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Austin R

Student ,


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What do you think is the main reason for the proportional decrease in violence in modern society?

Stephen Pinker's informative talk on the "myth of violence" gave good insights into the decrease in the rate of deaths due to violence nowadays as opposed to thousands of years ago, when a lot of people mistakenly think there was more peace. My question is: why do YOU think this is? Is it because of technology? Our ability to better empathize?

I look forward to your opinion!

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    May 13 2011: I would think an increase in accountability played a major role. The penal system and forensics have advanced much in this time. People are less likely to do something if they feel a negative repercussion is likely.
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      May 13 2011: i think a lot of people look at it as a cost ratio. prison is expenive
    • May 13 2011: Ah, now that's what I'm looking for!!! Something I haven't heard yet, that also makes good sense. I definitely agree that is a factor. Thanks for the response, Thomas.


      I'm unclear on what you mean by "prison is expensive"
      Do you mean for the inmates or the government?
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        May 13 2011: now thinking baout it, shows like law and order and csi would probably freak out a paranoid law breaker.
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        May 13 2011: i mean, going to jail/tickets i REALLY expensive in legal fees alone.
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      May 13 2011: I think acountability have played and still do play a mayor role, and there is two parts to it. First the most obvious part that if I do something unlawful and the chance is high that I will be punished for it, I will think twice before doing so. But there is a second side to it which has to do with revenge. In case there is no such thing as lawenforcement and I get treated bad by someone else, my only chance to stop that treatment might be by biting back. And I think this may be especially true for violent crimes.

      However, I think that rising living conditions are even more important than accountability. I believe most humans are quite able to be empathic, caring and responsible, and will develop and nurish this state of being if they are satisfied with their own situation. Without taking any stance on the particular issue of abortion but rather looking at it from the more general view point of people being satisfied with their situation in life, I do think that Debra pinned the most important reason for decreasing violence. This is why I personally am convinced that striving to create better living conditions for others is much more important than enforcing laws. Not that the later is unimportant though, because it brings the two sides of accountability into action. But rather just less important than the first, and I think increasingly so in a society where we are more able than ever to help those that really are in need.
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    May 18 2011: many factors contribute to violence and crime rates one of the most correlative being economic, scarcity is a major contributing factor to violence, it should be noted that the economics of which I speak are not strictly pecuniary, access to mates, food, and all types of resources are a factor.
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    May 13 2011: A thousand years ago tribes, monarchies, or kingdoms etc. fought each other. This happened for the groups to get more resources and/or land. Today we are facing a modern twist to this. In addition to fighting wars for resources like oil we are also doing something called outsourcing,

    If you are referring to domestic violence then I think the key factors are that a thousand years go you were robbing someone because you would otherwise starve, where as today you can live with relatively little and sill have food. The other factor may be education which provokes people to think about what they are doing, hopefully.
    On that same coin though, I would argue that violence has actually increased because people no longer know the consequences of their actions. The modern globalization that is taking place has desensitized us from our actions. Just because people may not be stabbing each other as much as we used to does not mean we have bettered our ability to empathize with another, it only means we don't have to empathize with another as much on a personal level. But this is a pluralist society and we as a people have to bring our perspective to that level.
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    May 13 2011: Austin, the book Freakenomics has a great chapter which explains the dramatic decrease in violence when every social scientist expected it to sky rocket. I was absolutely rocked by the explanation and I could not refute the evidence. I highly recommend getting the book but hold onto your seat!
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      May 13 2011: what was the explenation?
    • May 13 2011: I actually just read it a few months ago! Are you referring to when he points out the correlation between Roe v. Wade and the drop in crime rates? Or another part?
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        May 13 2011: I am not trying to start a controversy here because I am the mom of 5 kids who was utterly grateful that every pregnancy I ever had was wanted and cherished. I have been very prolife but the evidence of that book was pretty compelling. In graduate school my group tried to account for the drop in violence and we really worked the stats and the causes - the best we could come up with was that the Boomers had aged past the stage of violent crime but we knew it was not a viable explanation. Freakenomics indicated that the advent of abortion eliminated the people who typically grew up to be the most violent offenders- the people who wrought a terrible revenge against society - those who were unwanted, uncared for and seriously neglected. I do not like it but it was compelling evidence.
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          May 13 2011: interesting.
        • May 13 2011: The evidence is quite persuasive. But, I don't think it suggests that we should be pro-choice, by any means. Just because someone's child has more of a risk to become a felon does not mean they should kill them preemptively. My question was originally questioning the drop in violence (violent death in particular) between contemporary society and people thousands of years ago when there was very little organized civilization. Though, thanks for the response- still interesting.
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          May 18 2011: Austin... Levitt's point wasn't to advocate abortion, he offered no judgments or recommendations for policy, he was only interested in presenting the facts. If he had proposed a policy I doubt it would have been to abort everyone of a low socioeconomic statis.
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    May 13 2011: well when all the stupid shoot each other who is left?