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Fear of Simple Truths

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Occam's razor, or the priniciple of parsimony, tells us that the simplest explanation fitting the known facts tends to be the correct one. When it comes to any conclusion that might smack of being (horrors!) judgmental, though, academics will go a long way around the barn to avoid it.

The study noted in Lauren's Blog Scan today finds a correlation between criminality and reckless driving, and the authors attribute it to "a general disregard for the long term adverse consequences of [one's] actions [which] could be labeled risk-taking, impulsiveness, or lack of self-control."

Apply the razor, folks. The simple and likely correct answer is just plain bad character. Some people simply don't give a damn about obeying the law or about the impact their actions have on others.

But we musn't say that. That would be judgmental.

Fear of classifying people as just plain bad, BTW, is behind the fallacious claim that we can neatly catagorize "offenders" as violent or nonviolent and assume that the "nonviolent" ones are no more likely to commit a crime of violence than law-abiding people are. You have to be willfully blind to human nature to believe that, but a lot of people are.

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More needs to be done to dismiss the dangerous and yes fallacious claim of the "smart on crime" folks that offenders can affirmatively be categorized as violent and non-violent.

This myth is gaining currency and is being promoted as a paradigm to reserve "precious" prison resources for violent offenders only.

Most criminals are not picky about their next "score". They are adaptive and reinvent themselves when police pressure intensifies. The only bright line for most criminals is that they have no plans to be a "chump" and work an entry-level 9-5 job.

It is unsound public policy to artificially divide offenders into classifications based on their "offense of conviction" and ignore their earlier depredations.

I'd say that the less fear has something to do with it too. So you have bad character coupled with less fear (and probably more aggression too). Small wonder that's associated with criminality.

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