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“How Much Does That Cost? Examining the Economic Costs of Crime in North America Attributable to People With Psychopathic Personality Disorder”, Gatner et al 2022

2022-gatner.pdf: “How much does that cost? Examining the economic costs of crime in North America attributable to people with psychopathic personality disorder”⁠, Dylan T. Gatner, Kevin S. Douglas, Madison F. E. Almond, Stephen D. Hart, P. Randall Kropp (2022-04-25; ⁠, ):

Cost of illness research has established that mental disorders lead to large social burden and massive financial costs. A substantial gap exists for the economic burden of many personality disorders, including psychopathic personality disorder (PPD).

In the current study, we used a top-down prevalence-based cost of illness approach to estimate bounded crime cost estimates of PPD in the United States and Canada. 3 key model parameters (PPD prevalence, relative offending rate of individuals with PPD, and national costs of crime for each country) were informed by existing literature. Sensitivity analyses and Monte Carlo simulations were conducted to provide bounded and central tendency estimates of crime costs, respectively.

The estimated PPD-related costs of crime ranged from $245.50 billion to $1,591.57 billion (simulated means = $512.83 to $964.23 billion) in the United States and $12.14 billion to $53.00 billion (simulated means = $25.33 to $32.10 billion) in Canada. These results suggest that PPD may be associated with a substantial economic burden as a result of crime in North America.

Recommendations are discussed regarding the burden-treatment discrepancy for PPD, as the development of future effective treatment for the disorder may decrease its costly burden on health and justice systems.

[Keywords: psychopathic personality disorder, cost of illness, crime costs, violence, social burden]

“Negotiated Safety? Did Reduce Female Homicide Rates”, Tjaden & Makin 2022

2022-tjaden.pdf: “Negotiated Safety? Did Reduce Female Homicide Rates”⁠, Samantha L. N. Tjaden, David A. Makin (2022-04-06):

Prior research has associated and as sources of victimization, which in part resulted in the closure of the erotic services of each respective website. However, research also claims the introduction of Craigslist was associated with a reduction in female homicide rates across 30 large cities. This research acts as a supplemental analysis to Cunningham et al by analyzing if, considered to be Craigslist’s successor, has similar effects on female homicide rates. When including measures of interest in each respective website, we find that Backpage is associated with a decrease in homicide rates for women. The purpose of this study is to extend the study conducted by Cunningham et al through supplemental analysis. To determine the effect of online clearinghouses on female homicide rates, interest measures in Backpage along with the female homicide rates from 120 single city metropolitan and micropolitan areas over 14 years (2004–2018) were analyzed using multiple regression analyses. The regression analyses show that there is a statistically-significant relationship between interest in Backpage and homicide rates for women. We find that Backpage is associated with a decrease in homicide rates for women.

“Knowledge about Others Reduces One’s Own Sense of Anonymity”, Shah & LaForest 2022

2022-shah.pdf: “Knowledge about others reduces one’s own sense of anonymity”⁠, Anuj K. Shah, Michael LaForest (2022-03-02; ):

[illusion of transparency⁠; cf. parasociality] Social ties often seem symmetric, but they need not be. For example, a person might know a stranger better than the stranger knows them. We explored whether people overlook these asymmetries and what consequences that might have for people’s perceptions and actions.

Here we show that when people know more about others, they think others know more about them. Across 9 laboratory experiments, when participants learned more about a stranger, they felt as if the stranger also knew them better, and they acted as if the stranger was more attuned to their actions. As a result, participants were more honest around known strangers.

We tested this further with a field experiment in New York City, in which we provided residents with mundane information about neighbourhood police officers. We found that the intervention shifted residents’ perceptions of officers’ knowledge of illegal activity, and it may even have reduced crime.

It appears that our sense of anonymity depends not only on what people know about us but also on what we know about them.

“Why Does Education Reduce Crime?”, Bell et al 2022

2022-bell.pdf: “Why Does Education Reduce Crime?”⁠, Brian Bell, Rui Costa, Stephen Machin (2022-01-20; ; similar):

We provide an unifying empirical framework to study why crime reductions occurred due to a sequence of state-level dropout age reforms enacted between 1980 and 2010 in the United States. Because the reforms changed the shape of crime-age profiles, they generate both a short-term incapacitation effect and a more sustained crime-reducing effect. In contrast to previous research looking at earlier US education reforms, we find that reform-induced crime reduction does not arise primarily from education improvements. Decomposing short-run and long-run effects, the observed longer-run effect for the post-1980 education reforms is primarily attributed to dynamic incapacitation.

…The rest of the paper is structured as follows. Section II first discusses crime-age profiles and then outlines a framework where changes in school-leaving ages have scope to shift and alter the shape and structure of crime-age profiles. This is then discussed in the context of existing research. Section III describes the data, offers some initial descriptive analysis of compulsory school-leaving laws, and presents the research design used in the empirical work contained here. Section IV reports the main results on the impact of dropout age reforms on crime-age profiles. Section V provides further discussion and examines evidence on the mechanisms by which dropout reforms reduce criminality. Section VI offers conclusions.

…A key feature, therefore, is that while younger individuals may commit some crime, because they are kept in school, there is an incapacitation effect preventing them from engaging in as much crime as those older than the dropout age who have more available time for such activity.6 An increase in the mandatory dropout age will reduce the crime rate among those directly incapacitated in school as a result of the reform. Once the individual reaches the new, higher dropout age, the incapacitation effect will vanish, and if direct incapacitation is the only factor at work, then a higher dropout age alters the crime-age profile for individuals of age less than or equal to the dropout age but exerts no effect for those aged above the new dropout age.

However, a dynamic framework enables an additional effect from incapacitation, which we term dynamic incapacitation. This occurs when the direct incapacitation from being kept in the school classroom causes changes that also affect future crime participation, independent of whether there is any educational value to the incapacitation. For example, suppose being kept in school during the day prevents an individual from being on a street corner dealing drugs. This reduces arrests at the time but also potentially means that the individual leaves school without the criminal record they would otherwise have had. They now find it easier to pursue life as a law-abiding citizen. Put another way, some individuals’ crime onset is stopped by incapacitation, and they never commit crime at a later age. For other individuals who may have already committed crime, the incapacitation reduces their crime intensity during the incapacitation period, and this persists as they get older—the reform acts to reduce their criminal capital accumulation as compared with the counterfactual of no reform. Lochner & Moretti 2004 describe this as follows: “It is possible that criminal behavior is characterized by strong state dependence, so that the probability of committing crime today depends on the amount of crime committed in the past. By keeping youth off the street and occupied during the day, school attendance may have long-lasting effects on criminal participation” (158).

“Association of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders and Violence Perpetration in Adults and Adolescents from 15 Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”, Whiting et al 2021

2021-whiting.pdf: “Association of Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorders and Violence Perpetration in Adults and Adolescents from 15 Countries: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”⁠, Daniel Whiting, Gautam Gulati, John R. Geddes, Seena Fazel (2021-12-22; ; similar):

Question: What are the absolute and relative risks of perpetrating violence toward others in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders compared with the general population?

Findings: In this systematic review of 24 studies, the absolute risk of perpetrating violence in a subgroup of register-based studies was less than 1 in 20 in women with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and less than 1 in 4 in men with schizophrenia spectrum disorders over a 35-year period. The elevated relative risk for all violence-perpetration outcomes was higher for women with schizophrenia spectrum disorders than for men with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, but with substantial heterogeneity in the findings.

Meaning: Violence perpetration outcomes may be an important target for prevention and to reduce stigma in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

Importance: Violence perpetration outcomes in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders contribute to morbidity and mortality at a population level, disrupt care, and lead to stigma.

Objective: To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the risk of perpetrating interpersonal violence in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders compared with general population control individuals.

Data Sources: Multiple databases were searched for studies in any language from January 1970 to March 2021 using the terms violen✱ or homicid✱ and psychosis or psychoses or psychotic or schizophren✱ or schizoaffective or delusional and terms for mental disorders. Bibliographies of included articles were hand searched.

Study Selection: The study included case-control and cohort studies that allowed risks of interpersonal violence perpetration and/​or violent criminality in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders to be compared with a general population group without these disorders.

Data Extraction and Synthesis: The study followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) guidelines and the Meta-analyses of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) proposal. 2 reviewers extracted data. Quality was assessed using the Newcastle-Ottawa Quality Assessment Scale. Data were pooled using a random-effects model⁠.

Main Outcomes & Measures: The main outcome was violence to others obtained either through official records, self-report and/​or collateral-report, or medical file review and included any physical assault, robbery, sexual offenses, illegal threats or intimidation, and arson.

Results: The meta-analysis included 24 studies of violence perpetration outcomes in 15 countries over 4 decades (n = 51 309 individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders; reported mean age of 21 to 54 years at follow-up; of those studies that reported outcomes separately by sex, there were 19 976 male individuals and 14 275 female individuals). There was an increase in risk of violence perpetration in men with schizophrenia and other psychoses (pooled odds ratio [OR], 4.5; 95% CI⁠, 3.6–5.6) with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 85%; 95% CI, 77–91). The risk was also elevated in women (pooled OR, 10.2; 95% CI, 7.1–14.6), with substantial heterogeneity (I2 = 66%; 95% CI, 31–83). Odds of perpetrating sexual offenses (OR, 5.1; 95% CI, 3.8–6.8) and homicide (OR, 17.7; 95% CI, 13.9–22.6) were also investigated. 3 studies found increased relative risks of arson but data were not pooled for this analysis owing to heterogeneity of outcomes. Absolute risks of violence perpetration in register-based studies were less than 1 in 20 in women with schizophrenia spectrum disorders and less than 1 in 4 in men over a 35-year period.

Conclusions & Relevance: This systematic review and meta-analysis found that the risk of perpetrating violent outcomes was increased in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders compared with community control individuals, which has been confirmed in new population-based longitudinal studies and sibling comparison designs.

“Does the Mafia Hire Good Accountants?”, Bianchi et al 2021

“Does the Mafia Hire Good Accountants?”⁠, Pietro A. Bianchi, Jere R. Francis, Antonio Marra, Nicola Pecchiari (2021-11-18; ; similar):

We investigate if organized crime groups (OCG) are able to hire good accountants.

We use data about criminal records to identify Italian accountants with connections to OCG. While the work accountants do for the OCG ecosystem is not observable, we can determine if OCG hire “good” accountants by assessing the overall quality of their work as external monitors of legal businesses.

We find that firms serviced by accountants with OCG connections have higher quality audited financial statements compared to a control group of firms serviced by accountants with no OCG connections. The findings provide evidence OCG are able to hire good accountants, despite the downside risk of OCG associations. Results are robust to controls for self-selection, for other determinants of auditor expertise, direct connections of directors and shareholders to OCG, and corporate governance mechanisms that might influence auditor choice and audit quality.

[Keywords: accountant connections to organized crime, accountant criminal record, criminal investigations, financial reporting quality]

“The Aggregate Cost of Crime in the United States”, Anderson 2021

2021-anderson.pdf: “The Aggregate Cost of Crime in the United States”⁠, David A. Anderson (2021-11-01; ; similar):

Estimates of crime’s burden inform public and private decisions about crime-prevention measures. More than counts of criminal offenses, the aggregate cost of crime conveys the scale of problems from crime and the value of deterrence.

This article offers an estimate of the total annual cost of crime in the United States, including the direct costs of law enforcement, criminal justice, and victims’ losses and the indirect costs of private deterrence, fear and agony, and time lost to avoidance and recovery. The findings update crime-cost estimates of past decades while expanding the scope of coverage to include categories missing from past studies…New elements that have not appeared in previous comprehensive studies of the cost of crime include the costs of premature deaths and suicides caused by incarceration, the rapes and sexual assaults taking place in prison, and the decreased post-incarceration earnings of convicted criminals.

The estimated annual cost of crime is $4.71–$5.76 trillion including transfers from victims to criminals and $2.86–$3.92 trillion net of transfers.

…Crime exacts a toll on society far greater than its direct repercussions. An environment of crime and concomitant distrust prompts expenditures on prevention, recovery, justice, and corrections. Beyond asset transfers from victim to criminal, losses to crime comprise lives, health, fear, work, human capital, and time…These costs are comparable to the $3.83 trillion spent on health care (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services 2020) and the $2.71 trillion spent on food and shelter (US Department of Labor 2020a) annually in the United States.

… The enormity of crime’s cost adds relevance to the distribution of crime’s burdens. Morgan & Truman 2020 provide a breakdown of crime rates by demographic characteristics. Rates of violent-crime victimization per 1,000 persons are the highest among the group that includes Pacific Islanders, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and persons with 2 or more races (66.3) and lowest for Asian Americans (7.5). Households with incomes less than $25,000 per year experience 37.8 violent crimes per 1,000 people, while every other income level has a rate between 16.2 and 19.7. Women and men have similar rates of violent-crime victimization, 20.8 and 21.2, respectively, although women experience 88.6% of all reported rapes and sexual assaults. Rates of serious-crime victimization are highest for 18–24-year-olds (37.2) and lowest for those 65 and older (6.0). As the broader cost implications of crime come to light, added protection or assistance for groups with inordinate burdens may be justified.

The findings also indicate the portion of crime’s burden borne by crime victims, taxpayers via the government’s crime-related expenditures, criminals and their families, and citizens trying to avoid crime. Crime victims bear 58.3% of the cost of crime in the form of psychic costs, transfers to criminals, and the costs of recovery. Government expenditures, such as those on policing and corrections, amount to 19.9% of the total cost of crime. Criminals and their families internalize 13.0% of the cost of crime, largely because of the expenses of drug use, prenatal exposure to drugs, and losses associated with incarceration. Consumers shoulder the remaining 8.8% of the cost of crime by purchasing preventative goods and services and through the time lost to preventative measures.

“Uncovering the Genetic Architecture of Broad Antisocial Behavior through a Genome-Wide Association Study Meta-analysis.”, Tielbeek et al 2021

“Uncovering the Genetic Architecture of Broad Antisocial Behavior through a Genome-Wide Association Study Meta-analysis.”⁠, Jorim J. Tielbeek, Emil Uffelmann, Benjamin S. Williams, Lucia Colodro-Conde, Eloi Gagnon, Travis T. Mallard et al (2021-10-20; ; similar):

Despite the substantial heritability of antisocial behavior (ASB), specific genetic variants robustly associated with the trait have not been identified. The present study by the Broad Antisocial Behavior Consortium (BroadABC) meta-analyzed data from 25 discovery samples (n = 85,359) and five independent replication samples (n = 8,058) with genotypic data and broad measures of ASB. We identified the first significant genetic associations with broad ASB, involving common intronic variants in the forkhead box protein P2 (FOXP2) gene (lead SNP rs12536335, p = 6.32 × 10−10). Furthermore, we observed intronic variation in Foxp2 and one of its targets (Cntnap2) distinguishing a mouse model of pathological aggression (BALB/​cJ mice) from controls (the BALB/​cByJ strain). The SNP-based heritability of ASB was 8.4% (s.e.= 1.2%). Polygenic-risk-score (PRS) analyses in independent samples revealed that the genetic risk for ASB was associated with several antisocial outcomes across the lifespan, including diagnosis of conduct disorder, official criminal convictions, and trajectories of antisocial development. We found substantial positive genetic correlations between ASB and depression (rg = 0.63), smoking (rg = 0.54) and insomnia (rg = 0.47) as well as negative correlations with indicators of life history (age at first birth (rg = −0.58), fathers age at death (rg = −0.54)) and years of schooling (rg = −0.46). Our findings provide a starting point towards identifying critical biosocial risk mechanisms for the development of ASB.

“The Effects of Parental and Sibling Incarceration: Evidence from Ohio”, Norris et al 2021

2021-norris.pdf: “The Effects of Parental and Sibling Incarceration: Evidence from Ohio”⁠, Samuel Norris, Matthew Pecenco, Jeffrey Weaver (2021-09-01; ; similar):

Every year, millions of Americans experience the incarceration of a family member. Using 30 years of administrative data from Ohio and exploiting differing incarceration propensities of randomly assigned judges, this paper provides the first quasi-experimental estimates of the effects of parental and sibling incarceration in the United States. Parental incarceration has beneficial effects on some important outcomes for children, reducing their likelihood of incarceration by 4.9 percentage points and improving their adult neighborhood quality. While estimates on academic performance and teen parenthood are imprecise, we reject large positive or negative effects. Sibling incarceration leads to similar reductions in criminal activity.

“Changes in Jail Admissions Before and After Traumatic Brain Injury”, Schwartz et al 2021

2021-schwartz.pdf: “Changes in Jail Admissions Before and After Traumatic Brain Injury”⁠, Joseph A. Schwartz, Emily M. Wright, Ryan Spohn, Michael F. Campagna, Benjamin Steiner, Ebonie Epinger et al (2021-08-11; ; backlinks; similar):

Objectives: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is differentially concentrated within incarcerated populations. Despite the consistency of this observation, the timing of within-individual changes in criminal justice contact in relation to TBI remains under-investigated. For example, previous studies have primarily considered TBI as a causal influence of later criminal justice contact. However, TBI may also serve as a consequence of criminal justice contact or a criminogenic lifestyle. The current study simultaneously observes both possibilities by examining criminal justice contact before, around the time of, and after the first reported TBI.

Methods: Drawing from a combination of self-report and lifetime official record data from a jail cohort admitted between February 2017 and September 2017 and who sustained their first reported TBI at age 21 or older (n = 531), the current study examines jail admissions in the 24 months before and 24 months after the first reported TBI and across 8 biannual intervals (n = 4,248 person-periods).

Results: Any and misdemeanor admissions slightly increased pre-TBI and continued to increase around the time of and following TBI, never returning to pre-TBI levels. Felony admissions remained stable around the time of injury and increased post-TBI. Further analyses that incorporated a comparison group revealed that these patterns are unique to the TBI group and not a result of a larger systematic process.

Conclusions: These findings indicate that the probability of jail admission is greatest post-TBI, but also increases leading up to sustaining a TBI.

[Keywords: Traumatic Brain Injury, collateral consequences, criminal justice contact, jail]

“Is It Only a Game? Video Games and Violence”, Suziedelyte 2021

2021-suziedelyte.pdf: “Is it only a game? Video games and violence”⁠, Agne Suziedelyte (2021-08-01; similar):

Popular media often links violent video games to real-life violence, although there is limited evidence to support this link.

I analyze how adolescent boys’ violent behavior is affected by the releases of new violent video games in the U.S. Variation in children’s exposure to the releases comes from variation in video game release and interview dates and thus is plausibly exogenous.

I find no evidence that child reported violence against other people increases after a new violent video game is released.

Thus, policies that place restrictions on video game sales to minors are unlikely to reduce violence.

…The measures of violent behavior are obtained from the Child Development Supplement (CDS) to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID). I examine the effect of violent video games on 2 types of violence—aggression against other people and destruction of things/​property. Violence measures are obtained from children themselves and their parents. The main sample is restricted to boys aged 8–18 years, a subgroup of children who are most likely to play violent video games. Data on the release dates of violent video games have been collected specifically for this study from an online video game database MobyGames⁠. In addition, video games sales data from the VGChartz database are used to identify the most popular violent video games, which are expected to increase children’s video game hours to a sufficient extent so that changes in violence levels could be detected in the data.

…I first use the exposure to the releases of popular violent video games to predict 8–18 year old boys’ daily video game hours in the 6 months before the survey. I find that boys’ weekday video game playing increases by 15–20 min per day (32–39% with respect to the mean) following a release of a popular violent video game, but not immediately after the release. Statistically-significant effects are found 4 to 5 months after the release. These effects are more pronounced for older (12–18 year old) boys and regular video game players. There are no effects of violent video game releases on girls’ video game hours.

I then regress child and parent reported violence on the predicted video game hours. On the one hand, I find no evidence that a release of a popular violent video game increases violence, as self-reported by children themselves. On the other hand, parent reported destructive behavior is found to increase following a release of a popular violent video game in some subsamples of children. Taken together, these results suggest that all 3—direct, substitution, and selection—effects are important. An increase in parent reported destructive behavior following a release of violent video game shows that children may act aggressively after playing violent video games. The likelihood of violence against people, however, does not increase, which suggests that the substitution and selection effects outweigh the direct effect. The results are consistent with more violence-prone boys being attracted to violent video games and/​or video games substituting for other violence related activities. The importance of the substitution effect is supported by the finding that children spend less time away from home after a popular violent video game is released.

“If Giving Money to the Red Cross Increases Well-being, Does Taking Money from the Red Cross Increase Ill-being?—Evidence from Three Experiments”, Martela & Ryan 2021

“If giving money to the Red Cross increases well-being, does taking money from the Red Cross increase ill-being?—Evidence from three experiments”⁠, Frank Martela, Richard M. Ryan (2021-08; ; similar):

  • A small sum of money donated to Red Cross in a button-pushing activity increased participant well-being.
  • Similar sum of money detracted from a donation to Red Cross in a button-pushing activity did not increase ill-being.
  • Participants might compensate their negative impact by emphasizing the positive impact they are having towards science.

Does having a negative impact on others decrease one’s well-being?

In 3 separate pre-registered studies (n = 111, n = 445, & n = 447), participants engaged in a button-pushing activity for 4 min in 3 conditions: earning money for themselves (~60c), also earning money for the Red Cross (~15c), or also reducing the money distributed to the Red Cross (~15c).

The results of the individual studies and a meta-analysis across them showed that positive impact increased well-being, but even though participants were aware of the negative impact they were having, there was no increased ill-being in the negative impact condition. In Study 3 we examined whether participants in the negative impact condition are mentally compensating by emphasizing the positive impact they are having towards science.

[Keywords: antisocial behavior, ill-being, prosocial behavior, prosocial impact, well-being]

“On the Sexual Assault of Men”, DiMarco et al 2021

2021-dimarco.pdf: “On the Sexual Assault of Men”⁠, David DiMarco, John Mizzoni, Ryan Savitz (2021-07-28; ; similar):

Anyone who engages in sexual intercourse with someone who is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, unconscious, oblivious to their surroundings or not able to voice dissent can be charged with the crime of rape. No individual should be used, without their consent, for another person’s pleasure. The lack of informed consent makes rape unethical. Ethically the victim being male should be irrelevant.

