Wednesday, July 30, 2014
In several past posts I have been attempting to find out how much various contributing causes impact violent crime. The leading long term cause for violent crime is almost certainly early child abuse that leads to escalating violence later in life but other things clearly are also factors which need to be addressed including poverty which I covered in Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows. Additional posts that covered other potential contributing causes to crime include Does lack of education increase violent crime? Religion? Politics, not technology, caused botched executions where I indicated that and Wal-Mart crime: Rolling Back Safety more than prices?
In two of the past reviews part of the way I attempted to narrow things down was to compare crime rates for different states with whether they use corporal punishment in schools, how much poverty they have, how many children graduate from high school and how religious they are according to surveys. In this one I compare crime rates with laws about gambling and gun control. These are not as consistent but they still provide some indication and additional studies have been used to compare them and add more information to understand how these might be understood and crime can be reduced.
This review includes information from the following sources:
City-Data Crime rate in the US: Murders, Rapes, Robberies, Assaults, Burglaries, Thefts, Auto thefts, Arson
Wikipedia Crime rate for cities above 250,000 population
Gun laws by state
Firearms Death Rate per 100,000 (most recent) by state
Gambling in the United States
Murder rates by state at the Death Penalty Information Center .
Incarceration rates by state
reports of violent crime per 100,000 and previous post about Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows
Comparing gun laws to murder rates, incarceration rates and rates of reports of violent crime doesn't seem to indicate a clear correlation that is easily recognizable. However when comparing rates of gun related deaths with the most effective gun laws there is a much clearer correlation indicating that states with more effective gun laws, in most cases have lower gun related deaths. Even a close look at the comparison of gun laws to murder rates, incarceration rates and rates of reports of violent crime indicates that if anything there are slightly more murders violent crimes and higher incarceration rates in the states with more effective gun laws; although, since the correlation isn't quite as easy to see as other correlations it would be easy for anyone to selectively choose their facts to support which ever position they believe in.
There are more than twice as many gun related deaths as there are murders in this country and some of the murders are not gun related which means that close to 60 to 70 percent if not more of gun related deaths are probably either the result of accidents or suicides. In some states like Alaska and Wyoming where they have relatively low murder rates but high gun related deaths it is much higher. On top of that the murders that get the most attention in the media are the mass murders which quickly turn into enormous media stories; yet they only account for about one in 170 murders. In 2012 there were Sixteen US Mass Shootings, Leaving at Least 88 Dead; but there were 14,827 murders according to FBI reports and the number of gun related deaths must be over 30,000.
There has been a common claim that there with More Guns, Less Crime popularized by a book by John Lott but these statistics clearly don't support that and other reviewers that have looked at his statistical claims closer have found more problems with them. However among gun rights advocates they repeat this over and over again without reviewing the facts behind it.
One of the most common arguments made is that mental illness is the leading cause of murders; and this may be true but they're much more likely to kill large numbers if they have easy access to guns and if there is a problem with mental illness is the best way to handle it to make guns easier to get? The statistical correlation comparing corporal punishment, graduation rates, poverty and even religion are all much clearer than with gun control laws. Recognizing and treating mental illness is is one of the best argument often made for addressing this; however recognizing the causes that preceded mental illness may be even more important in the long run although it won't be adequate to address the people that already have mental illness problems.
In most cases Mental illness is almost always something that begins early in life and the same research that indicates that corporal punishment and other forms of child abuse leads to escalating violence later in life also indicates that it also leads to escalating amounts of mental illness. Researchers like Dorothy Otnow Lewis and Lonnie Athens have looked into the back ground of many of the biggest mass murders and found more than the usual amount of abuse in their early childhood. In many cases Dorothy Otnow Lewis has also found hospital or court records to back up her claims and she has said that when she looks close enough she has always found some evidence of early abuse in murderers but this isn't always easy to find and many people who decline to look jump to the conclusion that the evidence of abuse isn't there.
According to Dr. Jeffrey Swanson "On the face of it, a mass shooting is the product of a disordered mental process. You don't have to be a psychiatrist: what normal person would go out and shoot a bunch of strangers?" Mother Jones: What Do We Actually Know About the Relationship Between Mental Illness and Mass Shootings?
Early childhood education is also a major factor when it comes to developing rational thinking skills and learning how not to go along with the crowd. On both sides of the argument on this issue, and many other, there has been an enormous amount of appeal to emotions and pressure to go along with the arguments from people on their own side.
The five states with the highest per capita gun death rates in 2008 were Alaska, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Wyoming according to D.C. group says Alaska leads in gunshot deaths. but unlike Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama; Alaska and Wyoming don't have among the highest murder rates. In Alaska "there were 142 gun-related deaths statewide in 2008, according to the CDC data. Of those, 116 were suicides, 18 were homicides and eight were either unintentional, of undetermined intent or some combination of the two."
Wyoming has similar suicide rates according to Guns: A way of life in Wyoming. In these two states they need more availability for mental health access for suicide prevention rather than homicidal tendencies.
However it would almost certainly be more important, whether it is preventing suicide or homicide to do much more to address the vast economic and educational inequality yet that is rarely discussed when it comes to the problems with crime in this country.
By comparison the death rate for auto accidents are still 20 % higher than guns although they're going down while according to this report the rate of gun related deaths have been going up; however the rate of murders ahve been going down until 2012 when they were about the same as 2011. The number of people that die because of air pollution is 200,000 in the U.S. which is more than five times either automobiles or guns.
There are plenty of other studies to chose from and some of them use statistics from different years to come up with their conclusions but if there done well then the results should be relatively consistent although when support for one side of the issue impacts the research this often isn't the case. A close look at both sides will almost certainly indicate at least a little bias but I suspect that one side will demonstrate much more bias and less rational and accurate use of the statistics. If you need me to tell me which is which you probably won't believe me but here are some from both sides.
Mother Jones: A Guide to Mass Shootings in America
Mother Jones: 10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down
Mother Jones: More Guns, More Mass Shootings—Coincidence?
