Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Magical Thinking.

I knew of “the weapons effect" in Gun Control thinking, but I didn't know the actual term or how they justified it.

Interesting stuff from Volokh.

Today’s Supreme Court decision in Brown v. EMA casts doubt on one of the shibboleths of gun prohibition.

Since the 1960s, some social scientists have been attempting to prove that guns cause violence. They do not make this claim in the straightforward sense that guns, as tools, can be used for malign purposes–for example, that a criminal with a gun might attempt a robbery which would he would consider too risky if he did not have a gun. Rather, the claim is that the presence of makes ordinary people more aggressive, anti-social and violent. Thus, as one study put it, “the trigger pulls the finger.” The hypothesis is known as “the weapons effect.”

Over the subsequent decades, researchers tried, with little success, to replicate experiments proving a weapons effect. To the limited extent that any effects could be found, they tended to be confined to subjects with no prior experience with firearms, and they never succeeded in finding any actual resulting violence. Instead, they found, at most, trivial results, such as how some subjects reacted to various words after being prompted with gun imagery.

Not only is it magical thinking, but it's the infantalization of the public. The "theory" explicitly states that average citizens become dangerous when exposed not just to the physical weapons but their images and names.

Thus the thinking that to protect the public the State has to ban possession on the weapons out of fear of contamination. This also leaves open the door to even ban images and words that could cause giant, confused mobs of angry proles.

There's also how amazingly bad the experiments were to justify this theory. They would flash pairs of words and images and measure the responses and get the conclusion of well...

The researchers found that after exposure to plant pictures subjects were 0.005 seconds faster at naming aggressive target words compared to non-aggressive words. However, after exposure to weapon pictures, subject reaction time decreased, and subjects were 0.011 seconds faster at naming aggressive target words compared to non-aggressive words. . . .

Science does not work that way. The error bars alone...

And from that they reached this conclusion

The authors concluded: “These two experiments demonstrate that simply identifying weapons increases the accessibility of aggressive thoughts . . . that thinking about weapons increases accessibility of aggressive concepts in general....

That's some real quackery right there. Phrenologists had more rigor.

And despite Brown v. EMA being about videogames there's more at stake.

The studies on video games have led, at worst, to some minors being unconstitutionally deprived of video games. In contrast, the “weapons effect” has become an article of faith among many anti-gun advocates, who are convinced that guns turn peaceable people into dangerous aggressors. Many anti-gun laws have been enacted in part because of this wrongful idea, and some of those laws have deprived the victims of violent crimes from having the means of effective self-defense. Indeed, continuing belief in the non-existent weapons effect is a major reason why nine states still deny law-abiding trained adults the constitutional right to carry licensed firearms for lawful protection in public places."

Beleif in fantasies has real world costs.
And then there's this comment:

Only private citizens are vulnerable to the “weapons effect” (?)A government badge or ID Card bestows full immunity to this supposed
human malady.

Maybe it doesn't. Maybe they're okay with the "Only Ones" becoming twisted by the "weapon effect."

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