Schelling Incidents and Schelling Points

Saturday, August 27th, 2016

Any of several major intersections, parks, or schoolyards may have seemed the natural place for a large number of riot-disposed people to gather following the acquittals in People v. Powell (the original Rodney King beating case) — which amounted to a Schelling incident, at least in part because it had been advertised as such for weeks by TV and newspaper accounts of the trial:

One can hardly doubt that many residents of South-Central bent on making trouble arrived at places they expected to be “focal” only to find them largely deserted. But Schelling’s work implies that a substantial number of others would have guessed right — would have gone to a major intersection, Korean strip-mall parking lot, or other public space and found the crowd they had expected to find nearing its critical mass — waiting for some of the outliers from non-viable focal points to find their way to more promising locations.

But here is a problem. Those who selected a non-viable focal point — in other words, those who guessed wrong — would now have to find out where everyone else went in order to join them. How did they get this information? Los Angeles’ television stations’ aggressive news coverage of the disturbance from its very beginning seems to have played a key role. Within minutes after the verdicts were announced in Powell, minicam crews were doing news “live from the scene,” letting everyone in town know where the trouble was. Innocents thus learned what neighborhoods to avoid; but non-innocents, who wanted to take part in the looting, also found out where to go.

Although inadvertently, the stations lowered the search costs for aspiring rioters. Without TV, other techniques would surely have been used by people hying to find out where to go in order to loot and burn with little fear of arrest. But the broadcast media are by far the best way to get accurate information to many people at once. Especially in spread-out places like Los Angeles, rioting would be less likely to occur if information about the location of viable focal points were harder to come by.

Inadvertently.

Understanding Riots

Friday, August 26th, 2016

David D. Haddock and Daniel D. Poisby wrote Understanding Riots after a previous breakdown in law and order:

After the Los Angeles riot in spring of 1992, almost every pundit in the country took a turn at explaining why riots occur. The conventional wisdom on the subject went something like this: certain dramatic events such as political assassinations or unpopular jury verdicts crystalize riots from social rage. So to understand riots, one must understand the causes of social rage, usually said to be racism, poverty, lack of economic opportunity, and why people who experience this rage manage it in such a destructive manner. The usual suspects include breakdown of the family, television, and a generalized cultural disorientation.

All of these explanations have some truth in them, but are evidently incomplete. First, they explain too much. The predisposing social conditions are with us all the time, yet riots are episodic. Second, they explain too little. Many mob actions, like European soccer riots or the increasingly predictable civil meltdowns in the home cities of National Basketball Association champions, are triggered by good news, and not obviously related to social injustice or existential anomie. Indeed, during the Los Angeles riots, anyone with a TV set could see that jubilation rather than fury best characterized the mood of the people in the streets. It is hard to credit that these exhilarated looters with their new VCR’s and cameras were protesting the juiy system, the state of race relations in Southern California, or anything else. They were, in fact, having a party. Moreover, many of those who risked life and limb opposing the more outrageous excesses of the rioters were themselves poor, unemployed, and victims of racism.

Conversely, a crowd is not an incipient riot merely because it assembles a great many people with the predisposing demographic characteristics. For example, every Fourth of July in Chicago’s Grant Park there is a fireworks display that usually attracts about a million spectators. In certain parts of the grounds, people are packed together like sardines, so that individuals substantially lose their ability to decide where to go. One goes where the crowd goes. Going against it is impossible, and even leaving it (unless one is near the edge) may be difficult. Some people dislike the experience, but whatever its discomforts, the Fourth of July crowd at Grant Park is not a riot in the making. The crowd is big, it is loud, it is unmanageable, it is filled with people who have suffered from racial discrimination and economic deprivation, it has, in aggregate, drunk a lot of beer (which is legally for sale at dozens of kiosks at the event); but it is only a crowd, not an incipient riot.

Day in and day out in any big city, police blotters will reflect the existence of a fairly steady background supply of theft, mugging, arson, and homicide. But this jumble of criminal mischief does not amount to a “riot”; riots are the coordinated acts of many people. If they are coordinated, who coordinates them? Authorities looking for ways to explain why trouble has broken out on their watch sometimes ascribe exaggerated organizational. powers to “outside agitators.” While, as we explain, there is definitely a leadership niche in the ecology of a mob, it seems to become important only after the crowd has assembled. Riots are not, as a rule, plotted and scripted affairs.

How Many Americans Have a Police Record?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

Approximately 30% of American adults have an arrest record.

Gun Moll

Monday, August 22nd, 2016

Have you ever wondered where the term gun moll came from?

