New research sheds light on the indoctrination process of radical extremist groups.
- A new study features interviews with 24 former extremists on the radicalization process.
- Financial instability, online propaganda, and reorienting events that caused them to "snap" are leading causes of indoctrination.
- The research team offers potential solutions, including exposure to diverse ideas during childhood and a tamping down of polarization and media sensationalism.
Most people believe you can win an argument with facts - but when "facts" are so often subject to doubt, are personal experiences trusted more?
- A new study has found that people are more likely to get respect from others in moral and political conversations when sharing personal experiences instead of facts.
- The research group conducted 15 separate experiments to test this theory in order to learn more about tolerance in specifically political arguments.
- The effectiveness of facts in these conversations (even when proven true) is unclear because facts themselves are now subject to doubt, especially surrounding controversial and polarizing topics such as gun control and political beliefs.
Use personal experience, not facts, to gain respect in a disagreement<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTU0OTM4OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTI2MTAzNn0.kCBmbeMe4l9pD-UK2Fwlj6Z0uPRcTqdypSP3EPEdrrc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C974%2C0%2C720&height=700" id="bc462" width="1245" height="700" data-rm-shortcode-id="f9a814e50eb63020c34c628afc58222a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="concept of man and woman arguing political arguments disagreement" />
Do personal anecdotes mean more than facts in a world where facts can't be trusted?
Image by ngupakarti on Adobe Stock<p><a href="https://phys.org/news/2021-01-people-contrasting-views-respected-personal.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">According to the study</a>, both liberals and conservatives believe that using facts in a political discussion will help foster mutual respect and understanding — however, all fifteen of these experiments (across multiple methodologies and issues) show that isn't quite true.</p><p><strong>These studies were conducted using topics that have proved quite polarizing in the past, such as: </strong></p><ul><li>Conversations about guns</li><li>Discussion over comments from YouTube videos regarding abortion opinions</li><li>An archive of 137 interview transcripts from Fox News and CNN<br> </li></ul><p><strong>"What would make you respect their opinion on the subject"?</strong><br><br>In the first study (n = 251), participants were asked to "imagine someone disagrees with you on moral issues" (abortion, for example). They were then asked, "What would make you respect their opinion on the subject"?<br></p><p>Responses were then categorized into themes with a majority of respondents (55.78 percent) stating that basing one's stance on facts and statistics would increase respect, followed by basing one's stance on personal experiences (21.12 percent), followed by an understanding of mutual respect (14.34 percent).</p><p><strong>"When discussing political beliefs, who is more rational?"</strong></p><p>Next, a sample of participants (n = 859) was asked to imagine interacting with two political opponents, one who based their beliefs on facts, and one who based their beliefs on personal experiences. Participants rated their imaginary fact-based opponent as more rational than the opponent who based their stance on personal experiences. They also voted that they respected them more and wanted to interact with them more. </p><p>A separate study from this experiment (study number four, n = 177) had participants weighing in on topics such as taxes, coal, and gun policies. They then were asked to read about individuals who disagreed with them on these subjects either due to personal experiences or factual knowledge. Participants in this study rated how rational their opponent seemed, and those who based their arguments on personal experience were perceived as more rational than those basing their opinions on factual knowledge. </p><p><strong>How does this translate to real-world conversations? </strong></p><p>This section of the experiment had 153 participants engaging in conversations on the street (with people they assumed were passersby but were actually members of the research team) about the topic of gun control. Analyses of these conversations revealed that strangers who based their stance on personal experiences were treated as more rational (and were more respected/interacted with more) by participants than those who based their stance on facts. </p><p><strong>Confirming the theory that even when facts are true, personal experiences garner more respect and willingness to engage in conversation.</strong> </p><p>This experiment (n = 194) sought to reaffirm the theory that personal experiences garnered more respect while ruling out possible alternative explanations. The researchers contrasted concrete facts about gun control (taken from JustFacts.com) with personal experiences. For example, someone reading an annual report that mentions 73 percent of murders in the United States are committed with firearms (factual knowledge) versus "someone's young daughter was hit by a stray bullet" (experience-driven argument). </p><p>This study found that these facts were rated as higher in specificity and concreteness than the personal experience, however, personal experiences gained more respect and willingness to discuss the topic. </p><p><strong>Facts, even when proven true, are often less respected than personal experiences. </strong></p><p>When imagining these different kinds of arguments, everyday Americans believe that supporting their belief with facts will lead to respect. However, the effectiveness of facts (even when proven correct) is unclear. The problem is, in the past decades, American has seen a decentralization of news and information that has allowed people to gather their "own facts." Facts themselves are now subject to doubt, especially surrounding controversial and polarizing topics. </p>
Gun violence is a public health crisis that is notoriously difficult to study because of politics. Finally, a new research initiative has the green light to collect life-saving data.