Yet male rape is rarely reported and frequently minimized, as will be shown by the 2010 CDC National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey as well as other sources in this paper which will show that male rape happens about as often as female rape, and possibly exceeds it. Evidence also shows that 80% of those who rape men are women. Reconsidering stereotypes of the rape of men is an important part of rethinking masculinity. Among these stereotypes is the assumption that male rape is rare, as well as assumptions about the experience of male rape victims.

The goal of this paper is to show that male rape is a prevalent problem and that the victims endure the same emotional and psychological after-effects as female rape victims.

[See also: male rape as war crime]

“No Causal Associations between Childhood Family Income and Subsequent Psychiatric Disorders, Substance Misuse and Violent Crime Arrests: a Nationwide Finnish Study of >650 000 Individuals and Their Siblings”, Sariaslan et al 2021

“No causal associations between childhood family income and subsequent psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrests: a nationwide Finnish study of >650 000 individuals and their siblings”⁠, Amir Sariaslan, Janne Mikkonen, Mikko Aaltonen, Heikki Hiilamo, Pekka Martikainen, Seena Fazel (2021-05-29; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

  • The causal nature between childhood family income and subsequent risks for psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime remains unclear.
  • In this Finnish cohort study of 650 680 individuals, we initially found that increased family income was associated with lower risks of psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and arrest for a violent crime.
  • However, once we compared siblings who grew up in the same household but were exposed to varying income levels at specific ages, the associations were no longer present.
  • Associations between family income and subsequent psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrest were therefore explained by shared familial risks and were not consistent with a causal interpretation.

Background: Childhood family income has been shown to be associated with later psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime, but the consistency, strength and causal nature of these associations remain unclear.

Methods: We conducted a nationwide cohort and co-sibling study of 650 680 individuals (426 886 siblings) born in Finland between 1986 and 1996 to re-examine these associations by accounting for unmeasured confounders shared between siblings. The participants were followed up from their 15th birthday until they either migrated, died, met criteria for the outcome of interest or reached the end of the study period (31 December 2017 or 31 December 2018 for substance misuse). The associations were adjusted for sex, birth year and birth order, and expressed as adjusted hazard ratios (aHRs). The outcomes included a diagnosis of a severe mental illness (schizophrenia-spectrum disorders or bipolar disorder), depression and anxiety. Substance misuse (eg. medication prescription, hospitalization or death due to a substance use disorder or arrest for drug-related crime) and violent crime arrests were also examined. Stratified Cox regression models accounted for unmeasured confounders shared between differentially exposed siblings.

Results: For each $15,000 increase in family income at age 15 years, the risks of the outcomes were reduced by between 9% in severe mental illness (aHR = 0.91; 95% confidence interval: 0.90–0.92) and 23% in violent crime arrests (aHR = 0.77; 0.76–0.78). These associations were fully attenuated in the sibling-comparison models (aHR range: 0.99–1.00). Sensitivity analyses confirmed the latter findings.

Conclusions: Associations between childhood family income and subsequent risks for psychiatric disorders, substance misuse and violent crime arrest were not consistent with a causal interpretation.

[Keywords: socio-economic status⁠, family income, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, substance-use disorders, violence, quasi-experimental research designs, public health] [See also “Childhood family income, adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse: quasi-experimental total population study”⁠, Sariaslan et al 2014; “Parental income and mental disorders in children and adolescents: prospective register-based study”⁠, Kinge et al 2021.]

“Parental Income and Mental Disorders in Children and Adolescents: Prospective Register-based Study”, Kinge et al 2021

“Parental income and mental disorders in children and adolescents: prospective register-based study”⁠, Jonas Minet Kinge, Simon Øverland, Martin Flatø, Joseph Dieleman, Ole Røgeberg, Maria Christine Magnus et al (2021-05-11; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

  • Mental disorders in children decreased continuously with increasing parental income for all mental disorders, except eating disorders.
  • The parental-income gradient was largest for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, followed by anxiety and depression.
  • Our study suggests that associations between lower parental income and children’s mental disorders were partly, but not fully, attributed to other socio-demographic factors, parents’ own mental disorders and genetic factors.

Background: Children with low-income parents have a higher risk of mental disorders, although it is unclear whether other parental characteristics or genetic confounding explain these associations and whether it is true for all mental disorders.

Methods: In this registry-based study of all children in Norway (n = 1 354 393) aged 5–17 years from 2008 to 2016, we examined whether parental income was associated with childhood diagnoses of mental disorders identified through national registries from primary healthcare, hospitalizations and specialist outpatient services.

Results: There were substantial differences in mental disorders by parental income, except for eating disorders in girls. In the bottom 1% of parental income, 16.9% [95% confidence interval (CI): 15.6, 18.3] of boys had a mental disorder compared with 4.1% (95% CI: 3.3, 4.8) in the top 1%. Among girls, there were 14.2% (95% CI: 12.9, 15.5) in the lowest, compared with 3.2% (95% CI: 2.5, 3.9) in the highest parental-income percentile. Differences were mainly attributable to attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in boys and anxiety and depression in girls. There were more mental disorders in children whose parents had mental disorders or low education, or lived in separate households. Still, parental income remained associated with children’s mental disorders after accounting for parents’ mental disorders and other factors, and associations were also present among adopted children.

Conclusions: Mental disorders were 3× to 4× more prevalent in children with parents in the lowest compared with the highest income percentiles. Parents’ own mental disorders, other socio-demographic factors and genetic confounding did not fully explain these associations.

[Keywords: mental disorders, income, inequality, childhood, adolescence, adolescent, child, income, mental disorders, parent, psychiatric, disorders of infancy/​childhood/​adolescence] [Discussion]

“Genetic Attributions and Perceptions of Naturalness Are Shaped by Evaluative Valence”, Lebowitz et al 2021

2021-lebowitz.pdf: “Genetic attributions and perceptions of naturalness are shaped by evaluative valence”⁠, Matthew S. Lebowitz, Kathryn Tabb, Paul S. Appelbaum (2021-04-09; ; similar):

Genetic influences on human behavior are increasingly well understood, but laypeople may endorse genetic attributions selectively; eg. they appear to make stronger genetic attributions for prosocial than for antisocial behavior.

We explored whether this could be accounted for by the relationship of genetic attributions to perceptions of naturalness. Participants read about positively or negatively valenced traits or behaviors and rated naturalness and genetic causation. Positively valenced phenotypes were rated statistically-significantly more natural and statistically-significantly more genetically influenced than negatively valenced phenotypes, and the former asymmetry statistically-significantly mediated the latter (Experiments 1 and 2). Participants’ interpretation of what “natural” meant was not synonymous with valence or genetic attributions (Experiment 3).

People ascribe differing degrees of genetic influence to the same phenotype depending on whether it is expressed in socially favored or disfavored ways, potentially representing an important threat to public understanding of genetics.

[Keywords: genetics, social cognition, causal attribution, motivated reasoning]

“Parental Characteristics and Offspring Mental Health and Related Outcomes: a Systematic Review of Genetically Informative Literature”, Jami et al 2021

“Parental characteristics and offspring mental health and related outcomes: a systematic review of genetically informative literature”⁠, Eshim S. Jami, Anke R. Hammerschlag, Meike Bartels, Christel M. Middeldorp (2021-04-01; ⁠, ; similar):

Various parental characteristics, including psychiatric disorders and parenting behaviours, are associated with offspring mental health and related outcomes in observational studies. The application of genetically informative designs is crucial to disentangle the role of genetic and environmental factors (as well as gene-environment correlation) underlying these observations, as parents provide not only the rearing environment but also transmit 50% of their genes to their offspring.

This article first provides an overview of behavioural genetics, matched-pair, and molecular genetics designs that can be applied to investigate parent-offspring associations, whilst modelling or accounting for genetic effects. We then present a systematic literature review of genetically informative studies investigating associations between parental characteristics and offspring mental health and related outcomes, published since 2014.

The reviewed studies provide reliable evidence of genetic transmission of depression, criminal behaviour, educational attainment, and substance use. These results highlight that studies that do not use genetically informative designs are likely to misinterpret the mechanisms underlying these parent-offspring associations. After accounting for genetic effects, several parental characteristics, including parental psychiatric traits and parenting behaviours, were associated with offspring internalizing problems, externalizing problems, educational attainment, substance use, and personality through environmental pathways.

Overall, genetically informative designs to study intergenerational transmission prove valuable for the understanding of individual differences in offspring mental health and related outcomes, and mechanisms of transmission within families.

“China Officially Bans CRISPR Babies, Human Clones and Animal-human Hybrids”, News 2021

“China officially bans CRISPR babies, human clones and animal-human hybrids”⁠, Biohackinfo News (2021-03-28; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

China’s new Criminal Code⁠, which came into effect four weeks ago on March 1st, has a new section dedicated to ‘illegal medical practices’, which makes it a punishable crime to create gene-edited babies, human clones and animal-human chimeras.

The new section is an amendment to Article 336 of China’s Criminal Law, and officially outlaws “the implantation of genetically-edited or cloned human embryos into human or animal bodies, or the implantation of genetically edited or cloned animal embryos into human bodies”—with penalties ranging from fines to 7 years imprisonment.

…Although Dr He had been sentenced for genetically modifying human embryos, China’s previous criminal code on ‘illegal medical practices’, under which he was sentenced, was extremely vague on the gene-editing of human embryos, and was mostly used to prosecute providers of dangerous medical procedures, and not researchers. The only official Chinese Government legal document that made a stipulation against genetically altering human embryos at the time of Dr He’s sentencing was a scientifically-outdated 2003 guideline by the Chinese Ministry of Health, which mostly addressed ethical issues on human embryonic stem cell research. And thus due to this legal vagueness on human gene-editing, legal experts in China found the court sentencing of Dr He to be very problematic…The new addition to the criminal code is meant to clear up these questions.

“Developmental Trajectories of Delinquent and Aggressive Behavior: Evidence for Differential Heritability”, Isen et al 2021

2021-isen.pdf: “Developmental Trajectories of Delinquent and Aggressive Behavior: Evidence for Differential Heritability”⁠, Joshua Isen, Catherine Tuvblad, Diana Younan, Marissa Ericson, Adrian Raine, Laura A. Baker (2021-01-15; ; similar):

The developmental course of antisocial behavior is often described in terms of qualitatively distinct trajectories. However, the genetic etiology of various trajectories is not well understood.

We examined heterogeneity in the development of delinquent and aggressive behavior in 1532 twin youth using 4 waves of data collection, spanning ages 9–10 to 16–18. A latent class growth analysis was used to uncover relevant subgroups.

For delinquent behavior, 3 latent classes emerged: Non-Delinquent, Low-Level Delinquent, and Persistent Delinquent. Liability for persistent delinquency had a substantial genetic origin (heritability = 67%), whereas genetic influences were negligible for lower-risk subgroups. 3 classes of aggressive behavior were identified: Non-Aggressive, Moderate, and High. Moderate heritability spanned the entire continuum of risk for aggressive behavior.

Thus, there are differences between aggressive behavior and non-aggressive delinquency with respect to heterogeneity of etiology. We conclude that persistent delinquency represents an etiologically distinct class of rule-breaking with strong genetic roots.

[Keywords: delinquency, aggression, developmental trajectory, heritability]

“The Effect of Police Layoffs on Crime: A Natural Experiment Involving New Jersey’s Two Largest Cities”, Piza & Chillar 2020

2020-piza.pdf: “The Effect of Police Layoffs on Crime: A Natural Experiment Involving New Jersey’s Two Largest Cities”⁠, Eric L. Piza, Vijay F. Chillar (2020-12-21; ; similar):

The current study tests the effect of police layoffs on crime through a natural experiment involving Newark and Jersey City, New Jersey’s two largest cities. In response to severe budget shortfalls resulting from the economic recession beginning in 2008, officials in both cities seriously considered police layoffs as a potential component of their cutback strategies. The Newark Police Department terminated 13% of the police force in late 2010 while Jersey City officials averted any layoffs from occurring.

The current study uses monthly Part 1 crime counts spanning from 2006 to 2015 to measure the effect of the police layoffs on crime in Newark. Findings of time series generalized least squares regression models indicate the police layoffs were associated with statistically-significant increases of overall crime, violent crime, and property crime in Newark as compared to Jersey City in the post-layoffs period. Supplemental analyses found the overall crime and violent crime increases become progressively more pronounced each year following the police layoffs.

[Keywords: Police layoffs, police force size, natural experiment, police budgets, policing strategy]

“Using Age Difference and Sex Similarity to Detect Evidence of Sibling Influence on Criminal Offending”, Mikkonen et al 2020

“Using age difference and sex similarity to detect evidence of sibling influence on criminal offending”⁠, Janne Mikkonen, Jukka Savolainen, Mikko Aaltonen, Pekka Martikainen (2020-10-21; ; similar):

Background: Sibling resemblance in crime may be due to genetic relatedness, shared environment, and/​or the interpersonal influence of siblings on each other. This latter process can be understood as a type of ‘peer effect’ in that it is based on social learning between individuals occupying the same status in the social system (family). Building on prior research, we hypothesized that sibling pairs that resemble peer relationships the most, i.e., same-sex siblings close in age, exhibit the most sibling resemblance in crime.

Methods: Drawing on administrative microdata [population registry] covering Finnish children born in 1985–97, we examined 213 911 sibling pairs, observing the recorded criminality of each sibling between ages 11 and 20. We estimated multivariate regression models controlling for individual and family characteristics, and employed fixed-effects models to analyze the temporal co-occurrence of sibling delinquency.

Results: Among younger siblings with a criminal older sibling, the adjusted prevalence estimates of criminal offending decreased from 32 to 25% as the age differences increased from less than 13 months to 25–28 months. The prevalence leveled off at 23% when age difference reached 37–40 months or more. These effects were statistically-significant only among same-sex sibling pairs (p < 0.001), with clear evidence of contemporaneous offending among siblings with minimal age difference.

Conclusions: Same-sex siblings very close in age stand out as having the highest sibling resemblance in crime. This finding suggests that a meaningful share of sibling similarity in criminal offending is due to a process akin to peer influence, typically flowing from the older to the younger sibling.

[Keywords: administrative data, age difference, crime, peer effect, sex similarity, siblings]

“Violence and Mental Disorders: a Structured Review of Associations by Individual Diagnoses, Risk Factors, and Risk Assessment”, Whiting et al 2020

2020-whiting.pdf: “Violence and mental disorders: a structured review of associations by individual diagnoses, risk factors, and risk assessment”⁠, Daniel Whiting, Paul Lichtenstein, Seena Fazel (2020-10-20; ; similar):

In this Review, we summarise evidence on the association between different mental disorders and violence, with emphasis on high quality designs and replicated findings. Relative risks are typically increased for all violent outcomes in most diagnosed psychiatric disorders compared with people without psychiatric disorders, with increased odds in the range of 2–4 after adjustment for familial and other sources of confounding. Absolute rates of violent crime over 5–10 years are typically below 5% in people with mental illness (excluding personality disorders, schizophrenia, and substance misuse), which increases to 6–10% in personality disorders and schizophrenia spectrum disorders, and to more than 10% in substance misuse. Past criminality and comorbid substance misuse are strongly predictive of future violence in many individual disorders. We reviewed national clinical practice guidelines, which vary in content and require updating to reflect the present epidemiological evidence. Standardised and clinically feasible approaches to the assessment and management of violence risk in general psychiatric settings need to be developed.

“Multivariate Genomic Analysis of 1.5 Million People Identifies Genes Related to Addiction, Antisocial Behavior, and Health”, Linnér et al 2020

“Multivariate genomic analysis of 1.5 million people identifies genes related to addiction, antisocial behavior, and health”⁠, Richard Karlsson Linnér, Travis T. Mallard, Peter B. Barr, Sandra Sanchez-Roige, James W. Madole, Morgan N. Driver et al (2020-10-16; ; similar):

Behaviors and disorders related to self-regulation, such as substance use, antisocial conduct, and ADHD⁠, are collectively referred to as externalizing and have a shared genetic liability. We applied a multivariate approach that leverages genetic correlations among externalizing traits for genome-wide association analyses⁠. By pooling data from ~1.5 million people, our approach is statistically more powerful than single-trait analyses and identifies more than 500 genetic loci. The identified loci were enriched for genes expressed in the brain and related to nervous system development. A polygenic score constructed from our results captures variation in a broad range of behavioral and medical outcomes that were not part of our genome-wide analyses, including traits that until now lacked well-performing polygenic scores, such as opioid use disorder, suicide, HIV infections, criminal convictions, and unemployment. Our findings are consistent with the idea that persistent difficulties in self-regulation can be conceptualized as a neurodevelopmental condition.

“The Face of Crime: Apparent Happiness Differentiates Criminal and Non-criminal Photos”, Sheldon et al 2020

2020-sheldon.pdf: “The face of crime: Apparent happiness differentiates criminal and non-criminal photos”⁠, Kennon M. Sheldon, Mike Corcoran, Jason Trent (2020-08-10; ; similar):

In two studies we tested the hypothesis that observers can accurately distinguish between convicted criminals and matched controls, merely by scrutinizing facial photographs. Based on the Eudaimonic Activity Model, we further hypothesized that criminals and non-criminals differ in their apparent emotional positivity. Finally, based on honest signaling theory, we hypothesized that such emotionality differences can explain observers’ ability to distinguish criminals and non-criminals.

In Study 1 participants evaluated photos of people later convicted of crimes, and photos of matched controls. In Study 2 participants evaluated photos of Catholic priests later convicted of sexual offenses, and photos of the priests who replaced them at their parishes. All three hypotheses were supported. Furthermore, in Study 2, participants’ own facial photos were rated by assistants. Consistent with honest signal theories, observer’s facial positivity, as well as their self-rated positive affect, predicted their ability to perceive positive emotions in non-criminal faces.

[Keywords: Happiness, eudaimonia, honest signaling theory, criminality, eudaimonic activity model, facial perceptions]

“Association between Naturally Occurring Lithium in Drinking Water and Suicide Rates: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Ecological Studies”, Memon et al 2020

2020-memon.pdf: “Association between naturally occurring lithium in drinking water and suicide rates: systematic review and meta-analysis of ecological studies”⁠, Anjum Memon, Imogen Rogers, Sophie M. D. D. Fitzsimmons, Ben Carter, Rebecca Strawbridge, Diego Hidalgo-Mazzei et al (2020-07-27; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Background: The prevalence of mental health conditions and national suicide rates are increasing in many countries. Lithium is widely and effectively used in pharmacological doses for the treatment and prevention of manic/​depressive episodes, stabilising mood and reducing the risk of suicide. Since the 1990s, several ecological studies have tested the hypothesis that trace doses of naturally occurring lithium in drinking water may have a protective effect against suicide in the general population.

Aims: To synthesise the global evidence on the association between lithium levels in drinking water and suicide mortality rates.

Method: The MEDLINE⁠, Embase⁠, Web of Science and PsycINFO databases were searched to identify eligible ecological studies published between 1 January 1946 and 10 September 2018. Standardised regression coefficients for total (ie. both genders combined), male and female suicide mortality rates were extracted and pooled using random-effects meta-analysis. The study was registered with PROSPERO (CRD42016041375).

Results: The literature search identified 415 articles; of these, 15 ecological studies were included in the synthesis. The random-effects meta-analysis showed a consistent protective (or inverse) association between lithium levels/​concentration in publicly available drinking water and total (pooled β = −0.27, 95% CI −0.47 to −0.08; p = 0.006, I2 = 83.3%), male (pooled β = −0.26, 95% CI −0.56 to 0.03; p = 0.08, I2 = 91.9%) and female (pooled β = −0.13, 95% CI −0.24 to −0.02; p = 0.03, I2 = 28.5%) suicide mortality rates. A similar protective association was observed in the six studies included in the narrative synthesis, and subgroup meta-analyses based on the higher/​lower suicide mortality rates and lithium levels/​concentration.

Conclusions: This synthesis of ecological studies, which are subject to the ecological fallacy/​bias, supports the hypothesis that there is a protective (or inverse) association between lithium intakes from public drinking water and suicide mortality at the population level. Naturally occurring lithium in drinking water may have the potential to reduce the risk of suicide and may possibly help in mood stabilisation, particularly in populations with relatively high suicide rates and geographical areas with a greater range of lithium concentration in the drinking water. All the available evidence suggests that randomised community trials of lithium supplementation of the water supply might be a means of testing the hypothesis, particularly in communities (or settings) with demonstrated high prevalence of mental health conditions, violent criminal behaviour, chronic substance misuse and risk of suicide.

“Understanding How Low Levels of Early Lead Exposure Affect Children’s Life Trajectories”, Grönqvist et al 2020

2020-gronqvist.pdf: “Understanding How Low Levels of Early Lead Exposure Affect Children’s Life Trajectories”⁠, Hans Grönqvist, J. Peter Nilsson, and Per-Olof Robling (2020-07-01; ; similar):

We study the impact of lead exposure from birth to adulthood and provide evidence on the mechanisms producing these effects. Following 800,000 children differentially exposed to the phaseout of leaded gasoline in Sweden, we find that even a low exposure affects long-run outcomes, that boys are more affected, and that changes in noncognitive skills explain a sizeable share of the impact on crime and human capital. The effects are greater above exposure thresholds still relevant for the general population, and reductions in exposure equivalent to the magnitude of the recent redefinition of elevated blood lead levels can increase earnings by 4%.

“Association of Parental Substance Misuse With Offspring Substance Misuse and Criminality: a Genetically Informed Register-based Study”, Latvala et al 2020

2020-latvala.pdf: “Association of parental substance misuse with offspring substance misuse and criminality: a genetically informed register-based study”⁠, Antti Latvala, Ralf Kuja-Halkola, Brian M. D’Onofrio, Nitya Jayaram-Lindström, Henrik Larsson, Paul Lichtenstein et al (2020-06-29; ; similar):

Background: Genetically informed studies have provided mixed findings as to what extent parental substance misuse is associated with offspring substance misuse and antisocial behavior due to shared environmental and genetic factors.

Methods: We linked data from nationwide registries for a cohort of 2 476 198 offspring born in Sweden 1958–1995 and their parents. Substance misuse was defined as International Classification of Diseases diagnoses of alcohol/​drug use disorders or alcohol/​drug-related criminal convictions. Quantitative genetic offspring-of-siblings analyses in offspring of monozygotic and dizygotic twin, full-sibling, and half-sibling parents were conducted.