Mother Jones: At Least 194 Children Have Been Shot to Death Since Newtown
Mother Jones: More Than Half of Americans Now Have Tougher Gun Laws
STUDY: States With Loose Gun Laws Have Higher Rates Of Gun Violence
20 Deadliest Gun States
Less Guns, Less Crime- Debunking the Self-Defense Myth
Twelve facts about guns and mass shootings in the United States
Crime Research Prevention Center: Evaluating Mother Jones’ “10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down”
The Truth About Guns: Debunking Mother Jones’ ’10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down’
The Unsinkable John Lott Vs. "Freaky" Economics
This method of compiling data for gambling is rough and not the best way of doing so but it does show that the states that have higher murder, incarceration and violent crime rates all allow more gambling of one kind or another than those with the lowest rates. However as I explained previously in The tragedy of gambling politics in United States the odds in organized gambling has to be fixed in favor of the house one way or another or there is no way they could cover their expenses let alone make a profit. The marketing of gambling is based on an enormous amount of hype and they attract customers by praying on their dreams and appealing to their emotion so that they don't think rationally.
The correlation with gambling and crime is probably not as large as other contributing factors including child abuse that escalates to more violence, poverty and lack of education but for problem gamblers it is almost certainly much higher than for the majority of the public. That doesn't mean that the majority is not impacted indirectly by gambling since they could become victims of crime that might be related to gambling and they have to pay taxes for the higher prison and court coots related to gambling. The enormous amount of efforts put into gambling can't possibly cover all their expenses and it provides no beneficial product, unless you count entertainment which is misleading since people aren't nearly as entertained when they lose as the gambling industry would have us believe; and that entertainment value fades quickly while the poverty is around for a long time.
For one reason or another the discussion about gambling almost always mainly involves two option either allowing more gambling or banning it. It rarely if ever involves allowing gambling but giving the public the information they need to make important decisions.
If they required gambling institutes to inform the players how much of their revenue is used for over head how much is kept for profit and how much is returned to the winners.
If players were constantly reminded that the average gambler isn't going to get more than seventy five cents on the dollar and the rare person who beats the odds would have to pay higher taxes then they would know that the average player probably doesn't get more than fifty cents back on the dollar and the more they play the more they lose.
There are plenty of other studies more thorough than this that indicates that there is a consistent increase in crime associated with gambling including this rare article by the Washington Post; the vast majority of other coverage about gambling from the media and the political establishment is in favor of gambling despite it's obvious flaws:
The one benefit that goes towards communities is increased jobs but they're only local jobs and even that benefit comes at a price while the costs in higher crime and abnkrupcy or other problems expands beyond the local area if they draw players from further regions.
Even the benefit of added jobs can be found other ways if communities try to create jobs that actually provide a benefit to society by fulfilling an legitimate need.
No Casino Surrey opposition to gambling including studies on local problems with crime
Man Tied to Murders at Detroit Barber Shop, Gambling Den Charged With Assault
National Gambling Studies
Casino gambling causes crime - Institute of Government and Public Affairs PDF igpa.uillinois.edu/.../PF13-2_CasinosCrime.p.
Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation
Poverty and Casino Gambling in Buffalo - Stop Predatory Gambling Foundation PDF
Gambling addiction leads many down criminal road
XI. Gambling and Crime
Casinos blamed for rise in crime by gamblers
In both cases it appears that more rational policies could contribute to reductions in crime in the long term but they almost certainly won't provide immediate results that can be easily recognizable. Another major contributing factor about both these issues is the culture and the way it is covered in both the political establishment and the media. Unfortunately in both cases this isn't addressed very well at all; Instead of informing the public in the most effective way possible about the effects of gun laws or gambling policies they routinely attempt to manipulate their emotions for the political purposes of those in power.
In the long run the most effective way to address these issues will also have to include political and media reform that enables more people to get their views across and doesn't give overwhelming advantages to lobbyists for the gambling and gun industries or any other special interests. If the more rational researchers are considered special interests then the different interests should be more balanced.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Aldous Huxley picked a great title for his book, A Brave New World that anticipated a slogan that propagandists can't resist. But of course his novel explained some of the methods an authoritarian government might use to indoctrinate their people; so the last thing spokesmen for such a government might want to do is draw attention to it by using this phrase, especially if they're using many of the same tactics described in the book or slight variations.
According to a Guardian article A Brave New World is among top 10 books some Americans most want banned. The reason given is sexually explicit material; however I suspect that some people are far more concerned about the political discussion and that some people might recognize similarities with what is going on in the media and the political establishment. This Saturday, for one reason or another, one of the pundits on the Morning show at ABC used the phrase when discussing whatever obsession of the day they were covering; then they quickly went into one of their bad jokes and everyone started giggling which is what they do almost non-stop on morning shows now.
I don't know how many people noticed but I suspect that they will avoid repeating it too often if they want to avoid drawing additional attention to it although they might not want to let people know why they would do so.
In A Brave New World the way they keep the majority complacent is to keep them happy when they can and they teach them at an early age to hate books and like many authoritarian books they heavily restrict access or ban books. In the modern world they don't quite ban books but they do everything they can to keep people distracted and they seem to be mixing up whatever method they can to keep people distracted and going along with the program of the political establishment by using what ever method they can including some from other classics as well, including The Iron Heel, by Jack London and, of course, Orwell's 1984; which is often compared to A Brave New World.
With consolidated control of the press and publishing companies it is extremely rare where anyone can get anything even close to the quality of these classics published anymore and even rarer for them to get much if any publicity if they do manage to get something published. Some of these books, including A Brave New World, describe how the political establishment conducts research into how to manipulate the public and convince them to go along with the program and in the real world they do just that but it isn't, by it's strictest definition entirely conspiracy, because it isn't completely secrets. As I discussed in several previous posts, including Political Psychologist Are Suppressing Democracy there is an enormous amount of research published in the academic and political world that is rarely ever mentioned to the majority of the public, or at least not in a manner that would enable them to avoid being manipulated.
This doesn't mean that there isn't additional aspects of it that does involve conspiracy; there clearly is. They routinely indicate that they do an enormous amount of psychological research which they consider proprietary, which means secrecy may be protected by law, in some cases. This clearly fits the definition of a conspiracy and even though they don't explain all of their activities they can't hide the results which are clearly incompetent if they want to inform the public in the most effective manner possible and they're also clearly manipulative so it isn't hard to figure what some of their manipulation tactics are designed to do.
