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Guns don't scare people, hackers do: Americans fear identity theft more than shooting sprees

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FAIL

The media strikes again!

The problem, as the author suggests, is the media. The news LOVES to select only the worst news, then exaggerates any dangers, plays on people's fears and just generally peddles doom and gloom which, for some reason, many people seem to enjoy. I quit watching mainstream news years ago and have been much better for it.

Maybe this isn't so with the news on the other side of the pond, but it sure is true in America and has been for a long time. Many years ago, William Randolph Hearst bought up a chain of bankrupt newspapers, started peddling this sort of crap and made millions.

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Re: The media strikes again!

OF COURSE we fear identity theft more than getting shot by a stranger. Identity theft happens all the time. Getting shot by a stranger is incredibly rare, despite that the extreme left wing and mainstream media would have you believe. Look up the statistics and there's a couple orders of magnitude of difference.

As for the perceived increase, well school shootings have increased. They just plain didn't happen before the mid 90s. Other crimes may have decreased (though you wouldn't know it from watching the news), but school shootings are far more common now than when I was in high school.

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Re: The media strikes again!

"Maybe this isn't so with the news on the other side of the pond,"

Oh, it is. And we have the same sort of gap between reality and perception of crime and risks.

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Re: The media strikes again!

Perhaps another reason is that identity theft is perceived as a fate worse than death. Shot to death, you're dead, game over. Identity is stolen, all that belongs to you is at risk, yet you're still alive to suffer all the consequences. Many would see living in helplessness as being worse than death.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The media strikes again!

> As for the perceived increase, well school shootings have increased.

Do you have any hard evidence of this or is it, like many crimes that the news brings us that they didn't used to, we just didn't hear about them?

Beware of your perception of the danger which is what this article is principally about.

We seem to be hearing non-stop news about paedos these days ratcheting up the fear that there is a child abuser on every corner in modern times, but I suspect that the reality is that our biological diversity has not changed *that* much over the last 30 or so years. We're just hearing more about it.

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Re: The media strikes again!

Notable school mass killings before the mid 90's:

1927: Bath Township, Michigan.

1966: University of Texas

1976: California State University, Fullerton

The earliest was bombs placed by a school board member, but killed 44 (38 school children) and injured 58 others.

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Re: The media strikes again!

"Many would see living in helplessness as being worse than death."

Because it is.

As for the fear of identity theft, it's quite real. As we've seen, this happens literally millions of times each year.

Even in the US, being shot by a gun in ANY situation only happens thousands of times each year. That's still a high number, but only a small fraction compared to identity theft. It takes weeks and often months to get it sorted out. Meanwhile, there are bills to be paid and they don't care about your problems, no matter who caused them.

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Re: The media strikes again!

Perhaps a rewording is in order: school shootings were very rare before the mid-90s. There's been more in the last decade than in all of US history before 1990 though.

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Re: The media strikes again!

Tom,

You missed "a few".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_shootings_in_the_United_States

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Re: The media strikes again!

Wow - I had no idea that many had occurred in the USA, also if you look at the general page on school shootings, the rest of the world has not a patch on the USA for that :(

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Re: The media strikes again!

Dead wrong. Therewere definitely school shootings before the 1990's. The most famous example:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Like_Mondays

shooting spree of 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spencer, who fired at children in a school playground at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego, California, USA on 29 January 1979, killing two adults and injuring eight children and one police officer.

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This post has been deleted by its author

Re: The media strikes again!

Both the 1966 and 1976 incidents don't count as school mass killings to Americans. The sites are Universities, places where individuals choose to go and for which they pay a princely sum. School shootings in the context Americans think of them (public education) mostly start with Columbine, so yes, they have increased greatly since 1990.

But on the issue of the actual level of risk, yes it is very low and people are overly fearful of it.

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Re: The media strikes again!

No, he didn't. I reviewed that list too before replying to him. What was surveyed were mass shootings, not simple shootings. Also, like Tom's reply it includes too many university incidents, which to most Americans aren't "schools". "Schools" are places that you are required to send your minor children to.

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Re: The media strikes again!

"There's been more in the last decade than in all of US history before 1990 though."

And you can prove this how? You might well be right, but how would you determine it with any confidence? In fact, has the dwell time of children in school increased? If so, has that had an affect on the number of shootings? Prior to WWII there was considerably less demand for "children" to remain in school and get a diploma. A trade that could support a person or a family was more encouraged.

Consider serial killers as another example of truly egregious behavior and our perceptions of them. Modern fiction and media would have you think they are springing up more commonly now than ever before. Yet looking back in history, there were Gilles de Rais, Countess Bathory both remarkably monstrous. No media per se though so no "media" accounts. Burk and Hare, serial killers for profit: limited media. Jack the Ripper (not just a serial killer but also a cannibal) who likely moved to the US and continued his career for years: lots of English media, but it takes serious work to comb through various disparate and geographically remote city news papers to discover that Jack may be been active for a long time after he disappeared in from England. Albert Fish, another cannibal, but US media is coming into its own. Then, the depression and WWII eclipses a good deal of what would otherwise be front page news. The FBI is only starting to keep statistics, Korea, Viet Nam, and Zodiac. All we can be sure of is that the media itself has become remarkably proficient at reporting things and that increased efficiency correlates very well with increased public perception of risks.

