Which approaches to curbing gun violence are effective? How do we know?

Often, the conversation around gun violence becomes a conversation around political identities and ideologies rather than one about truth and how we arrive at it. This website is interesting in that it focuses on what we know through science. It uses appropriate, often cautious, language to come to its conclusions. The site is worth exploring. The table below summarizes the meta analysis of existing research done by the Rand Corporation. Click through the image to find the appropriate page. You can click in the table to see what research and evidence there is to support conclusions about efficacy.

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Here is a link to the main page. Worth exploring for those curious about gun policy but also as an interesting case study on the use of the scientific method to help us understand and evaluate a problem in society.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR2088.html

 

For better science, call off the revolutionaries

Good science requires a spirit of collaboration, not domination. The debate in social psychology involves some essential criticism of past scientific practice, but revolutions can also lead to a bandwagon effect, in which bullies pile on and bystanders fearfully turn a blind eye. Especially as more disagreements among researchers surface in social media rather than professional publications, there is an insidious temptation to mistake being critical for being right, and to subordinate humility and decency to a “gloating sense of ‘gotcha,’” as the journal Nature put it.

There is a better way forward: through evolution, not revolution.

https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2018/01/21/for-better-science-call-off-revolutionaries/8FFEmBAPCDW3IWYJwKF31L/story.html

How science and First Nations oral tradition are converging

The researchers also found that roughly 175 years ago, the population of Coast Tsimshian in the region declined by as much as 57 per cent. This coincides with colonization and the spread of diseases such as smallpox, the accounts of which have also been passed down in First Nations oral tradition.

“Science is starting to be used to basically corroborate what we’ve been saying all along,” said Barbara Petzelt, an archaeologist with the Metlakatla First Nation, one of the researchers in the study.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/science-first-nations-oral-tradition-converging-1.3853799

The Mapping of Massacres: In Australia, historians and artists have turned to cartography to record the widespread killing of Indigenous people.

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Really interesting article that gets into the importance of history and why we fight over it. In addition, how do we acquire knowledge of the past? In doing this project, the lead historian has to distinguish between the massacres based on the strength of evidence to support their happening. What is also interesting is what kind of evidence was used. Should indigenous oral histories be counted on? Or only traditionally western accounts such as newspapers? This argument plays out in the United States as well.

Lastly, rather than writing a book, the research was presented on a map. Why does the impact of this information feel different when presented visually rather than verbally? What does this tell us about the power of art when learning about history?

“In many Indigenous communities, art works have long had dual functions as historical sources, as repositories of cultural or spiritual knowledge, and as maps of territory. There is an established tradition of mapping massacre sites through art, as in the acclaimed paintings by the Aboriginal artists Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, and Rusty Peters, among others. Watson wanted viewers of her video to be aware that any map is a slippery, contested artifact, and also to have a bodily response to the work. She told me the story of one of her relatives, who, after viewing the video, turned to her in anguish, saying, “Where wasn’t there a massacre?””

https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/mapping-massacres

Additional Resources

  1. Facebook Experiments Had Few Limits
    “Thousands of Facebook Inc. users received an unsettling message two years ago: They were being locked out of the social network because Facebook believed they were robots or using fake names. To get back in, the users had to prove they were real.”
    Subscription Required
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-experiments-had-few-limits-1404344378
  2. Furor Erupts Over Facebook’s Experiment on Users
    “A social-network furor has erupted over news that Facebook Inc., in 2012, conducted a massive psychological experiment on nearly 700,000 unwitting users.”
    Subscription Required
    http://www.wsj.com/articles/furor-erupts-over-facebook-experiment-on-users-1404085840

Additional Resources

  1. Radiolab Podcast: Outside Westgate: Originally Broadcast 11/29/2014
    This is a phenomenally well reported and well put together podcast that examines the eyewitness testimony and memory of a terrorist attack in Kenya. It is one thing to describe the academic idea that people are often mistaken about what they see and what they experience but in this podcast we here from multiple people who are absolutely certain about what they saw but more “objective” evidence does not corroborate their stories.

    “In the wake of public tragedy there is a space between the official narrative and the stories of the people who experienced it. Today, we crawl inside that space and question the role of journalists in helping us move on from a traumatic event.

    “NPR’s East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner takes us back to the 2013 terrorist attacks on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. Warner reported on the attack as it happened, listening to eyewitness accounts, sorting out the facts, establishing the truth. But he’s been been wrestling with it ever since as his friends and neighbors try not only to put their lives back together, but also try to piece together what really happened that day.”

  2. Radiolab Podcast: Memory and Forgetting: Originally Broadcast August 9th, 2010

“Remembering is an unstable and profoundly unreliable process–it’s easy come, easy go as we learn how true memories can be obliterated, and false ones added. And Oliver Sacks joins us to tell the story of an amnesiac whose love for his wife and music transcend his 7-second memory.”