One of the most effective manner they use now seems to be to entertain us by attempting to keep us glued to our TV watching true crime stories that are clearly done more to hype the truth and manipulate emotions and of the three major networks NBC seems to be the most effective at that with Dateline, To catch a predator and many other shows although they do their share of attempting to keep us watching with non-stop giggling at bad jokes in the morning and the other shows do their share of using crime to keep us watching; if there is one that does a better job with non-stop crime coverage it is probably Headline News with three consecutive hours of demagogues demonizing the crime du jour.
One of the few relatively new books that does describe authoritarian methods is The Hunger Games Suzanne Collins and it was also on the list of top ten books that people tried to ban along with Nickle and Dimed which is non-fiction and exposes Wal-Mart's practices among other corporations. Before that was Stephen King's The Running Man where chasing game contestants is part of the entertainment to keep the public glued to the television for entertainment purposes.
Anyone that rely s on the movie version of this starring Arnold Schwarzenegger might not realize how close the book, which was much better, comes to modern reality, although even it is an exaggeration, perhaps only a slight exaggeration. In the book the majority of the public were poor and barely got by and the best opportunity to raise funds was to enter "the games" where they supposedly offered a big reward for anyone that could survive a chase which was in the public streets, unlike the movie version where it was in an enclosed studio. The public was encouraged to call in and help hunt him down.
Whether it was the book or the movie it turned out that the government didn't keep their promises for a potential reward if they won and they were just used for entertainment purposes to keep the rest of the public cheering on while the government hunted down poor people who entered the games.
The fictional version may seem horrifying and too exaggerated to be true but the real version which is true isn't much better and they continue using poor people for entertainment purposes and it is luring in an enormous amount of people.
And in the real version many people almost certainly don't realize that they're being manipulated and that the next person that could be used for entertainment purposes could be them.
Ironically the people that find this entertaining, in many cases could be the most likely to be used for entertainment purposes and in some cases they actually volunteer for it at least when it comes to being participants in shows like Jerry Springer or Jenny Jones. Amazingly the manipulations tactics on the Jenny Jones show managed to incite a murder when a gay man told an associate that he had a crush on him and three days later killed him. There was a law suit which followed and the family of the deceased was awarded $25 million, but that decision was later overturned by the Michigan appellate court which ruled that the producers were not responsible for what happened to the guests after their appearance on the show.
Amazingly the use of people being manipulated by the media for entertainment on a trash show turned into a real life drama where someone really was killed for entertainment or something way to damn close. The media wasn't held responsible due to court rulings that overruled a jury system and the show wasn't canceled because of the law suit but because of ratings.
The justification to censor many of the books including the Brave New World, 1984 and the Hunger Games is often sex scenes or at least that is the reason presented by the media but the bigger problem is that they all might expose manipulation tactics, which they don't want to admit or draw additional attention to this might have been especially true about the Running Man but they seem to have used different tactics to avoid drawing attention to it.
When it first came out in the eighties it seemed like just another horror story but thirteen years ago the last thing the media might have wanted to do was draw attention to it because in the book version at the end its tanks were still better than a quarter full.
So they just ignored it and it seems to have worked better than trying to ban it.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
I have heard an enormous amount of talk about justice from the traditional media and the political establishment. This has, of course, been going on for a long time and I'm certainly everyone has as well.
This discussion of justice almost never involves figuring out what the root causes of crime are and attempting to inform the public of the most effective ways to prevent them are. I often get the impression that either I don't know what this form of justice is or the majority of the people on the commercial media don't know what justice is.
That doesn't mean that there aren't efforts to figure out what the most effective ways to reduce crime are; but unfortunately the best ones get little or no attention from the commercial media or the political establishment. Intentionally or not this results in an opportunity to compare crime rates from different states and other characteristics from those states to find out what some of the contributing causes of crime might be.
I have reported on the leading contributing causes of crime, especially violent crime, previously and come to the conclusion that the biggest one is almost certainly early child abuse, including corporal punishment, that escalates to bullying, hazing, domestic violence and other forms of crime later in life. another major contributing factor is almost certainly poverty especially in some abandoned inner city schools where the educations system is extremely dysfunctional. The most recent report of this has been Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows which demonstrates that reducing child abuse and repairing schools could do an enormous amount to reduce crime dramatically and Politics, not technology, caused botched executions where I indicated that there is an enormous amount of evidence to indicate that the death penalty as a deterrent, which has an enormous amount of political support, clearly doesn't work at all and is distracting from real solutions.
Reviewing the ten states that have the highest and lowest graduation rates; the strongest or weakest religious beliefs; most effective or lenient gun laws; most or least support of organized gambling; and political affiliation and how they deal with these issues; and comparing them with the highest murder rates, incarceration rates, and reports of violent crime could help understand how these might influence crime.
Statistics like these might help indicate causes of crime but without additional back up I wouldn’t consider them the strongest types of evidence to indicate what causes crime. In some cases there are strong correlations indicated and others they aren’t quite so clear. With multiple contributing causes it would be inappropriate to jump to conclusions without sorting out potential contributing factors; but this could narrow things down. In mot cases additional research has been included when it has been easily available.
This includes hard facts which can be confirmed from sources that have been cited followed by an evaluation, which I don’t expect everyone to agree with, although if there is a strong correlation it almost certainly indicates some kind of a connection one way or another.
This is not be the most authoritative review; but I did my best to show sources and present the work in a way that people without advanced education can understand it and come to their own conclusions by reviewing it themselves.
Most of the conclusions will be saved until after showing the work, as it should be, but, regrettably in many cases the political establishment and the media is ignoring some of the most important research; in many cases it is clear that the most rational course of action isn't being chosen by politicians and instead of informing the public about it the media often repeats appeals to emotions that distract from research that would enable the public to make some of the most rational decisions.
Even if this isn’t the best review available it is, as far as I can tell significantly better than what the political establishment and the media presents.
The reason for this isn’t because this is as thorough as it should be; regrettably it is better than the political establishment and the mainstream media because they don’t even seem to be trying to do a good job.
If you doubt that take a look at either this review or one even better from academic sources, alternative media or the library and think about whether you think the political establishment or media comes close to matching it.
The first part of this review covers comparisons with graduation rates and religious faith. Follow up posts will include coverage gambling, gun control, rates of gun related deaths, political affiliation and additional comparisons with the different categories. Additional follow ups might include reviews of violence from military veterans, efforts to prevent crime from grass roots efforts or alternative parties to the Democrats and Republicans and other countries and the impact that insurance advertising or other corporate interests might have on crime.
