I don’t usually blog about news or current events and there’s a good reason for that. I don’t keep up with them very well. I don’t find the news uplifting to me as a person, and so I just don’t pay attention. I try to keep half an ear to the ground in politics and legislation, but not so much that I could take a test on the subject matter that included dates. Even so, I couldn’t stay quiet on this one.
By now, we’ve all heard about the shooting of Trayvon Martin. The most infuriating mention of this incident that I’ve seen is in the Chicago Tribune, (H/T to Texas Fish and Game) where they attempt to use the altercation as evidence that the mere possession of a firearm puts a person on the defensive on a psychological level and makes them more likely to see others as aggressors, even when they are not. Specifically, they mention a ‘scientific’ study in which they determined that someone is more likely to see a gun in a picture where no gun is present when they are holding a gun themselves. They determined this by placing a gun in the hand of the test subject and showed them a series of pictures depicting objects, most of which were innocuous, and the subjects were substantially more likely to misidentify the pictures as a gun.
Please humor me for a moment and allow me to point out the fatal flaw in this test and its conclusion. Nearly half the people out there do not have guns in their homes. Among those people, there tends to be a stigma that has been created over decades of work by politicians and the media. Even among people who are not specifically against guns, they cause an emotional reaction because of this manufactured stigma. I remember standing at the range counter, having the guy at the rental hand me a S&W M629 and a box of ammo, and tell me which areas of the gun to stay away from. I remember him pointing me to the bay in which I’d be shooting and I remember my heart pounding in my ears. I didn’t think the gun was going to hurt me, and I wasn’t anywhere close to an anti. It’s just that life had taught me that guns are frightening scary things that And I remember going home that evening with a little more understanding of the world, which would grow into my new way of life. Little did I know that I would become a part of the industry.
Considering this information, if a quarter to half of the subjects in the test have a reaction anything similar to what I described, even in the slightest way, then of course the results would turn out the way they did! To take this as conclusive evidence is like putting someone’s hand in a dark box full of something warm, wet, and chunky and showing them a surgery film. There’s no way they’ll now identify the content of the box as clam chowder. And then, they go and start jumping to conclusions.
“It’s all about intention,” Witt said. “If you can feel the weapon on your hip and intend to use it, my prediction is that the perceptual bias would be just as great. Based on our other research, the anticipation of using an object is just as powerful an influence on perception.”
The language in this statement shows that Witt doesn’t know the first thing about gun culture.
“The perception system and the motor system evolved together,” Witt said. “They share circuitry, so it makes sense that one would affect the other.”
And it’s no secret that people see what they are looking for. Heck, I’ve heard that argument of psychology used to explain away bigfoot sightings!
But the proliferation of right-to-carry and concealed-carry gun laws makes that mistake more likely, say scientists.
…contrary to all the historical evidence available. And these people call themselves ‘scientists.’ What they are trying to say here is that the gun made the shooter act in violence. These ‘scientists’ say it whispered into his head like the One Ring whispered to Frodo. It’s a tired old argument that our guns, these inanimate objects have mind control powers, but with an even sillier spin. Did you know that someone with a gun is more likely to shoot it than someone without a gun? Scientists have also found that if your parents never had children, chances are you won’t either. People who own shoes are more likely to not go barefoot than those who don’t. Yeah well, you know how many people I’ve ever shot? Exactly none. I’ve never even almost accidentally shot anyone. You know how often I carry a gun? Every day. Throw that wrench in your hypothesis.