A gun moll (aka gangster moll) is the female companion of a male professional criminal. In some contexts, ‘gun moll’ more specifically suggests that the woman handles a firearm.

When the term came into usage in the first decade of the 20th century, “gun” was not derived from the firearm, but from the Yiddish word meaning “thief,” variously transliterated into English as ganefthe, gonif, goniff, or ganof, itself derived from Hebrew “Ganav”. However, this distinction gradually disappeared, especially when such women became associated with gangsters noted for their frequent use of guns.

“Moll” derives from “Molly”, used as a euphemism for “whore” or “prostitute” and attested at least since 17th century England.

In the U.S., the term has mostly been applied to a woman associating with an American gangster of the 1920s and 1930s, and in most cases remarkable only because of his notoriety. Extended use of the term without awareness of the Yiddish root, however, has invited interpretations of “gun” as suggesting more than simply criminal associations. Bonnie Parker and Blanche Barrow were gun molls in this stronger sense, and especially notable examples in general, because of their accompanying the rest of the Barrow Gang to the planned locations of violent crimes, and, in Parker’s case, apparently directly assisting at least to the extent of loading guns in the midst of shootouts.

(Addendum: This came up when Bill Christensen, aka @Technovelgy, tweeted, “Also adds interest for the old term ‘gun moll’ — which could now mean women who buy guns for their boyfriends.”)

Guns Used in Crimes

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

Lawful gun owners commit less than a fifth of all gun crimes — which is still more than I would’ve expected, to be honest:

In the study, led by epidemiologist Anthony Fabio of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health, researchers partnered with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to trace the origins of all 893 firearms that police recovered from crime scenes in the year 2008.

[...]

More than 30 percent of the guns that ended up at crime scenes had been stolen, according to Fabio’s research. But more than 40 percent of those stolen guns weren’t reported by the owners as stolen until after police contacted them when the gun was used in a crime.

[...]

It’s also likely that many guns on the black market got there via straw purchases — where a person purchases a gun from a dealer without disclosing that they’re buying it for someone else. This is illegal under federal law. One potential sign that straw purchasing is a factor in the Pittsburgh data: Forty-four percent of the gun owners who were identified in 2008 did not respond to police attempts to contact them.

[...]

Additionally, past research has demonstrated that a small fraction of gun dealers are responsible for the majority of guns used in crimes in the United States. A 2000 report from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found that in 1998, more than 85 percent of gun dealers had no guns used in crimes trace back to them. By contrast, 1 percent of dealers accounted for nearly 6 in 10 crime gun traces that year.

Better Surrender Technique

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Everyone is talking about police violence against African-Americans, Scott Adams says, but there isn’t much discussion about practical solutions:

In the short term, the most productive approach probably involves teaching citizens how to surrender better.

You’ve probably seen tutorials on the correct way to handle a traffic stop by police. You should put both hands on the top of the steering wheel, fingers open and outstretched, and wait for the police officer to give you permission to reach for your wallet. If you have time before the officer gets out his car, your wallet should already be out and on the dashboard so you don’t have to reach for it in a suspicious-looking way. That’s good surrender technique, and I think it would work for many situations.

But I think we can simplify it even more.

[...]

Communication experts will tell you that a message is only as credible as the sender. Your first interaction with a police officer will tell him – accurately or not – who you are. So if the first impression looks like rebellion, the officer will interpret everything that follows according to that model. If the first impression is obvious concern for mutual safety, you put the officer on your side from the start. Once you have established yourself as a respectful citizen who is primarily interested in safety, any ambiguous communication on your part will be seen through that filter.

Jocko discussed the same thing in a recent podcast.

Of course, many people already “surrender” just fine, and others don’t, and one might notice certain patterns…

Why Gun Control Can’t Be Solved in the USA

Sunday, August 7th, 2016

Scott Adams has some fun explaining why gun control can’t be solved in the USA:

On average, Democrats (that’s my team*) use guns for shooting the innocent. We call that crime.

On average, Republicans use guns for sporting purposes and self-defense.

If you don’t believe me, you can check the statistics on the Internet that don’t exist. At least I couldn’t find any that looked credible.

But we do know that race and poverty are correlated. And we know that poverty and crime are correlated. And we know that race and political affiliation are correlated. Therefore, my team (Clinton) is more likely to use guns to shoot innocent people, whereas the other team (Trump) is more likely to use guns for sporting and defense.

That’s a gross generalization. Obviously. Your town might be totally different.