This review includes information from the following sources:
City-Data Crime rate in the US: Murders, Rapes, Robberies, Assaults, Burglaries, Thefts, Auto thefts, Arson
Wikipedia Crime rate for cities above 250,000 population
Mississippi most religious, Vermont least, survey says 01/29/2009
Church or synagogue attendance by state
State rankings of high school and college graduation rates 2011
State rankings of college graduation rates up to 2009 at this time
Gun laws by state
Firearms Death Rate per 100,000 (most recent) by state
Gambling in the United States
Murder rates by state at the Death Penalty Information Center .
Incarceration rates by state
reports of violent crime per 100,000 and previous post about Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows
The correlation with high school graduation and lower rates of violent crime and incarceration should be common knowledge by now and it has been confirmed in numerous studies over the last several decades, including some listed below. This should be a clear indication that more efforts should be made to keep children in school including, at time providing adequate funding for the schools and providing social programs to help parents when they need it, since this is far less expensive than prisons later in life.
Unfortunately instead of doing this they take the connection between high drop-out rates for granted and rarely discuss it while repeating get tough on crime rhetoric over and over again. In many cases, in addition to spending more on prisons they also spend more on legal expenses and propaganda to avoid putting the funds into lower income school. The arguments to justify this are routinely ignored when it comes to funding higher income schools.
Study Finds High Rate of Imprisonment Among Dropouts 7/08/2009
Study bolsters argument linking graduation rates to cutting crime 09/12/2013
Study Bolsters Argument Linking Graduation Rates to Cutting Crime 09/27/2013
When it comes to murder rates and incarceration rates religious states are higher in both cases; however it isn't quite so clear when it comes to total reports of violent crime, although religious states seem to have slightly higher rates. When comparing it to states based on their church attendance it is almost identical although Utah is in fifth, which means that one of the states with the ten lowest murder and incarceration rates is among the most religious.
A relatively brief glance at the murder rates over the past seventeen years indicates that the murder rates haven't changed that much and it is mostly the same states that are in the top and bottom murder rates, although at times Arkansas drops barely out of the tenth it is often replaced by Georgia which is also in the ten most religious, making this change negligible.
This still doesn't explain causation; however as I explained in the previous post about corporal punishment the people that are most likely to use corporal punishment are often the most religious since it is often part of their religious belief as taught by many religious leaders including James Dobson. And the research cited in previous posts about this also indicate reason to believe that early abuse as a child often leads to escalating abuse later in life including bullying, hazing and domestic violence.
There have been several other studies to determine if religion impacts crime as well and they haven't all come to the same conclusions; one that used similar methods and came to similar conclusions is Religion and Crime: Is There a Correlation? | Visual.ly. They do, appropriately, caution, "But remember: correlation is not necessarily causation. There are many other variables, including poverty and education levels, that affect the crime rate." However, as I said, other research almost certainly indicates that part of the evidence for causation is almost certainly related to the connection with corporal punishment and other forms of abuse to children that might be related to religion. Also there appears to be a correlation with poverty, lack of education and religion as well, although it is difficult to tell which one causes the others or if another factor causes all three, or if they cause each other.
The most notable study, that I know of, that comes to significantly different conclusions is How religion cuts crime: Church-goers are less likely to shoplift, take drugs and download music illegally, which is based primarily on a survey of 1,200 people in the United Kingdom. It was led by PhD student Mark Littler. This means that they're essentially relying on the honesty of their respondents and it doesn't cover more serious crimes since they're not common enough to "show a significant pattern." It doesn't take into consideration murder rates or crimes in the U.S. or other countries.
The sources that I used to determine religious beliefs also use surveys, however they have less motive to lie about whether or not they believe in God than they might about whether or not they might be inclined to commit certain crimes like the use of illegal drugs and music piracy or other crimes. The statistics from the FBI for murder, violent crime and incarceration rates are almost certainly more reliable, although in the case of violent crime it is reported by local communities on a voluntary basis. Voluntary reports of violent crime is the one where the correlation with religion and crime is the least conclusive.
However this doesn't mean there is nothing to this study although I don't consider it very reliable. While reviewing the crimes in Sweden for the previous post about Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows I noticed that one of the few crimes that they might have higher rates of were theft of intellectual property or other property crimes, which might have been slightly higher. When it comes to violent crime, including murder Sweden has much lower rates and they're less religious than the U.S. As far as the theft of intellectual property there should be some doubt about whether this should be considered a crime at all in many cases. The laws on this haven't been made in a democratic manner and they almost certainly benefit those with the most political power at the expense of those with the least as I attempted to explain in a post about Copyright violators are thought criminals. Intellectual property isn't actually physical property and when someone listens to a song or reads an educational book they don't deprive others of the ability to do so as well. And the laws often do more to protect large institutions than they do to protect the authors they were originally intended to protect.
One reason for this might be that regions teach obedience to authority and they're less likely to teach critical thinking skills. Regardless of which religion people belong to the beliefs are chosen by their leaders and they're preached to the majority who aren't expected to question them, in most cases. This might explain why religious people might be more willing to accept their leaders laws about intellectual property than non-religious people are. In a democratic system the public is supposed to understand the laws and participate in their creation.
This article also cites Belief in hell, according to international data, is associated with reduced crime, which also uses a large amount of information from surveys, to back up their conclusions but fails to mention those that disagree or address their concerns. The methods used by this study are more complex than I can review at a brief glance but I remain skeptical of it for now. The information he cites for his conclusions aren't readily available; but the information that is available seems to contradict his conclusions. Even though the surveys that I have seen to determine religious faith doesn't address belief in heaven and hell it is reasonable to believe the less religious, living in states with lower murder or violent crime rates are less likely to believe in heaven and hell.
In another study which mostly agrees with my conclusions, Religion, Atheism and Crime, they claim "Religiosity had no significant relationship with violent crime, but it had a notable positive correlation with property crime. To see this, I simply used Microsoft Excel to plot the numbers against each other (see charts below). If nothing else, this data disproves the notion that less religious belief inexorably contributes to, or is correlated with, more crime. Not only is this completely false, but the opposite--that religion is correlated with crime--is somewhat true."
