Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Don't Confuse Me With Facts

My mind is made up...

There is a well-known hazard in attempting to change another person's strongly held belief.  If you fail they leave the exchange with their belief not weakened, but reinforced.  It's called The Backfire Effect.  Here's a telling example from a brief on-line dialogue I had with a fellow security practitioner in the context of the Aurora Colorado shootings.

People need to take the rose colored glasses off and understand we live in a dangerous world now, it is not the place it used to be, things like this will happen to anyone at anytime.

You're not alone in this opinion, but what makes you say so? The violent crime rate in America is at a 40 year low and continues to decline. We haven't been safer in our lifetimes.

Okay, the stats may say so, but I don't think the victims will agree with them, violent crime may be down, but the victim rates as to how many at each incident goes up each time, so where is the trade off?

Historically, the rate of mass murder events has been around 20 a year since the last century. Total fatalities likewise have held at around 160 per year. What's more, a significant fraction (~1/3) of mass murders are "family annihilations" perpetrated by parents. Mass murder is rare and no amount of denial will make it common.

I am not denying anything, the fact is that what ever the stats say it does not help the victims and is a threat that should be looked at, simple prevention is worth it when saving a life. So you have your opinion and I mine, we can leave it at that. I don't think we are safer now than 30 years ago no matter what a bunch of stats say, reality says different, so we are now done with the argument. 

Case closed.  Opportunity lost.  Oops.

Fear, grief, and rage: 1, Facts: 0

UPDATED TO ADD: Rather than create another post on the topic of Aurora (I really do need to get a life) I'll add a sentence or two from some recent correspondence and blog posts:

By attacking us in one of our favorite and most vulnerable communal gathering places Holmes has wounded the American psyche unlike anyone since Cho or Harris and Klebold, maybe worse.

Emotions are high; we are in a state of communal fear, grief, and rage. It is a time to grieve, not to act.

And perhaps it is not the best time to debate as though winning on points matters...

Be well.