- New York's Northwell Health system recently received a $1.4 million grant for a new study on gun violence prevention.
- The study tasks doctors with asking all patients about their access and exposure to guns, and recommending interventions and safety tips as needed.
- The goal is to destigmatize doctor-patient conversations about guns, and reframe gun violence as a public health issue.
Reframing conversations on gun violence<p>One major goal of the study is to reframe how health professionals and patients discuss gun violence—an issue that's often couched only in political terms.</p><p>"Our big push is to consider <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/gun-violence-is-a-public-health-issue" target="_blank">gun violence as a public health issue</a>," said Dr. Sathya. "For decades, we've tried to get doctors to try to ask [patients about firearms access and exposure]. They won't, because it's not considered part of the usual care."</p><p>Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and Chief Research Officer for the American Foundation for Firearm Injury Reduction in Medicine, said talking about guns from a different angle can lead to meaningful reductions in injuries and deaths. </p><p>"When we reframe [gun violence] as a public health issue, then we're able to use the same strategies that we've used to decrease car-crash deaths, decrease infections and deaths from HIV, and reduce injuries and deaths from a host of other problems," said Dr. Ranney. "We don't waste our time arguing while death rates go up. Instead, we actually do something that we as individual Americans can take on."</p>
Moving forward on gun violence research<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0MTM0Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyMDAxMTIwMX0.Urx2J0MFe2lW2WAt9T1dwuo6ZubtKMisdtaQ_R4AZxg/img.jpg?width=980" id="f35eb" width="1426" height="934" data-rm-shortcode-id="885795537e8c00fc893785cda76e1c29" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Mortality rate vs funding for 30 leading causes of death in the United States.
Credit: Stark et. al. / JAMA<p>Over the past couple of decades, researchers have conducted many studies on gun violence. But hardly any received federal funding. To put it in perspective, a <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2595514" target="_blank">2017 study</a> found that the federal government spends about $63 on firearms research for every life lost to gun violence in the U.S. Compare that to $182,668 in funding for every life lost to HIV.</p> <p>The funding freeze stems largely from the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5993413/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Dickey Amendment, which Congress passed in 1996</a> to ensure that "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control."</p> <p>"It comes from a perception that research was done with an agenda of legislative change, which it isn't," said Dr. Ranney. "Research is done in order to advance health, and it ideally happens from a perspective that is independent of personal belief." </p><p>Focused on public health instead of politics, the new study aims to broaden the scope of firearms research.</p> <p>"The studies that have been conducted with respect to firearms have been so limited," said Dr. Sathya, noting as an example how doctors might ask about firearms only if a patient is suicidal. "Because there has been no funding, we're starting from scratch in many ways."</p>
Hospitals and gun violence prevention<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDk0MTY4MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MjI5NDA1NX0.VawFYH1HlHUb_5PGFgG5H-XcsPexTYN-OEChswldgVU/img.jpg?width=980" id="17c92" width="1546" height="1056" data-rm-shortcode-id="ca66a662d20c6c0ffb45f4623da46906" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Dr. Sathya and Mr. Dowling are spearheading Northwell's gun-violence prevention efforts, including the "We Ask Everyone. Firearm Safety is a Health Issue" research study.
Credit: Northwell Health<p>One reason health professionals are uniquely suited to play a lead role in preventing gun violence is that they're often the first point of institutional contact for at-risk people. By normalizing doctor-patient conversations about guns, health professionals would be able to intervene early.</p><p>For example, they could connect at-risk patients with violence-prevention resources like the <a href="https://criminaljustice.cityofnewyork.us/programs/office-to-prevent-gun-violence/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">New York City Mayor's Office to Prevent Gun Violence</a>, which curbs gun violence through strategies like "<a href="https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/in-focus-shows/2020/11/15/interrupting-gun-violence" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">violence interrupters</a>," liaisons between communities and public officials, and funding for community-based activities to make neighborhoods safer.</p><p>Northwell Health president and CEO Michael Dowling also noted that about 40,000 people die from guns every year in the U.S., while thousands more are injured. For the health professionals that treat the victims, these statistics aren't abstract.</p><p>"Gun violence is a public health problem, period," said Dowling. "As guardians of public health, <a href="https://www.northwell.edu/news/insights/where-are-health-care-ceos-in-the-fight-against-gun-violence" target="_blank">it is our responsibility</a> to address this scourge on our communities, and the clinicians who are knee-deep in the carnage."</p><p>In 2021, Northwell Health plans to begin sharing and discussing the results of its multi-year study with other health systems as part of its Gun Violence Prevention Learning Collaborative. </p><p>"We hope that it serves as a blueprint for other hospitals and health systems as to how to institute this universal approach so that doctors can start asking the question more and more, and so it isn't an awkward topic to talk about," said Dr. Sathya.</p>
By projecting lifetime risk, an alarming new medical study centers the human lives that will be lost due to gun violence and drug addiction in the United States.
