Monday, January 31, 2011

Does bias have a place in the problem solving process?

Let's say you have a problem. In order to determine if a course of action is the best choice to solve that problem, the logical process would be to determine -

A) What the goal is (What do I want?)
B) What possible courses of action are there to accomplish that goal (How do I get what I want?)
C) What other side effects or consequences are there for each chosen action (What else will/might happen?)

If this process is reviewed considering ALL possible solutions and ALL possible consequences, wouldn't it be reasonable to assume this would have the best chance to find the best solution?

If bias is included in this process, it precludes the ability to accurately determine the problem and analyze all possible solutions and their side effects. How likely is it that the best solution (or any solution) will be found with such limited scope?

This is the problem that anti-gun bias causes for finding a solution to violent crime. The only problem they try to solve is firearm-related violent crime (ignoring or barely acknowledging that non-firearm related violent crime even exists), and their only proposed solutions revolve around firearms. Due to their bias, they can only see access to firearms as the cause of the problem, so that is the only solution they choose to pursue.

Unfortunately, their bias also instills a false sense of logic. They think that because dangerous people can get firearms, that limiting access is the only logical solution. They see this as a simple 1+1=2 formula, easy access + guns = "gun violence." Because their bias prevents them from realizing their narrow scope of the problem, they don't realize that it's more of a 1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1+1=10 formula. They refuse to see that there are MANY factors in violent crime, including several socio-economic issues (poverty, lack of quality education, racism, gang activity), failures of the criminal justice system, the "war on drugs," and our society's trend to not hold people accountable and responsible for their own actions. Because of their prejudice against firearms, they believe guns are the only (or at least the biggest) cause of the issue, in spite of having no evidence to show for it.

Due to their prejudice, they also fail to see and consider the benefits of guns in our society, and the negative consequences of gun control on those benefits. They fail to believe or factor in studies that show how many defensive gun uses occur, so they do not understand or weigh the consequences that stricter gun control will have on law-abiding, peaceably armed citizens.

Finally, their skewed sense of logic fails to allow them to comprehend that their suggested solutions simply don't work. In spite of being unable to prove any positive effect of gun control anywhere in the world, they continue to believe that if access to firearms is reduced, less criminals will get them, and the violent firearm-related crime rate will go down as a result.

Bias and prejudice has no place in a problem-solving process, it limits the view of the problem, eliminates solutions from being considered, and prevents accurate analysis of the possible side effects of proposed solutions.

As always, comments are encouraged.


Friday, January 28, 2011

The primary purpose of guns - Killing? Nope.

The statement is often made by gun control advocates that guns are made for killing, period. Or, that anything else guns are used for (such as sport/target shooting) are secondary to killing. However, logical analysis and statistics clearly show this to be opinion, not fact.

Now that's not to say that designers of some firearms didn't intend their weapons to be used for killing. Some of them did. Certainly some firearm designers have built some guns specifically for sport (Such as competition target rifles and handguns), Others are designed to kill varmints or pests, and there actually are some guns that were designed and manufactured specifically to kill a person.

However, the general utility of almost all firearms lends them to much more purposes than killing.

Consider the actual function of almost any firearm: To load a cartridge to fire a bullet (or multiple projectiles from a shotgun) with a specified degree of reliability, accuracy, and power.

That capability (firing a lead projectile very very fast) can be used for multiple purposes. Remember that purpose is how a person uses the tool to accomplish a goal. If that goal is to try and punch a hole in a piece of paper at 100 yards, or send a can flying, or shatter a clay target in mid-air, that obviously has nothing at all to do with a purpose of killing.

Now by its nature, a firearm can be used as a weapon, and in that use it has more utility than actually using its designed function. The threat alone of using a weapon on someone can accomplish the goal of the user, whether it's to coerce a victim to hand over their wallet, convince a criminal suspect to get out of the vehicle with their hands in the air, or to scare a violent criminal into stopping their attack and running away. The fact that in most firearm-related crimes, and in the overwhelming majority (over 95%) of defensive gun uses, no shots are even fired. In the majority of times firearms are used to commit crimes, or by police, or in self defense, the THREAT of using the firearm accomplished the goal, and thus fulfilled the purpose of the user.

