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Mass Shootings Maps Compare Gun Violence in the US to Australia
How to stop mass shootings? Maps speak louder than words.
Last Saturday, and for the first time in nearly a century, The New York Times ran an editorial on its front page, to rage against the gun epidemic in the U.S. Will the pen prove mightier than the sword?
Opponents of stricter gun control are unlikely to be swayed by the paper's outrage, arguments and eloquence (1). More ink and blood will flow; more airtime will be filled with arguments pro and con before anything is done, if anything is done at all.
Perhaps cartography can come to the rescue. A map is worth a thousand words. And here are two pertinent examples.
First, a map of all mass shootings that have occurred in the United States in 2015, up to and including the deadliest incident so far, the San Bernardino shooting on December 2nd.. That attack claimed the lives of 14 victims and both perpetrators, as well as injuring a further 23 people.
The map was published by The Boston Globe, and is based on data collated by the Mass Shooting Tracker website. MST defines a "mass shooting" as an incident in which at least four people are shot. By that definition, the U.S. has experienced 353 mass shootings this year, resulting in 462 fatalities and 1,312 people injured (2).
The opacity of the red blobs on the map reflects the geographic density of mass shootings, their size the number of casualties claimed by each. Contrast that with the second map, showing all the mass shootings that have occurred in Australia since 1996.
That's right: none.
There's a reason why 1996 is chosen as the Year Zero for the second map. On 28 April of that year, a lone gunman went on a bloody rampage in Port Arthur, Tasmania, killing 35 people and wounding 23. It was the bloodiest shooting spree in Australia’s modern history (3). It was also the last. Shocked by the carnage, the Australian government rapidly enacted strict gun control laws.
This resulted in a nationwide ban on semi-automatic rifles and semi-automatic and pump-action shotguns, as well as stricter rules on gun licensing and ownership. The Australian government bought nearly 1 million firearms from the public and destroyed them. There have been no more mass shootings in Australia since then (3).
That's not to say stricter gun laws have magically turned Australia into a massacre-free country. Since 1996, there have been a number of particularly gruesome and deadly arson attacks, for example. Nor has Australia become completely gun-crime-free. The country has witnessed one or two "minor" shooting sprees and even, last year in Sydney, a case of jihadist terrorism, which claimed the lives of two victims as well as the perpetrator's.
And of course, there is a difference of scale to keep in mind. There is barely one Australian for every 14 Americans. But if we take that into account, and all other things being equal, there should be about 30 mass shooting casualties in Australia every year. Times the 19 years since 1996, makes around 580 Australians dead in mass shooting events. In fact, the number was, as demonstrated by this map, zero.
Strange Maps #752
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(1) The paper's previous front-page editorial, in 1920 against the nomination of Warren G. Harding as the Republican candidate for president, wasn't very successful either: Harding went on to win the election.
(2) MST data for 2013: 364 mass shootings, 500 deaths, 1,266 injured. Data for 2014: 336 incidents, 383 deaths, 1,239 injured.
(3) It depends on what you call "modern." The so-called Coniston Massacre, the last officially sanctioned mass-killing of Aboriginals took place no longer ago than 1928. Up to 110 native Australian men, women, and children were killed in revenge for the murder of a white hunter.
(4) At least not in the public sphere. There was one case of murder-suicide in 2014, in which a husband shot his wife and three children before turning the gun on himself.
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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
Saudi Arabia Plans Futuristic City, "Neom" (Full Promotional Video)<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c646d528d230c1bf66c75422bc4ccf6f"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/N53DzL3_BHA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.