My thanks to all who sent prayers and best wishes on behalf of my brother. We had a good visit. His family is providing excellent support. He is fighting but he is in a very difficult situation.
Lessons from Uvalde. Many lessons can be culled from the Uvalde massacre. I want to highlight two. The first one I will cover today. The second one next week.
The Power of the Extreme Event. Humans have a normal, understandable cognitive bias that is easily seen in the reactions to the Uvalde massacre. We attach more emotion to a single extreme event than to events spread out over time and space.
Gun Violence. To establish a proper context, we should note that in addition to the occasional mass shooting with a high-powered weapon, hundreds of other children die each year from gun violence. The following web site shows all the incidents. Even a quick look will give you a better understanding of the cognitive bias of the extreme event. The site shows the killings occur all across America, practically every day. Warning, the information is disturbing.
Child Abuse. In addition, in the U.S. last year, an estimated 1840 children died from child abuse and neglect. The figure is thought to be an underestimate. That means a staggering FIVE children a day die from abuse. Because they die one or two at a time, in many different places we do not attach as much emotion as we do to an event like the Uvalde massacre.
We cannot blame guns for these deaths. These deaths bear personal responsibility. They are the result of human failure. The life of a child was not valued. They rule of law was not respected.
Car Accidents. As further context, consider that in 2019, 608 children under 12 died in car accidents. 608 is far more than 19 but again, because those deaths were spread out over time and space we do not attach as much emotion to them.
Although tire failure or car problems may have caused a few deaths, most were caused by human failure. People drove too fast, too close, impaired and without respect for the others’ lives or the law.
Please note I am not suggesting we should reduce our sorrow or outrage over the Uvalde incident. I am suggesting we should put our reactions in a proper context. Children are dying for far more reasons than AK47 massacres. We need to be just as concerned about the causes of the deaths of thousands, many without guns, as we are the deaths of 19. Each child is dead. Each child had value.