I didn't look as closely at property crime as he did but find it hard to see how he came to the conclusion that there is "no significant relationship with violent crime" when he used similar sources to mine, although for different years and they had several of the most religious states among the highest murder rates and the least religious among the lowest murder rates. later in his article he does come to seemingly contradictory conclusions that are more in agreement with my conclusions; "The US is the most murderous country in the rich world by far, while being one of the most religious. About 33% of Americans indicate religion is not important in their daily lives. For the least murderous societies (which include Singapore, Austria, Norway, Switzerland and Germany), this number is never lower than 40%, and goes as high as 78%"
Some states which might be a notable exceptions to the correlation between religion and higher crime might be Virginia, Kentucky and Utah. Virginia and Kentucky are among the ten states with the least reports for violent crime but they're on a voluntary basis so this data isn't as reliable as the murder rates or incarceration rates; and Utah is in the lowest for all three; and they're in the highest ten for graduation rates. Utah is the only state that is mostly, 60%, Mormon. The only other state that has a double digit population of Mormons is Idaho and they also have relatively low crime rates but they're not among the most religious.
As I indicated in A Relatively Brief History of the Mormon Church they have an extensive history of violence from the nineteenth century so this might seem surprising. However in the nineteenth century the whole country was more violent including other religions. There is also evidence of numerous high profile cases that have been listed in the previous article and they all had a history of violent upbringing; but they're only a small percentage of the population.
One reason why Utah might have lower violent crime rates than other states is that they have strong oppositions to gambling and drinking, which are also contributing factors to violence. A more important reason why they might have lower violent crime rates than other religions might be that unlike most other religions the Mormon Church no longer supports corporal punishment for children and it is, for the most part, banned in schools according to Beating Children With State Support. The article claims that “the LDS church has consistently discouraged this approach to child rearing;” however a review of the history of the Mormon church doesn't back this up especially the early Mormon history. But in more recent history former President of the Mormon Church Gordon Hinckley, “called physical abuse of children unnecessary, unjustified and indefensible.” He said: “I have never accepted the principle of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child.’ I am persuaded that violent fathers produce violent sons. Children don’t need beating. They need love and encouragement.”
If the majority of the Mormon followers abide by this belief then that could explain the reduction in violence among Mormons; however this might not apply to sects that are often referred to as Fundamentalists, like Warren Jeffs sect. Any violence that happens in some of these sects might not be reflected in this review since it is based on reports of violence that are reported and isolated sects would almost certainly not report any violence that might take place there if they have a choice.
A closer look at this might indicate that it provides additional evidence that corporal punishment leads to escalating violence and in the long run eliminating it will lead to reductions in violence. Olivier Muarel and Alice Miller has also called on the pope to speak out against child abuse in a letter written by Olivier Muarel and cited by Alice Miller. Miller asks "If the Catholic Church were to open its eyes, train its gaze on the cruelty being done to children, and speak out against it, would that have a detrimental effect on the power of the church? Probably, for at present time that power rests squarely on the subjection of the faithful to its authoritarian decrees. If self-possessed believers were to begin questioning the power structures of the church, those structures would come tumbling down." The result of Gordon Hinckley's position on corporal punishment is probably only beginning to impact beliefs, although it is too soon to determine if Alice Millers prediction will come true.
Most Mormon's remain loyal but many of them are almost certainly becoming more moderate and questioning their Church leaders when they think they're wrong. Recently the Mormon Church excommunicated Kate Kelly when she spoke out in favor of ordaining women and they also excommunicated numerous other people over the years including Sonia Johnson who was an outspoken supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment. They're actually more reluctant to do this than they were in the past since it brings more unwanted publicity than it used to but the alternative is to allow free thinking people to raise more questions about their beliefs and some of them might erode some of their beliefs in the long run.
The following are a few additional articles about religion and crime:
Predominantly Atheist Countries Have Lowest Crime Rate According To Study - Religion - Nairaland
American Humanist: God would be an atheist: Why can't we all be Japanese?
Google of additional citations of this study.
Atheists don’t commit as much crime as the Religious do.
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
By now pretty much everyone is probably aware of the shooting at a Las Vegas Wal-Mart earlier this month; however most people probably aren’t aware that the month or so prior to that shooting there has been over a dozen other shootings at Wal-Marts across the country, and that this isn’t much above average for Wal-Mart. Between May first and June eleventh there was a shooting at Wal-Mart, on average, once every three days or less; during 2013 there was a shooting, on average, once every four and a half days.
This incident did lead one news outlet to report about the recent study about how Wal-Mart leads to increased crime. Most news outlets never reported this at all and this article probably didn’t get nearly as much attention as the rest of the story and it is already forgotten by most.
There was also a shooting incident and SWAT raid about the same time as part of a police attempt to retrieve guns that were stolen from Wal-Mart earlier in the year; however this didn’t get nearly as much attention in the mass media. This was one of many guns that were stolen from a Tennessee Wal-Mart that had surprisingly lax security. Little or no attempt was made to consider whether or not Wal-Mart’s security measures are partially responsible for this incident.
At the end of the month there were two more gun related incidents including a shooting incident that was reported as a “Craigslist Shooting” by some media outlets. This might be part of a trend; Craigslist doesn’t do any advertising on the commercial media and the only time they’re ever mentioned by them is when something like this happens. Even when these incidents happen at Wal-Mart, as they often seem to they rarely refer to them as Wal-Mart shootings and as far as I know there are many more Wal-Mart shootings.
In this case it also involved attempts to sell large amounts of stolen property. Little effort is made to find out if these are related to large shoplifting sprees at places like Wal-Mart where thieves apparently find it exceptionally easy to steal large amounts of merchandise so easy they routine walk out of there with entire cartloads of merchandise.
This isn’t in doubt; they get caught all the time, eventually but often not until after they get away with it over and over again. This month they’re looking for someone that was video taped stealing six carts full; and on numerous other occasions they caught people the second or third time they went out with carts full. They say when they catch them more often it is because their security is improving; but I remember no one thought they could get away with this.
So they didn’t even try.
The crash injuring Tracy Morgan also drew more attention, for a little while how many truck accidents Wal-Mart has and some of the pressure from the corporations that contribute to them. However the reports about hundreds of other accidents killing many more people didn’t get nearly as much attention as the one that injured an actor that happened to be better known.
If they follow their past behavior they won’t address any of the root causes of this anymore than they address them for any of their other problems unless there is an enormous amount of grass roots pressure to do so.
