Bullet-proofing your mind and don’t forget to Gullible-proof your mind

In one of my google alert e-mails, I got a peculiar link to an pro-guns newsletter and what attracted me was a letter about someone’s experience with ret. Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s seminar on bullet-proofing the mind. Now this blog is meant to be a review of psychological research on video games, but Grossman is tangently related to psychology and video games, so that’s my excuse.

As I read along, I stopped at the passage when Grossman was quoted saying :

“The worst thing that can happen is someone coming to kill our kids. Folks, someone is coming to kill our kids.” (italics were my emphasis)

I hate it when someone’s says that, it’s a certainty statement, it’s like saying that this frightening event will happen and you must be prepared for it. I am more comfortable with a probability statement, such as “this could happen, folks”.

Anyways, my skepticism mindset was up and I set about to find errors in the logic or evidence and it did not took far to find them, just a few sentences later. So, I’ll just list them.

  1. He cited the Beslan Hostage Crisis and how some of the hostages were raped. However, that information seemed to have no basis. I looked up that information in wikipedia, tried google and I found no credible evidence of the sort. Grossman even claimed that an HBO documentary had completely omitted the mentions of rape. What I could find was what seemed to be the source of this information came from the Sunday Mirror, a British tabloid, however the link to this news article is no longer available.
  2. He then cited the number of deaths from school violence. In 1998, there were 35 deaths and later, in 2004, there were 48 deaths. No sources were given. Fortunately, I happen to have the statistics of deaths from school violence from the U.S. Department of Education. According to the document, there were 33 deaths in 1998-1999 year. For the 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 year, there were 21 deaths reported. in fact, there was sudden drop of deaths after 1998-1999. IMO, this is probably due to the events of the Columbine Shooting and that many measures and students’ sudden awareness lead to this decrease.
  3. Grossman usual exaggerations of the average gamer scoring over one million kills in a murder simulator and how video games (note the absence of the word violent) train people to steal and kill. Of course, he cited his own research and no one else which is basically boosting his own ego and not the evidence.
  4. His claim that parts of violent people’s brains are underdeveloped and that video game also contributed to this atrophy. And this underdevelopemnent leads to violent behaviours. No sources cited, but he’s most likely citing research by Professor Kawashima of Tohoku University. I have little aptitude in neuroscience, so I don’t know what to make of it.
  5. Not wanting to make video games as the sole cause of violent behaviours, but Grossman’s arithmetic skills need to improve because he argued that adding new factors, such as video games, to existing factors would double or even triple the risks of violent behaviours. It is still essential saying that new factors are very important and maybe dwarfs the existing factors.

Afterwards, he went on about types of people being sheep, wolves and the rest weren’t interesting to me or couldn’t criticize. But this came up as something that is demeaning:

Finally, Grossman advised his audience to “stay in shape. Piss on golf. Real Americans go to the range. Choose a sport with cardio or survival skill benefit. If you see a cop carrying golf clubs, do one thing for me. Look him in the eye and say ‘baaa!’” Plan A is the British Model. Disarm everyone. It’s not working. Plan B is the Israeli Model. Train/ arm everyone. Israel has few golf courses and a lot of rifle ranges!”

I don’t like demeaning people for what they are or what they say, but I demean people who don’t present credible evidence on what they say. Anyways, this post adds more to the point that putting a good show for one’s cause trumps the truth of things.

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