So it seems to me that gun control can’t be solved because Democrats are using guns to kill each other – and want it to stop – whereas Republicans are using guns to defend against Democrats. Psychologically, those are different risk profiles. And you can’t reconcile those interests, except on the margins. For example, both sides might agree that rocket launchers are a step too far. But Democrats are unlikely to talk Republicans out of gun ownership because it comes off as “Put down your gun so I can shoot you.”

Let’s all take a deep breath and shake off the mental discomfort I just induced in half of my readers. You can quibble with my unsupported assumptions about gun use, but keep in mind that my point is about psychology and about big group averages. If Republicans think they need guns to protect against Democrats, that’s their reality. And if Democrats believe guns make the world more dangerous for themselves, that is their reality. And they can both be right. Your risk profile is different from mine.

Germany Gun Numbers

Thursday, August 4th, 2016

The German Firearms Register records almost 5.5 million private guns belonging to 1.4 million people — but the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung estimates that there are also 20 million illegal firearms in Germany.

Those 20 million illegal firearms don’t seem to be put to much use. There were 57 gun homicides in Germany in 2015, up from 42 the previous year — compared with 804 in 1995.

Guns are a big issue, but crime is not

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016

Tyler Cowen is “confused that for the Left ‘guns’ are a big issue, but apparently ‘crime’ is not.” But there’s a simple explanation, which Steve Sailer provides:

“Guns” means white. “Crime” means black.

So you are supposed to constantly talk up the terrors of gun violence, but downplay crime.

In reality, “gun violence” isn’t some peculiarly white thing. Blacks are even more inclined toward homicides by gun than toward homicides in general. According to the Obama administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the approximately 13% of the population that is black made up 52.5 percent of overall homicide offenders, but 56.9 percent of killers who used guns. So blacks on average are about 8.8 times more lethal with guns than is the rest of the population.

The main practical reason for why Democrats support gun control laws is in the hope of disarming black criminals. But white Democrats can’t come out and say that they want help from their fellow whites in keeping blacks under control. So they constantly lecture the rest of us that the true danger is those vicious rural straight white men with their hunting rifles.

Not surprisingly, this Democratic political strategy of insulting potential allies has proved less than all-conquering over the past 50 years. But Democrats would rather die than tell the truth about whom they actually fear.

Waiting will get you killed

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

The various recent attacks all took place where law-abiding adults could not legally carry handguns for self-defense and largely had to wait for armed police to arrive, but waiting will get you killed:

A lot of people can be shot in the time it takes police to arrive after a mass public shooting begins. The norm seems to be between three and eight minutes.

Active Shooter Results

In every single active shooter attack where a good, armed person was present when the attack began and acted aggressively to stop the killer, the body count was less than 10, single-digits. Every time. 100%. Having a good, armed person present who will act to stop the killer, whether it’s a cop, armed security guard, or armed citizen, ends the attack in the first 1–2 minutes. This prevents the killer from having the time needed to amass a high body count. Waiting on police to arrive and stop the killing gives the killer plenty of time to shoot a lot of people.

Begun by dreamers and implemented by criminals

Tuesday, July 19th, 2016

Minorities trouble in two main ways, Dr. James Thompson notes — by being a nuisance and by becoming majorities:

Doing both in parallel is the greatest threat to the host nation.

Proportionality is the key here: in most places, most people, most of the time,  go about their business peaceably. They can rightly say of the troublemakers in their communities that “they are a minority”. True. However, those troublemakers are more frequent in some communities than others, and this is a subtlety that often gets lost in discussion. Troublemakers need some support from their own communities, even if just tacitly turning a blind eye.

The rate at which European communities commit mass murder of their own citizens is very low, though not zero. The US suffered casualties from anti-government bombers. The UK suffered more casualties from Irish Republicans. Basque separatists have bombed Spaniards. However, these dreadful events can be seen as localised grievances, not an over-arching plan.

What troubles most about the Jihadist meme is its generality: its scope is global, and although it has key Western targets, the Crusaders, it takes on all non-believers: white Europeans, Black Nigerians, and anyone else who gets in their way, including brands of Islamic belief they judge to be insufficiently pure.

Like any franchise, it attracts lone entrepreneurs: those who vaguely want to do something, and find a general plan excuse enough to vent anger, disappointment, and general malaise. Insurrections are begun by dreamers and implemented by criminals.

So now we have a dreadful calculus: Western Europe has sizeable Islamic populations, most of whom are not bent on committing murder. Within those populations there are a minority willing to murder on a large scale. Their spectaculars (as the IRA used to boastfully call them) are aimed at showing the population that their governments cannot protect them. They attack the presumption of safety on which civil society is based.