Results: Both maternal and paternal substance misuse were robustly associated with offspring substance misuse [maternal adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) = 1.83 (95% confidence interval (CI) 1.80–1.87); paternal aHR = 1.96 (1.94–1.98)] and criminal convictions [maternal aHR = 1.56 (1.54–1.58); paternal aHR = 1.66 (1.64–1.67)]. Additive genetic effects explained 42% (95% CI 25–56%) and 46% (36–55%) of the variance in maternal and paternal substance misuse, respectively, and between 36 and 44% of the variance in substance misuse and criminality in offspring. The associations between parental substance misuse and offspring outcomes were mostly due to additive genetic effects, which explained 54–85% of the parent-offspring covariance. However, both nuclear and extended family environmental factors also contributed to the associations, especially with offspring substance misuse.

Conclusions: Our findings from a large offspring-of-siblings study indicate that shared genetic influences mostly explain the associations between parental substance misuse and both offspring substance misuse and criminality, but we also found evidence for the contribution of environmental factors shared by members of nuclear and extended families.

“Specific Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorder Criteria and General Substance Use: A Twin Study”, Rosenström et al 2020

2020-rosenstrom.pdf: “Specific Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorder Criteria and General Substance Use: A Twin Study”⁠, Tom Rosenström, Fartein Ask Torvik, Eivind Ystrom, Steven H. Aggen, Nathan A. Gillespie, Robert F. Krueger et al (2020-06-25; ⁠, ; similar):

Antisocial (ASPD) and borderline (BPD) personality disorders (PDs) are associated with increased risk for substance use. They are “specific” risk factors among PDs in that they withstand adjusting for the other PDs, whereas the reverse does not hold. Specificity is a classic sign of causation. This empirical work addresses 3 further problems that can undermine causal inferences in personality and substance-use research: hierarchical nature of etiologic factors in psychiatry, imperfectly operationalized PD criteria, and possible genetic or environmental confounding, as seen in lack of “etiologic continuity.” We used exploratory structural equation bifactor modeling and biometric models to mitigate these problems. The participants were Norwegian adult twins of ages 19–36 years (n = 2,801). Criteria for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM–5), PDs were assessed using a structured interview. General substance-use risk was indicated by World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interviewed alcohol use disorder and illicit drug use, and by self-reported regular smoking. A general risk factor for all criteria of both ASPD and BPD was the strongest individual correlate of general substance use and showed etiologic continuity, though just 3 specific PD criteria could predict substance use to the same extent. The findings indicate that a broad latent factor for both ASPD and BPD may be a specific and a genetically and environmentally unconfounded risk factor for substance use. Substance-use treatment research might benefit from attending to transdiagnostic models of ASPD, BPD, and related behavioral disinhibition.

“Animal Ethics and Evolutionary Psychology—10 Ideas”, Fleischman 2020

“Animal Ethics and Evolutionary Psychology—10 ideas”⁠, Diana Fleischman (2020-06-15; ; similar):

“Animal Ethics and Evolutionary Psychology” (read the whole chapter here) attempts to untangle some of the evolutionary reasons why we have such inconsistent attitudes towards animals. Below I quote parts of the chapter—for full references, check out the original.

  1. Wolf moms think dog puppies are cuter than wolf pups
  2. Women are more willing than men to let a foreign stranger die for their dog
  3. Animal abuse is common, and there isn’t good evidence that it predicts psychopathy and criminality
  4. Maybe you should “Eat the Whales”
  5. Slaughterhouse workers think the guy who kills the cow, the knocker, has serious psychological problems
  6. Many different polls find that a lot of regular people have pretty extreme views on animal rights
  7. People hate vegetarians more than almost any other group, but they’re more likely to hire them or rent to them than any other group
  8. Across cultures, women nursing animals at the breast is pretty common
  9. Consumers who say they care about animal welfare rarely buy products in accordance with those beliefs
  10. Evolutionary explanations don’t excuse or normalize violence in the animal domain or any other.

“The Public Salience of Crime, 1960–2014: Age-period-cohort and Time-series Analyses”, Shi et al 2020

2020-shi.pdf: “The public salience of crime, 1960–2014: Age-period-cohort and time-series analyses”⁠, Luzi Shi, Yunmei Lu, Justin T. Pickett (2020-05-18; ; similar):

The public salience of crime has wide-ranging political and social implications; it influences public trust in the government and citizens’ everyday routines and interactions, and it may affect policy responsiveness to punitive attitudes. Identifying the sources of crime salience is thus important. Two competing theoretical models exist: the objectivist model and the social constructionist model. According to the first, crime salience is a function of the crime rate. According to the second, crime salience is a function of media coverage and political rhetoric, and trends in crime salience differ across population subgroups as a result of differences in their responsiveness to elite initiatives. In both theories, period-level effects predominate. Variation in crime salience, however, may also reflect age and cohort effects. Using data from 422,504 respondents interviewed between 1960 and 2014, we first examine the nature of crime salience using hierarchical age-period-cohort (HAPC) models and then analyze period-level predictors using first differences. We find that 1. crime salience varies mostly at the period level; 2. crime salience trends are parallel (cointegrated) across demographic, socioeconomic, and partisan groups; and 3. crime salience trends within every population subgroup are most consistent with the constructionist model. The crime rate does not exert a statistically-significant effect in any subgroup.

“The Stewart Retractions: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis”, Pickett 2020

“The Stewart Retractions: A Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis”⁠, Justin T. Pickett (2020-03; ; similar):

Sociology has recently experienced its first large-scale retraction event. Dr. Eric Stewart and his coauthors have retracted five articles from three journals, Social Problems, Criminology, and Law & Society Review. I coauthored one of the retracted articles. The retraction notices are uninformative, stating only that the authors uncovered an unacceptable number of errors in each article. Misinformation about the event abounds. Some of the authors have continued to insist in print that the retracted findings are correct. I analyze both quantitative and qualitative data about what happened, in the articles, among the coauthors, and at the journals. The findings suggest that the five articles were likely fraudulent, several coauthors acted with negligence bordering on complicity after learning about the data irregularities, and the editors violated the ethical standards advanced by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). Suggested reforms include requiring data verification by coauthors and editorial adherence to COPE standards.

[Keywords: open science, reproducibility, peer review, research misconduct, scientific fraud]

“The Great Buenos Aires Bank Heist: They Were an All-star Crew. They Cooked up the Perfect Plan. And When They Pulled off the Caper of the Century, It Made Them More Than a Fortune—it Made Them Folk Heroes.”, Dean 2020

“The Great Buenos Aires Bank Heist: They were an all-star crew. They cooked up the perfect plan. And when they pulled off the caper of the century, it made them more than a fortune—it made them folk heroes.”⁠, Josh Dean (2020-02-20; similar):

For more than six hours, the nation was transfixed. The police had nicknamed Walter “the Man in the Gray Suit.” He was instantly famous. The hostages, Walter said, were being treated well. The mood inside seemed oddly ebullient: At one point, Walter and another robber could be heard singing “Happy Birthday” to a bank employee whose phone had been buzzing with birthday messages from friends and family. At 3:30 in the afternoon, Walter asked for pizzas; the hostages were hungry, he said. Then, only a few minutes later, Walter went silent. For over three hours, police leaders and city officials fretted over what to do as further attempts to reach Walter failed. Finally a team of special-forces officers took up position outside the bank. At 7PM, they burst inside. But there was no shoot-out, no commotion. And no sign of the thieves. The hostages were dispersed on three floors—the lobby level, a mezzanine space, and down in a basement conference room, which had been locked from the inside. They were all unharmed.

It wasn’t until detectives reached the basement that they discovered what the robbers had truly been after. There, in the expanse of the bank’s subterranean level, hundreds of reinforced-steel safe-deposit boxes lined the walls. And in a place like San Isidro, at a time like 2006, those boxes represented a veritable treasure trove. Argentines are uniquely distrustful of their banks, and for good reason. They’ve been betrayed by them, over and over. Most famously in 2001, when the collapse of the national banking system, known as the corralito, erased entire fortunes, affecting millions. With no faith in accounts, bank customers began tucking their savings—their cash, jewelry, and other valuables—into safe-deposit boxes. And this particular bank, situated in one of the richest enclaves of Argentina, must have seemed especially enticing, flush as its deposit boxes were sure to be with the fortunes of the city’s most well-to-do.

Somehow the thieves had smashed open a huge number of the boxes—143 of the bank’s 400—and cleaned them out. But what exactly they’d grabbed, or where they’d gone, was a mystery. Cops swept every inch of the bank’s three floors but failed to locate a single member of the gang. The bank had only two exits—both of which had been covered by police since the siege began. All of the building’s windows were intact. And the robbers were not hiding among the hostages. They’d simply vanished. The thieves had left a few things behind. Detectives found a battery pack, a tool that they surmised had been used to crack the boxes, a row of toy guns laid neatly on the floor, and a note, taped to the wall above the toys. It was handwritten and must have seemed like a taunt: “In a neighborhood of rich people, without weapons or grudges, it’s just money, not love.”

“The Secret History of Facial Recognition: Sixty Years Ago, a Sharecropper’s Son Invented a Technology to Identify Faces. Then the Record of His Role All but Vanished. Who Was Woody Bledsoe, and Who Was He Working For?”, Raviv 2020

“The Secret History of Facial Recognition: Sixty years ago, a sharecropper’s son invented a technology to identify faces. Then the record of his role all but vanished. Who was Woody Bledsoe, and who was he working for?”⁠, Shaun Raviv (2020-01-21; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Over the following year, Woody came to believe that the most promising path to automated facial recognition was one that reduced a face to a set of relationships between its major landmarks: eyes, ears, nose, eyebrows, lips. The system that he imagined was similar to one that Alphonse Bertillon, the French criminologist who invented the modern mug shot, had pioneered in 1879. Bertillon described people on the basis of 11 physical measurements, including the length of the left foot and the length from the elbow to the end of the middle finger. The idea was that, if you took enough measurements, every person was unique. Although the system was labor-intensive, it worked: In 1897, years before fingerprinting became widespread, French gendarmes used it to identify the serial killer Joseph Vacher. Throughout 1965, Panoramic attempted to create a fully automated Bertillon system for the face. The team tried to devise a program that could locate noses, lips, and the like by parsing patterns of lightness and darkness in a photograph, but the effort was mostly a flop.

…Even with this larger sample size, though, Woody’s team struggled to overcome all the usual obstacles. The computer still had trouble with smiles, for instance, which “distort the face and drastically change inter-facial measurements.” Aging remained a problem too, as Woody’s own face proved. When asked to cross-match a photo of Woody from 1945 with one from 1965, the computer was flummoxed. It saw little resemblance between the younger man, with his toothy smile and dark widow’s peak, and the older one, with his grim expression and thinning hair. It was as if the decades had created a different person.

…In 1967, more than a year after his move to Austin, Woody took on one last assignment that involved recognizing patterns in the human face. The purpose of the experiment was to help law enforcement agencies quickly sift through databases of mug shots and portraits, looking for matches…Woody’s main collaborator on the project was Peter Hart, a research engineer in the Applied Physics Laboratory at the Stanford Research Institute. (Now known as SRI International, the institute split from Stanford University in 1970 because its heavy reliance on military funding had become so controversial on campus.) Woody and Hart began with a database of around 800 images—two newsprint-quality photos each of about “400 adult male caucasians”, varying in age and head rotation. (I did not see images of women or people of color, or references to them, in any of Woody’s facial-recognition studies.) Using the RAND tablet, they recorded 46 coordinates per photo, including five on each ear, seven on the nose, and four on each eyebrow. Building on Woody’s earlier experience at normalizing variations in images, they used a mathematical equation to rotate each head into a forward-looking position. Then, to account for differences in scale, they enlarged or reduced each image to a standard size, with the distance between the pupils as their anchor metric. The computer’s task was to memorize one version of each face and use it to identify the other. Woody and Hart offered the machine one of two shortcuts. With the first, known as group matching, the computer would divide the face into features—left eyebrow, right ear, and so on—and compare the relative distances between them. The second approach relied on Bayesian decision theory⁠; it used 22 measurements to make an educated guess about the whole.

In the end, the two programs handled the task about equally well. More important, they blew their human competitors out of the water. When Woody and Hart asked three people to cross-match subsets of 100 faces, even the fastest one took six hours to finish. The CDC 3800 computer completed a similar task in about three minutes, reaching a hundredfold reduction in time. The humans were better at coping with head rotation and poor photographic quality, Woody and Hart acknowledged, but the computer was “vastly superior” at tolerating the differences caused by aging. Overall, they concluded, the machine “dominates” or “very nearly dominates” the humans.

This was the greatest success Woody ever had with his facial-recognition research. It was also the last paper he would write on the subject. The paper was never made public—for “government reasons”, Hart says—which both men lamented. In 1970, two years after the collaboration with Hart ended, a roboticist named Michael Kassler alerted Woody to a facial-recognition study that Leon Harmon at Bell Labs was planning. “I’m irked that this second rate study will now be published and appear to be the best man-machine system available”, Woody replied. “It sounds to me like Leon, if he works hard, will be almost 10 years behind us by 1975.” He must have been frustrated when Harmon’s research made the cover of Scientific American a few years later, while his own, more advanced work was essentially kept in a vault.

“Clustering of Health, Crime and Social-welfare Inequality in 4 Million Citizens from Two Nations”, Richmond-Rakerd et al 2020

2020-richmondrakerd.pdf: “Clustering of health, crime and social-welfare inequality in 4 million citizens from two nations”⁠, Leah S. Richmond-Rakerd, Stephanie D’Souza, Signe Hald Andersen, Sean Hogan, Renate M. Houts, Richie Poulton et al (2020-01-20; ⁠, ⁠, ; similar):

Health and social scientists have documented the hospital revolving-door problem, the concentration of crime, and long-term welfare dependence. Have these distinct fields identified the same citizens? Using administrative databases linked to 1.7 million New Zealanders, we quantified and monetized inequality in distributions of health and social problems and tested whether they aggregate within individuals. Marked inequality was observed: Gini coefficients equalled 0.96 for criminal convictions, 0.91 for public-hospital nights, 0.86 for welfare benefits, 0.74 for prescription-drug fills and 0.54 for injury-insurance claims. Marked aggregation was uncovered: a small population segment accounted for a disproportionate share of use-events and costs across multiple sectors. These findings were replicated in 2.3 million Danes. We then integrated the New Zealand databases with the four-decade-long Dunedin Study. The high-need/​high-cost population segment experienced early-life factors that reduce workforce readiness, including low education and poor mental health. In midlife they reported low life satisfaction. Investing in young people’s education and training potential could reduce health and social inequalities and enhance population wellbeing.

“The Signal Quality of Earnings Announcements: Evidence from an Informed Trading Cartel”, Xie 2020

2020-xie.pdf: “The signal quality of earnings announcements: evidence from an informed trading cartel”⁠, Lu Xie (2020; ; backlinks; similar):

This study examines the revealed preference of informed traders to infer the extent to which earnings announcements are informative of subsequent stock price responses.

From 2011 to 2015, a cartel of sophisticated traders illegally obtained early access to firm press releases prior to publication and traded over 1,000 earnings announcements. I study their constrained profit maximization: which earnings announcements they chose to trade [9.25%] vs. which ones they forwent trading.

Consistent with theory, these traders targeted more liquid earnings announcements with larger subsequent stock price movement. Despite earning large profits overall, the informed traders enjoyed only mixed success in identifying the biggest profit opportunities. Controlling for liquidity differences, only 31% of their trades were in the most extreme announcement period return deciles. I model the informed traders’ tradeoff between liquidity and expected returns. From this model, I recover an average signal-to-noise ratio of 0.4.

I further explore 2 potential economic sources of this noise: (1) ambiguous market expectations of earnings announcements and (2) heterogeneous interpretations of earnings information by the marginal investor. Empirically, I document that the informed traders avoided noisier earnings announcements as measured by both sources of noise.

…Empirically, I test whether the informed traders behaved in a manner consistent with market microstructure theory. First, on the extensive margin, the informed traders chose more liquid earnings announcements. Compared to the unconditional mean probability of informed trade, an one standard deviation increase in liquidity increases the probability of trade by 50%. Liquidity is especially important in this setting because of detection risk. Large price impact prior to public disclosures bears the risk of discovery. Second, the informed traders chose earnings announcements with larger ex-post returns. A one standard deviation increase in the magnitude of realized stock returns increases the probability of trade by 19%. This finding confirms the joint hypothesis that informed traders could identify, and preferred to trade on, earnings with larger returns. Furthermore, on the intensive margin, the informed traders more aggressively traded earnings announcements with higher returns. Conditional on a stock that is informed-traded, an one percentage point increase in realized stock returns increases the informed traders’ price impact by 8.5 bps.

…To estimate signal noise from performance, I formulate a model of informed trade. In my model, an investor receives an array of noisy private signals about announcement period returns. The investor seeks to maximize profit by choosing to trade earnings announcements that are liquid and have large returns. The investor’s ability to do so depends on the precision of his return signals (ie. the earnings announcements). I estimate my model using simulated method of moments (SMM), where my moments are average returns, liquidity and their interaction. Using these moments, I recover parameter estimates that imply informed traders were willing to forgo 1% of expected return in exchange for 0.65 standard deviations of liquidity. Their performance implies a low signal-to-noise (SNR) ratio of on average 0.4. Within the context of this natural experiment⁠, this is a causal estimate: signal quality determines performance. For comparison, I consider a simple benchmark trading strategy based on earnings surprise. This benchmark yields a comparable SNR estimate of 0.42. I infer from these low signal-to-noise ratios that earnings announcement press releases are poor signals of subsequent stock price responses.

…This unique natural experiment reveals a general fact that earnings announcements are noisy signals of subsequent market reactions. The informed traders had “perfect foresight” from stolen earnings announcement press releases, but they were only able to enjoy mixed success in predicting next-day stock returns. Their poor performance implies that capital market participants have difficulty mapping earnings information to stock price reactions. The contributions of this paper are to empirically quantify the limited informativeness of quarterly earnings announcements to individual investors, provide evidence on the likely sources of signal noise, and shed light on how this noise affects the behaviour of capital market participants.

“Beneath the Radar: Exploring the Economics of Business Fraud via Underground Markets”, Gãnán et al 2020

2020-ganan.pdf: “Beneath the radar: Exploring the economics of business fraud via underground markets”⁠, Carlos H. Gãnán, Ugur Akyazi, Elena Tsetkova (2020; ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ; backlinks):

Underground marketplaces have emerged as a common channel for criminals to offer their products and services. A portion of these products comprises the illegal trading of consumer products such as vouchers, coupons, and loyalty program accounts that are later used to commit business fraud. Despite its well-known existence, the impact of this type of business fraud has not been analyzed in depth before.

By leveraging longitudinal data from 8 major underground markets from 2011–2017 [Agora, Alphabay, BlackMarket Reloaded, Evolution, Hydra, Pandora, Silk Road 1, Silk Road 2], we identify, classify, and quantify different types of business fraud to then analyze the characteristics of the companies who suffered from them. Moreover, we investigate factors that influence the impact of business fraud on these companies.

Our models show that cybercriminals prefer selling products of well-established companies, while smaller companies appear to suffer higher revenue losses. Stolen accounts are the most transacted items, while pirated software together with loyalty programs create the heaviest revenue losses. The estimated criminal revenues are relatively low, at under $600,000 in total for the whole period; but the total estimated revenue losses are up to $7.5 million.

“The Propensity for Aggressive Behavior and Lifetime Incarceration Risk: A Test for Gene-environment Interaction (G × E) Using Whole-genome Data”, Barnes et al 2019

2019-barnes.pdf: “The propensity for aggressive behavior and lifetime incarceration risk: A test for gene-environment interaction (G × E) using whole-genome data”⁠, J. C. Barnes, Hexuan Liu, Ryan T. Motz, Peter T. Tanksley, Rachel Kail, Amber L. Beckley, Daniel W. Belsky et al (2019-11-01; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

  • Socio-genomics offers insight into gene-environment interplay.
  • We construct a genome-wide measure of genetic propensity for aggressive behavior.
  • Males with higher genetic propensity were more likely to experience incarceration.
  • But gene-environment interaction (G × E) was observed
  • Genetic propensity was not predictive for males raised in high education homes.

Incarceration is a disruptive event that is experienced by a considerable proportion of the United States population. Research has identified social factors that predict incarceration risk, but scholars have called for a focus on the ways that individual differences combine with social factors to affect incarceration risk. Our study is an initial attempt to heed this call using whole-genome data.

We use data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) (n = 6716) to construct a genome-wide measure of genetic propensity for aggressive behavior and use it to predict lifetime incarceration risk. We find that participants with a higher genetic propensity for aggression are more likely to experience incarceration, but the effect is stronger for males than females. Importantly, we identify a gene-environment interaction (G × E)—genetic propensity is reduced, substantively and statistically, to a non-significant predictor for males raised in homes where at least one parent graduated high school.

We close by placing these findings in the broader context of concerns that have been raised about genetics research in criminology.

[Keywords: lifetime incarceration, genome-wide polygenic score (PGS), parental educational attainment, gene-environment interaction (G × E)]

“Genomics of Human Aggression: Current State of Genome-wide Studies and an Automated Systematic Review Tool”, Odintsova et al 2019

2019-odintsova.pdf: “Genomics of human aggression: current state of genome-wide studies and an automated systematic review tool”⁠, Veronika V. Odintsova, Peter J. Roetman, Hill F. Ip, René Pool, Camiel M. Van der Laan, Klodiana-Daphne Tona et al (2019-10-01; )

“The Eponymous Mr. Ponzi: The Little Known Story of an Age-old Scam”, Durbin 2019

“The Eponymous Mr. Ponzi: The little known story of an age-old scam”⁠, Michael Durbin (2019-09-02; similar):

[More in-depth profile of Charles Ponzi, who was not the first to run a Ponzi scheme but named it. Who was Charles Ponzi? An Italian immigrant of many names who loved to live well but not wisely—always going too far, winding up hard up, and screwing up when he finally moves up. Ponzi’s final chapter came when he discovered a genuine international postage loophole, but instead of eking out a small profit, kept going and going, eventually trying to take over a bank to manage the scheme and extract ‘loans’ to tide him over—which brought him too much attention from the authorities, but even they couldn’t pop the ponzi until an accountant and revelations of his past crimes ended it.]

