Friday, April 20, 2007

Bad Quarter

It is either an eerie coincidence or an important insight from recent violent crime statistics extrapolated to a lifetime (based on average life expectancy) that from one-sixth to one-third of the population will perpetrate violent crime. This is based on the assessment that 36 percent of Americans will be victimized by a criminal committing either the first or second crime. The average is close to one-quarter, which is the fraction I expect based on random personality profiles. The fraction of (six) security options corresponding to violence is also close to this number (offense, which is purely violent, and the half of defense that doesn’t include attempting to destroy the attacker). Also interesting is the fact that one percent of violent crime involves death; suggesting that the same fraction of the “bad quarter,” or one person in 400, is a deadly threat to the rest of us.

Assuming we can profile people sufficiently to assess whether or not they are likely to threaten us with violence and death, what actions are appropriate? As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, I believe that objectifying people is an important step toward taking evil actions (judging that the actions, not the people, are inherently evil), and should be avoided as much as possible. We must hold people accountable for what they actually do, not what they may likely do. The subtle wrinkle I’d like to add here is that objectifying is helpful and perhaps even necessary in creating the tools we might need to deal with a threat, but individual behavior must be the trigger for using those tools.

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