There's further proof that weapons can be used without using their actual function. Consider the biggest weapons of them all, Nuclear weapons. Their designed function is to create a massive explosion. It has a capability of being used for the purpose of killing people if that is the purpose of the person using it. However, a nuclear weapon's most common purpose by far is as a defensive deterrant - the THREAT of using it if we are attacked or threatened - purely defensive.

Studies show that self defense is the third most common use of a firearm in this country (behind hunting and sport/recreational shooting). Considering that in the US, people purchased 12 billion rounds of ammunition in 2009, compared with roughly 30,000 firearm-related deaths, that is absolute evidence that killing people with a gun is just about dead last on the list of purposes it's used for in this country.

So where is the logic in claiming that guns are only made to kill? There is no reason behind the suggestion that killing is the primary designed purpose of firearms when over 99% of the time they're used for other purposes than killing. It merely shows ignorance of all the the facts and a personal bias against firearms.

As always, comments are encouraged.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Completely original joke of the day.

Q. How many gun control advocates does it take to change a light bulb?

A. None. Because they have such an irrational fear of the dark, they don't identify that the burned out light bulb is the real problem. Instead, they blame the darkness for the lack of light, demonize the darkness to try to gather public support for banning it, and push for "common sense" dark-control legislation to try and solve the problem.

As always, comments are encouraged.


Conversations with the willfully ignorant.

Since I have been banned from commenting on most anti-gun group pages on Facebook, but I still stay subscribed to see their updates, occasionally comments cross my news feed that I feel compelled to respond to.

One such recent post by a supporter of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Ownership caused me to choose to respond with a personal message, which he replied to and we started discussing the issue. Here is the message thread in its entirety:

Orygunner January 26 at 6:31am

Hi Neil,
You wrote:
"The all powerful NRA has culpability in their blinder vision of completely ignoring the cost in lives and dollars that gun violence produces in America."

So what's your proposal to reduce firearm-related violent crime? Gun control has never been effective at reducing violent crime rates anywhere else it's been tried (countries with low firearm-related crime rates and strict gun control ALREADY had low rates BEFORE the gun control and didn't see any decrease because of them).

Do you have the courage to look for something that would actually work to reduce "gun violence," or just support ineffective gun control because you can't think of anything else to do?


Neil Mauriello January 26 at 7:40am Report
The main reason for why we have ineffective gun control laws is that the NRA, through its lobbying efforts, have our elected leaders either bought through their contributions or simply too afraid to take them on. My wish is to make the registration process much stricter with more intense background checks and a longer waiting period combined with harsher penalties for "straw buyers" and dishonest gun dealers. In addition I would like to see an expansion of the ATF with enough money to pursue the bad characters. I support the 2nd Amendment, but feel that there must be reasonable restraints to the production and sale of assault type weaponry whose sole purpose is to kill people. I anxiously await any input that you may have on how YOU might help in this public safety issue.

Orygunner January 26 at 9:42am
So, Neil, the gun control laws you suggest have already been tried multiple times in different cities, states, and countries.

Where is your evidence that any of that has ever actually decreased violent firearm related crime rates?

Just because you believe it works or wish it works doesn't mean it's actually going to work, especially when it's already been tried many times and failed to have any effect. What makes you think it will work here? What effect do you think it will really have?

I have a great suggestion that actually works, follow the example of THIS group:

Note that they don't suggest useless gun control laws, they actually get provable results.


Neil Mauriello January 26 at 1:29pm Report
What I am saying is that the present gun control laws are not stringent enough and we have a weakened ATF unable to get the job done correctly. Ceasefirechicago is a noteworthy organization and can be a very effective partner to stronger enforcement. Hopefully they are providing some intelligence, to law enforcement, as to where and how the bad guys are acquiring their guns. I notice that you do not wish to comment on my call for increased enforcement, growth of the ATF and the pursuit of rogue gun dealers and "straw" buyers. How come, is it simply that you wish to turn a blind eye to the killing and maiming as a result of guns? Please do not respond that cars kill more people.