“Can You Indemnify Against Dick Pics? The Rise of Scandal Insurance in Hollywood”, Kachka 2019

“Can You Indemnify Against Dick Pics? The rise of scandal insurance in Hollywood”⁠, Boris Kachka (2019-08-05; ; similar):

A standard Lloyd’s contract defined disgrace in vague terms—as “any criminal act, or any offence against public taste or decency…which degrades or brings that person into disrepute or provokes insult or shock to the community.” Most effective policies rely on precise terms and evidence that both sides can agree on—the Richter scale, a hospital bill. Subjective wording leads to disputes. Insurance “has to involve no litigation”, says Bill Hubbard, CEO of the entertainment insurer HCC Specialty Group. “You know the Supreme Court justice who said, ‘I know pornography when I see it’? You can’t settle claims that way.”

The contracts were much clearer on the definition of what didn’t merit a payout: Many of them exempted non-felonious offenses and acts committed prior to the policy’s start date. Even if the All the Money producers had bought a policy, Spacey’s past transgressions might have been excluded, treated as preexisting conditions.

While these limitations kept the industry small, the foibles of the rich and famous only increased demand for a better product. Tiger Woods’s 2009 car crash, followed by revelations of his infidelities, cost him $30.1$22.02009 million in contracts with brands like AT&T and Gatorade—which was nothing compared to what they cost the companies. A UC Davis study put the brands’ shareholder losses somewhere between $6.8$5.02009 billion and $16.4$12.02009 billion.

But it wasn’t Woods who made disgrace insurance look viable; it was reality television. A few months before the golfer’s car crash came what one underwriter refers to only as “that Viacom loss.” Ryan Jenkins, then a contestant on the VH1 reality show Megan Wants a Millionaire and the star of an upcoming season of I Love Money, became the lead suspect in his wife’s murder and killed himself a few days later. Megan was canceled after three episodes and the Money season shelved entirely, costing Viacom seven figures in losses. That’s when the company started buying disgrace insurance.

Thousands of reality shows have been insured in the ensuing decade, many of them via two insurance brokers, Gallagher Entertainment and HUB International. HUB’s managing director, Bob Jellen, can recall about half a dozen claims paying out since the Jenkins murder. He wouldn’t offer specifics, but others have given two examples: P.I. Moms, which was canceled in 2011 following fraud and drug charges, and Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, after an owner killed a country singer in his own rescued bar. “It’s something we don’t advertise”, says Jellen of disgrace insurance. “You don’t have to sell people on disgrace.”

“Everybody Knows: As the Leading Targets of Hate Crimes, Jews Are Routinely Being Attacked in the Streets of New York City. So Why Is No One Acting like It’s a Big Deal?”, Rosen 2019

“Everybody Knows: As the leading targets of hate crimes, Jews are routinely being attacked in the streets of New York City. So why is no one acting like it’s a big deal?”⁠, Armin Rosen (2019-07-16; ; backlinks; similar):

The incidents now pass without much notice, a steady, familiar drumbeat of violence and hate targeting visibly Jewish people in New York City…The increase in the number of physical assaults against Orthodox Jews in New York City is a matter of empirical fact. Anti-Semitic hate crimes against persons, which describes nearly everything involving physical contact, jumped from 17 in 2017 to 33 in 2018, with the number for the first half of 2019 standing at 19, according to the NYPD’s hate crime unit. Jews are the most frequent targets of hate crimes in New York City, and have been for some time (although this number is somewhat skewed by the fact that swastikas, which are by far the city’s most common hate incident, are automatically categorized as an anti-Jewish hate crime)…these seemingly random incidents—just the first few days of May saw an unprovoked attack in Lefferts Park in which a woman tried to pull off her victim’s sheitel, two violent assaults on Hasidic men in Williamsburg, and a possible attempted vehicular attack in the same neighborhood—is part of a typhoon of violence that in other contexts might call for a Justice Department Civil Rights Division investigation. The fact that the victims are most often outwardly identifiable, ie. religious rather than secularized Jews, and the perpetrators who have been recorded on CCTV cameras are overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, inverts the perpetrator-victim dynamics with which most national Jewish organizations and their supporters are comfortable. A close look at these cases reveals no apparent connection to neo-Nazis, the alt-right, Donald Trump, jihadism, the BDS movement, or any other traditional cause of anti-Jewish behavior.

…Past spikes were seemingly less nebulous in origin. About five years ago, the so-called “knockout game”—a trend of teenagers committing or filming public sneak attacks—resulted in ~19 assaults on Jews in the city, according to Evan Bernstein, the New York and New Jersey regional director of the Anti-Defamation League. “The knockout game was definitely a real thing”, Molinari said, though he noted that the fact the attacks were apparently motivated by a quest for social media fame usually undermined the chances of pursuing hate crimes charges, including when visible Jews were the target.

This latest wave has no evident organizing principle behind it aside from pure hostility against targets that are unmistakably Jewish. In March, a 32-year-old man kicked a double stroller in Crown Heights and was charged with child endangerment. In late 2018, a 26-year-old man who turned out to be a former intern for then City Council Speaker Christie Quinn set fires at a remarkably pluralistic range of Jewish institutions in Brooklyn. In another odd and widely publicized incident, someone smashed the glass storefront of a crowded Chabad house, the only shul in the non-Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick, at around 1:30AM. on a Saturday morning in February and then escaped with the help of a driver waiting around the corner. “We don’t see patterns of perpetrators committing crimes”, says Molinari. “For the most part, 360 crimes are being done by 360 very diverse people,…there’s no connective tissue between any of these perpetrators.” Not a single incident during the spike has been traced to a white supremacist group or any other organized entity.

…One Jewish community activist who met with the mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice said that at the time of the meeting in mid-June there was no director, no dedicated staff, and nothing to show of the office outside of fairly preliminary efforts. As of early July, it was still unclear exactly what this entity will actually do, and there was no official launch date. Deutsch refrained from speculating about the reasons for any hesitation on de Blasio’s part, at times implying that the mayor’s staff might not have kept him updated or engaged on the issue. “Sometimes people are too busy, they’re inundated with issues that come up every single day”, he said. “That’s why you have staff.” At best, this means that the administration’s seeming complacency toward violent anti-Semitism is the result of lagging intraoffice communication, rather than any intentional policy on anyone’s part. At worst, it means De Blasio is actively avoiding the issue. In any case, much remains to be done. When asked about the office, an officer in one of the NYPD precincts where several attacks had occurred said, “we have nothing to do with that.” Molinari said he had been involved in one meeting with the mayor’s office about the effort. “The police commissioner and the higher-ups are all determining how exactly to implement that and what our place is going to be”, he said. None of the victims or community leaders mentioned in this article reported any substantial contact with anyone regarding the new office.

An honest reckoning with the problem carries plenty of its own risks. The spike in incidents complicates the current national political narrative around anti-Semitism, which maps a narrow left-right paradigm on to Jews and their terrorizers. The overwhelming majority of the alleged perpetrators in New York are either black or Hispanic, and casting anti-Semitism as an issue pitting Jews against various other minority groups threatens to re-agitate problems that many in the Jewish and surrounding communities hope no longer exist….Yaacov Behrman, a Crown Heights-based educator and member of the local community board, believes that a sociological study of attitudes toward Jews among the city’s young people is an essential first step to countering anti-Semitism. Such an investigation might involve anonymous questionnaires administered in public schools. He doubts it will ever happen. “Personally I think the city is scared of what they’re gonna find and never do it”, he told Tablet. “I think the city is concerned they’ll find anti-Semitism numbers are very high in Brooklyn.”

“How a Literary Prank Convinced Germany That “Hansel and Gretel” Was Real: A 1963 Book Purported to Prove That the Siblings Were Murderous Bakers”, Todorov 2019

“How a Literary Prank Convinced Germany That “Hansel and Gretel” Was Real: A 1963 book purported to prove that the siblings were murderous bakers”⁠, Jordan Todorov (2019-07-03; ; backlinks; similar):

So one can imagine the furor in 1963 when a German writer claimed to have uncovered the real story behind the fairy tale.

According to Die Wahrheit über Hänsel und Gretel (The Truth About Hansel and Gretel), the two siblings were, in fact, adult brother and sister bakers, living in Germany during the mid-17th century. They murdered the witch, an ingenious confectioner in her own right, to steal her secret recipe for lebkuchen, a gingerbread-like traditional treat. The book published a facsimile of the recipe in question, as well as sensational photos of archaeological evidence.

…The media picked up the story and turned it into national news. “Book of the week? No, it’s the book of the year, and maybe the century!” proclaimed the West German tabloid Abendzeitung in November 1963. The state-owned East German Berliner Zeitung came out with the headline “Hansel and Gretel—a duo of murderers?” and asked whether this could be “a criminal case from the early capitalist era.” The news spread like wildfire not only in Germany, but abroad too. Foreign publishers, smelling a profit, began negotiating for the translation rights. School groups, some from neighboring Denmark, traveled to the Spessart woods in the states of Bavaria and Hesse to see the newly discovered foundations of the witch’s house.

As intriguing as The Truth About Hansel and Gretel might sound, however, none of it proved to be true. In fact, the book turned out to be a literary forgery concocted by Hans Traxler, a German children’s book writer and cartoonist, known for his sardonic sense of humor. “1963 marked the 100th anniversary of Jacob Grimm’s death”, says the now 90-year-old Traxler, who lives in Frankfurt, Germany. “So it was natural to dig into [the] Brothers Grimm treasure chest of fairy tales, and pick their most famous one,”Hansel and Gretel”.”

“Genetic Influences on Antisocial Behavior: Recent Advances and Future Directions”, Gard et al 2019

2019-gard.pdf: “Genetic influences on antisocial behavior: recent advances and future directions”⁠, Arianna M. Gard, Hailey L. Dotterer, Luke W. Hyde (2019-06-01; )

“StreetNet: Preference Learning With Convolutional Neural Network on Urban Crime Perception”, Fu et al 2018

2018-fu.pdf: “StreetNet: Preference Learning with Convolutional Neural Network on Urban Crime Perception”⁠, Kaiqun Fu, Zhiqian Chen, Chang-Tien Lu (2018-11-01; ; backlinks; similar):

One can infer from the broken window theory that the perception of a city street’s safety level relies importantly on the visual appearance of the street. Previous works have addressed the feasibility of using computer vision algorithms to classify urban scenes. Most of the existing urban perception predictions focus on binary outcomes such as safe or dangerous, wealthy or poor. However, binary predictions are not representative and cannot provide informative inferences such as the potential crime types in certain areas.

In this paper, we explore the connection between urban perception and crime inferences. We propose a convolutional neural network (CNN)—StreetNet—to learn crime rankings from street view images. The learning process is formulated on the basis of preference learning and label ranking settings. We design a street view images retrieval algorithm to improve the representation of urban perception. A data-driven, spatiotemporal algorithm is proposed to find unbiased label mappings between the street view images and the crime ranking records.

Extensive evaluations conducted on images from different cities and comparisons with baselines demonstrate the effectiveness of our proposed method.

[Keywords: preference learning, street view, convolutional neural networks, spatial analysis]

“Exploring the Genetic Correlations of Antisocial Behavior and Life History Traits”, Tielbeek et al 2018

“Exploring the genetic correlations of antisocial behavior and life history traits”⁠, Jorim J. Tielbeek, J. C. Barnes, Arne Popma, Tinca J. C. Polderman, James J. Lee, John R. B. Perry, Danielle Posthuma et al (2018-08-23; ; similar):

Prior evolutionary theory provided reason to suspect that measures of development and reproduction would be correlated with antisocial behaviors in human and non-human species. Behavioral genetics has revealed that most quantitative traits are heritable, suggesting that these phenotypic correlations may share genetic etiologies. We use GWAS data to estimate the genetic correlations between various measures of reproductive development (n = 52,776–318,863) and antisocial behavior (n = 31,968). Our genetic correlation analyses demonstrate that alleles associated with higher reproductive output (number of children ever born, rg = 0.50, p = 0.0065) were positively correlated with alleles associated with antisocial behavior, whereas alleles associated with more delayed reproductive onset (age of first birth, rg = −0.64, p = 0.0008) were negatively associated with alleles linked to antisocial behavior. Ultimately, these findings coalesce with evolutionary theories suggesting that increased antisocial behaviors may partly represent a faster life history approach, which may be significantly calibrated by genes.

“‘Vegan Bodybuilder’: How YouTube Attacker, Nasim Aghdam, Went Viral in Iran”, Wakabayashi et al 2018

“‘Vegan Bodybuilder’: How YouTube Attacker, Nasim Aghdam, Went Viral in Iran”⁠, Daisuke Wakabayashi, Thomas Erdbrink, Matthew Haag (2018-04-04; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

In Iran, she was known as Green Nasim⁠, a social media star with followings on YouTube, on Instagram and elsewhere. · In the United States, she cast a very different profile, a proponent of vegan diets, animal rights and home exercise who had increasingly become agitated by one of the tech companies that helped give her a platform… · The police said Ms. Aghdam’s anger over what she believed to be unfair treatment by YouTube had set her on a 500-mile drive from her home near San Diego to YouTube’s offices on the northern edge of Silicon Valley. · “People like me are not good for big business, like for animal business, medicine business and for many other businesses. That’s why they are discriminating and censoring us”, she said in a video posted online last year criticizing YouTube. “This is what they are doing to vegan activists and many other people who try to promote healthy, humane and smart living.”

…Ms. Aghdam was in her late 30s. In several of her videos, she said she was born in Iran, in the city of Urmia, where most people also speak Turkish, as she does in some of her videos. Ms. Aghdam had YouTube pages in Persian, Turkish and English. She explained that she and her family were members of the Baha’i faith, which faces persecution in Iran, a country with a Muslim majority. · Several of her colorful—and sometimes bizarre—videos had gone viral in Iran. Her website, which said it was quoting Western news outlets, identified her as “the first Persian female vegan bodybuilder.” · “Now the media will be faced with a new type of Iranian female which does not fit within any of their usual categorizations”, a Twitter user named Katayoon said Wednesday. · “This was shocking and saddening”, one Iranian, Bahare, wrote on Twitter of Ms. Aghdam. “We laughed so much but now it turns out all those videos were so serious for herself.” · Ms. Aghdam became especially famous for one clip in which she wears a revealing purple dress, showing cleavage, and begins to slowly strip off her clothes to reveal a pair of fake plastic breasts. “Don’t trust your eyes”, read a caption in English on the clip.

…Her personal website and videos posted to YouTube and elsewhere were filled with complaints about YouTube. “When searching for my website in google, at top of link they add ‘an error occurred’ but there is no error!” a website under Ms. Aghdam’s name,, said in February 2016. “They add it to keep you from my visiting my site.” · Life in the United States had not been good, she said in one video from March 30. “There they kill you by ax”, she said of Iran. “Here they kill you with cotton”, referring to an Iranian expression meaning dying by something that you do not know is dangerous. · In another video, she responded to viewers who had begun to wonder if she was mentally ill: “I don’t have any special mental or physical disease, but I live on a planet filled with disease, disorders, perversions and injustices.” · The American dream appeared to be tarnished for her after she began to face hurdles in the United States. · “If you are superficial, you will think it is heaven here, that you can go naked outside and have sex left and right like other animals without any morality”, she said in one video in Persian. “But if you enter the system, you will see that it is worse than Iran”, she said. “Those who want to inform people against the system and big companies get censored.”

“On the Genetic and Genomic Basis of Aggression, Violence, and Antisocial Behavior”, Beaver et al 2018

2018-beaver.pdf: “On the Genetic and Genomic Basis of Aggression, Violence, and Antisocial Behavior”⁠, Kevin M. Beaver, Eric J. Connolly, Joseph L. Nedelec, Joseph A. Schwartz (2018-04-01; ; similar):

There is a great deal of interest in examining the genetic and environmental architecture to aggression, violence, and antisocial behaviors. This interest has resulted in hundreds of studies being published that estimate genetic and environmental effects on antisocial phenotypes. The results generated from these studies have been remarkably consistent and have contributed greatly to the knowledge base on the etiology of antisocial behavior. This chapter reviews the research on the genetic basis to antisocial phenotypes by presenting the results related to the heritability of antisocial phenotypes. It also discusses some of the molecular genetic association studies as well as genome-wide association studies that focus on the development of antisocial behaviors. In doing so, it also reviews findings related to gene-environment interactions. The chapter concludes by discussing some of the ways in which these findings could be used for intervention and prevention programs.

“Mass Shootings: Definitions and Trends”, Smart 2018

“Mass Shootings: Definitions and Trends”⁠, Rosanna Smart (2018-03-02; similar):

There is no standard definition of what constitutes a mass shooting. Media outlets, academic researchers, and law enforcement agencies frequently use different definitions when discussing mass shootings, leading to different assessments of the frequency with which mass shootings occur and about whether mass shootings are more common now than they were a decade or two ago.

…These definitions matter. Depending on which data source is referenced, there were seven, 65, 332, or 371 mass shootings in the United States in 2015 (see table below), and those are just some examples. More-restrictive definitions (eg. Mother Jones) focus on the prevalence of higher-profile events motivated by mass murder, but they omit more-common incidents occurring in connection with domestic violence or criminal activity, which make up about 80% of mass shooting incidents with four or more fatally injured victims (Krouse & Richardson, 2015).

…In 2014, the RAND released a study showing that “active shooting incidents” had increased at an average annual rate of 16% between 2000 and 2013 (Blair and Schweit, 2014). In contrast to the varied definitions for mass shootings, there is an agreed-upon definition among government agencies for active shooter: “an individual actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill people in a confined and populated area; in most cases, active shooters use firearm(s) and there is no pattern or method to their selection of victims” (U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2008, p. 2). Using a modified version of this definition to include incidents that had multiple offenders or occurred in confined spaces, Blair and Schweit (2014) found that active shootings had increased from only one incident in 2000 to 17 in 2013.

…In their analysis of mass shooting trends from 1999 to 2013, Krouse and Richardson (2015) distinguished between mass shootings occurring in public locations that are indiscriminate in nature (“mass public shootings”), mass shootings in which the majority of victims are members of the offender’s family and that are not attributable to other criminal activity (“familicide mass shootings”), and mass shootings that occur in connection to some other criminal activity (“other felony mass shootings”). The two figures below show trends in these types of mass shooting incidents and fatalities, respectively, using the data provided in Krouse and Richardson (2015). Extending the data back to the 1970s, two studies found evidence of a slight increase in the frequency of mass public shootings over the past three decades (Cohen, Azrael, and Miller, 2014; Krouse & Richardson, 2015). However, using an expanded definition that includes domestic-related or felony-related killings, there is little evidence to suggest that mass shooting incidents or fatalities have increased (Cohen, Azrael, and Miller, 2014; Krouse & Richardson, 2015; Fox & Fridel, 2016). Thus, different choices about how to define a mass shooting result in different findings for both the prevalence of these events at a given time and whether their frequency has changed over time.

…Definitional issues aside, the relative rarity of mass shooting events makes analysis of trends particularly difficult. Chance variability in the annual number of mass shooting incidents makes it challenging to discern a clear trend, and trend estimates will be sensitive to outliers and to the time frame chosen for analysis. For example, while Krouse and Richardson (2015) found evidence of an upward trend in mass public shootings from 1999 to 2013, they noted that the increase was driven largely by 2012, which had an unusually high number of mass public shooting incidents. Additionally, Lott (2015) showed that the RAND study’s estimate of a dramatic increase in active-shooter incidents was largely driven by the choice of 2000 as the starting date, because that year had an unusually low number of shooting incidents; extending the analysis to cover 1977 onward and adjusting the data to exclude events with fewer than two fatalities, Lott (2015) found a much smaller and statistically insignificant increase (less than 1% annually) in mass shooting fatalities over time.

“Genome-wide Study Identifies 611 Loci Associated With Risk Tolerance and Risky Behaviors”, Linnér et al 2018

“Genome-wide study identifies 611 loci associated with risk tolerance and risky behaviors”⁠, Richard Karlsson Linnér, Pietro Biroli, Edward Kong, S. Fleur W. Meddens, Robbee Wedow, Mark Alan Fontana et al (2018-02-08; ⁠, ⁠, ; similar):

Humans vary substantially in their willingness to take risks. In a combined sample of over one million individuals, we conducted genome-wide association studies (GWAS) of general risk tolerance, adventurousness, and risky behaviors in the driving, drinking, smoking, and sexual domains. We identified 611 ~independent genetic loci associated with at least one of our phenotypes, including 124 with general risk tolerance. We report evidence of substantial shared genetic influences across general risk tolerance and risky behaviors: 72 of the 124 general risk tolerance loci contain a lead SNP for at least one of our other GWAS, and general risk tolerance is moderately to strongly genetically correlated (|̂rg| ~ 0.25–0.50) with a range of risky behaviors. Bioinformatics analyses imply that genes near general-risk-tolerance-associated SNPs are highly expressed in brain tissues and point to a role for glutamatergic and GABAergic neurotransmission. We find no evidence of enrichment for genes previously hypothesized to relate to risk tolerance.

“Vengeance As Justice: Passages I Highlighted in My Copy of Eye for an Eye”, Greer 2018

“Vengeance As Justice: Passages I Highlighted in My Copy of Eye for an Eye⁠, Tanner Greer (2018-01-26; ; similar):

These type of questions naturally lead to the topic of this book: lex talionis, the law of the talion, the principle of an eye for an eye, of justice through vengeance, retaliation sanctioned by culture and law. This understanding of justice is what propels the Icelandic sagas. But it wasn’t just a Viking tick. “Eye for an eye” was standard practice just about everywhere a few thousand years ago, from the shores of Germainia and the fields of the Greek polis to the warring tribes of Canaan and the even more distant lands of the Kurus and the Zhou. We view this understanding of justice as backward and crude. We say things like “an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Miller aims to convince us otherwise. We have a lot to learn from these talionic cultures, he argues, and our world could be made a more just place if we could humble ourselves enough to learn from them.

I am not going to provide a precis of Miller’s argument here. Like past editions of ‘Passages I Highlighted’ (see here) I will reserve myself to quoting the passages of this book I found most interesting. But to really give you a sense for Miller’s argument, I think the best thing I can do is quote first from another one of his books, one that focuses specifically on Icelandic society. He begins that book by quoting a passage from an obscure saga. In only a paragraph, the saga lays out what lex talionis looked like in real life:

Some Norwegian merchants chopped off Skæring’s hand. Gudmund was given self-judgment in the injury case. Haf Brandsson [Gudmund’s second cousin] and Gudmund together adjudged compensation in the amount of thirty hundreds, which was to be paid over immediately. Gudmund then rode away from the ship. But the Norwegians confronted Haf, who had remained behind; they thought the judgment had been too steep and they asked him to do one of two things: either reduce the award or swear an oath. Haf refused to do either.

