruel and brutal behavior

  • Competition among political forces, not religious fundamentalism, inflames anti-Americanism in the Muslim world

    Historically, domestic political divisions within Muslim politics have fallen between secular elite and fundamental Islamic elite factions, with both groups laying claims to anti-American grievances; that competition is most intense not in the most deeply observant Islamic countries, but rather in countries where divisions between secular and religious factions are sharpest; in those countries, competition between political forces — not religious fundamentalism — appears to spark the greatest anti-American sentiment

  • Will rising temperatures lead to rising crime rates?

    General Strain Theory has become one of the leading explanations for crime, and Emory University’s Professor Robert Agnew, has become its chief architect; he argues that rising temperatures will lead to more strains — increased temperatures, heat waves, natural disasters, serious threats to livelihood (farming, herding, fishing), forced migrations on a massive scale, and social conflicts arising as nations and groups compete for increasingly scarce food, fresh water, and fuel – and more strains invariably lead to rising crime rates

  • Study: Islamist extremists emphasize self-defense, not world domination

    A common belief in the West is that al Qaeda wishes to impose Islam everywhere; this might be a pipe dream for the group, but a new study of their use of religious texts suggests that Islamists’ goals are much more modest