Orygunner January 26 at 1:50pm
ATF has a horrible record of doing things fairly, has absurdly inaccurate record keeping, and a long history of abuses towards law-abiding gun owners. They're basically armed tax collectors, and ought to be disbanded.

But let's entertain your idea that present laws are not stringent enough. Every gun control law you can suggest has already been tried somewhere in the world. Surely among all those countries, such as England, Australia, or any other country that has "stronger" gun control and less gun-related crime than the US, there must have been a significant or consistent DECREASE in firearm-related crime as a result of their stricter gun control laws?

Gun control laws have been tried. Strict enforcement has been tried. With no proven effect anywhere that I can find. If you're supporting stricter gun control and enforcement of those laws, surely you must have some examples where these things have worked?

If you don't have any examples, what is your reason for wanting stronger laws?

I'm not turning a blind eye towards killing and maiming as a result of CRIMINALS. I've studied this issue fairly, honestly, and with an open mind for years, and recognize that gun control is about as effective in reducing violent crime as doing nothing at all. it's not a part of a bigger picture or a worthwhile addition to other methods of reducing crime, it's completely worthless and the negative side effects of restricting people's right of self defense is terrible on a personal level.

As a side note, I don't suggest that MORE guns = LESS crime, either, because simply enough, there is no direct correlation (or causation) between guns, gun control, and firearm-related crime, period.


Neil Mauriello January 26 at 3:04pm Report
Initially I really thought that you might be a serious person and interested in controlling the proliferation of guns in our society, but to find out that you are nothing more than a gun enthusiast with all of the same old arguments is disconcerting and I will no longer reply to your utter nonsense. Goodbye!
Orygunner January 27 at 5:37am
So in other words, you have no evidence to back up what you want to do. You don't have a single example of where your gun control WOULD prevent criminals from getting guns, and you say that *I* am stating utter nonsense.

I shake my head in disbelief at you sir. You must truly live your life lead around by your fear and emotion instead of logic and reason. You have shown yourself to be typical of gun control supporters: when asked for any facts, you shut off communication because you can't back up what you say with any truth.

Here's the truth: CRIMINALS, not guns, are the cause of violent crime. Gun control has never been proven to reduce firearm-related crime. I don't want "proliferation of guns," I want people to be able to exercise their rights without government imposing useless, worthless, ineffective gun control that has no effect except to restrict GOOD, law-abiding people from being able to responsibly and safely own and use firearms for good, legitimate purposes.

All your gun control effects is good people willing to obey the law. Criminals will continue to get their guns even if you completely banned them.

I'm sure all this truth is just bouncing off your tough emotional exterior, but I'm finished with you anyway. I rest confident in the fact that gun control is LOSING in this country, gun control laws are being relaxed and rescinded all over, there are more peaceably armed citizens in public carrying firearms than ever before, and YOU are fighting a losing battle with no facts to back you up. :)

Have a great life, stay safe!


(PS, I'll let you get in the last word if you want, then you can block me like so much of your ilk usually does to avoid the truth)

This is fairly typical of how most of these conversations go, with a few exceptions. Some of the people I start discussions with appreciate my politeness and how frank I am about the issue, and even though I don't change their mind about guns themselves, They are interested enough in what I have to share that they do seem to realize that guns aren't the scourge of society they originally thought, that they are used for at least some good.

Others, like Neil here, get increasingly agitated and eventually shut down all conversation when they no longer want to be bothered with being asked to logically prove or explain their position. Guns are evil, guns are bad, guns kill, guns are the cause of "gun violence" and gun control is the best and only solution there can possibly be, period. Some get downright insultive, saying that I'm a gunloon, a gun nut, a right wing-nut (that one always amuses me since I'm Libertarian), a bully, stupid, ignorant, and closed-minded.

But I'll keep trying. The few that choose to listen make it all worth it.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh, come on, it's only common sense!