Some people rode after Gudmund and told him what had happened. He turned back immediately and asked Haf what was going on. Haf told him where matters stood. Gudmund said, “Swear the oath, Haf, or else I will do it, but then they will have to pay sixty hundreds. The oath of either one of us will have the same price as Skæring’s hand.”

The Norwegians refused the offer. “Then I shall make you another proposal”, said Gudmund. “I will pay Skæring the thirty hundreds that you were judged to pay, but I shall choose one man from amongst you who seems to me of equivalent standing with Skæring and chop off his hand. You may then compensate that man’s hand as cheaply as you wish.”

This did not appeal to the Norwegians and they decided to pay the original award immediately. Gudmund took Skæring with him when they left the ship. (G.dýri 26:212)1

Iceland was a country without a state. They had laws but no government to enforce them. If you were wronged, the responsibility to right the wrong rested with you and your kin. To prevent retaliatory feuds the Icelanders would often give the wronged party a chance to stand in judgement and mete out a punishment to pay for their mistakes and restore balance between the two groups. The saga passage you’ve just read is an excellent example of how the system worked. Miller’s comments on it are worth pondering:

By the time the saga writer focuses attention on this incident it is not the hand that is the subject of the dispute but the legitimacy and justice of Gudmund’s judgment. The Norwegians think the award excessive, and not without reason. More than a few men’s lives at this time were compensated for with thirty hundreds or less. Gudmund, however, is able to justify astutely his over-reaching by giving these men of the market a lesson on the contingency of value and values. To the Norwegians the award should reflect the price of a middling Icelandic hand. Gudmund forces them to conceive of the award in a different way: it is not the price of buying Skæring’s hand, but the price of preserving a Norwegian hand. By introducing the prospect of one of their hands to balance against Skæring’s, he is able to remind the Norwegians that the thirty hundreds they must pay purchases more than Skæring’s hand; it also buys off vengeance in kind. He is also able to force them to take into account the costs of personalizing the injury. Most people, he bets, are willing to pay more to save their own hands than they would be willing to pay to take someone else’s. The justice of Gudmund’s award thus depends on a redefinition of its importance. Rather than buying Skæring’s hand, the Norwegians are preserving their own, and the price, they now feel, is well worth paying. Fellow feeling thus comes not in the form of imagining Skæring’s anguish and pain as Skæring’s, but in imagining the pain as their own.2

This is the logic of lex talionis. This is why “an eye for an eye” did not in fact make the whole world go blind. The principle of an eye for an eye, as Miller sees it, is “the more ancient and deeper notion that justice is a matter of restoring balance, achieving equity, determining equivalence, making reparations… getting back to zero, to even.”3 Trading eyes for eyes is not so much about indiscriminate, unthinking violence as it is carefully calculated attempts to match punishment to crime. Talionic justice is a system built on deterrence—not only deterring criminals from committing crimes, but deterring vengeance seekers from exacting too heavy a price in retaliation for crimes committed against them.

“Developmental Origins of Chronic Physical Aggression: A Bio-Psycho-Social Model for the Next Generation of Preventive Interventions”, Tremblay et al 2018

2018-tremblay.pdf: “Developmental Origins of Chronic Physical Aggression: A Bio-Psycho-Social Model for the Next Generation of Preventive Interventions”⁠, Richard E. Tremblay, Frank Vitaro, Sylvana M. Côté (2018-01-01; )

“Revealed: Male Rape Used Systematically in Libya As Instrument of War: Videos and Testimony Expose Brutal Tactics Used by Several Factions in Fractured Country”, Allegra 2017

“Revealed: male rape used systematically in Libya as instrument of war: Videos and testimony expose brutal tactics used by several factions in fractured country”⁠, Cécile Allegra (2017-11-03; backlinks; similar):

Male rape is being used systematically in Libya as an instrument of war and political domination by rival factions, according to multiple testimonies gathered by investigators. Years of work by a Tunis-based group and witnessed by a journalist from Le Monde have produced harrowing reports from victims, and video footage showing men being sodomised by various objects, including rockets and broom handles. In several instances, witnesses say a victim was thrown into a room with other prisoners, who were ordered to rape him or be killed.

The atrocity is being perpetrated to humiliate and neutralise opponents in the lawless, militia-dominated country. Male rape is such a taboo in Arab societies that the abused generally feel too damaged to rejoin political, military or civic life. One man, Ahmed, told investigators he was detained for four years in a prison in Tomina, on the outskirts of Misrata. “They separate you to subjugate you”, he said. “‘Subjugate the men’, that’s the expression that they use. So that you never hold your head up again. And they were filming everything with their phones.”They take a broom and fix it on the wall. If you want to eat, you have to take off your pants, back on to the broom and not move off until the jailer sees blood flowing. Nobody can escape it.”

…In one camp, south of Tripoli, a man called Ali recounted his experience. He was 39 but looked 65 and walked with a cane. “Some of us were locked in a room, naked, for a whole night with groups of migrants”, he said. “The guards did not release them until they had all raped each other. Fortunately, I didn’t go through that, I only got the stick and the wheel.” The “wheel” involved being put naked and folded double, through a tyre suspended from the ceiling, making it easier for torturers to penetrate him with weaponry. Ali said he now had physical problems, “leaks” as he called them.

In another camp in southern Tripoli, Fathia said women were not immune. She said her entire family was violated by a militia from Misrata, with the men being deliberately targeted. “They dragged me in the street, in front of everyone, saying: ‘You raped our girls. We’ll do the same thing to you.’”The worst thing they did to me”, she whispered, “is to rape me in front of my eldest son. Since then, he won’t speak to me.” Asked about other inmates who suffered a similar ordeal, Fathia said: “I only heard men’s voices. They were screaming, day and night.”

“The Release of Grand Theft Auto V and Registered Juvenile Crime in the Netherlands”, Beerthuizen et al 2017

2017-beerthuizen.pdf: “The release of Grand Theft Auto V and registered juvenile crime in the Netherlands”⁠, Marinus G. C. J. Beerthuizen, Gijs Weijters, André M. van der Laan (2017-08-07; similar):

Prior research suggests that playing videogames can have a voluntary incapacitating effect on criminal behaviour.

The current study investigates whether this negative association between videogames in general and crime rates can also be found for the release of a single videogame—Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV)—and for registered juvenile crime in the Netherlands. A diminishing effect was modelled to estimate the active player base of GTAV (that is, the most players are active on and directly following release, with a decline in the weeks thereafter) and correlated with the number of registered offences in 2012–15 committed by males aged 12–18 and 18–25 years in a time series analysis.

The effect of the release of GTAV was negatively associated with the number of registered offences in both age categories, while controlling for covariates (for example, day of the week).

Implications are discussed.

[Keywords: Grand Theft Auto V, juvenile crime, videogames, voluntary incapacitation]

“Targeting Aggression in Severe Mental Illness: The Predictive Role of Genetic, Epigenetic, and Metabolomic Markers”, Manchia & Fanos 2017

2017-manchia.pdf: “Targeting aggression in severe mental illness: The predictive role of genetic, epigenetic, and metabolomic markers”⁠, Mirko Manchia, Vassilios Fanos (2017-07-01; )

“Public Record, Astronomical Price: Court Reporters Charge Outrageous Fees to Reproduce Trial Transcripts. That’s Bad for Defendants, Journalists, and Democracy.”, Eisenberg 2017

“Public Record, Astronomical Price: Court reporters charge outrageous fees to reproduce trial transcripts. That’s bad for defendants, journalists, and democracy.”⁠, Emma Copley Eisenberg (2017-03-22; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

The trial transcripts were there, 12 neatly bound volumes…I needed a copy, I said. “Sure”, she replied warmly before noting that all transcript copies must come directly from the court reporter at a price of $1 per page. The transcript I wanted was 2,400 pages.

The court reporter, Twyla, picked up on the first ring. I pleaded poor journalist and poor grad student, but she, a veteran of the field, was unmoved. Twyla informed me that the rate was governed by law, and besides, she was entitled to that money—in fact, she needed it to be fairly compensated for her work. Could that be? It could. The West Virginia State Code of Civil Procedure dictates that a court reporter must provide on request a trial transcript for $2.85 per page, with any subsequent copies of that same transcript to be supplied for $1 per page. The cost is even higher in other states. In Georgia, for instance, the rate is $6 per page.

The rates are set that way to compensate court reporters for expenses they must pay themselves. Twyla explained to me that, while the state of West Virginia provides an office in the courthouse and a telephone for court reporters, it does not pay for most of the tools and equipment she needs to do her job. Laptops, note-taking machines and software, paper, and pencils are necessary items for professional transcription. All of it—which could cost as much as $13,000 a year—comes out of court reporters’ pockets, she said. It’s a huge expense for professionals earning an average $50,000 per year but can be worth it if a court reporter sells one or two copies of her transcripts. Twyla says she’s heard of some women (89% of court reporters in the United States are female) making up to $90,000 a year between their salaries and the sale of transcripts they’ve created—more than decent pay in a rural area like Greenbrier County, where the median household income is just shy of $40,000.

Using fees to subsidize court reporter pay works in theory, but in practice it makes trial transcripts too expensive for an average citizen or journalist to afford. It also can put a barrier between trial transcripts and individuals who should be entitled to them. I learned later that the defendant in the case I was researching paid more than $7,000 to obtain a copy of the transcript from his own trial so his lawyers could analyze it for grounds for appeal…For Twyla, the current law demands that she jealously guard each page of her work to ensure she makes a decent living. For those tried and convicted of crimes, this means ponying up thousands of dollars for a record of their experience in the courts. For journalists like me, it means not learning why a jury of a man’s peers found him guilty of murder—unless we can spare $2,400, which I still can’t.

The trial transcripts were there, 12 neatly bound volumes…I needed a copy, I said. “Sure”, she replied warmly before noting that all transcript copies must come directly from the court reporter at a price of $1 per page. The transcript I wanted was 2,400 pages.

The court reporter, Twyla, picked up on the first ring. I pleaded poor journalist and poor grad student, but she, a veteran of the field, was unmoved. Twyla informed me that the rate was governed by law, and besides, she was entitled to that money—in fact, she needed it to be fairly compensated for her work. Could that be? It could. The West Virginia State Code of Civil Procedure dictates that a court reporter must provide on request a trial transcript for $2.85 per page, with any subsequent copies of that same transcript to be supplied for $1 per page. The cost is even higher in other states. In Georgia, for instance, the rate is $6 per page.

The rates are set that way to compensate court reporters for expenses they must pay themselves. Twyla explained to me that, while the state of West Virginia provides an office in the courthouse and a telephone for court reporters, it does not pay for most of the tools and equipment she needs to do her job. Laptops, note-taking machines and software, paper, and pencils are necessary items for professional transcription. All of it—which could cost as much as $13,000 a year—comes out of court reporters’ pockets, she said. It’s a huge expense for professionals earning an average $50,000 per year but can be worth it if a court reporter sells one or two copies of her transcripts. Twyla says she’s heard of some women (89% of court reporters in the United States are female) making up to $90,000 a year between their salaries and the sale of transcripts they’ve created—more than decent pay in a rural area like Greenbrier County, where the median household income is just shy of $40,000.

Using fees to subsidize court reporter pay works in theory, but in practice it makes trial transcripts too expensive for an average citizen or journalist to afford. It also can put a barrier between trial transcripts and individuals who should be entitled to them. I learned later that the defendant in the case I was researching paid more than $7,000 to obtain a copy of the transcript from his own trial so his lawyers could analyze it for grounds for appeal…For Twyla, the current law demands that she jealously guard each page of her work to ensure she makes a decent living. For those tried and convicted of crimes, this means ponying up thousands of dollars for a record of their experience in the courts. For journalists like me, it means not learning why a jury of a man’s peers found him guilty of murder—unless we can spare $2,400, which I still can’t.

“Dissecting Ponzi Schemes on Ethereum: Identification, Analysis, and Impact”, Bartoletti et al 2017

“Dissecting Ponzi schemes on Ethereum: identification, analysis, and impact”⁠, Massimo Bartoletti, Salvatore Carta, Tiziana Cimoli, Roberto Saia (2017-03-10; ⁠, ; similar):

Ponzi schemes are financial frauds which lure users under the promise of high profits. Actually, users are repaid only with the investments of new users joining the scheme: consequently, a Ponzi scheme implodes soon after users stop joining it. Originated in the offline world 150 years ago, Ponzi schemes have since then migrated to the digital world, approaching first the Web, and more recently hanging over cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Smart contract platforms like Ethereum have provided a new opportunity for scammers, who have now the possibility of creating “trustworthy” frauds that still make users lose money, but at least are guaranteed to execute “correctly”. We present a comprehensive survey of Ponzi schemes on Ethereum, analysing their behaviour and their impact from various viewpoints.

“Industrial Espionage and Productivity”, Glitz & Meyersson 2017

2017-glitz.pdf: “Industrial Espionage and Productivity”⁠, Albrecht Glitz, Erik Meyersson (2017-01-01; ; backlinks)

“Genome-wide Association Study of Antisocial Personality Disorder”, Rautiainen et al 2016

“Genome-wide association study of antisocial personality disorder”⁠, M-R. Rautiainen, T. Paunio, E. Repo-Tiihonen, M. Virkkunen, H. M. Ollila, S. Sulkava, O. Jolanki, A. Palotie et al (2016-09-06; ⁠, ; similar):

The pathophysiology of antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) remains unclear. Although the most consistent biological finding is reduced grey matter volume in the frontal cortex, about 50% of the total liability to developing ASPD has been attributed to genetic factors. The contributing genes remain largely unknown. Therefore, we sought to study the genetic background of ASPD. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) and a replication analysis of Finnish criminal offenders fulfilling DSM-IV criteria for ASPD (n = 370, n = 5850 for controls, GWAS; n = 173, n = 3766 for controls and replication sample). The GWAS resulted in suggestive associations of two clusters of single-nucleotide polymorphisms at 6p21.2 and at 6p21.32 at the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region. Imputation of HLA alleles revealed an independent association with DRB1✱01:01 (odds ratio (OR) = 2.19 (1.53–3.14), p = 1.9 × 10−5). Two polymorphisms at 6p21.2 LINC00951–LRFN2 gene region were replicated in a separate data set, and rs4714329 reached genome-wide statistical-significance (OR = 1.59 (1.37–1.85), p = 1.6 × 10−9) in the meta-analysis. The risk allele also associated with antisocial features in the general population conditioned for severe problems in childhood family (β = 0.68, p = 0.012). Functional analysis in brain tissue in open access GTEx and Braineac databases revealed eQTL associations of rs4714329 with LINC00951 and LRFN2 in cerebellum. In humans, LINC00951 and LRFN2 are both expressed in the brain, especially in the frontal cortex, which is intriguing considering the role of the frontal cortex in behavior and the neuroanatomical findings of reduced gray matter volume in ASPD. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing genome-wide statistically-significant and replicable findings on genetic variants associated with any personality disorder.

“The Genetics of Success: How Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development”, Belsky et al 2016

2016-belsky.pdf: “The Genetics of Success: How Single-Nucleotide Polymorphisms Associated With Educational Attainment Relate to Life-Course Development”⁠, Daniel W. Belsky, Terrie E. Moffitt, David L. Corcoran, Benjamin Domingue, HonaLee Harrington, Sean Hogan et al (2016-06-01; ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

A previous genome-wide association study (GWAS) of more than 100,000 individuals identified molecular-genetic predictors of educational attainment.

We undertook in-depth life-course investigation of the polygenic score derived from this GWAS using the 4-decade Dunedin Study (N = 918). There were 5 main findings.

  1. polygenic scores predicted adult economic outcomes even after accounting for educational attainments.
  2. genes and environments were correlated: Children with higher polygenic scores were born into better-off homes.
  3. children’s polygenic scores predicted their adult outcomes even when analyses accounted for their social-class origins; social-mobility analysis showed that children with higher polygenic scores were more upwardly mobile than children with lower scores.
  4. polygenic scores predicted behavior across the life course, from early acquisition of speech and reading skills through geographic mobility and mate choice and on to financial planning for retirement.
  5. polygenic-score associations were mediated by psychological characteristics, including intelligence, self-control, and interpersonal skill. Effect sizes were small.

Factors connecting GWAS sequence with life outcomes may provide targets for interventions to promote population-wide positive development.

[Keywords: genetics, behavior genetics, intelligence, personality, adult development]

“Violent Video Games and Violent Crime”, Cunningham et al 2016

2016-cunningham.pdf: “Violent Video Games and Violent Crime”⁠, Scott Cunningham, Benjamin Engelstätter, Michael R. Ward (2016-02-25; ; similar):

Video games are an increasingly popular leisure activity. As many best-selling games contain hyper-realistic violence, many researchers and policymakers have hypothesized that violent games cause violent behaviors⁠. Laboratory experiments have found evidence suggesting that violent video games increase aggression. Before drawing policy conclusions about the effect of violent games on actual behavior, these experimental studies should be subjected to tests of external validity⁠.

Our study uses a quasi-experimental methodology to identify the short-run and medium-run effects of violent game sales on violent crime using time variation in retail unit sales data of the top 30 selling video games and violent criminal offenses from both the Uniform Crime Report and the National Incident-Based Reporting System from 2005 to 2011.

We find no evidence of an increase in crime associated with video games and perhaps a decrease.

“Childhood Forecasting of a Small Segment of the Population With Large Economic Burden”, Caspi et al 2016

“Childhood forecasting of a small segment of the population with large economic burden”⁠, Avshalom Caspi, Renate M. Houts, Daniel W. Belsky, Honalee Harrington, Sean Hogan, Sandhya Ramrakha, Richie Poulton et al (2016; ; backlinks; similar):

Policy-makers are interested in early-years interventions to ameliorate childhood risks. They hope for improved adult outcomes in the long run, bringing return on investment. How much return can be expected depends, partly, on how strongly childhood risks forecast adult outcomes. But there is disagreement about whether childhood determines adulthood.

We integrated multiple nationwide administrative databases and electronic medical records with the four-decade Dunedin birth-cohort study to test child-to-adult prediction in a different way, by using a population-segmentation approach. A segment comprising one-fifth of the cohort accounted for 36% of the cohort’s injury insurance-claims; 40% of excess obese-kilograms; 54% of cigarettes smoked; 57% of hospital nights; 66% of welfare benefits; 77% of fatherless childrearing; 78% of prescription fills; and 81% of criminal convictions. Childhood risks, including poor age-three brain health, predicted this segment with large effect sizes.

Early-years interventions effective with this population segment could yield very large returns on investment.

“Predicting and Understanding Urban Perception With Convolutional Neural Networks”, Porzi et al 2015

2015-porzi.pdf: “Predicting and Understanding Urban Perception with Convolutional Neural Networks”⁠, Lorenzo Porzi, Samuel Rota Bulò, Bruno Lepri, Elisa Ricci (2015-10-01; ; backlinks; similar):

Cities’ visual appearance plays a central role in shaping human perception and response to the surrounding urban environment. For example, the visual qualities of urban spaces affect the psychological states of their inhabitants and can induce negative social outcomes. Hence, it becomes critically important to understand people’s perceptions and evaluations of urban spaces.

Previous works have demonstrated that algorithms can be used to predict high level attributes of urban scenes (eg. safety, attractiveness, uniqueness), accurately emulating human perception. In this paper we propose a novel approach for predicting the perceived safety of a scene from Google Street View images.

Opposite to previous works, we formulate the problem of learning to predict high level judgments as a ranking task and we employ a Convolutional Neural Network (CNN), statistically-significantly improving the accuracy of predictions over previous methods. Interestingly, the proposed CNN architecture relies on a novel pooling layer, which permits to automatically discover the most important areas of the images for predicting the concept of perceived safety.

An extensive experimental evaluation, conducted on the publicly available Place Pulse dataset, demonstrates the advantages of the proposed approach over state-of-the-art methods.

“Why the Hell Do They Still Make Car Alarms? They Add to Noise Pollution While failing to Prevent Car Theft. It’s Time for Them to Go.”, George 2015

“Why the Hell Do They Still Make Car Alarms? They add to noise pollution while failing to prevent car theft. It’s time for them to go.”⁠, Alexander George (2015-09-24; ; backlinks; similar):

…So in the car alarm, we have a device that’s both ineffective and annoying. It’s also unneeded: it’s nearly impossible to start a modern car without the key. If anyone wants to steal a car nowadays, says Robert Sinclair of AAA, “they’re going to have to bring a truck.”

Starting in 1996, auto manufacturers were required to equip vehicles with OBD-II⁠, a computerized engine diagnostics system that links the engine systems in a car (it’s that port to the left of the steering column where mechanics plug in to asses car issues). That’s when cars went from having flat metal keys to the keys with RFID immobilizers. No longer could you go to a hardware store to duplicate a key, and hot-wiring didn’t work like the movies. Car theft rates have been since declining ever since, going from about 1.6 million annual incidents in the 1990s to around 800,000 in 2014, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, which analyzes crime like break-ins and grand theft auto…No one steals radios anymore, and cars have gotten impossible to steal (except via sophisticated hacking), which brings us to a wonderfully evolved era where, it seems, we’ve stifled some noise pollution, and gotten rid of something that doesn’t work.

…I asked automakers how the alarms on their 2016 models work. Generally, the only way they trigger is if the car has been locked and the doors are opened from the inside—that is, if someone breaks the window and opens the door from the inside handle, then it’ll sound. That’s a big change from cars a few years back. Davis Adams, who works at Honda and drives an S2000, told me about a Lotus Elise he used to own that had a motion sensor. “If you locked the door, and moved your hand in the open air”, he said, “the alarm would go off. So if you left a dog in the car, or someone leaned in the open convertible to look, it’d trigger the alarm.”

If you’ve been hearing fewer errant car alarms lately, there’s a reason. Back in the early 2000s, advocacy groups took legal action to make alarms less sensitive and quieter. Manufacturers have since, it seems, taken heed. “My impression is that there are far fewer false alarms now, and that this started around that same time, when the [New York] City Council held some hearings on the issue”, says Professor Mateo Taussig-Rubbo of SUNY Buffalo Law School. He authored a 2003 paper called “Alarmingly Useless: The Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City”⁠. “I would speculate that the industry, especially the aftermarket sector, which may have had more problems, made the alarms less sensitive in order to get out ahead of any potential legislation”, he says. Mercifully, that seems to be correct, (though you can still find it in some cars like the 2015 Escalade).