- A new study found that the risk of a person dying from a gunshot is about one percent, while the risk of death by drug overdose is at 1.5 percent.
- If this death trend continues on this trajectory, it means that approximately one out of every 100 children today will die from a firearm while one out of 70 will die by drug overdose.
- Presenting these statistics in terms of "lifetime risk" makes the numbers personal by centering the human lives that will be lost and demands ethical action to protect those lives.
Place and identity<p>Of course, location, racial ethnicity, and gender are relevant when it comes to calculating the risk of dying by either gunshot or drug overdose. The study found that the lifetime risk of dying by firearm is the <a href="https://www.amjmed.com/action/showFullTableHTML?isHtml=true&tableId=tbl0002&pii=S0002-9343%2820%2930363-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">highest among Black boys</a>, with one out of 40 calculated to die by gunshot. That's a 33-fold higher risk when compared to Asian American females. This risk of dying by gun violence is highest for individuals living in Alabama and New Mexico. </p><p>The lifetime risk of drug overdose is the highest among Black and white boys and in the state of West Virginia, where one out of 30 children will die this way.</p>
Beyond absolute numbers<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU3NDM4MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MzY3NzQxN30.ouQk9iFvjDN6oY7-Oe7tGq_yVZkfPjxtxt3LVuB0Fa0/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C481%2C0%2C-2&height=700" id="f2909" width="1245" height="700" data-rm-shortcode-id="fa6a0f2e2777ecb8653a48d3b051d1bc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="children sitting on a bench" />Photo by Piron Guillaume on Unsplash<p>The presentation of the data in this study puts the human being in the center of the fatalities. Media and policy makers typically discuss these social issues in terms of numbers of death; e.g. <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/16/what-the-data-says-about-gun-deaths-in-the-u-s/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">40,000 firearm deaths in 2017</a>, or 21.6 overdose deaths a year for a population of 100,000 in 2017. But those absolute numbers omit a vital, personal part of the story and can undermine the ethical demands of the issue by de-centering the human lives that will be lost.</p><p>To do this study, Ashwini Sehgal, MD — a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and a physician at MetroHealth Medical Center — used data from official death certificates to project the likelihood that an American will die from either gun violence or a drug overdose in his or her lifetime. </p><p>"While absolute numbers of deaths and annual death rates describe mortality over a short period of time, lifetime risk tells us more about long-term consequences," he said in a <a href="https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/new-study-calculates-alarming-lifetime-risk-of-death-from-firearms-and-drug-overdoses-in-the-us" target="_blank">Elsevier news release</a>. Sehgal explained how thinking about the risk in a person's entire lifetime shifts perspective, noting that the study findings haunted him when he was touring a new elementary school in his Midwestern community. "I had a hard time concentrating on the gleaming whiteboards, the new computers, or the cheerfully decorated walls. I realized that one child on every floor of the school would likely die from firearms and another one from a drug overdose in the years ahead. If I were across the border in West Virginia, then one child per classroom will have their life ended by an overdose."</p>
Encouraging change<p>In the study, Sehgal wrote that presenting information on lifetime risk of death may be a more useful way to communicate the impact of gun violence and overdose deaths to the public and policy makers. He advised that lifetime risk be included in news stories and government reports, also recommending that it be compared with the lifetime risk of dying by other causes — such as terminal illness — and figures from other nations.</p> <p>"For example, the lifetime risk of dying from an overdose is similar to the lifetime risk of dying from colon cancer," <a href="https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/new-study-calculates-alarming-lifetime-risk-of-death-from-firearms-and-drug-overdoses-in-the-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">reported Elsevier's news release</a>. "Moreover, firearm deaths in our country are six times more common than in Canada and 50 times more common than in the United Kingdom, two countries that are culturally similar to the US." </p> <p>It may also be beneficial to highlight changes in chance of lifetime death by these causes over time. American drug overdoses, for example, have quadrupled over the last 20 years. </p> <p>The lifetime risk calculations made by Sehgal are based on the assumption that future death rates will parallel the current ones measured. But if the public and policy makers take action, this can change. </p> <p>"The big differences in firearm and overdose deaths by race, gender, state, and country, and the sizable changes over time indicate that high levels of firearm and overdose deaths are not inevitable," <a href="https://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/new-study-calculates-alarming-lifetime-risk-of-death-from-firearms-and-drug-overdoses-in-the-us" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow">said Sehgal</a>. "Let's take sensible steps now to help our children avoid the preventable tragedies of firearm and overdose deaths."</p>
The Response Act calls on schools to increase monitoring of students' online activity.
- The Response Act was introduced by Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, and was co-sponsored by five other Republican senators.
- Among other measures, the bill aims to "incentivize schools to enforce internet safety policies that detect online activities of minors."
- However, there is no evidence showing that student surveillance technologies actually prevent violence.