It maybe that there really are more shootings. It may be that the media inspires more shootings, or it may be that the incidence is a function of population growth and increased media efficiency combine to create a perception of changes that are illusory.

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People hate facts

Criminologists often get angry responses when we try to tell people the crime rate has gone down.

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Re: People hate facts

Presumably if the responses were sufficiently angry (and violent) the problem would solve itself ?

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well

People are notoriously bad at estimating risks. As other commenters have remarked, the media have a good deal to do with this, with the "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality.

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Forgot about elected officials?

The also feed the frenzy with knee jerk legislation and then there's the re-election campaigns with button pushing statements.

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Holmes

Pretty understandable....

The chances of identity theft are fairly high, but for someone like me (White, suburban middle class) the chances of getting murdered in the U.S. are very low, despite what you see on TV.

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Anonymous Coward

Well Duh...

The chances of being shot by some stranger are pretty remote for most Americans where as identity theft and being unsafe online is a daily occurrence for millions of people in the U.S. and elsewhere. People should be more concerned about the internet as the odds of being damaged are far greater than the odds of being shot and killed by a total stranger.

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US media

"The problem, as the author suggests, is the media. The news LOVES to select only the worst news, then exaggerates any dangers, plays on people's fears and just generally peddles doom and gloom which, for some reason, many people seem to enjoy. I quit watching mainstream news years ago and have been much better for it."

True. ABC News here in the US has had "exploding airbags" as a top story 3 days in a row (no new information the 2nd two days except higher number of recalled vehicles), and keep mentioning how these airbags explode 3 or 4 times each time to sensationalize things. If these airbags go off, apparently there's a shrapnel problem and they really aren't safe; but they are not spontaneously going off (there have been cases where some design does go off when it's not supposed to and is recalled, this isn't one of them.) The news quality of TV news on all the US networks has dropped drastically in the last 20 years.

Online, of course, you can get better info and more accurate. But, just like the people that watch "true crime" shows worrying more about crimes, people online can focus on reading the crime coverage too and think it's more frequent, when it's really just more coverage.

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I fear...

... gun free zones. Mass shootings only occur in gun-free zones where the shooter knows there will be plenty of victims with no means of defense. Never in a bar where off-duty police officers hang out.

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Re: I fear...

At least one was dumb enough to pull a gun in front of a store full of gun owners - and an on duty police man.

http://www.snopes.com/crime/dumdum/gunshop.asp

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Heh

A similar story comes from Orange County, CA, where a single clerk scared that heck out of five would-be robbers. One ran away, the rest stood with their hands up until police arrived.

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Anonymous Coward

Elephant in the room

Surely, in 2014, we can all agree that it's access to guns that is the main problem.

Simple test: Which do you agree with?

1. More guns = Greater general safety despite the significant number of gun deaths (in the US)

2. Fewer guns = Less gun deaths and no significant loss of safety (in the US)

AC: Because.

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Happy

Re: Elephant in the room

Youv'e been watching the Yankee Marshall haven't you ...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Elephant in the room

But if you take away my guns, how can I shoot the Elephant?

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Re: Elephant in the room

Don't shoot an elephant with anything less than a hunting rifle. It pisses them off.

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Boffin

Re: Elephant in the room

"1. More guns =

2. Fewer guns ="

Two assertions with nothing to back them up. Perhaps you should take an intro to logic class at your local community college...

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Strangers....

But isn't the fear of "walking alone down a dark street" also down to the guns thing?

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Re: Strangers....

I think that knifes, bottles, baseball bats, a plethora of heavy tools, clubs, machetes, axes etc all belong in this same category.

A gun is just a tool, probalby more effficient than some other tools but a tool nonetheless. What you have to fear is the person behind the gun not the gun itself.

Try walking down a a dark alley in Glasgow after the pubs close, if someone even asks you for the time, in the usual Glasgow accent, you will understand quickly that a gun is not required in order to increase the fear factor.

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Re: Strangers....

A bit of a paraphrase here:

"The effectiveness of any given tool as a weapon is directly proportional to is effectiveness as a tool."

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Guns just aren't that scary

To be dangerous a gun has to a) be loaded, b) be in the hands (so to speak) of someone capable of discharging it deliberately or by accident, and c) you need to be in range. I say "so to speak" because I do know a truck driver whose "carry" fell out of his waist band (bad idea right there), hit a step on the ladder up to the cab, cocked itself (a revolver), and then flipped over, hit the ground, and discharging, shot said truck-driving owner in the backside. Curiously, while being operated on, it was discovered that due to excess sitting (in the truck, driving) the driver had developed a cist which had gone septic. He was hours away from a serious, potentially lethal case of blood poisoning. So his accident potentially saved his life, not something you commonly hear about gunshot wounds.

Identity theft is far more common, far more inconvenient and difficult and takes longer to recover from in general.

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Thread Necromancy?

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