On why society is basically doomed

Sunny has a good piece on Commentisfree on the knife panic – worth a read. Apparently the original version linked to this post here, but the Guardian subs took it out – bad Guardian subs.

Unfortunately, the comments indicate why we’re never going to get anywhere with the criminal justice system, other than locking up more people for being black and scary with no discernible benefit to anyone – the complete and utter cognitive dissonance of the public on the issue.

This is a shining example:

On the issue of violent crime per se, the statement that Sunny made that ‘overall violent crime has decreased by 41% since a peak in 1995’ is not believable.

Sunny, never understimate ‘common sense’. People have a fairly good idea of what is going on around them ….

Nonsesne. Common sense is the most overrated tool in the box and the cause of most stupid actions; and people have absolutely fuck all idea of what is going on around them. If you trust some random members of the public over the wider body of academic research on any issue, then you’re almost certainly wrong and definitely an idiot.

Unfortunately, most people on most issues trust random members of the public over the wider body of academic research, because most people aren’t very bright. Never mind that the conclusions it leads them to are entirely wrong; at least it saves them having to think…

5 thoughts on “On why society is basically doomed

  1. I'm sceptical of a lot of academic research in the social sciences because I have the impression that much of it is driven more by leftist ideology than by an objective search for the facts. (Further reading: 'The Blank Slate' by Steven Pinker, particularly the chapter entitled 'Political Scientists')

    On this particular topic (violent crime rates), I expect the main problem is that which Chris Dillow (Link) expounded on yesterday. Specifically, risk of becoming a victim of crime is very unequally distributed geographically, meaning that violent crime may be down across the country as a whole, but it may well be up by a similar percentage in the local area that your commenter lives in.

    The statistics aren't necessarily wrong, but neither is Sisong necessarily wrong. There may be a lot of violent crime going on around them that doesn't show up in the aggregate statistics.

  2. I should clarify: Even if our commenter is wrong about the aggregate statistics (overall violent crime having gone down), that doesn't mean their perception that lots of violent crime is happening around them is wrong.

  3. I agree – see my comment to Chris's post – the fact that there is a small socioeconomic and geographic niche where a lot of knife crime is happening is something we need to address (although doing so by providing education and opportunities would be a significantly more effective way of doing that than going off on a "our yoof is evil" panic and banging the lot of them up in overcrowded jails…)

    However, it's also something that The Man On The Clapham Omnibus needn't fear and isn't indicative of the UK as a whole, or even working-class inner London, becoming a lawless society where you're as likely to get stabbed as not, which is the tone of the media coverage, pretty much all right-wing commentary, and far too much left/liberal commentary on the issue.

    Re the comment in question – yes, you're right that it's not necessarily wrong, in that the commenter could be a young black male on an estate in Peckham, but I'd be bloody surprised if it were right – whenever I've seen people who rant on the Internet about crime being out of control disclose where they live, the vast majority tend to live in much leafier, less gangland-y places than me (and where I live, although unleafy and inner London-y, really isn't very gangland-y at all).

  4. The correlation between living in an area of London with a high murder rate and voting for Livingstone did seem to be worth a second glance – 25% of murders in 2007 were in two boroughs, Lambeth and Newham. This does suggest that Chris has a point, with the caveat that murder figures are simultaneously the most accurate crime figures around (they get reported and investigated unless the killer has done a very good job, which isn't the case in the average testosterone-and-drink fuelled stabbing) and the least representative, being so rare.

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