I hate the phrase, "common sense." I do my best to avoid using that often-twisted phrase as much as possible, in my writing, when I'm talking to people, and anywhere in between.

Why? In my observation, there are few phrases more mis-used in discussions and debates than the phrase "common sense."

I know there are some things that everyone could agree falls under the description of common sense. Don't step in front of a moving car on the freeway or else you'll get hurt or killed. If you stick a fork into an electrical socket you will probably get shocked. Don't drink gasoline or you'll get sick.

These nuggets of "common sense" have some actual logic on their side that a person reasonably knowledgeable of the forces involved can reason out. . Someone that has never seen anyone step in front of a moving car before (i.e. has never seen YouTube or could logically reason that if something big and heavy is going very fast, it's not going to bode well for my physical health to step in front of it. If those two holes in that receptacle deliver power capable of running powerful electrical motors, then trying to make that power run through my body might not be very comfortable. Gasoline smells terrible and makes my nose and eyes burn, it might not be very compatible with my tummy (of course, that also describes my sister-in-law's cooking but it actually didn't poison me).

The problem comes in where people try to use the phrase to lend some non-logical or half-assed credibility to their side of an argument. It also (whether intentionally or not) discredits their opponent as NOT having it, because after all, who but a fool would disagree with what is common sense?

If both sides claim that their view is just common sense, one of them has to be wrong, right?

No, because "common sense" is not an absolute fact. Common sense depends entirely on the knowledge, experience, and context of the individual.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "Common sense is merely the deposit of prejudice laid down in the human mind before the age of 18." Although the exact age is up for debate, it seems true that what someone decides is common sense is heavily dependent on their beliefs and experiences by the time they reach maturity.

I cringe when gun control advocates suggest that we need "common sense gun regulations," because what they think is logic backing their suggestions is actually based heavily in prejudice and bias from their own experiences and formed beliefs. Perhaps that bias against guns wasn't formed at the point where the person entered maturity. I believe if someone becomes a victim of firearm-related violent crime as an adult, and they didn't have a healthy respect for individual rights and/or the right to keep and bear arms when they reached adulthood, then that view of people's rights combined with their experience (being a victim of "gun violence") is going to weigh heavily on their decision to support gun control at the expense of others' liberty.

I could itemize different laws that the gun control advocates suggest are "common sense," but it's really unnecessary - All gun control rules and laws have these facts in common:

  • They prohibit free responsible exercise of the right to keep and bear arms, either to some people, or to all.
  • They do nothing to actually STOP violent criminals from obtaining firearms illegally and abusing the right to keep and bear arms by harming others
  • Almost all the different gun control laws proposed have already been tried somewhere in the world with no proven significant or consistent decrease in violent firearm-related crime.

Just because someone claims something in common sense doesn't make it right, doesn't make it logical, and doesn't make it morally superior somehow.

I'm sure that for many people in this country's history that it was only "common sense" at the time that blacks should not drink from the same water fountains or use the same facilities as whites.

For some, it was common sense that the Jews were the cause of Germany's problems and had to be eliminated.

It was once common sense to practice bloodletting a person when they were ill to "purge the patient of bad humors."

I'm sure that for Vizzini, it was only common sense that you never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

So I refuse to use the phrase. I will argue that something is logical, or that it's reasonable, and I try to always make sure I have facts to back up my statements. I have some opinions, too, but I build those based on as much information I can find and try to make sure my beliefs don't contradict the facts.

Frankly, when the person's belief is limited by bias instead of considering all the facts and the truth, "common sense," really isn't.


More guns, less guns - you know it doesn't matter, right?

More guns or less guns do not have a direct effect on how safe any society is. This is mainly evidenced by the fact that there is no consistent relationship between the number of guns in a society and the violent firearm-related crime rates. I have seen some narrow scope evidence of some minor correlations between stronger gun laws and lower crime rates, but not enough evidence that proves causation.

There is also no proven significant causation between allowing or disallowing concealed carry and violent crime rates. I'm not a believer in "more guns = less crime" because if I remember correctly, the only major study I've seen done on the issue (John Lott's "More Guns, Less Crime) only showed a very small (a few percent) improvement in crime rates in states that allowed concealed carry over states that didn't. Not enough to prove a significant change, or that allowing concealed carry was the cause.

I simply believe that the number of guns in a society or its gun laws do not effect violent crime rate, and there are many other factors with a more direct effect on the issue.

My reasoning is this: If gun control is increased, it doesn't effect the criminal - It isn't going to make it harder for the criminal to get a gun himself. It's already easy for criminals to get guns on the street even in cities like DC and Chicago with the strictest gun laws. Stricter gun control actually makes it safer for the criminal, because the stricter the gun laws, the more change his victims are going to be disarmed. He's not going to commit MORE crimes because of that fact - he just doesn't have to be as picky of his targets.

If gun control has relaxed and allowed people to lawfully carry concealed, It doesn't reduce crime significantly - The motivations for violent crime haven't changed any (money, money for drugs, criminal gang activity). The criminal that victimizes innocent people just has to be more careful picking his targets.

So basically, tightening gun laws doesn't effect the violent crime rate because if a criminal wants a gun, he can still get one. Loosening gun laws and allowing people to carry doesn't effect the violent crime rate because there are still plenty of targets that are NOT carrying a firearm.

Where tightening or loosening the gun laws has the most effect is the individual that is NOT a criminal intent on harming others. If a person is allowed their right of self defense with a firearm and they are attacked, the overwhelming majority of the time (over 95%) the attacker runs away when faced with an armed victim and runs away without any shots being fired. (For the issue of overall crime rate, do you think the criminal will now give up his life of crime and fly straight, or just be more careful picking his target the next time?)

If gun control is tightened, it discriminates against the people who are NOT a danger to others. Expensive licensing and registration and training requirements, as well as "junk gun" (a misnomer) bans discriminate against the poor. Prohibiting ALL felons and those convicted of "domestic violence" offenses discriminates against those convicted of non-violent crimes and those that have turned their lives around and are obeying the law. Prohibiting those people without criminal convictions such as people with restraining orders against them or people on the "suspected terrorist" list discriminates against people's right to keep and bear arms without any due process at all.

ANY of those "prohibited persons" that WANTS to get a gun and hurt others can always go get one through illegal means. Such restrictions, requirements, and prohibitions discriminate against those that are NOT a danger to others by depriving them of their right of self defense. Tightening or loosening gun laws doesn't effect the overall crime rate for society, but it can make a life's worth of difference to an individual.


Monday, January 24, 2011

Is the risk worth dying for?

(This is based on a response I posted on Baldr Odin's blog "A New Trajectory")

There are some that believe that some studies (such as the flawed Kellermann study) prove that a firearm in the home is more likely to kill someone in the home than an intruder. The flaw with such studies like Kellermann's is that it tries to suggest causation from correlation, and doesn't take into account enough factors. Such as, how many defensive gun uses occur when no shots are even fired? Or, what about the likelihood of firearms and violence both accompanying illegal activity such as drugs and gang activity? Sure, a firearm present will increase the possibility of someone being shot rather than other weapons being used if someone is intent on harming someone in their household, but you have no proof the firearm is nothing more than the tool used for the crime - not a cause of the assault.

Protecting my family is very important, but it's not the only reason I own firearms. Plinking and clay target shooting are a fun, safe family activity. I use firearms to teach my kids responsibility, safety, and marksmanship.

There are some that believe that their perceived "risk" of having a gun in their home isn't worth those benefits. Consider that I also ride motorcycles (I'm a motorcycle safety instructor, actually). Riding a motorcycle increases the risk of being injured in an accident, yet I manage that risk as best as I can, because the benefits (feeling of freedom, enjoyment of riding with friends and my family, huge gas savings) are worth it to me.

I manage my risks riding motorcycles by wearing proper gear, making myself visible and my intentions known to other drivers, constantly working to practice and improve my mental and physical riding skills, and making sure my motorcycle is well maintained.

I manage my risks with firearms by keeping all my handguns except my regular carry gun securely locked in a lock box (My carry gun is always either on my person or next to my bed when I'm sleeping), my long guns are kept far separate from the ammunition, and my two teenage children are well trained in firearms safety and I trust their responsibility that they're not going to play with the long guns (or try to get into the handgun box) without my permission.

Perhaps riding a motorcycle or having a gun in your home aren't worth the risk that some perceive, and that's their choice - I respect that. My choice is to do both, be well informed on the risks and to manage that risk wisely.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Why would a reasonable, sane person DO that?

There was a workshop I attended some time ago called Crucial Conversations. The basic concept was to give people tools to be able to approach and correctly handle necessary conversations where emotions run high and there are high stakes involved.

One of the lessons about how to deal with a crucial conversation is to focus mainly on facts and what we KNOW and not to assume things we really don't know as fact. All of us, every day, try to rationalize and come up with a reason for people's behavior we witness. We tell ourselves a story in our mind based on the facts we do know, to fill in the rest of the things we don't.

For example: You see someone talking on their cell phone on their job. You don't have any more facts than that, but all of us want to fill in the gaps, so we assume the rest we really don't know. You can assume that the person is slacking off and not doing their work. You can assume that maybe he's on break taking care of personal business. You can assume that perhaps his desk phone is malfunctioning and he's trying to call someone to fix it. You can assume that he has received an emergency call from his wife. Any of these are a possibility but until we know the rest of the facts, they're just assumptions.

Part of the problem is that most people assume the worst of others, so the most likely choice for any of us would be to automatically assume he's slacking on the job when he should be working. We do it all the time. When somebody cuts us off on the freeway, we assume the person is an asshole who thinks he owns the road. When we find the coffeepot empty at work, we assume the last person to get coffee is a lazy jerk.

Part of this may come from ourselves: The only reason we would talk on our cell phone during working hours would be if we chose to be a slacker. The only reason we would cut someone off is if we were in a bad mood and wanted to be an asshole to other drivers. The only reason we imagine we wouldn't refill the coffeepot is if we were feeling lazy that day.

So the Crucial Conversations class suggested that when we see behavior that we would think the worst of others for doing what they're doing, stop. Instead of thinking the worst, ask yourself:

"Why would a reasonable, sane person do what they're doing?"

Maybe the person that cut me off on the freeway is rushing to the hospital because his wife is in labor. Maybe the guy that didn't refill the coffeepot got called away on an emergency before he could make another pot. Maybe the guy talking on his cell phone at work is just on break, or maybe he is trying to reach I.T. because his desk phone is out of order.

If we start out with the positive attitude towards the person's behavior, it can change our whole outlook and the way we approach them and their behavior. If you're the supervisor of the employee on the cell phone, your approach is going to be much different. If you assume they're wasting company time and money by slacking on the job, "What are you doing on your cell phone during company time, Bob?" If you assume they're trying to deal with a problem of some kind, "Bob, I see you're on your cell phone, is everything all right?"

How would YOU react to the two different questions if you believe what you were doing is reasonable?

I observe that the same kinds of things happen with discussions about gun control, from both sides of the debate. People assume all sorts of things about the motivation of those they disagree with, because they just don't know all the facts why the opposition believes the way they do, and so they make up the rest based on their own motivations if that was their behavior.

Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms assume that the reason other people want more gun control is because they must want good people to be defenseless victims. Or that gun control supporters just want all guns banned, and they're doing it one step at a time. Or that the anti-gun people only care about the victims of tragic shootings because it furthers their agenda of more gun control.

I see gun control supporters accuse people that carry guns of only carrying them because they want to kill people. Or that people choosing to open carry firearms are only wanting to feel macho, or to intimidate those around them. I have been personally accused by one gun control supporter of living a Clint Eastwood fantasy because I only want criminals to "make my day." One of the biggest assumptions that I've heard the most is that the reason I carry a firearm is because I am afraid - that I live my life in fear.

I know for a fact that I don't want to kill anyone. I know for a fact that when I open carried a gun for a short time around Eugene/Springfield, I wasn't trying to be macho or to intimidate anyone. I'm don't have any illusions of grandeur that I'm going to whip out my gun, spit out a witty one-liner, and see how lucky some punk feels. And I know I don't carry a gun because I'm afraid.

These are all accusations from people who simply don't know all the facts and are telling themselves a story, based on the only reasons they would consider doing these things. Until we all stop assuming things about the people we disagree with, we're never going to get past our assumptions and into the real facts.

What sorts of things do you assume about people? If you start asking yourself why a reasonable, sane person would behave like they are, it gives you a far different perspective and changes the tone of the discussion (at least your side) for the better. Perhaps the person really isn't reasonable or sane, but at least it will start the conversation on better, kinder footing.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Things I would do if I were an Evil Overlord.

There's a fun list called "Top 100 things I would do if I were an Evil Overlord." It's actually quite a bit longer than 100, but as you'll see after the jump, it was started to poke some fun at the common movie cliches. You know, since the hero often sneaks into the evil genius's lair through a ventilation duct, #2 on the list is "My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through." Since bombs and other destructive devices in movies have a digital countdown timer that the hero usually manages to either stop or just barely escape from with a second or two to spare, rule #15 is "I will never employ any device with a digital countdown. If I find that such a device is absolutely unavoidable, I will set it to activate when the counter reaches 117 and the hero is just putting his plan into operation."

So, on a more serious note, what would I do if I planned to enslave an entire region as an Evil Overlord/Tyrant?

Well, the first thing I would do is ban anyone from having guns but my police and military. Adolf Hitler (one of the biggest Evil Overlords of all time) gave some good advice when he said,
"The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to permit the conquered Eastern peoples to have arms. History teaches that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by doing so."
- Adolf Hitler, April 11, 1942, quoted in Hitlers Tischegesprache Im Fuhrerhauptquartier 1941-1942
Obviously, I don't want the people under my control to have a means to rise up and overthrow me and my minions of evil, so I must not allow them to have guns.

Now let's say I've taken over a region that already HAD guns. Where the people value their freedom and where a widespread confiscation would cause instant rebellion. How can I get them to a disarmed state?

Here is where I have to get sneaky and use some very evil, very detailed planning.

First, an analogy, called "boiling the frog." If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will instantly freak out and try to jump out of the pot. However, if you put a frog into a pot of cool water, and slowly increase the temperature, the frog will sit happily in the water and not even realize he is being boiled to death until he has actually boiled to death.

What needs to be done with these free people is to boil the frog slowly, and engage in some trickery to get public support for me to to actually keep turning the temperature up.

First, find something moral that the majority would agree with, but that many would still want even if it was illegal - such as making recreational drugs illegal. This not only justifies adding more police to enforce the laws, but crime will skyrocket, as whenever you make something illegal, it becomes lucrative for criminals.

Then, you have to use the media into tricking people to believe that the police are there to protect them, even though no laws actually SAY they have a duty to protect anyone. That way, when crime continues to rise because of the illegal drug trade and distribution, the people will cry for MORE police, getting them more and more used to a "police state" state of mind.

Now at this point, the media is happily reporting all the violence these criminals are perpetrating with firearms amongst themselves as they fight amongst themselves for turf to sell their illegal drugs, and people addicted to the drugs are committing violent crimes with guns to get money to buy more drugs... People want a solution.

Enter gun control.

I propose to the people that the GUNS are to blame for all the "gun violence" and that the solution is to ban guns - but not all at once, because that would turn up the heat under the frog too quickly. You have to do it a little bit at a time.

First, target cheap firearms, claiming that they're what's used by violent criminals. Give them a scary name that elicits an emotional response, like "Saturday Night Special" Give reports to the media about how they're used by drunkards on weekends to settle drunken arguments and suppress the fact that they're actually mostly used by low-income citizens to protect themselves.