As usual there were several bomb threats and at least one or two arson and another incident where someone arbitrarily hits another person with a bat because he was copying what he saw on TV. A large number of these incidents also result in customers being put on “lock down” where innocent people are often detained on the premises until incidents are resolved. This seems to happen at least a couple of times per month, including shooting incidents and bomb threats.
There were a couple of incidents where cars caught fire in two different parts of the country and they spread to other cars, in one case six cars caught on fire. I don’t know how Wal-Mart insurance responds to that.
If they respond well that would be newsworthy.
Sometimes I have to wonder if Wal-Mart executives are using reverse psychology or if they’re living in fantasy-land. Earlier this month an op-ed was written about Wal-Mart that was critical of them, one of many; and many people, including me, didn’t even notice. Then Wal-Mart refuted it in an incredibly incompetent manner and it went viral. Amazingly, the vast majority of comments on the page at Wal-Marts web site commended them for refuting it. Do they expect people to believe these comments are sincere?
How could they not have seen that one coming?
Their problems are even in their home office where they had an outbreak of food poisoning. But they can take comfort knowing that their undercover loss prevention officers fit in so well that some people ask them for marijuana before attempting to steal food. We now have corporations with their own private police forces, or something similar abut most people aren’t aware of it and there is some doubt about how accountable they might be, as well as the regular police which are routinely called in to do most of the work. They’re facing another law suit where they may have overreacted by tackling and handcuffing a mentally disabled woman that they falsely accused of shoplifting.
There were at least two stories where their labor practices are being exposed in the Canadian media and courts, one where a judge ruled they illegally shut down a store that voted to unionize and another where a worker exposed their hostile work environment and bullying.
One thing that might deserve more attention is that this began when the worker refused to falsify temperature logs to cover up for another employee who didn’t do their job. If you consider the reports about how much pressure these managers are under to “keep their numbers up” it is easy to understand why they get caught so many times selling expired food, or when someone gets pinched by a scorpion.
Yep, pinched by a scorpion, this is Wal-Mart.
This pressure is also almost certainly part of the reason why they have periodic incidents where workers shoot each other or threaten to bomb the place; and there are plenty of disgruntled customers that are also fed up with Wal-Mart and threaten to do the same. When these incidents are reported as isolated incidents, as they usually are, they often seem as if they’re just irrational people, and in many cases they almost certainly are; but when it happens so often and some of them even make it clear that they retaliating for something then it should be clear that part of the reason for the statistically higher crime at Wal-Mart is their oppressive work environment.
There are also some lighter moments like when they retrieve a stolen computer from one thief put it to one side and another steals it and gets away; or bizarre incidents like when it takes three weeks for anyone to notice there is a dead body decomposing in the parking lot.
Decomposing bodies being found in their parking lots aren't unprecedented; this happened at least once before and there ahve been many bodies found before they began decomposing. The most common location for these bodies seems to be either the parking lots or the bathrooms; they're usually poor people or suicides.
Strange things happen at Wal-Mart!
In 2006 Wake Up Wal-Mart did a study, "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" based on incidents in 2004, (PDF) about crime at Wal-Mart which showed that it increased when Wal-Marts opened up and that crime was higher at Wal-Mart than at other retailers. Since then Wal-Mart Shootings began compiling a list of gun related incidents at Wal-Mart and demonstrated that they have a large number of them, including on average more than one shooting per week somewhere in the country. In January of 2014 another study, "Rolling Back Prices and Raising Crime Rates?" provided additional statistical research indicating that Wal-Mart might be contributing to higher crime rates or at least a slowing of the decline in crime. The study found that. “on average, communities with Walmarts had 17 more property crimes and two more violent crimes per 10,000 people than those communities without Walmarts.” I reviewed this more in Wal-Mart’s crime problem, Rolling Back Safety more than prices? where I explained that although this study is helpful they could have done better with additional data that is available and I reviewed some of that. I also added my own review about why I think that Wal-Mart policies have been contributing to higher crime in a previous blog, Wal-Mart high crime rate continues uninvestigaterd and have provided additional information under the author tag Walmart Crime Watch.
Stacy Mitchell has also compiled a list of other studies about Wal-Mart and how they impact society, Key Studies on Big-Box Retail & Independent Business. To the best of my knowledge Wal-Mart has done as little as they seem to get away with, often relying on rhetoric that isn't backed up with action, when it comes to addressing any of their critics concerns, including crime. The following are a list of incidents that occurred in June 2014. According to the "Is Wal-Mart Safe?" the average store in their sampling had 250 incidents per year, indicating that these are only a fraction of the crime reports at Wal-Mart, and presumably, the ones most likely to make the news on the internet nationwide. This isn't statistically representative, as the 2006 or the "Rolling Back Prices and Raising Crime Rates?" study or some of the studies cited by Stacy Mitchell; but it does provide some additional information that may help recognize how many problems there are at Wal-Mart.
Troy police seek ID of Ohio Walmart credit card user 06/01/2014
Chinese workers reject Walmart's offer in labor dispute 06/01/2014
Ca. Walmart armed robbery suspect caught on surveillance tape 06/01/2014
FBI arrests man at Rochester NY Walmart 03/02/2014
Ga. Walmart shoplifter steals smartphones, fishing lures 06/02/2014
City woman accused of third Walmart theft in a month 06/01/2014
Walmart workers are going on strike to speak out. Why Walmart should listen. By Robert Reich 06/02/2014
Woman charged with leaving 4-year-old alone in car at VA. Walmart parking lot 06/02/2014
Man accused of taking photos up women's skirts at Mich. Walmart has conviction for similar offense 06/02/2014
Walmart Tops Fortune 500 most influential list 06/02/2014
Gun thieves hit same Memphis Tenn. Walmart for third time this year 06/02/2014
Thou shalt not steal! Woman arrested after swiping Bible, cheese and socks from SC Walmart 06/03/2014
Forbes: Report: Walmart's Billionaire Waltons Give Almost None Of Own Cash To Foundation 06/03/2014
UPDATED: Walmart management not sure when Auburn NY store will reopen after power outage 06/03/2014
Human rights fight in B.C. as Shoppers, Walmart resist drug labels for blind 06/03/2014
Walmart protest targets chairman's Paradise Valley home 06/03/2014
Manslaughter trial underway against former Conroe Tx. police officer in Walmart shooting 06/03/2014
NYC NY City Council members rip Walmart’s charity of ‘dangerous dollars’ 06/04/2014 A key bone of contention is the Waltons’ support of New York City charter schools. Since 2004, the Walton Family Foundation has funneled $16 million into the cause, including the DREAM Charter School, Village Academies and the Success Academy founded by Eva Moskowitz.