“The Dark Tetrad: Identifying Personality Profiles in High-school Students”, Chabrol et al 2015

2015-chabrol.pdf: “The Dark Tetrad: Identifying personality profiles in high-school students”⁠, Henri Chabrol, Tiffany Melioli, Nikki Van Leeuwen, Rachel Rodgers, Nelly Goutaudier (2015-09-01; ; similar):

  • The “Dark Tetrad” of personality traits has received increasing attention.
  • There is no typological study among high-school students based on these traits.
  • Cluster analysis yielded 4 groups.
  • The “Dark Tetrad” cluster constituted 15% of the total sample.

Psychopathic, narcissistic, Machiavellian, and sadistic traits constitute the Dark Tetrad of personality traits. While this construct has received increasing attention, to our knowledge, there is no typological study aiming to identify homogeneous groups of high-school students based on these traits. The aim of this study was (a) to identify a typology of high-school students based on the Dark Tetrad traits in a community sample and (b) to examine whether these profiles differ on psychopathological variables known to be associated with personality traits.

Participants were 615 high-school students who completed self-report questionnaires. Psychopathic, narcissistic, Machiavellian, and sadistic traits were moderately correlated suggesting they may be overlapping but distinct constructs. Cluster analysis yielded 4 groups: a Low Traits group, a Sadistic-Machiavellian group, a Psychopathic-Narcissistic group, and a high traits group called the Dark Tetrad cluster which was high on all traits. The Dark Tetrad cluster constituted 15% of the total sample and was characterized by the highest levels of antisocial behaviors and suicidal ideations.

This study suggests that a substantial minority of non-clinical high-school students is characterized by the presence of high levels of the Dark Tetrad traits and self and other-aggression.

[Keywords: Dark Tetrad, Dark Triad⁠, high-school students, personality traits, profiles]

“Common Psychiatric Disorders Share the Same Genetic Origin: a Multivariate Sibling Study of the Swedish Population”, Pettersson et al 2015

2015-pettersson.pdf: “Common psychiatric disorders share the same genetic origin: a multivariate sibling study of the Swedish population”⁠, E Pettersson, H. Larsson, P. Lichtenstein (2015-01-01; ⁠, )

“Genetic Background of Extreme Violent Behavior”, Tiihonen et al 2015

“Genetic background of extreme violent behavior”⁠, J Tiihonen, M-R Rautiainen, H. M Ollila, E. Repo-Tiihonen, M. Virkkunen, A. Palotie, O. Pietiläinen, K. Kristiansson et al (2015; ; similar):

In developed countries, the majority of all violent crime is committed by a small group of antisocial recidivistic offenders, but no genes have been shown to contribute to recidivistic violent offending or severe violent behavior, such as homicide. Our results, from two independent cohorts of Finnish prisoners, revealed that a monoamine oxidase A (MAOA) low-activity genotype (contributing to low dopamine turnover rate) as well as the CDH13 gene (coding for neuronal membrane adhesion protein) are associated with extremely violent behavior (at least 10 committed homicides, attempted homicides or batteries). No substantial signal was observed for either MAOA or CDH13 among non-violent offenders, indicating that findings were specific for violent offending, and not largely attributable to substance abuse or antisocial personality disorder. These results indicate both low monoamine metabolism and neuronal membrane dysfunction as plausible factors in the etiology of extreme criminal violent behavior, and imply that at least about 5–10% of all severe violent crime in Finland is attributable to the aforementioned MAOA and CDH13 genotypes.

“The Great Paper Caper: Years of Running Drugs and Boosting Cars Left Frank Bourassa Thinking: There’s Got to Be an Easier Way to Earn a Dishonest Living. That’s When He Nerved up the Idea to Make His Fortune. (Literally.) Which Is How Frank Became the Most Prolific Counterfeiter in American History—a Guy With More Than $200 Million in Nearly Flawless Fake Twenties Stuffed in a Garage. How He Got Away With It All, Well, That’s Even Crazier.”, Tower 2014

“The Great Paper Caper: Years of running drugs and boosting cars left Frank Bourassa thinking: There’s got to be an easier way to earn a dishonest living. That’s when he nerved up the idea to make his fortune. (Literally.) Which is how Frank became the most prolific counterfeiter in American history—a guy with more than $200 million in nearly flawless fake twenties stuffed in a garage. How he got away with it all, well, that’s even crazier.”⁠, Wells Tower (2014-11-01; similar):

Finally, when he was fairly certain that the cops weren’t onto him, Frank says he called another friend of his who showed up with scanners and radio wands to check the shipment for bugs. The crew opened the truck. On five wooden pallets sat the future of Frank’s criminal enterprise. It was paper of a special kind, made with the same rare cotton-and-linen recipe used for printing American currency. It also bore watermarked images of Andrew Jackson’s face and security strips reading USA TWENTY in minuscule type. The paper was the essential ingredient for fabricating high-grade counterfeit bills that the Canadian police would later describe as “basically undetectable” from the real thing. As soon as the security sweep pronounced the shipment clean, Frank welled up with optimism. “There was no way to stop me from there. I knew I was rich”, Frank recalled. “It was the best day of my life.” Frank now had what he needed to print hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of fake U.S. currency—and to soon become the most prolific counterfeiter in the history of the trade.

…The recipe for the rag paper U.S. notes are printed on is deceptively simple—75% cotton and 25% linen—a distinctive composition every American unconsciously knows by feel. Simple though it may be, the recipe is also so widely known that dialing a paper mill and asking for a batch of 75/​25 is a speedy way to get raided by the Secret Service (which was created expressly to bust counterfeiters—POTUS tending came later). And even if you could somehow chef up a few reams of the cotton-linen blend, you’d still need to add to it a whole host of security elements: the watermark—the translucent face of Jackson, Franklin, et al—which appears when you hold the bill up to the light; the security strip; the tiny red and blue fibers embedded throughout the paper; and so on.

…In the fall of 2008, Frank says he began reaching out to paper mills across Europe and Asia under the alias Thomas Moore, an employee of The Letter Shop, a fictitious Quebec stationery concern. He purported to have a special client who wanted some special paper manufactured. What kind of paper? Well, rag paper with cotton, maybe some linen thrown in there. “Cotton and linen? Like, for currency?” suspicious papermakers would often respond, and Thomas Moore would be heard from no more.

But Frank had faith that somewhere—maybe in Poland, Slovakia, or Bulgaria—his avatar could flush out a papermaker stupid or crooked enough to make his recipe. In January 2009, he says, his search ended at the Artoz paper company headquartered in Lenzburg, Switzerland. By now, Frank had adopted the nom de plume Jackson Maxwell, of the Keystone Investment and Trading Company, a securities firm whose letterhead, suspiciously, bore no street address.

In correspondence included in court documents that Frank shared with me, Maxwell told his mark that Keystone was looking to print bond certificates on secure rag paper—customized with one or two security measures designed to, um, foil counterfeiters. Frank says that after Artoz accepted the basics of his bond-brokerage story, he tweaked and refined his order over many months, nudging one felonious tidbit after another onto the papermaker’s plate. He got them to add linen to the recipe. He asked them to mix in chemicals to thwart security pens and black-light tests. He persuaded them to sew in a security strip reading, in near microscopic print, USA TWENTY. (“I told them it was, you know, for a $20 bond.”) Artoz, he says, also agreed to imprint his paper with a watermark, an image etched into a cylindrical printing drum and pressed into the paper while the pulp is still wet. To get the equipment Artoz would need to do this, Frank paid $20,515.3$15,000.02009, routed under a surrogate’s name through a Swiss bank account, to a company in Düren, Germany, that manufactured a drum etched with the likenesses of Andrew Jackson’s face. How did he manage that, exactly? “It was easy”, said Frank. “To you, he’s Andrew Jackson. To some guy in Germany, who the fuck is it? Some guy’s face. He doesn’t know.”

“Standard and Trace-dose Lithium: A Systematic Review of Dementia Prevention and Other Behavioral Benefits”, Mauer et al 2014

2014-mauer.pdf: “Standard and trace-dose lithium: A systematic review of dementia prevention and other behavioral benefits”⁠, Sivan Mauer, Derick Vergne, S. Nassir Ghaemi (2014-06-11; ; backlinks; similar):

Objective: Dementia is a major public health issue, with notably high rates in persons with mood illnesses. Lithium has been shown to have considerable neuroprotective effects, even in trace or low doses. The aim of this review is to summarize the current understanding of lithium benefits in trace or low doses in dementia prevention and for other behavioral or medical benefits.

Methods: A systematic review identified 24 clinical, epidemiological, and biological reports that met inclusion criteria of assessing lithium in standard or low doses for dementia or other behavioral or medical benefits.

Results: 5 out of 7 epidemiological studies found an association between standard-dose lithium and low dementia rates. 9 out of 11 epidemiological studies, usually of drinking water sources, found an association between trace-dose lithium and low suicide/​homicide/​mortality and crime rates. All four small randomized clinical trials of lithium for Alzheimer’s dementia have found at least some clinical or biological benefits versus placebo. Only one small randomized clinical trial (RCT) of trace lithium has been conducted, assessing mood symptoms in former substance abusers, and found benefit with lithium versus placebo.

Conclusions: Lithium, in both standard and trace doses, appears to have biological benefits for dementia, suicide, and other behavioral outcomes. Further RCT research of trace lithium in dementia is warranted.

[Keywords: Cognition, dementia, lithium, prevention, standard dose, trace]

“‘Mischievous Responders’ Confound Research On Teens”, Kamenetz 2014

“‘Mischievous Responders’ Confound Research On Teens”⁠, Anya Kamenetz (2014-05-22; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Teenagers face some serious issues: drugs, bullying, sexual violence, depression, gangs. They don’t always like to talk about these things with adults. One way that researchers and educators can get around that is to give teens a survey—a simple, anonymous questionnaire they can fill out by themselves without any grown-ups hovering over them. Hundreds of thousands of students take such surveys every year. School districts use them to gather data; so do the federal government, states and independent researchers.

But a new research paper points out one huge potential flaw in all this research: kids who skew the results by making stuff up for a giggle. “Mischievous Responders”, they’re called.

They may say they’re 7 feet tall, or weigh 400 pounds, or have three children. They may exaggerate their sexual experiences, or lie about their supposed criminal activities…For example, 41% of the students who claimed they were transgender also claimed to be extremely tall or short, and the same percentage also claimed they were in a gang…In other words, kids will be kids, especially when you ask them about sensitive issues.

Jackson Terry, 14, says he answered honestly when he took one of these surveys last year, but he knows kids who didn’t. “They handed out the sheet, I believe it was in language class”, says Terry, who’s from Granville, Ohio. “The teacher was in the room. It was anonymous. I think they asked us about bullying, do you feel safe in school, some questions about drugs, the learning environment.” Some kids “would joke through the entire thing and have a cocky attitude about it”, Terry says. “Afterwards some would say, yeah, No. 5, that’s totally not true; I just made something up.”

…This is important because researchers are often the most interested in minority groups, and so the undetected presence of a small number of jokesters can seriously mess up results. In a 2003 study, 19% of teens who claimed to be adopted actually weren’t, according to follow-up interviews with their parents. When you excluded these kids (who also gave extreme responses on other items), the study no longer found a statistically-significant difference between adopted children and those who weren’t on behaviors like drug use, drinking and skipping school. The paper had to be retracted. In yet another survey, fully 99% of 253 students who claimed to use an artificial limb were just kidding.

“Part of you laughs about it, and the researcher side is terrified”, says Robinson-Cimpian. “We have to do something about this. We can’t base research and policy and beliefs about these kids on faulty data.”

“The Perfect Heist: Recipes from Around the World [combined Papers + Slides]”, Lafleur et al 2014

2014-lafleur.pdf: “The Perfect Heist: Recipes from Around the World [combined papers + slides]”⁠, Jarret M. Lafleur, Liston K. Purvis, Alex W. Roesler, Paul Westland (2014-04-01; ; similar):

Of the many facets of the criminal world, few have captured society’s fascination and awe as has that of high stakes robbery. The combination of meticulousness, cunning, and audacity required to execute a real-life Ocean’s Eleven may be uncommon among criminals, but it is fortunately common enough to extract a wealth of lessons for the protection of high-value assets. To assist in informing the analyses and decisions of security professionals, this paper surveys 23 sophisticated and high-value heists of cash, gold, gems, artwork, and other valuables that have occurred or been attempted across the world, particularly over the past 3 decades.

[Brazil Central Bank Cash Heist⁠, Sumitomo Mitsui Bank Heist⁠, Antwerp Diamond Heist⁠, Museon Jewel Heist⁠, Société Générale Bank Heist⁠, Stardust Casino Job⁠, Vastberga Helicopter Heist⁠, Millennium Dome Raid⁠, Tanzanian Airplane Gold Robbery⁠, Munch Museum Art Heist⁠, Carlton Hotel Diamond Heist (which may never have happened?), Brink’s-Mat Gold Heist⁠, Lufthansa Heist⁠, British Bank of the Middle East Gold Heist, Chase Manhattan Bank Robbery⁠, Mayfair Graff Diamond Heist⁠, Harry Winston Diamond Heist⁠, Schiphol Airport Diamond Heist, Swissport Heathrow Heist⁠, Gardner Museum Art Heist⁠, Knightsbridge Safe Deposit Center Heist⁠, Securitas Cash Depot Heist⁠, Northern Bank Cash Heist]

The results are compiled in a Heist Methods and Characteristics Database and analyzed qualitatively and quantitatively, with the goals of both identifying common characteristics and characterizing the range and diversity of criminal methods used. The analysis is focused in 6 areas:

  1. Defeated Security Measures and Devices,
  2. Deception Methods,
  3. Timing,
  4. Weapons,
  5. Resources, and
  6. Insiders.

Key lessons are identified in each focus area.

…Several key lessons are identified in each focus area, and an overview of the commonalities and bounds of criminal team characteristics and capabilities is provided. In brief, the typical criminal is a 30–39 year old man and experienced career criminal who is native to the country whose valuables he is targeting. The typical on-scene criminal team consists of 2–8 accomplices, typically perpetrating the robbery as a single team, although breaking into multiple sub-teams is not uncommon. Use of weapons is typical but in many cases not required for success. Thieves are willing to devote substantial resources to planning, spending in some cases more than 2 years, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and procuring transportation for thousands of pounds of loot. Thieves are frequently thorough and innovative in their planning, developing security defeat methods that are physically simple but highly targeted toward vulnerabilities the thieves have identified in advance of the heist. In the identification and exploitation of these vulnerabilities, deceptions and insiders almost always play a role. Multiple insiders, unwillingly or willingly colluding, are not uncommon; and while insiders span a variety of origins and roles, by far the most common type is the coerced insider who unwillingly assists in the crime, often upon threat of losing his own life or the lives of his family members.

[See also “Major Crimes as Analogs to Potential Threats to Nuclear Facilities and Programs”⁠, Reinstedt & Westbury 1980]

“Pulling Back The Curtain On Heritability Studies: Biosocial Criminology In The Postgenomic Era”, Burt & Simons 2014

2014-burt.pdf: “Pulling Back The Curtain On Heritability Studies: Biosocial Criminology In The Postgenomic Era”⁠, Callie H. Burt, Ronald L. Simons (2014-03-28; ; similar):

Unfortunately, the nature-versus-nurture debate continues in criminology. Over the past 5 years, the number of heritability studies in criminology has surged. These studies invariably report sizeable heritability estimates (~50%) and minimal effects of the so-called shared environment for crime and related outcomes. Reports of such high heritabilities for such complex social behaviors are surprising, and findings indicating negligible shared environmental influences (usually interpreted to include parenting and community factors) seem implausible given extensive criminological research demonstrating their importance. Importantly, however, the models on which these estimates are based have fatal flaws for complex social behaviors such as crime. Moreover, the goal of heritability studies—partitioning the effects of nature and nurture—is misguided given the bidirectional, interactional relationship among genes, cells, organisms, and environments. This study provides a critique of heritability study methods and assumptions to illuminate the dubious foundations of heritability estimates and questions the rationale and utility of partitioning genetic and environmental effects. After critiquing the major models, we call for an end to heritability studies. We then present what we perceive to be a more useful biosocial research agenda that is consonant with and informed by recent advances in our understanding of gene function and developmental plasticity.

“The 1% of the Population Accountable for 63% of All Violent Crime Convictions”, Falk et al 2014

“The 1% of the population accountable for 63% of all violent crime convictions”⁠, Orjan Falk, Märta Wallinius, Sebastian Lundström, Thomas Frisell, Henrik Anckarsäter, Nóra Kerekes (2014; ⁠, ⁠, ; similar):

Purpose: Population-based studies on violent crime and background factors may provide an understanding of the relationships between susceptibility factors and crime. We aimed to determine the distribution of violent crime convictions in the Swedish population 1973–2004 and to identify criminal, academic, parental, and psychiatric risk factors for persistence in violent crime.

Method: The nationwide multi-generation register was used with many other linked nationwide registers to select participants. All individuals born in 1958–1980 (2,393,765 individuals) were included. Persistent violent offenders (those with a lifetime history of three or more violent crime convictions) were compared with individuals having one or two such convictions, and to matched non-offenders. Independent variables were gender, age of first conviction for a violent crime, nonviolent crime convictions, and diagnoses for major mental disorders, personality disorders, and substance use disorders.

Results: A total of 93,642 individuals (3.9%) had at least one violent conviction. The distribution of convictions was highly skewed; 24,342 persistent violent offenders (1.0% of the total population) accounted for 63.2% of all convictions. Persistence in violence was associated with male sex (OR 2.5), personality disorder (OR 2.3), violent crime conviction before age 19 (OR 2.0), drug-related offenses (OR 1.9), nonviolent criminality (OR 1.9), substance use disorder (OR 1.9), and major mental disorder (OR 1.3).

Conclusions: The majority of violent crimes are perpetrated by a small number of persistent violent offenders, typically males, characterized by early onset of violent criminality, substance abuse, personality disorders, and nonviolent criminality.

“Genome-Wide Association Study of Proneness to Anger”, Mick et al 2013

“Genome-Wide Association Study of Proneness to Anger”⁠, Eric Mick, James McGough, Curtis K. Deutsch, Jean A. Frazier, David Kennedy, Robert J. Goldberg (2013-12-27; ; similar):

Background: Community samples suggest that approximately 1 in 20 children and adults exhibit clinically-significant anger, hostility, and aggression. Individuals with dysregulated emotional control have a greater lifetime burden of psychiatric morbidity, severe impairment in role functioning, and premature mortality due to cardiovascular disease.

Methods: With publicly available data secured from dbGaP, we conducted a genome-wide association study of proneness to anger using the Spielberger State-Trait Anger Scale in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study (n = 8,747).

Results: Subjects were, on average, 54 (range 45–64) years old at baseline enrollment, 47% (n = 4,117) were male, and all were of European descent by self-report. The mean Angry Temperament and Angry Reaction scores were 5.8±1.8 and 7.6±2.2. We observed a nominally statistically-significant finding (p = 2.9E-08, λ = 1.027—corrected pgc = 2.2E-07, λ = 1.0015) on chromosome 6q21 in the gene coding for the non-receptor protein-tyrosine kinase, Fyn.

Conclusions: Fyn interacts with NDMA receptors and inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3)-gated channels to regulate calcium influx and intracellular release in the post-synaptic density. These results suggest that signaling pathways regulating intracellular calcium homeostasis, which are relevant to memory, learning, and neuronal survival, may in part underlie the expression of Angry Temperament.

“The Impact of Neighbourhood Deprivation on Adolescent Violent Criminality and Substance Misuse: A Longitudinal, Quasi-experimental Study of the Total Swedish Population”, Sariaslan et al 2013

“The impact of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse: A longitudinal, quasi-experimental study of the total Swedish population”⁠, Amir Sariaslan, Niklas Langstrom, Brian D’Onofrio, Johan Hallqvist, Johan Franck, Paul Lichtenstein (2013-03-26; ; backlinks; similar):

We found that the adverse effect of neighbourhood deprivation on adolescent violent criminality and substance misuse in Sweden was not consistent with a causal inference. Instead, our findings highlight the need to control for familial confounding in multilevel studies of criminality and substance misuse.

“A Genome-wide Association Study of Behavioral Disinhibition”, McGue et al 2013

“A genome-wide association study of behavioral disinhibition”⁠, Matt McGue, Yiwei Zhang, Michael B. Miller, Saonli Basu, Scott Vrieze, Brian Hicks, Steve Malone, William S. Oetting et al (2013; ; similar):

We report results from a genome wide association study (GWAS) of five quantitative indicators of behavioral disinhibition: nicotine⁠, alcohol consumption, alcohol dependence, illicit drugs, and non-substance related behavioral disinhibition. The sample, consisting of 7,188 Caucasian individuals clustered in 2,300 nuclear families, was genotyped on over 520,000 SNP markers from Illumina’s Human 660W-Quad Array. Analysis of individual SNP associations revealed only one marker-component phenotype association, between rs1868152 and illicit drugs, with a p value below the standard genome-wide threshold of 5 × 10−8. Because we had analyzed five separate phenotypes, we do not consider this single association to be significant. However, we report 13 SNPs that were associated at p < 10−5 for one phenotype and p < 10−3 for at least two other phenotypes, which are potential candidates for future investigations of variants associated with general behavioral disinhibition. Biometric analysis of the twin and family data yielded estimates of additive heritability for the component phenotypes ranging from 49 to 70%, GCTA estimates of heritability for the same phenotypes ranged from 8 to 37%. Consequently, even though the common variants genotyped on the GWAS array appear in aggregate to account for a sizable proportion of heritable effects in multiple indicators of behavioral disinhibition, our data suggest that most of the additive heritability remains “missing”.

“Jay-Z's 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading With Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps”, Mason 2012

2012-mason.pdf: “Jay-Z's 99 Problems, Verse 2: A Close Reading with Fourth Amendment Guidance for Cops and Perps”⁠, Caleb Mason (2012-12-01; ⁠, ; similar):

This is a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of “99 Problems” by Jay-Z⁠, from the perspective of a criminal procedure professor.

It’s intended as a resource for law students and teachers, and for anyone who’s interested in what pop culture gets right about criminal justice, and what it gets wrong.

