from the world's big
Once Again, A Compelling Explanation for Falling Crime Rates Proves Untrue
Social science can be controversial, but it has established some facts beyond a reasonable doubt, which are now part of "what everybody knows." Like the 20th century's "great moderation" in economics, which replaced capitalism's booms and busts with a gentler, more predictable landscape. Or the way China saved itself and the world from an overpopulation disaster with its draconian policy of one-child-per-family. Or the way that 1970s New York's tolerance of small crimes led to big ones—so that cracking down on fare-beaters, taggers and petty vandals ended up lowering incidents of robbery, assault, rape and murder. These great truths have only one flaw: they don't seem to actually be true. The great moderation went up in smoke in 2008. China's birthrate was already dropping, as were most nations', when it put the one-child policy in place in 1979. And now, according to a special issue of the journal Justice Quarterly on New York's crime rate, New York's spectacular drop in crime in the 1990s had nothing to do with its crackdown on petty offenses.
That crackdown was inspired by the "broken windows" theory, outlined in a famous 1982 article in The Atlantic Monthly by George L. Kelling and James Q. Wilson. A few broken windows in a building, they argued, are a signal that disorder reigns. They lead to more broken windows, and then people start lighting fires in the place, and on to worse crimes, because it's clear that no one cares to protect the place. So to get crime down, cops had to get back to enforcing "quality of life" regulations. In the later 90s, after rates of serious crime had plummeted, the idea was celebrated as a great example of how clear-thinking social science could help society.
But in Justice Quarterly, David Greenberg, a sociologist at NYU, reports that his analysis found the "broken windows" philosophy made no difference. Greenberg looked at arrest records precinct by precinct, looking for their connections to rates of murder, robbery and aggravated assault. He found, as he writes, "no evidence that misdemeanor arrests, which rose 37 percent between 1988 and 2001, helped to reduce felony crime."
Hmm. Well, perhaps the crime drop should be solely credited to New York's much-imitated Compstat system, launched in 1994? It closely tracks activity in each precinct so that cops can respond quickly to hot spots and identify underperforming officers and commanders. That ought to have put a dent in mayhem, right? Nope, according to Greenberg. Compstat, he writes, "was not important […] rates of violent crime and property crime were already declining in New York before CompStat began." In fact, he writes, no police policies or activities can be said to have caused the city's spectacular crime drop. His data aren't dispositive about the impact of the NYPD's "stop and frisk" policy (stats on that only begin in 2003, and his data set ends in 2001). But it's safe to say his analysis has left him pretty skeptical there too. (Stop-and-frisk is supposed to take guns off the street and save lives, he notes, yet in the years it has been heavily enforced the city's rate of shootings has stayed constant.)
If neither "broken windows" policing nor other policy changes caused New York's great crime drop, then what did? Why, for that matter, has crime dropped elsewhere in the United States, and (as Lauren J. Krivo points out in the same Justice Quarterly issue), all over the world?
Well, we don't know.
We would, of course, very much like to know. Even better would be to believe that actions government took, based on reasonable-sounding theories, actually worked. Just as we would love to believe that economists knew what they were doing before our last global meltdown. Just as we'd like to know what government policies will spur people to have more, or fewer, children. But economists missed something and the population planners of the last century didn't crack their mystery either.
There are, in fact, many burning social questions for which we don't have answers, much as we wish, and even thought, we did. Could we just admit it, please?
I am not holding my breath, for several reasons. First, adding to any body of knowledge is hard, and people are reluctant to change their minds about their intellectual and emotional commitments. (This is why, as a friend of mind likes to say, science advances "one funeral at a time.")
Second, on social questions, people with money and power don't want to hear that more research is needed. They need to take action now. This means a successful theory of, say, poverty or child violence can get itself attached to large commitments of public funds and political capital. It's hard enough to say you were wrong about Etruscan pottery; if you're wrong about kindergarten, people whose careers were based on your theory will beg to differ.
Third, anyone who points to the ignorance of experts will be accused of being anti-intellectual. (That was, for example, Dave Bacon's problem with Paul Krugman's 2009 call for economists to admit how messy the real world is—Bacon read Krugman to be saying that because previous elegant mathematical explanations had failed, all elegant mathematical explanations are doomed.) I suppose it's true that "we don't really know" could shade into "we cannot know" or "we were never meant to know." That is, as Bacon says, an anti-scientific attitude. And I wouldn't care to bet that any hard problem in human behavior is insoluble forever.
But surely the way to solve any mystery is to admit that it is there. Declaring that it isn't, because [fill in beloved theory], isn't going to get humanity to the real answer, if answer there be.
Back at the dawn of modern science, another Bacon (Francis) recognized that there must be a sweet spot between excessive confidence in one's theory and excessive appreciation for how much is still beyond our ken. Yes, Bacon wrote in his New Organon, those who assert that nothing can be known have gone too far. But so do those who prematurely insist that an answer has been found: "Those who have taken upon them to lay down the law of nature as a thing already searched out and understood," he wrote, "[…] have therein done philosophy and the sciences great injury. For as they have been successful in inducing belief, so they have been effective in quenching and stopping inquiry; and have done more harm by spoiling and putting an end to other men's efforts than good by their own."*
*Bacon wrote in Latin. This is from the 1858 translation by Wood, Devey, Spedding, et al.
Follow me on Twitter: @davidberreby
Greenberg, D. (2013). Studying New York City’s Crime Decline: Methodological Issues Justice Quarterly, 1-35 DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2012.752026
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.