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Murder Is Like a Disease (No, Really) 299

pigrabbitbear writes "With a homicide rate historically more than three times greater than the rest of the United States, Newark, N.J., isn't a great vacation spot. But it's a great place for a murder study (abstract). Led by April Zeoli, an assistant professor of criminal justice, a group of researchers at Michigan State University tracked homicides around Newark from 1982 to 2008, using analytic software typically used by medical researchers to track the spread of diseases. They found that "homicide clusters" in Newark, as researchers called them, spread and move throughout a city much the same way diseases do. Murders, in other words, did not surface randomly—they began in the city center and moved in 'diffusion-like processes' across the city."
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Murder Is Like a Disease (No, Really)

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  • one hypothesis (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot@nosPAM.hackish.org> on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:54AM (#42190185)

    If most murders are drug-related, this could be modeling the spread of drug markets by proxy.

  • Revenge killings? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by telchine ( 719345 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @07:59AM (#42190205)

    Does the study take into account gang culture and revenge killings?

  • I'd believe it. I've seen enough mental illness up close and personal to believe that they are, against all reason, somewhat contagious under the right circumstances.

  • by partiklehead ( 2425806 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @09:12AM (#42190619) Journal
    In the book "Connected" by Christakis and Fowler, it is argued that violence (but also hapiness, depression, etc) spreads through social networks. So if a friend of your friend was involved in either side of a murder, chances increase dramatically that you will, too. Your emotional states and their associated beliefs and actions are contagious, first and foremost to those around you that know you, then those who know them, and so on. The analogy with a disease, jumping from host to host through social networks, is quite adequate.
  • The first step is admitting that you are powerless over your disease. Join Murderer's Anonymous today!
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @09:36AM (#42190807) Homepage

    I never really thought that was not understood.

    We want to save money, for example. In business, we want to lose less money so, in food production, they add preservatives or use ingredients with longer shelf lives. The consequence of this falls to the consumer and back to society as a whole as it deals with increases in health problems such as diabetes. The "blame" is on the individual but also on society but also on the suppliers who make these decisions... because they want to save money.

    We want to earn a living, as another example. When the establishment doesn't wish to allow outsiders to participate in the market, markets of other colors are born and developed.... you know, like grey and black markets. ALL markets of all colors and tones require defense and enforcement. The white markets are supported, defended and enforced by the established government. The other markets use other means and most often, by gangs and the like.

    The development of organized crime which I described above also has other negative impacts on society. Among these are the glorification of the lifestyle in art. We see it every day through our comical portrayal of pirates [the high seas, wooden ship variety] and we see it in more modern ways as well. But the crimes against people afftected by unregulated (and even regulated) killing and other violence takes its toll on the hearts and minds of the people who live among these events. As death and killing becomes more frequent and more expected, the notion of defending one's self with deadly force becomes increasingly more acceptable. And the very definition of "defense" also twists itself into convenient shapes to suit the motivations and interests of those doing the killing and violence.

    We have all sorts of behaviors which require regulation. The restriction or limitation of market participation, for example, leads to crime. We saw it in alcohol prohibition. We saw it in religious freedom restrictions. We see it today with more contemporary drugs. But we are also seeing it in other markets as well. The content publication industry finds itself incredibly threatened by digital technologies in that there is no medium to hold the content and therefore they aren't exactly a publication in the classical sense of the word. But nevertheless, we see the same patterns... government support, defense and enforcement. And it most certainly stems from the few trying to hold onto their territory and to prevent others from participating in the markets they have controlled.

    To say murder is "like a disease" is to fail to see the over-all pattern of human behaviors... the causes which lead to effects which lead to more causes and more effects. Of course that comparison begins to break down somewhat when you determine which disease(s) murder is most similar to and which it is not though the generalities tend to hold true. But the root cause of both disease and of murder is human behavior and human nature.

    Human nature is best overcome by law and regulation. It is really as simple as that. If someone says "what about God?!" Then you are simply saying "religious law" instead of just law.

    • by dsmann ( 2751439 )
      You are falling into a moral philosophy trap here. First of all, homicide is against the law as is the behavior most closely associated with high murder rates. Pirates and piracy in fact only existed because of regulated markets and privateering existed expressly as a regulatory measure. However, this regulation does nothing to stop murder. Secondly, what is human nature? Violence? Greed? Domination? If human nature is overcome by law and regulation, is it up to some non-human third party to institute objec
  • people in intense poverty, with no hope of escape, and virtually no access to mental health services are a little more prone to violence.

    Man, I wish it was my job to gather pointless stats of the obvious.
  • Funny getting a concealed permit in NJ is next to impossible. In other recent news they're talking about the high crime rate in Chicago another city known for not allowing concealed weapons. Rather than study the problem, how 'bout letting the honest, law abiding citizens carry legally and watch the crime rate drop drastically as it has in other places? Places that allow private, honest, law abiding citizens that pass background checks to carry weapons have drastically lower crime rates. All the liberal, le
  • Some people are just asking to be killed and the only thing keeping them alive is this silly law that says you can't kill them. I think that maybe every 10 years or so we should just legalize murder for a month or two. Let's give everyone the opportunity to go out and whack somebody. I'll bet that 99.99% of the people who get killed will be people that the world will be better off without.

  • ... make me think of Redjac [memory-alpha.org]?
  • by eepok ( 545733 ) on Wednesday December 05, 2012 @12:24PM (#42192615) Homepage

    Come on... this is Criminology 101 - Crime and criminal actions are the symptoms of anger, hopelessness, unmet expectations, and the lack of accessibility to comfort reasonable to the actor.

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur