Gary Slutkin, a University of Chicago epidemiologist, says “it’s extremely important to understand this differently than the way we’ve been understanding it [violence ] ... we need to understand this as a biological health matter and an epidemiologic process.” (A more detailed description of this is available here at Wired.)
The theory goes like this more or less: exposure to violence is somewhat similar to exposure to a biological disease. Acts of violence are the "memes" or "germs" that trigger the spread. Repeated exposure to violent acts alters neurological function.
According to the Wired article as one is exposed to violence: "Cognitive pathways involving anger are more easily activated. Victimized people also interpret reality through perceptual filters in which violence seems normal and threats are enhanced. People in this state of mind are more likely to behave violently. Instead of through a cough, the disease spreads through fights, rapes, killings, suicides, perhaps even media, the researchers argue."
Its are hard to imagine a bigger load of bunk (to be polite).
If this theory were true then things like stupidity, childishness, smart dressing, buying red cars, arithmetic, would all also be "diseases" as well.
After all, you don't learn to hunt or do sums unless someone teaches you, so, like violence the knowledge of doing sums I guess spreads like a disease. The "meme" or germ of the knowledge being repeated forced onto an unwilling mind will eventually alter neurological function.
This is the same thinking that gambling or drinking is a "disease."
In fact, with this line of thinking anything people don't like, in this case "gun violence," gets turned into a "disease."
(Funny, though, how no one ever thinks about "pot smoking" as a disease. Yet, by these criteria how is it different? Acts of "stoner wonder" act as memes or germs. Repeated exposure to pot smoking alters your neurological function and viola' - you're a stoner!)
One might argue that this "theory" works for, say, learning in general, but that would hardly be news.
But it is news when its applied to something people don't like, such as gun violence. This magically transforms a problem into a domain where government can pretend its a "health care" issue and issue edicts.
I think to me what's the most troubling about this is that this theory is something researchers at University actually spend money and time on.
How is this anything but the most basic common sense?
Look at past wars, history of war, and culture over the last five thousand years or so.
Alexander the Great managed to conquer much of the known western world without a single gun.
What about Egypt and its great empires?
Or the Roman empire?
No guns in any of those places. All of these situations with large standing armies that conquered vast amounts of territories.
All supposedly "effected" by the "disease" of violence I suppose...
So what about those they conquered?
Perhaps they suffered from a disease as well. Apathy, laziness, or perhaps there were simply peaceful folks who didn't bother anybody.
All "diseases" by the University of Chicago standards as well.
Look what happened to them: they became slaves in the respective empires. I suppose because the "disease"of violence was what, more virulent? That would be the only explanation I can see...
Slavery or death, perhaps also a "diseases" by this standard, would be the result of their infection to be simple peace-loving folks.
You can always detect BS by taking something like this notion of "violence" as a disease to its logical consequence - in this case the history of the world.
No, I am afraid violence is simply that, violence.
And while you can pretend its a disease the problem is that the propensity for human's to conduct violence on one another has been with us since the dawn of recorded human history.
Violence and war have had major influences in advancing our cultures and societies.
Making violence a "disease" might sound like a good idea if you were stupid.
Violence is a response to emotions and no, emotions are not diseases either, though they could be by this same ridiculous standard.
People can learn alternate and more constructive forms of managing emotions and that will, to some degree, reduce violence. You can offer people outlets for violence: sports, contests, and so on.
But it will never go away and, most certainly, if the government treats it as a disease, their efforts will most certainly fail because whatever government tries to limit you end up with more of it.
Without "violence" there would be no freedom.
America would not be free.
There would still be a Soviet Union.
Nazi Germany would still be in charge of Europe.
Slavery would still exist.
So I guess that places like the University of Chicago show their true colors when trying to make "violence" a disease....
Because by eliminating violence they would eliminate freedom.
Little wonder the Second Amendment of the US Constitution was written the way it was.
Our founding fathers understood this all to clearly because they themselves had to engage in violence in order for us to have the freedom to be so stupid.