Walmart's 'Made in USA' push exposes strains of manufacturing rebirth 06/04/2014
Forbes: Walmart Slashed Tax Bill By Giving Top Execs Big Bonuses 06/04/2014
New Mama Pit Bull Found Tied to Shopping Cart Behind Long Island NY Wal-Mart: SPCA 06/04/2014
Raleigh NC police charge man threatened Walmart clerk to make cash theft possible 06/04/2014
After Bribery Scandal, High-Level Departures at Walmart 06/04/2014
Wal-Mart strikers plan to upstage shareholder meeting 06/04/2014
Utah prison inmate enters guilty pleas in Wal-Mart bomb scare 06/04/2014
Three Rob Ill. Wal-Mart 06/04/2014
Police seek suspect in Rocky Mount NC Walmart robbery 06/04/2014
Man arrested after NY Walmart shooting 06/05/2014
Decatur Ala. Wal-Mart employees detain shoplifting suspect; 2nd suspect turns himself in 06/04/2014
Bomb threats lead to searches at NJ Walmart, Kmart 06/04/2014
Nonprofits to NY City Council: Don’t block Walmart’s funds 06/04/2014
Walmart, Sam's Club in Doral Fla. evacuated for bomb threat 06/05/2014
Wal-Mart squeezes shareholders with store swag 06/05/2014
Wal-Mart Is Family Friendly—at Least to Members of the Walton Family 06/05/2014
Tenn. POLICE: Man allegedly drove to Walmart with no front tires 06/05/2014
Boynton Beach Fla. woman allegedly attempts to steal TV from Wal-Mart 06/05/2014
Police arrest alleged serial retail thieves at West Manheim Twp. Pa. Wal-Mart 06/05/2014
Maine communities saying no to Wal-Mart abatement requests 06/06/2014
Two Yankton SD residents indicted for unpaid Walmart shopping spree 06/06/2014
Walmart Plans Family Succession As Low-Wage Worker Plea Voted Down At Meeting 06/06/2014
Pharrell Thanks Wal-Mart for ‘Making the World a Happier Place’ 06/06/2014
Man accused of robbery in Fla. Walmart parking lot 06/06/2014
Bomb threat reported at Ky. Wal-Mart 06/06/2014
Tenn. Walmart murder suspect's cell phone password needed in investigation 06/06/2014
Three suspects sought in Md. Walmart theft 06/06/2014
Suspect allegedly has fondness for Ill. Walmart 06/06/2014
Shoplifting incident at Ga. Wal-Mart turns into lengthy chase 06/09/2014
Man accused of exposing himself in front of children at Wal-Mart in Silver Spring Twp. Pa. 06/09/2014
Low-wage protests planned at Wal-Mart, McDonald's in Springfield, Worcester, and Boston Ma. 06/09/2014
Delray man arrested after Walmart carjacking, chase in Boynton Fla. 06/09/2014
Suspect Sought in Berlin Wal-Mart Theft and Assault 06/09/2014
Man Claims 'Revenge' in Theft at Harvey Mitchell Tx. Walmart 06/10/2014
VIDEO: Wanted woman captured multiple times on Va. Walmart security cameras 06/09/2014
Police: Suspect sets TV, computer monitor on fire in NM Walmart parking lot 06/09/2014
Shrimp slaves: Walmart, Costco act against forced labor 06/10/2014
Crash in Napanoch NY Walmart parking lot leads to DWI charge 06/10/2014
Conroe Tx. officer who fatally shot teen accused of shoplifting from Walmart gets probation 06/10/2014
Reward offered in Denver Co. Wal-Mart car theft 06/10/2014
Mother says RI Walmart failed to report lewd act on her daughter 06/10/2014
Couple caught on surveillance video using baby to steal electronics from Tx. Walmart 06/10/2014
Man's employment with Cincinnati Ohio Wal-Mart 'like running on a treadmill' 06/10/2014
Residents upset about new Tx. Walmart being built near elementary school 06/10/2014
Police: Woman stole from NY Wal-Mart again 06/11/2014
Shareholders revolt against Walmart, Netflix 06/11/2014
Police looking for man who exposed himself at SC Wal-Mart 06/11/2014
Detectives looking for suspects in Ariz. Wal-Mart theft 06/11/2014
Deputies issue arrest warrant in Fla. Walmart, movie theater purse snatching cases 06/12/2014
Shoplifter arrested for NH Walmart theft 06/12/2014
Reports: Ware Ma. police charge man who allegedly exposed himself to young girls at Walmart store on Palmer Road 06/12/2014
Duo accused of stealing 18 TVs from Fla. Walmart identified 06/12/2014
Ithaca NY Wal-Mart emptied by bomb scare 06/12/2014
Small fire singes footwear area at Wal-Mart 06/12/2014
Small fire singes footwear area at Wyoming Wal-Mart 06/12/2014
Police: Man approaches boy, 9, in Pa. Walmart bathroom 06/12/2014
Deputies: 8-year-old caught with Fla. Walmart shoplifters 06/12/2014
Deputies: Orlando men used cloned credit cards at Fla. Walmart 06/12/2014
Woman accused of shoplifting, dragging children through SC Walmart 06/13/2014
Man claiming to be doctor kisses woman on mouth at Fla. Walmart, cops say 06/13/2014
Tulsa Ok. Police search for armed robbery suspect at 31st, Garnett Walmart Neighborhood Market 06/13/2014
Crews respond to car/ammo fire at Walmart in Lebanon County Pa. 06/14/2014
PD: Man arrested for indecent exposure in Ok. Walmart 06/15/2014
Fire causes $150 damage, closes NC Walmart for a few hours 06/16/2014
Man who shoplifted from Pa. Wal-Mart busted after picking up accomplice from prison, police say 06/16/2014
Police: Woman leaves children in car to shoplift in Ky. Walmart 06/16/2014
Payson woman arrested for stealing from Utah Walmart 06/16/2014
Gas leak at Avon Conn. Walmart 06/16/2014
Police blotter: Man jailed for burglary; arrests at Montana Wal-Mart; theft at TV station 06/16/2014
Mid-South woman fights attacker with umbrella in Tenn. Walmart parking lot 06/16/2014