A nation is a protection system, and not a racket if you can leave of your own free will. In exchange for following the rules and paying your dues you get the protection of the state: the protection of borders and the protection of your safety within the boundaries of the state. Insurrections challenge that protection, and taunt both the governed and the government.

The paradox comes thus: any state which guarantees the rights of citizens must also grant them to those who would destroy the state and injure its people. Our interpretation of Magna Carta is that the big letter demands that no-one be arrested without due cause. A noble aim, though of course the original did not apply to all citizens, only to free men, say about 40% of the population at most. It did not contemplate millions of non-Christian non-Europeans, with perhaps 10% of them at least passively in favour of establishing the dominion of another religion and another system of law. That which would have been considered treason is now considered a right which must be defended by the very State which is the target of the attack.

Why Terrorists Keep Succeeding in France

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Muslims make up 60 percent of the French prison population, but just 8 percent of France’s total population:

Youths with a criminal record are excellent material for radicalization: It gives them a cause for which to fight. And yet the French government barely has a system for tracking this risk group’s embrace of radical Islam.

France makes a convenient target for global terrorists, because of the linguistic and cultural heritage it left in its former colonies:

“We must no longer think in terms of French or French-resident people, but in terms of francophones,” Patrick Calvar, head of France’s domestic intelligence, told the commission. “Thousands of Tunisians, thousands of Moroccans and Algerians can be dispatched into our territory.”

Puzzling Statistics

Sunday, July 17th, 2016

Why do the human sciences record pervasive behavioral differences among racial groups, such as in violent-crime rates?

One explanation is that these disparities originate in complex interactions between nature and nurture.

But, of course, only dangerous extremists hold that theory.

The much more respectable sentiment is that statistical differences among the races are the fault of bad white people, such as George Zimmerman and Minnesota policeman Jeronimo Yanez.

Last week, on his way to Warsaw on Air Force One, President Barack Obama was looking at social media. According to The New York Times, he alerted his press secretary that:

He had decided to make a statement himself as soon as they landed, and had told his aides to collect statistics demonstrating racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Now, you might think that’s putting the cart before the horse. Perhaps the administration should objectively evaluate the evidence first, rather than order its media flacks to dredge up some data justifying the president’s prejudices?

But that would be wrong. Everybody knows that culture or evolution can’t have anything to do with hereditary racial differences in performance. If you even consider those possibilities, you must be one of the bad white people you’ve been warned about.

Instead, we know that science has proved that statistical differences among the races are all due to a vast conspiracy to plunder blacks. Nothing makes 21st-century people who think they are white richer than having a lot of black bodies around. Just ask MacArthur genius Ta-Nehisi Coates. He’ll tell you.

“Why are there all these puzzling statistics that don’t agree with the stereotypes promoted by our national leaders?”

And yet, here’s a statistic published in 2011 that doesn’t support the Coates-Obama orthodoxy:

While young black males have accounted for about 1% of the population from 1980 to 2008…(b)y 2008, young black males made up about a quarter of all homicide o?enders (27%)…

In other words, young black males are about 27 times more likely to kill somebody than the average American.

Interestingly, that datum comes from the Obama administration’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, which published a report entitled Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980–2008.

One reason young black males are disproportionately homicidal is that they are young (homicide rates are highest among 18- to 24-year-olds). Another factor is that they are male (according to the BJS, “Males were 7 times more likely than females to commit murder in 2008”).

That the police keep a warier eye on men than women and the young than the old is never seen as offensive. It’s just common sense.

Yet profiling blacks as tending to be more threatening than whites (not to mention Hispanics or Asians) is the worst offense imaginable under today’s ruling ideology. For instance, the day after the Dallas antiwhite atrocity, the first two policy responses that Hillary Clinton recommended in an interview with Wolf Blitzer were: “National guidelines for police about the use of force” and “We need to look more into implicit bias.”

Gun Deaths In America

Thursday, July 14th, 2016

FiveThirtyEight presents a rather reasonable infographic depicting gun deaths in America, which are mostly suicides, then homicides, with a few accidents, and notes that while the common element is a gun, the causes are very different, and that means the solutions must be, too.

Gun Suicides, Homicides, and Accidents

Lifetime Violence and IQ

Monday, July 11th, 2016

One of the most consistent findings in the criminological literature is that African American males are arrested, convicted, and incarcerated at rates that far exceed those of any other racial or ethnic group, but this racial disparity was completely accounted for after including covariates for self-reported lifetime violence and IQ.