[WP: “In 2011 Southwestern Law School Professor Caleb Mason wrote an article with a line-by-line analysis of the second verse of the song from a legal perspective referencing the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution⁠, citing it as an useful tool for teaching law students search and seizure law involving search warrants⁠, Terry stops⁠, racial profiling⁠, the exclusionary rule⁠, and the motor vehicle exception⁠. Mason writes that some of Jay-Z’s lyrics are legally accurate and describe prudent behavior (eg. identifying when police ask for consent to search, specifically asking if one is under arrest, and complying with the police order to stop rather than fleeing which would certainly result in a search of the car and might authorize police to use lethal force to stop a high speed chase). However, Mason also notes the song lyrics are legally incorrect in indicating that a driver can refuse an order to exit the Arand that police would need a warrant to search a locked glove compartment or trunk—in fact, police would only need probable cause to search a car.”]

…The year is ‘94, in my trunk is raw
In my rearview mirror is the motherfuckin’ law
Got 2 choices, y’all: pull over the car or
Bounce on the devil, put the pedal to the floor
And I ain’t tryin’ to see no highway chase with Jake
Plus I got a few dollars, I can fight the case
So I pull over to the side of the road
I heard, “Son, do you know why I’m stopping you for?”
“’Cause I’m young and I’m black and my hat’s real low?
Do I look like a mind reader, sir? I don’t know
Am I under arrest or should I guess some more?”
“Well, you was doing 55 in a 54
License and registration and step out of the car
Are you carrying a weapon on you? I know a lot of you are”
“I ain’t stepping out of shit, all my paper’s legit”
“Well, do you mind if I look around the car a little bit?”
“Well, my glove compartment is locked
So is the trunk in the back
And I know my rights, so you gon’ need a warrant for that”
“Aren’t you sharp as a tack? You some type of lawyer or something? Somebody important or something?”
“Well, I ain’t passed the bar, but I know a little bit
Enough that you won’t illegally search my shit”
“Well, we’ll see how smart you are when the K9 come”
I got 99 problems, but a bitch [female dog] ain’t one; hit me!

“Genetics of Aggression”, Anholt & Mackay 2012

2012-anholt.pdf: “Genetics of Aggression”⁠, Robert R. H. Anholt, Trudy F. C. Mackay (2012-08-28; )

“Unraveling the Genetic Etiology of Adult Antisocial Behavior: A Genome-Wide Association Study”, Tielbeek et al 2012

“Unraveling the Genetic Etiology of Adult Antisocial Behavior: A Genome-Wide Association Study”⁠, Jorim J. Tielbeek, Sarah E. Medland, Beben Benyamin, Enda M. Byrne, Andrew C. Heath, Pamela A. F. Madden et al (2012-08-17; ; similar):

Crime poses a major burden for society. The heterogeneous nature of criminal behavior makes it difficult to unravel its causes. Relatively little research has been conducted on the genetic influences of criminal behavior. The few twin and adoption studies that have been undertaken suggest that about half of the variance in antisocial behavior can be explained by genetic factors. In order to identify the specific common genetic variants underlying this behavior, we conduct the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) on adult antisocial behavior. Our sample comprised a community sample of 4816 individuals who had completed a self-report questionnaire. No genetic polymorphisms reached genome-wide statistical-significance for association with adult antisocial behavior. In addition, none of the traditional candidate genes can be confirmed in our study. While not genome-wide statistically-significant, the gene with the strongest association (p = 8.7×10−5) was DYRK1A, a gene previously related to abnormal brain development and mental retardation. Future studies should use larger, more homogeneous samples to disentangle the etiology of antisocial behavior. Biosocial criminological research allows a more empirically grounded understanding of criminal behavior, which could ultimately inform and improve current treatment strategies.

“The Puzzle of Monogamous Marriage”, Henrich et al 2012

2012-henrich.pdf: “The puzzle of monogamous marriage”⁠, Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson (2012; ; backlinks; similar):

The anthropological record indicates that ~85% of human societies have permitted men to have more than one wife (polygynous marriage), and both empirical and evolutionary considerations suggest that large absolute differences in wealth should favour more polygynous marriages. Yet, monogamous marriage has spread across Europe, and more recently across the globe, even as absolute wealth differences have expanded.

Here, we develop and explore the hypothesis that the norms and institutions that compose the modern package of monogamous marriage have been favoured by cultural evolution because of their group-beneficial effects—promoting success in inter-group competition. In suppressing intrasexual competition and reducing the size of the pool of unmarried men, normative monogamy reduces crime rates, including rape, murder, assault, robbery and fraud, as well as decreasing personal abuses. By assuaging the competition for younger brides, normative monogamy decreases (1) the spousal age gap, (2) fertility, and (3) gender inequality. By shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, normative monogamy increases savings, child investment and economic productivity. By increasing the relatedness within households, normative monogamy reduces intra-household conflict, leading to lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death and homicide.

These predictions are tested using converging lines of evidence from across the human sciences.

[Keywords: cultural group selection⁠, monogamy, polygyny, marriage, norms, institutional evolution]

“A Viral Infection of the Mind? The Curious Case of Encephalitis Lethargica”, Foley 2011

“A viral infection of the mind? The curious case of encephalitis lethargica”⁠, Paul Foley (2011-10-12; ⁠, ; similar):

But the illness provoked a flood of publications throughout the 1920s and 1930s, as its kaleidoscopic combination of neurologic and psychiatric phenomena provided insights into brain function that had previously been the subject of speculation. These insights have had an enduring impact upon both neurology and psychiatry.

…The psychiatric facets of this phase were no less important. A peculiar lack of internal drive separating the patient from their world was typical. Despite normal intelligence, these patients could not summon the will power to execute their wishes. More insightful sufferers described how neither their perceptions nor their own thoughts were associated with the required emotional content that permitted exercise of their will. Patients could appreciate that a pianist played with great technical skill, for instance, but no longer sensed the beauty of the music…The only consolation was that this same apathy often meant the sufferers were not overly depressed by their illness or by the prospect of a life in an institution (remembering that these young patients might live for another half century or more).

…The second phase was marked by a general loss of concentration and interest in life, giving a vague sensation that the patient was not the person they had once been. But this period, which resembled chronic fatigue syndrome, was the calm before the storm. Unbeknownst to the victim, localized neurodegeneration proceeded apace through the first phase, and after an interval—lasting between a few days and 30 years—post-encephalitic parkinsonism (PEP) emerged. Unmistakable and irreversible, PEP consigned the young sufferers (mostly between 15 and 35 years of age) to decades of disability. For those who had not yet passed adolescence, the second period was marked by pathologic changes of character that approached the psychopathic.

Younger children, between 5 and 10 years old, might merely irritate with their clinginess; their impaired concentration; their incessant restlessness and need for noise; and their lack of consideration for others—not unlike current attention deficit disorders. But as they grew in strength, their incorrigible impulsiveness escalated in violence and they posed a danger to themselves and others. Errant behaviours included cruelty to anyone who crossed them; destructiveness; lying; and self-mutilation including, in one example, removal of eyes. When they reached adolescence, these patients manifested inappropriate and excessive sexuality, including sexual assault without regard for age or gender. Bizarrely, these children were driven by impulsiveness, not self-interest. Thefts, for example, were not undertaken for personal benefit and stolen goods were often immediately forgotten, or given away. Patients often expressed genuine remorse for their actions, explaining they recognized their wrongdoing but had been compelled to act as they did.

Some children improved after adolescence, but in many the only brake on their bad behavior was the parkinsonism that developed as they entered adulthood. Those not confined to hospital with parkinsonism often proceeded to a life of habitual criminality—mostly theft in men, prostitution in women, but also ranging up to rape and murder.

This phenomenon encouraged many countries to re-examine laws regarding legal responsibility in those whose actions were curtailed neither by encouragement nor prison, but who nonetheless maintained a sense of what was socially appropriate.

“The Rape of Men: the Darkest Secret of War: Sexual Violence Is One of the Most Horrific Weapons of War, an Instrument of Terror Used against Women. Yet Huge Numbers of Men Are Also Victims. In This Harrowing Report, Will Storr Travels to Uganda to Meet Traumatised Survivors, and Reveals How Male Rape Is Endemic in Many of the World's Conflicts”, Storr 2011

“The rape of men: the darkest secret of war: Sexual violence is one of the most horrific weapons of war, an instrument of terror used against women. Yet huge numbers of men are also victims. In this harrowing report, Will Storr travels to Uganda to meet traumatised survivors, and reveals how male rape is endemic in many of the world's conflicts”⁠, Will Storr (2011-07-17; backlinks; similar):

Of all the secrets of war, there is one that is so well kept that it exists mostly as a rumour. It is usually denied by the perpetrator and his victim. Governments, aid agencies and human rights defenders at the UN barely acknowledge its possibility. Yet every now and then someone gathers the courage to tell of it…“That was hard for me to take”, Owiny tells me today. “There are certain things you just don’t believe can happen to a man, you get me? But I know now that sexual violence against men is a huge problem. Everybody has heard the women’s stories. But nobody has heard the men’s.”

It’s not just in East Africa that these stories remain unheard. One of the few academics to have looked into the issue in any detail is Lara Stemple, of the University of California’s Health and Human Rights Law Project. Her study “Male Rape and Human Rights” notes incidents of male sexual violence as a weapon of wartime or political aggression in countries such as Chile, Greece, Croatia, Iran, Kuwait, the former Soviet Union and the former Yugoslavia. 21% of Sri Lankan males who were seen at a London torture treatment centre reported sexual abuse while in detention. In El Salvador, 76% of male political prisoners surveyed in the 1980s described at least one incidence of sexual torture. A study of 6,000 concentration-camp inmates in Sarajevo found that 80% of men reported having been raped…Dolan first heard of wartime sexual violence against men in the late 1990s while researching his PhD in northern Uganda, and he sensed that the problem might be dramatically underestimated. Keen to gain a fuller grasp of its depth and nature, he put up posters throughout Kampala in June 2009 announcing a “workshop” on the issue in a local school. On the day, 150 men arrived. In a burst of candour, one attendee admitted: “It’s happened to all of us here.”…a rare 2010 survey, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that 22% of men and 30% of women in Eastern Congo reported conflict-related sexual violence.

…Back at RLP I’m told about the other ways in which their clients have been made to suffer. Men aren’t simply raped, they are forced to penetrate holes in banana trees that run with acidic sap, to sit with their genitals over a fire, to drag rocks tied to their penis, to give oral sex to queues of soldiers, to be penetrated with screwdrivers and sticks. Atim has now seen so many male survivors that, frequently, she can spot them the moment they sit down. “They tend to lean forward and will often sit on one buttock”, she tells me. “When they cough, they grab their lower regions. At times, they will stand up and there’s blood on the chair. And they often have some kind of smell.”

“Bugs and Beasts Before the Law”, Humphrey 2011

“Bugs and Beasts Before the Law”⁠, Nicholas Humphrey (2011-03-27; ⁠, ; similar):

Murderous pigs sent to the gallows, sparrows prosecuted for chattering in church, a gang of thieving rats let off on a wholly technical acquittal—theoretical psychologist and author Nicholas Humphrey explores the strange world of medieval animal trials.

…Such stories, however, are apparently not news for very long. Indeed the most extraordinary examples of people taking retribution against animals seem to have been almost totally forgotten. A few years ago I lighted on a book, first published in 1906, with the surprising title The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals by E. P. Evans, author of Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture, Bugs and Beasts before the Law, etc., etc. The frontispiece showed an engraving of a pig, dressed up in a jacket and breeches, being strung up on a gallows in the market square of a town in Normandy in 1386; the pig had been formally tried and convicted of murder by the local court. When I borrowed the book from the Cambridge University Library, I showed this picture of the pig to the librarian. “Is it a joke?”, she asked.

No, it was not a joke. All over Europe, throughout the middle-ages and right on into the 19th century, animals were, as it turns out, tried for human crimes. Dogs, pigs, cows, rats and even flies and caterpillars were arraigned in court on charges ranging from murder to obscenity. The trials were conducted with full ceremony: evidence was heard on both sides, witnesses were called, and in many cases the accused animal was granted a form of legal aid—a lawyer being appointed at the tax-payer’s expense to conduct the animal’s defence.

…Evans’ book details more than two hundred such cases: sparrows being prosecuted for chattering in Church, a pig executed for stealing a communion wafer, a cock burnt at the stake for laying an egg. As I read my eyes grew wider and wider.

“Reciprocal Relations Between Parenting and Adjustment in a Sample of Juvenile Offenders”, Williams & Steinberg 2011

2011-williams.pdf: “Reciprocal Relations Between Parenting and Adjustment in a Sample of Juvenile Offenders”⁠, Lela Rankin Williams, Laurence Steinberg (2011-03-09; ; similar):

The over-time reciprocal links between parenting and adolescent adjustment were examined in a sample of 1,354 serious adolescent offenders followed for 3 years (16 years of age at baseline, SD = 1.14).

Parallel processing growth curve models provided independent estimates of the impact of parenting on adolescent functioning as well as the impact of adolescent functioning on parenting.

Positive adolescent development was facilitated by high parental warmth and low parental hostility. Parental monitoring predicted less problematic behavior, but less positive functioning as well. Predictably, parents became warmer and less hostile in response to positive adolescent development, and less warm in response to problematic adolescent functioning. [reverse causality] Parental monitoring declined when adolescents exhibited either positive or problematic functioning.

See Also:

“Human Aggression across the Lifespan: Genetic Propensities and Environmental Moderators”, Tuvblad & Baker 2011

“Human aggression across the lifespan: genetic propensities and environmental moderators”⁠, Catherine Tuvblad, Laura A. Baker (2011; ; similar):

This chapter reviews the recent evidence of genetic and environmental influences on human aggression. Findings from a large selection of the twin and adoption studies that have investigated the genetic and environmental architecture of aggressive behavior are summarized. These studies together show that about half (50%) of the variance in aggressive behavior is explained by genetic influences in both males and females, with the remaining 50% of the variance being explained by environmental factors not shared by family members. Form of aggression (reactive, proactive, direct/​physical, indirect/​relational), method of assessment (laboratory observation, self-report, ratings by parents and teachers), and age of the subjects-all seem to be significant moderators of the magnitude of genetic and environmental influences on aggressive behavior. Neither study design (twin vs. sibling adoption design) nor sex (male vs. female) seems to impact the magnitude of the genetic and environmental influences on aggression. There is also some evidence of gene-environment interaction (G × E) from both twin/​adoption studies and molecular genetic studies. Various measures of family adversity and social disadvantage have been found to moderate genetic influences on aggressive behavior. Findings from these G × E studies suggest that not all individuals will be affected to the same degree by experiences and exposures, and that genetic predispositions may have different effects depending on the environment.

“Genome-wide Association Study of Conduct Disorder Symptomatology”, Dick et al 2011

“Genome-wide association study of conduct disorder symptomatology”⁠, D M. Dick, F. Aliev, R. F Krueger, A. Edwards, A. Agrawal, M. Lynskey, P. Lin, M. Schuckit, V. Hesselbrock et al (2011; ; similar):

Conduct disorder (CD) is one of the most prevalent childhood psychiatric conditions, and is associated with a number of serious concomitant and future problems. CD symptomatology is known to have a considerable genetic component, with heritability estimates in the range of 50%. Despite this, there is a relative paucity of studies aimed at identifying genes involved in the susceptibility to CD. In this study, we report results from a genome-wide association study of CD symptoms. CD symptoms were retrospectively reported by a psychiatric interview among a sample of cases and controls, in which cases met the criteria for alcohol dependence. Our primary phenotype was the natural log transformation of the number of CD symptoms that were endorsed, with data available for 3963 individuals who were genotyped on the Illumina Human 1M beadchip array. Secondary analyses are presented for case versus control status, in which caseness was established as endorsing three or more CD symptoms (n = 872 with CD and n = 3091 without CD). We find four markers that meet the criteria for genome-wide statistical-significance (p < 5 × 10−8) with the CD symptom count, two of which are located in the gene C1QTNF7 (C1q and tumor necrosis factor-related protein 7). There were six additional SNPs in the gene that yielded converging evidence of association. These data provide the first evidence of a specific gene that is associated with CD symptomatology. None of the top signals resided in traditional candidate genes, underscoring the importance of a genome-wide approach for identifying novel variants involved in this serious childhood disorder.

“Genome-wide Association Study of the Child Behavior Checklist Dysregulation Profile”, Mick et al 2011

“Genome-wide association study of the child behavior checklist dysregulation profile”⁠, Eric Mick, James McGough, Sandra Loo, Alysa E. Doyle, Janet Wozniak, Timothy E. Wilens, Susan Smalley et al (2011; ; similar):

Objective: A potentially useful tool for understanding the distribution and determinants of emotional dysregulation in children is a Child Behavior Checklist profile, comprising the Attention Problems, Anxious/​Depressed, and Aggressive Behavior clinical subscales (CBCL-DP). The CBCL-DP indexes a heritable trait that increases susceptibility for later psychopathology, including severe mood problems and aggressive behavior. We have conducted a genome-wide association study of the CBCL-DP in children with attention-deficit/​hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Method: Families were ascertained at Massachusetts General Hospital and University of California, Los Angeles. Genotyping was conducted with the Illumina Human1M or Human1M-Duo BeadChip platforms. Genome-wide association analyses were conducted with the MQFAM multivariate extension of PLINK.

Results: CBCL data were available for 341 ADHD offspring from 339 ADHD affected trio families from the UCLA (n = 128) and the MGH (n = 213) sites. We found no genome-wide statistically-significant associations but identified several plausible candidate genes among findings at p < 5E-05: TMEM132D, LRRC7, SEMA3A, ALK, and STIP1.

Conclusions: We found suggestive evidence for developmentally expressed genes operant in hippocampal dependent memory and learning with the CBCL-DP.

“Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic”, Diamond et al 2010

2010-diamond.pdf: “Pornography and Sex Crimes in the Czech Republic”⁠, Milton Diamond, Eva Jozifkova, Petr Weiss (2010-11-30; ; similar):

Pornography continues to be a contentious matter with those on the one side arguing it detrimental to society while others argue it is pleasurable to many and a feature of free speech. The advent of the Internet with the ready availability of sexually explicit materials thereon particularly has seemed to raise questions of its influence.

Following the effects of a new law in the Czech Republic that allowed pornography to a society previously having forbidden it allowed us to monitor the change in sex related crime that followed the change. As found in all other countries in which the phenomenon has been studied, rape and other sex crimes did not increase. Of particular note is that this country, like Denmark and Japan, had a prolonged interval during which possession of child pornography was not illegal and, like those other countries, showed a statistically-significant decrease in the incidence of child sex abuse.

“In Search of Genes Associated With Risk for Psychopathic Tendencies in Children: a Two-stage Genome-wide Association Study of Pooled DNA”, Viding et al 2010

2010-viding.pdf: “In search of genes associated with risk for psychopathic tendencies in children: a two-stage genome-wide association study of pooled DNA”⁠, Essi Viding, Ken B. Hanscombe, Charles J. C. Curtis, Oliver S. P. Davis, Emma L. Meaburn, Robert Plomin et al (2010-07-01; )

“The Cost of Crime to Society: New Crime-specific Estimates for Policy and Program Evaluation”, McCollister et al 2010

“The cost of crime to society: new crime-specific estimates for policy and program evaluation”⁠, Kathryn E. McCollister, Michael T. French, Hai Fang (2010; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Estimating the cost to society of individual crimes is essential to the economic evaluation of many social programs, such as substance abuse treatment and community policing. A review of the crime-costing literature reveals multiple sources, including published articles and government reports, which collectively represent the alternative approaches for estimating the economic losses associated with criminal activity. Many of these sources are based upon data that are more than 10 years old, indicating a need for updated figures.

This study presents a comprehensive methodology for calculating the cost to society of various criminal acts. Tangible and intangible losses are estimated using the most current data available. The selected approach, which incorporates both the cost-of-illness and the jury compensation methods, yields cost estimates for more than a dozen major crime categories, including several categories not found in previous studies. Updated crime cost estimates can help government agencies and other organizations execute more prudent policy evaluations, particularly benefit-cost analyses of substance abuse treatment or other interventions that reduce crime.

“Genetics of Human Aggressive Behaviour”, Craig & Halton 2009

2012-craig.pdf: “Genetics of human aggressive behaviour”⁠, Ian W. Craig, Kelly E. Halton (2009-06-09; )

“Aum Shinrikyo and a Panic About Manga and Anime”, Gardner 2008

2008-gardner.pdf: “Aum Shinrikyo and a Panic About Manga and Anime”⁠, Richard A. Gardner (2008; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

In the midst of the accolades, it is important to recall that there have been moments in recent history when manga and anime have been regarded as potentially dangerous or as emblems of what is wrong with Japan.

Such was the case in the months following the release of sarin gas in several Tokyo subway lines by members of the religious group Aum Shinrikyo on the morning of March 20, 1995. As the extent of the Aum’s crimes gradually became clear, Japanese journalists, scholars, intellectuals, and commentators of every sort attempted to explain the origin and rise of Aum, the reasons for the group’s turn to violence, and what the appearance of such a group might mean about Japan. In the various theories and explanations presented, nearly every aspect of Japanese society, culture, and religion has been held to be at least partially accountable for the rise of Aum and the turn to violence by some of its members (see Gardner 1999, 221–222; 2002a, 36–42). In the efforts to explain Aum, considerable attention was given to the roles that manga and anime might have played. This resulted in what might be described as a panic about their possible negative influence on Japanese culture and society. Rather than attempting to explain precisely how manga and anime might have contributed to the rise of Aum and its vision of ‘Harumagedon’, or Armageddon, this chapter will simply present an overview of the ways in which both members of Aum and commentators on Aum understood the role of manga and anime in relation to Aum. Attention will be given, in particular, to how these perceptions were linked with broader concerns about the possible negative influence of various forms of media, technology, and ‘virtual reality’.

“Personality and the Prediction of Consequential Outcomes”, Ozer & Benet-Martínez 2006

2006-ozer.pdf: “Personality and the Prediction of Consequential Outcomes”⁠, Daniel J. Ozer, Verónica Benet-Martínez (2006-02-01; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

Personality has consequences. Measures of personality have contemporaneous and predictive relations to a variety of important outcomes. Using the Big Five factors as heuristics for organizing the research literature, numerous consequential relations are identified. Personality dispositions are associated with happiness, physical and psychological health, spirituality, and identity at an individual level; associated with the quality of relationships with peers, family, and romantic others at an interpersonal level; and associated with occupational choice, satisfaction, and performance, as well as community involvement, criminal activity, and political ideology at a social institutional level.

