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Showing posts from August, 2015

Overreliance on imagination and obsessive-compulsive disorder

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The television detective Monk was an enjoyable character, solving crime despite being portrayed as being nearly crippled by his obsessive compulsive disorder.  What attribute of the Monk character made him effective at solving crime?  Or rather, what attribute might the writers have picked up on that made him able to solve crimes that baffled others?
As this research points out it was his imagination.  He was obsessive because he could imagine the germs on every door knob and so on, so he had a well developed ability to picture "what-ifs." This in turn gave him the ability to imagine all sorts of possible solutions that those of us lacking a hyper-imagination would miss.

I don't know that this was the writer's thought process, but it came through in Monk's thought processes.

Here's the story with a link to the full report in the attribution.
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Over-reliance on imagination may be  a sign of obsessive-compulsive disorder
Confusing reality with imagination…

Predicting who will murder his wife or family

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Predicting who will murder his wife or his family Understanding men who kill intimate partners could prevent these murders
Murderers who kill intimate partners and family members have a significantly different psychological and forensic profile from murderers who kill people they don't know, reports a new study. The new knowledge about murderers who commit spontaneous domestic homicide -- emotionally driven crimes -- could enable early intervention to prevent the homicide. One-third of all women murdered in U.S. are killed by male partners.

One-third of all women murdered in U.S. are killed by male partners.
The new knowledge about murderers who commit what is called spontaneous domestic homicide -- emotionally driven crimes that are not premeditated -- could enable early intervention to prevent the homicide, the authors said.

Domestic homicide is one of the most common and frequent types of murder in the U.S.

An estimated 25 percent of women will be victims of severe  domestic violen…

Men who feel they fall short of 'masculine' gender norms may be prone to violence

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Over the past two plus years, I've posted more than a few research reports in SNfW about the causes of violence. 

One cause commonly blamed for violence is mental illness, which research clearly shows is not true.  In fact, people suffering mental problems are much more likely to be victims of crime rather than perpetrators.  Now, one presidential candidate states that his position is to solve gun violence in our society by focusing on the mentally ill, again, bringing attention to a group that is not a cause.

Mental Illness Less Likely to Lead to Violence than Drugs, Rage or Access to Guns
The research below discusses another cause of violence: men who's self-image is damaged, and who feel they must resort to violence to look masculine.  This obviously isn't a mental illness, but it is a problem.

This phenomena impacts character development and story in so many ways.

Here's the story with a link to the full report in the attribution.
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Men who feel they fall shor…

Stone Age massacres, torture and mutilation

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If anyone thinks that mass killing is a modern phenomena, well, it's something the human species has been up to for a very long time.  These two Central European sites make it clear that man's inhumanity to man has deep roots.

What this and like research projects don't address is the reason for the extermination of large groups of men, women and children.  Was it to make a political point?  Was it ethnic cleansing?  We may never know, though we can guess.

For the writer of historical fiction, these sites create situations for speculation and the development of story lines exploring how we treat each other.

Here's the report, with a link to the original study in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Science.
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Massacres, torture and mutilation:  Extreme violence in neolithic conflicts
Violent conflicts in Neolithic Europe were held more brutally than has been known so far. This emerges from a recent anthropological analysis of the roughly 7000-year-old mass …

Where is law enforcement headed in a high-tech age?

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This is a question many writers have addressed in their work, imaging societies where high-tech links monitor every corner of society.  It could be the interactive television monitors of Orwell's novel, 1984, or Stallone's 1994 film, Demolition Man, in which everyone is closely supervised by technology.

As this Rand Corporation report points out, there are many technologies that law enforcement could use - once the issues of privacy and personal rights are worked out.  These are issues that writers frequently address in their fiction and film.

Here's the report with the link to the Rand report in the attribution.
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New Internet technology could aid police, courts and prisons Resolving privacy issues key to future adoption
Technology that can improve criminal databases, remotely conducted criminal trials and help police officers stop autonomous cars can all aid the criminal justice system in the future. But a key to making full use of such emerging Internet-based tool…

How we're seen by others depends upon our morals.