Las Vegas police change account of couple's fatal shooting in Walmart 06/11/2014
Wal-Mart China to raise food safety spending to $48 million 06/17/2014
Mother-daughter duo accused in Vt. Walmart theft 06/17/2014
Police: Walmart employee helps rescue Tx. kidnapping victim in Ark. 06/17/2014
Suspect or hero? Dog taken from hot car at Center Township Pa. Walmart 06/17/2014
Woman dressed as Walmart worker tries to rob employee with gun in Poinciana Fla. 06/17/2014
4 suspected of credit card fraud at Walmart in Huber Ohio 06/17/2014
Police searching for woman, accomplice, who tried to steal TVs from Silver Spring Twp. Pa. Wal-Mart 06/17/2014
Nashville man accused of stealing from 3 Tenn. Wal-Marts in a day 06/17/2014
Thieves make off with $4K in cell phones from NC Walmart 06/17/2014
Conway man arrested after police said he tried to stab SC Wal-Mart employee during shoplifting 06/18/2014
Person wanted for using counterfeit checks at Walmart in Virginia Beach 06/18/2014
Citizens speak out on big box stores, Walmart 06/18/2014
Man arrested for Miss. Walmart shoplifting 06/17/2014
Eight Largest Cities Without Walmart 06/18/2014
Wake Forest NC Police seek woman for questioning in Walmart incident 06/18/2014
Wife says husband was suicidal when he rammed truck into vehicles in Tx. Wal-Mart parking lot 06/18/2014
Man accused of using cloning credit cards at Missouri Wal-Marts 06/18/2014
Kraft recalling Velveeta cheese from Walmart stores 06/19/2014
Police allege Saginaw man used knife in theft attempt at Mich. Walmart 06/19/2014
Woman wanted for theft at NC Walmart 06/19/2014
Ark. Walmart Shoplifter Head-Butts Employee, Gets Away With Loot 06/20/2014
Homeless man arrested after fight over best panhandling spot near Ill. Walmart 06/20/2014
Man Who Tried To Rob Walmart Commits Suicide, Broken Arrow Ok. Police Say 06/20/2014
Cashier, 19, charged in Ind. Wal-Mart theft 06/21/2014
Woman captured in Georgia who posed as Walmart employee, in Florida, during attempted armed robbery 06/21/2014
Woman pinned underneath car at Ohio Walmart 06/21/2014
Bentonville Walmart Employees Overcoming Bacterial Outbreak 06/23/2014
Police: NY Wal-Mart larcenies lead to Oneida County meth bust 06/21/2014
Lewiston man charged with trying to rob Auburn Me. Walmart 06/22/2014
Two Charged with Theft Scheme at WV Walmart 06/23/2014
South Jackson Tenn. Wal-Mart theft suspects arrested after police chase 06/23/2014
Driver in Ohio Walmart parking lot accident cited 06/23/2014
Man Charged With Kidnapping Teen From Tenn. Walmart Parking Lot 06/23/2014
Disabled Oregon Walmart customer says worker tried to keep him from using motorized cart 06/23/2014
Report: Teen, friend ran through SC Walmart in only Speedo after losing bet 06/24/2014
Bear spotted outside Jefferson Co. Missouri Wal-Mart 06/24/2014
Hillary Clinton to Host "Hard Choices" Book Signing at Little Rock Ark. Walmart 06/25/2014
Men used cloned credit cards at Fla. Walmart, deputies say 06/25/2014
Deadly Accident Near Dayton Tenn. Walmart 06/25/2014
Deputies: Drunk driver crashes into Walmart in South Pasadena Fla. 06/25/2014
Man charged after stealing laptop from ND Walmart 06/26/2014
KPD searching for woman who reportedly took two laptops from Tenn. Walmart 06/26/2014
Cornelius Ohio Wal-Mart evacuated because of natural gas smell 06/26/2014
Women in a motorized cart accused of stealing NY Walmart clerk’s wallet 06/26/2014
Walmart worker swindled store, Pinellas Park Fla. police say 06/26/2014
Tulsa Ok. Police Make Second Arrest In Fatal Walmart Shooting 06/26/2014
Walmart truck hits fire hydrant in West Linn Oregon 06/26/2014
Chief and bystander capture alligator near La. Wal-Mart 06/26/2014
Newport News: Police searching for suspects in attempted theft at Virginia Walmart 06/27/2014
Camby Ind. Walmart reminds parents not to leave kids in car 06/27/2014
12-year-old Florida Boy Drives School Bus to Panama City Fla. Wal-Mart 06/27/2014
Police: Ohio Walmart thief runs, is found near OSP post 06/27/2014
Man who exposed self to child at Walmart arrested, Orlando Fla. police say 06/27/2014
Jackon Co. Man Charged with Fla. Walmart Theft 06/28/2014
Shooting victim’s Utah Wal-Mart stop prompts investigation 06/29/2014
Man accused of gun, meth possession at Walmart in Colorado Springs 06/29/2014
Police: Bomb threat at Walmart in North Kingstown RI was hoax 06/30/2014
CEO: Wal-Mart Taught Me How To Be A Leader, Manager 06/30/2014
Man arrested for stealing soda and toilet paper from Utah Walmart 06/30/2014
Police: Surveillance shows woman assaulting child inside Pa. Walmart 06/30/2014
Customers evacuate Dickinson Walmart after sprinkler malfunctions 06/30/2014
Man accused of exposing himself at Milford Del. Wal-Mart 06/30/2014
Trial ordered for 67-year-old Saginaw Mich. man accused of using knife in theft attempt at Walmart 06/30/2014
Lower Nazareth Walmart shoplifting suspect arrested in P'burg Pa. 06/30/2014
Twitter commenters respond to Walmart ad for watermelon during BET Awards 06/30/2014
Police: Woman banned from Ga. Walmart found with drugs 06/30/2014
This Simple Chart Shows Why Wal-Mart Is in Trouble 06/30/2014 Same-store sales at the retail giant have dropped in 14 out of the last 21 quarters.