[Keywords: individual differences, traits, life outcomes, consequences]

“Distinguishing Real Vs. Fake Tiger Penises [Identification Guides for Wildlife Law Enforcement No. 6]”, Yates 2005

2005-yates.pdf: “Distinguishing Real Vs. Fake Tiger Penises [Identification Guides for Wildlife Law Enforcement No. 6]”⁠, Bonnie C. Yates (2005-03-01; ; similar):

Dried genitalia are an important element of traditional medicine in many cultures around the world…Wildlife law enforcement officers can learn to differentiate the various species sources of these products and detect genuine tiger penises from the abundant fakes currently being sold to unsuspecting tourists and consumers…In animal markets, some parts and products are not what they are labeled. One of the most difficult products to identify has been genuine dried tiger penises⁠. The reason for this is the rarity of the real thing and a long tradition of the production of “lesser tiger” or tiger substitute, that is, any other large mammal that can be promoted as a replacement for tiger. When rehydrated and consumed in a soup or tea, this product is believed to serve as an aphrodisiac or restorative tisane. To date, no dried penis from an actual tiger has been seen in the Lab as evidence in a wildlife case.

…Because genuine tiger penises are so rare, the buying public apparently no longer knows what a real tiger penis looks like. Artisans, therefore, must fabricate barbed penises out of cattle and deer genitals to replicate an appearance based on myth and public demand…In order to replicate these barbs, skilled craftsmen take the organs of slaughtered cattle and fabricate barbs by making tiny V-shaped cuts (Figure 4) over the surface of the glans penis. Then by hanging the modified penis upside down, the edges of these little cuts curl under during drying and form a barb-like projection

Figure 4: Looking at the base of a bull’s penis carved to simulate a tiger’s penis. This is how cattle genitals are made to be used as replacements for genuine tiger parts. Notice the V-shaped cuts in the tissue underneath the lowest barbs (arrow).

…The penis from a real tiger has a small triangular baculum⁠, but it is seldom visible even in an x-ray, being obscured by folds in dense, dried tissues. The genitalia of other mammals are used in the wildlife trade, and can usually be identified by the size and shape of the internal penis bone or baculum. Sometimes the dried genitals must be macerated or cleaned by dermestid beetles to extract the baculum. X-rays are the best screening tool for initial examination of the dried penis. An expert should be consulted to interpret the radiographs.

To eliminate tiger, consider the following characteristics:

A dried penis cannot be from tiger if

  • very obvious barbs or spines cover the tip as in Figure 4 and Figure 5

    (It is probably from a large ungulate. Figure 6)

  • it has a large baculum visible on x-ray; compare to Figure 3

    (It is probably from a carnivore. Figure 9)

  • it is long (>8 inches) from tip to scrotum

    (It is probably deer, cattle, or horse. Figure 6.)

“Personality Traits As Intermediary Phenotypes in Suicidal Behavior: Genetic Issues”, Baud 2005

2005-baud.pdf: “Personality traits as intermediary phenotypes in suicidal behavior: Genetic issues”⁠, Patrick Baud (2005-01-12; ⁠, ⁠, )

“Genetic and Environmental Influences on Antisocial Behaviors: Evidence from Behavioral-genetic Research”, Moffitt 2005

2005-moffitt.pdf: “Genetic and environmental influences on antisocial behaviors: evidence from behavioral-genetic research”⁠, Terrie E. Moffitt (2005-01-01; )

“Alarmingly Useless: The Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City”, Friedman et al 2003

2003-friedman.pdf: “Alarmingly Useless: The Case for Banning Car Alarms in New York City”⁠, Aaron Friedman, Aaron Naparstek, Mateo Taussig-Rubbo (2003-03-21; ; backlinks; similar):

T.A. undertook this study to determine the costs and benefits of audible car alarms in the nation’s densest urban environment and to map out a strategy for banning audible car alarms in the five boroughs of New York City. Summary of Findings:

CAR ALARMS COST NEW YORK $638.4$400.02003 TO $798.1$500.02003 MILLION PER YEAR: The average New York City resident pays a car alarm “Noise Tax” of ~$159.6$100.02003 to $191.5$120.02003 per year. Added up, car alarms cost New Yorkers between $638.4$400.02003 and $798.1$500.02003 million per year in public health costs, lost productivity, decreased property value, and diminished quality of life.

  • Car alarms are a substantial and costly public health problem. The type of noise produced by car alarms boosts stress hormones and has been linked to cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal illnesses, psychological problems and unhealthy fetal development in a number of studies over the last 30 years.
  • Car alarms hurt New York City’s kids. Children who are exposed to the type of noise produced by car alarms have been found to have more problems with reading, motivation, and scholastic aptitude.
  • Car alarms destroy civility and quality of life. US Census data from 2001 show that traffic noise and car alarms are a primary reason why families leave American cities.

AUDIBLE CAR ALARMS DO NOT WORK: Manufacturers, installers, insurers, criminologists, police, and thieves all say that car alarms are ineffective at stopping car theft. They simply do not work.

  • A 1997 analysis of insurance-claims data from 73 million vehicles concludes that cars with alarms “show no overall reduction in theft losses” compared to cars without alarms. GM, Ford, and other auto-makers have begun to phase out factory installations of car alarms, calling the devices mere “noisemakers.”
  • People don’t respond to car alarms because the vast majority are false. Authorities estimate that 95% to 99% of all car alarms are false. The Progressive Insurance Company found that fewer than 1% of respondents say they would call the police upon hearing a car alarm.
  • The professionalization of car theft has made alarms obsolete. In the past 20 years, car theft has evolved from a juvenile pastime into a $13.09$8.202003 billion a year business. 80% of cars are stolen by organized crime. Alarms do not deter the pros.

THERE ARE MANY GOOD ALTERNATIVES TO CAR ALARMS: There are numerous inexpensive and effective automobile security products on the market today. If audible alarms were made illegal, car owners would switch to more effective devices.

  • Brake locks are inexpensive (about $79.8$50.02003) and difficult to defeat.
  • Personal car alarm pagers buzz a vehicle’s owner when a car is disturbed rather than annoying an entire neighborhood.
  • Lojack uses global positioning satellites to keep track of vehicles and often leads police to the thieves’ chop shops.
  • Passive immobilizers have reduced theft rates of some car models by as much as 77%.

THE CITY CAN LEGALLY BAN CAR ALARMS: New York City law currently limits audible alarms to three minutes of noise and bans the use of motion sensors, the technology responsible for most false alarms. These laws are ineffective and mostly unenforced.

  • T.A. legal analysis concludes that the City of New York has the authority to ban the sale, use, or installation of audible motor vehicle alarms.
  • City Council members introduced a bill in 2000 to ban the sale and installation of car alarms in New York City. The bill is currently buried in the City Council Committee on Environmental Protection and has never received a public hearing.
  • Insiders say that a ban on car alarms is being prevented by City Council members who are afraid to take away the 5% discount on comprehensive coverage (less than $31.9$20.02003 per year on average) that some car owners receive for having alarms in their vehicles.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Ban audible car alarms in New York City.

“The Dark Side of Private Ordering: An Institutional and Empirical Analysis of Organized Crime”, Milhaupt & West 2000

2000-milhaupt.pdf: “The Dark Side of Private Ordering: An Institutional and Empirical Analysis of Organized Crime”⁠, Curtis J. Milhaupt, Mark D. West (2000-12-01; ⁠, ⁠, ; similar):

This Article provides theoretical and empirical support for the claim that organized crime competes with the state to provide property rights enforcement and protection services. Drawing on extensive data from Japan, this Article shows that like firms in regulated environments everywhere, the structure and activities of organized criminal firms are substantially shaped by state-supplied institutions. Careful observation reveals that in Japan, the activities of organized criminal firms closely track inefficiencies in formal legal structures, including both inefficient substantive laws and a state-induced shortage of legal professionals and other rights-enforcement agents. Thus organized crime in Japan—and, by extension, in other countries where substantial gaps exist between formal property rights structures and state enforcement capacities—is the dark side of private ordering.

Regression analyses show negative correlations between membership in Japanese organized criminal firms and (a) civil cases, (b) bankruptcies (c) reported crimes, and (d) loans outstanding. Professors Milhaupt and West interpret these data to support considerable anecdotal evidence that members of organized criminal firms in Japan play an active entrepreneurial role in substituting for state-supplied enforcement mechanisms and other public services in such areas as dispute mediation, bankruptcy and debt collection, (unorganized) crime control, and finance They offer additional empirical evidence indicating that arrests of gang members do not curb the growth of organized criminal firm Their findings may have an important normative implication for transition economies: efforts to eradicate organized crime should focus on the alteration of institutional incentive structures and the stimulation of competing rights-enforcement agents rather than on traditional crime-control activities.

“Everyday Life As an Intelligence Test: Effects of Intelligence and Intelligence Context”, Gordon 1997

1997-gordon.pdf: “Everyday Life as an Intelligence Test: Effects of Intelligence and Intelligence Context”⁠, Robert A. Gordon (1997; ⁠, ; backlinks; similar):

To show why the importance of intelligence is often misperceived, an analogy between single test items and single nontest actions in everyday life is drawn. 3 requirements of good test items are restated, and the analogy is employed to account for underrecognition of the importance of general intelligence in everyday actions, which often fail to meet the requirements and thus fail as intelligence measures for reasons that have little to do with their dependence on intelligence. A new perspective on the role of intelligence in nontest actions is introduced by considering its operation at 3 levels: that of the individual, that of the near context of the individual, and that of entire populations. Social scientists have misunderstood the operation and impact of IQ in populations by confining attention to the individual level. A population-IQ-outcome model is explained that tests for the pooled effects of intelligence at all 3 levels on differences between 2 populations in prevalences of certain outcomes. When the model fits, the difference between 2 populations in the outcome measured is found commensurate with the difference in their IQ or general intelligence distributions. The model is tested on and found to fit prevalences of juvenile delinquency, adult crime, single parenthood, HIV infection, poverty, belief in conspiracy rumors, and key opinions from polls about the O. J. Simpson trial and the earlier Tawana Brawley case. A deviance principle is extracted from empirical findings to indicate kinds of outcome the model will not fit. Implications for theories of practical and multiple intelligences are discussed. To understand the full policy implications of intelligence, such a fundamentally new perspective as that presented here will be needed.

“Terminal Delinquents: Once, They Stole Hubcaps And Shot Out Street-Lights. Now They're Stealing Your Social Security Number And Shooting Out Your Credit Rating. A Layman's Guide To Computer High Jinks”, Hitt & Tough 1990

“Terminal Delinquents: Once, They Stole Hubcaps And Shot Out Street-Lights. Now They're Stealing Your Social Security Number And Shooting Out Your Credit Rating. A Layman's Guide To Computer High Jinks”⁠, Jack Hitt, Paul Tough (1990-12-01; ⁠, ; similar):

[Gonzo-style account of hanging out with teenage hackers and phreakers in NYC, Phiber Optik and Acid Phreak, similar to Hackers]

“Sometimes”, says Kool, “it’s so simple. I used to have contests with my friends to see how few words we could use to get a password. Once I called up and said, ‘Hi, I’m from the social-engineering center and I need your password’, and they gave it to me! I swear, sometimes I think I could call up and say, ‘Hi, I’m in a diner, eating a banana split. Give me your password.’” Like its mechanical counterpart, social engineering is half business and half pleasure. It is a social game that allows the accomplished hacker to show off his knowledge of systems, his mastery of jargon, and especially his ability to manipulate people. It not only allows the hacker to get information; it also has the comic attractions of the old-fashioned prank phone call—fooling an adult, improvisation, cruelty. In the months we spent with the hackers, the best performance in a social-engineering role was by a hacker named Oddjob. With him and three other guys we pulled a hacking all-nighter in the financial district, visiting pay phones in the hallway of the World Trade Center, outside the bathrooms of the Vista Hotel, and in the lobby of the international headquarters of American Express.

…Where we see only a machine’s function, they see its potential. This is, of course, the noble and essential trait of the inventor. But hackers warp it with teenage anarchic creativity: Edison with attitude. Consider the fax machine. We look at it; we see a document-delivery device. One hacker we met, Kaos, looked at the same machine and immediately saw the Black Loop of Death. Here’s how it works: Photocopy your middle finger displaying the international sign of obscene derision. Make two more copies. Tape these three pages together. Choose a target fax machine. Wait until nighttime, when you know it will be unattended, and dial it up. Begin to feed your long document into your fax machine. When the first page begins to emerge below, tape it to the end of the last page. Ecce. This three-page loop will continuously feed your image all night long. In the morning, your victim will find an empty fax machine, surrounded by two thousand copies of your finger, flipping the bird.

…From a distance, a computer network looks like a fortress—impregnable, heavily guarded. As you get closer, though, the walls of the fortress look a little flimsy. You notice that the fortress has a thousand doors; that some are unguarded, the rest watched by unwary civilians. All the hacker has to do to get in is find an unguarded door, or borrow a key, or punch a hole in the wall. The question of whether he’s allowed in is made moot by the fact that it’s unbelievably simple to enter. Breaking into computer systems will always remain easy because the systems have to accommodate dolts like you and me. If computers were used only by brilliant programmers, no doubt they could maintain a nearly impenetrable security system. But computers aren’t built that way; they are “dumbed down” to allow those who must use them to do their jobs. So hackers will always be able to find a trusting soul to reveal a dialup, an account, and a password. And they will always get in.

“The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends”, Best & Horiuchi 1985

1985-best.pdf: “The Razor Blade in the Apple: The Social Construction of Urban Legends”⁠, Joel Best, Gerald T. Horiuchi (1985-06-01; ; backlinks; similar):

This paper examines the widespread belief that anonymous sadists give children dangerous treats on Halloween.

A review of news stories about Halloween sadism from 1958 to 1983 suggests that the threat has been greatly exaggerated.

Halloween sadism can be viewed as an urban legend, which emerged during the early 1970s to give expression to growing fears about the safety of children, the danger of crime, and other sources of social strain. Urban legends, like collective behavior and social problems construction, are responses to social strain, shaped by the perception of the threat and social organization.

The 1970s witnessed the discovery of a frightening new deviant—the Halloween sadist, who gave dangerous, adulterated treats to children. Each year, Halloween’s approach brought warnings to parents:

“…that plump red apple that Junior gets from a kindly old woman down the block…may have a razor blade hidden inside” (New York Times, 1970).

“If this year’s Halloween follows form, a few children will return home with something more than an upset tummy: in recent years, several children have died and hundreds have narrowly escaped injury from razor blades, sewing needles and shards of glass purposefully put into their goodies by adults” (Newsweek, 1975).

“It’s Halloween again and time to remind you that. … [s]omebody’s child will become violently ill or die after eating poisoned candy or an apple containing a razor blade” (Van Buren 1983).

Various authorities responded to the threat: legislatures in California (1971) and New Jersey (1982) passed laws against Halloween sadism; schools trained children to inspect their treats for signs of tampering; and some communities tried to ban trick-or-treating (Trubo 1974). According to press reports, many parents restricted their children’s trick-or-treating, examined their treats, or arranged parties or other indoor celebrations (New York Times, 1972; Los Angeles Times, 1982). By 1984, the threat of Halloween sadists was apparently taken for granted. Doubts about the threat’s reality rarely appeared in print. Several Oregon third graders wrote letters to a newspaper: “I wish people wouldn’t put poison in our Halloween treats” (Times, 1984). Adults questioned for an Illinois newspaper’s “Sidewalk Interview” column (DeKalb Daily Chronicle, 1984) expressed concern: “…part of it is checking to make sure you know your neighbors and checking the candy. I think it’s terrible that people are doing this and I guess people’s morals have to be examined.” “Dear Abby” printed a letter describing a North Carolina hospital’s program to X-ray treats (Van Buren, 1984); radiologists at a Hanford, California hospital checked 500 bags of treats (Fresno Bee, 1984). In 1985, 327 students at California State University, Fresno wrote essays for an upper-division writing examination, advocating the abolition of some holiday. Nearly a third (105 students) wrote about Halloween, and 90% of those essays mentioned the threat of Halloween sadism.

…Our search found stories about 76 alleged incidents of Halloween sadism, which included at least the community where the incident occurred and the nature of the attack. Table 1 shows the number of incidents reported in each year.

Obviously, the 76 incidents identified through this procedure do not form a complete list of cases of Halloween sadism. However, there are several reasons why it is unlikely that many serious incidents—involving deaths or serious injuries—were overlooked. First, the papers’ coverage was national. The 76 reported incidents came from 15 states and 2 Canadian provinces; while each of the 4 newspapers concentrated on incidents in its own region, all reported cases from other regions. All 4 included at least one case from the South—the only major region without a newspaper in the sample. Second, the 76 reported cases were generally not serious. Injuries were reported in only 20 cases, and only 2 of these involved deaths.

Table 1 reveals 2 peaks in the pattern of reporting. 31 of the 76 incidents occurred in the 3 years from 1969 to 1971. This wave of reports encouraged recognition of Halloween sadism as a threat. As a holiday when millions of children venture out at night, Halloween has a long history of tragic accidents. Routinely, newspapers and magazines print lists of safety tips, warning parents against flammable costumes, masks that obscure the wearer’s vision, and the like. A systematic review of such lists found no mention of the danger posed by sadists before 1972; but, from that year on, lists of safety tips almost invariably warned parents to inspect their children’s treats for signs of tampering. At the same time that these warnings spread, reports of Halloween sadism fell to a few per year until 1982, when there was a dramatic increase. Of course, this reflected the fear caused by the Tylenol murders⁠. A month before Halloween, 7 people died after swallowing poisoned Extra-Strength Tylenol capsules. In the weeks that followed, there were hundreds of reports of “copycats” adulterating food, over-the-counter medications, and other household products. As Halloween approached, the media repeatedly warned parents that trick-or-treaters would be in danger. After raising the specter of Halloween sadism, the press naturally covered the incidents that were reported. A year later, however, coverage fell to pre-Tylenol levels.

Examining the reports of the 76 incidents leads to 3 conclusions. First, the threat of Halloween sadism has been greatly exaggerated. There is simply no basis for Newsweek’s (1975) claim that “several children have died.” The newspapers attributed only 2 deaths to Halloween sadists, and neither case fit the image of a maniacal killer randomly attacking children:

  1. In 1970, 5-year-old Kevin Toston died after eating heroin supposedly hidden in his Halloween candy.

    While this story received considerable publicity, newspapers gave less coverage to the follow-up report that Kevin had found the heroin in his uncle’s home, not his treats (San Francisco Chronicle, 1970).

  2. The second death is more notorious. In 1974, 8-year-old Timothy O’Bryan died after eating Halloween candy contaminated with cyanide.

    Investigators concluded that his father had contaminated the treat (Grider, 1982). Thus, both boys’ deaths were caused by family members, rather than by anonymous sadists.

…A second conclusion is that many, if not most, reports of Halloween sadism are of questionable authenticity. Children who go trick-or-treating know about Halloween sadism; they have been warned by their parents, teachers, and friends. A child who “discovers” an adulterated treat stands to be rewarded with the concerned attention of parents and, perhaps, police officers and reporters. Such a hoax is consistent with Halloween traditions of trickery, just as the fear of sadists resembles the more traditional dread of ghosts and witches (Santino 1983). The 76 reported incidents included two cases that were identified as hoaxes at the time, and it seems likely that other cases involved undiscovered fraud. After all, it is remarkable that 3⁄4ths of the children who reported receiving contaminated treats had no injuries.

Efforts to systematically follow up reports of Halloween sadism have concluded that the vast majority were fabrications. After Halloween 1972, Editor and Publisher (1973)—the trade magazine of the newspaper industry—examined several papers’ efforts to trace all local reports of Halloween sadism; it concluded that virtually all the reports were hoaxes. 10 years later, in the wake of the Tylenol scare, the confectionary industry tried to reassure potential customers in a “white paper” on Halloween candy tampering in 1982 (National Confectioners Association et al n.d.) The report noted that “more than 95% of the 270 potential Halloween 1982 candy adulterations analyzed by the Food and Drug Administration have shown no tampering, which has led one FDA official to characterize the period as one of ‘psychosomatic mass hysteria.’” Further, a confectionary industry survey of police departments in “24 of the nation’s largest cities, as well as smaller towns in which highly-publicized incidents were alleged to have occurred, found 2 reports of injuries—neither requiring medical treatment—from among the hundreds of claims of candy tampering.”’ Thus, not only does a survey of press coverage reveal fewer reports of Halloween sadism than might be expected, but there is good reason to suspect that many of the reports are unfounded.

“Major Crimes As Analogs to Potential Threats to Nuclear Facilities and Programs”, Reinstedt & Westbury 1980-page-6

“Major Crimes as Analogs to Potential Threats to Nuclear Facilities and Programs”⁠, R. N. Reinstedt, Judith Westbury (1980-04; ; backlinks; similar):

This Note is part of an ongoing investigation into the problem of potential and actual criminal adversaries of U.S. nuclear facilities and programs. Because of the low level of criminal activity against nuclear targets in the United States, the RAND Corporation has employed an analogous methodology to study this subject.

RAND developed over several years a surrogate data base consisting of nonnuclear crimes that are analogous to potential incidents against nuclear facilities and programs. The data base contains 121 sophisticated and high-value burglaries, robberies, and other conventional crimes. Data on 45 of these crimes were taken directly from an earlier RAND study and an additional 76 crimes were selected for this document. Most of the information comes from newspaper and journal articles, and is subject to their errors and limitations. The data base was analyzed for information such as insider involvement, number of perpetrators, value of loot, type of crime, violence, coercion of employees, and use of deception. The purpose of the document is not to declare what should be done by those responsible for the security of nuclear facilities and materials, but to emphasize areas of particular vulnerability as observed in the analogous data base.

Among the inferences and observations are the following:

  • the higher the value of the loot the more likely that insiders participated
  • the higher the value of the loot the more perpetrators are likely to be involved
  • crimes involving insiders have an unusually high rate of apprehension
  • insiders can pose a great threat to nuclear security for a variety of reasons and in a number of ways
  • a high number of crimes occur while loot is in transit
  • crimes employing deception or coercion are very successful
  • his authority and/​or access often determines whether an insider will use deception
  • crimes of coercion usually have as their victims employees with authority and access.

Synopses of each of the 121 crimes are provided.

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