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I feel most of us wonder how others see us.  Handsome?  Beautiful?  Wise?  Smart?  Trustworthy? 

This research of patients suffering from degenerative disease offers an insight.  The researcher's conclusion is that a person's morality is at the core of how others view us, our identity.  Sure, at first glance, others take in how we look and present ourselves, and as other research points out, they make an immediate judgement based on appearance.

As they get to know us, I assume, our identity becomes based on our morals - how we treat others and react to situations.

While this may seem obvious, still it's important to have this verified, and to keep it in mind while crafting character and relationship in your work.

Here's the story with a link to the complete research in the attribution.
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How others see our identity depends on our moral traits
"Moral capacities form the core of how we perceive individual identity."
We may view our memory as being essentia…

How your brain works to make you indecisive

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Don't know about you, but I find all of the current research on how our brains function fascinating. From a layman's point of view (mine), our brains are a highly complex organ consisting of 8 billion neurons organized into twenty modes, or functional regions.  Most of what constitutes our thoughts are generated almost randomly by the various modes and transmitted to our conscious minds which acts like traffic control at O'Hare Airport during a snow storm over the holidays.
Each mode is calling for attention of the conscious mind.  You know how random thoughts go flittering through your mind while you're trying to sleep?  That's the result of various modes getting the attention of traffic control, if only for a moment. 
One thing that research shows is that a person can only think about one thing at a time, the reason it's so very dangerous text or talk on a cell phone while driving.  The act of following a conversation activates that mode, essentially turning of…

How homicide spreads like an infectious disease

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I remember reading the 1927 book, Gangs of New York by Herbert Asbury and thinking of how the circumstances of poverty and crowding led to so much of the development of gangs, starting with groups of immigrant thugs and bullies and ending up many years later with the Mafia and other "professional" crime groups.

If you haven't read Asbury's book but have seen the movie, while a few of the historical characters (yes, Bill the Butcher was a real person) ended up in the Martin Scorsese movie, unlike the movie, the book is an "informal" history of people living in the Five Points slum of New York.  

Jump forward to today and we still have far too many marginalized youth living in or near poverty who feel the gang life is their only way to achieve anything.  This doesn't excuse their acts, but it does explain how they get to where they are.

This story is another example of how statistical techniques combined with a computer can be put to use to predict patterns …

Racial segregation takes new form

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There is a saying, "the more things change, the more they remain the same."  

While our society has made tremendous strides since the civil rights movement of the sixties, it's been a bit like squeezing a balloon.  Squeeze here, bulge there.  For those of us alive in the sixties, we've watched as redlining and other blatant discriminations have faded while other racially based practices to control minorities have flourished.  I'm thinking of Nixon's War on Drugs that imprisons primarily black men for essentially petty crimes of simple possession.

So have things changed?  Yes and no.

This research points out that the balloon has simply bulged in another direction.
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With racial segregation declining between neighborhoods, segregation now taking new form
"Neighborhood segregation still remains high in America."
Recent research has shown that racial segregation in the U.S. is declining between neighborhoods, but a new study indicates that segregat…

Linguist explains secret language of Gulliver's Travels

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Linguist explains secret language of Gulliver's Travels Research suggests Hebrew solution to 289-year-old puzzle
A linguist from the University of Houston is proposing a solution to a centuries-old puzzle: What sparked the "nonsense" language in "Gulliver's Travels"?
Irving N. Rothman, a professor of English literature and Jewish studies at UH, says the mystery words are, in fact, variations of Hebrew. His conclusions are published in the summer 2015 edition of Swift Studies, an annual review of scholarship on the work of novelist Jonathan Swift from the Ehrenpreis Center.

In the article, "The 'Hnea Yahoo' of Gulliver's Travels and Jonathan Swift's Hebrew Neologisms," Rothman points out a number of clues he used to reach this conclusion. Swift, he notes, was an Anglican minister who studied Hebrew at Trinity College.

"Gulliver's Travels," published in 1726, is Swift's best-known work, a satire on human nature, polit…