Then, find the next firearm I can get public support for. Say, semi-automatic firearms. I couldn't get public support for banning ALL semi-automatic firearms, but I can suggest that the public has no need for such "Assault Weapons" (hey, catchy name!). Have the media confuse the issue by showing footage of fully-automatic weapons while talking about the semi-automatic assault weapons. Even though they're used in only 1% of crime, claim they're the "weapon of choice" and even though no cops had ever been killed with one, suggest that gangs with "Assault Weapons" are out-gunning our police on the streets.

The next nibble is "Sniper Rifles," which since the public is already supporting itself down the slippery slope, shouldn't be much trouble. The .50 calibers will be easy, just claim they can shoot down aircraft (total BS, I know, but the public will believe it by this point). For the rest of the "Sniper Rifles," the hunters won't like their deer rifles being taken away, but they're a minority by now.

Next, "Street Sweepers," which is of course just semi-auto and pump action shotguns... Nobody needs more than a double-barrel or single-shot shotgun to shoot birds.

Of course none of these will decrease violent crime any, so we'll point out that most violent crime is perpetrated by criminals with handguns. We may need to take this in two bites, semi-autos first, and revolvers second. We might have to come up with a catchy scary name for semi-auto handguns, maybe something like "Cop Killers" or "Mini-Death Machines." I may need to have marketing work on that when the time gets near.

By the time we get to this point, we're pretty much golden. Citizens no longer have anything but weak rifles and shotguns, hardly able to put up any resistance to my tyranny. I figure the plan might take 15-20 years, during which I can put other pieces of my infrastructure in place, such as government control of all commerce, including the auto industry and healthcare, get the whole "nanny state" mentality deeply ingrained into the public consciousness, and a really cool cult of personality going for me.

If I wanted to be a tyrant, I would have to ban guns, and yeah, that's just about the best way to go about it. Boil the frog slowly so it doesn't know what's happening to it.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Logic vs. Emotion and the art of Persuasion.

I recently attended a training class at my job about persuading customers. The class was very interesting, but one point it made that directly relates to the issue and debate of gun control is this:

When trying to persuade someone, Emotion is the overriding factor for the facts or logic.

What this means is that the facts are irrelevant if the EMOTION of the person you are working with isn't addressed. You can have a customer so completely pissed off about his initial experience with your company that even if you bend over completely backwards and deliver everything they're asking for, unless that emotion is addressed and turned around, they'll still keep a negative opinion of your company. The negative emotion overrides the fact that they've gotten everything they initially wanted and more.

Inversely, if your customer's emotions are addressed and they are kept happy and positive, you can just about give them a total shit sandwich of disappointment and they'll still have an upbeat opinion of you and your company.

This also correlates directly with the issue of Gun Control.

I've had many discussions with people supporting gun control, both public and private. The one common thread that almost everyone that supports gun control exhibits is that their emotion overrides their ability to logically analyze the facts.

Most of the "extreme" supporters of gun control have either been direct victims of firearm-related violent crime, or their immediate relatives have. I've discussed with gunshot victims, grieving parents and siblings, even a woman who rescued gunshot pets. These seem to be the most stalwart and determined (and occasionally personally insultive) supporters of gun control.

Because their emotions lead the charge, no matter what legitimate facts I have shared that shows the complete inability of gun control to do what they THINK it's going to do, (and the unintended consequences), they continue to cling to the EMOTIONAL belief that gun control is good, gun control is necessary, and gun control works.

I think that groups like the Brady Campaign and Violence Policy Center and anti-gun politicians KNOW that these people are leading with their emotion rather than their logic, and deliberately phrase their statements to play on an emotional response. The Brady Campaign site is filled with emotional phrases and imagery.

"Stop Mass Murders!"
"Thousands upon thousands of people will continue to die and be injured needlessly each year without stronger, sensible gun laws."
"Our weak gun laws make weapons too readily available to dangerous people."

Yet, any of their actual "facts" are almost always comprised of cherry picked information chosen specifically to back their pre-determined agenda of incremental, total citizen disarmament.

The truth is that stricter gun control doesn't "stop" anything, stronger gun laws haven't proven to reduce any violent crime rates anywhere they have been implemented.

I welcome any comments.