Outliers

Okay, let’s all take a deep breath, exhale real slow, and realize that perhaps now is not the best time to rationally discuss such issues as gun control, violence in the media, and the influence of video games on teenagers.

The nation is still in shock over the atrocity of the Virginia Tech shootings. Sadly, some people are using this shock to try and push personal agendas, whether those agendas be regulating video games or banning guns.

First off, we must recognize that Cho Seung-Hui represents what statisticians identify as an outlier. He is an anomaly in the data system of our society that throws off all the other figures, and therefore, his anomalous behavior should be figured into the overall formulation of medians and means. Let’s say you have a group of ten people and you want to know the average number of shots that each person can drink before vomiting. You set up the shots, you start your stopwatch, and every five minutes you have each person take a shot. Let’s say all but one of the people puked after fifteen minutes, but that one guy just kept on drinking. After thirty minutes and a bottle of Jagermeister the guy just finally fell asleep. Now, that person is what’s called an “outlier.” He’s so far outside the norm that you’d considered him a phenomenon, and while you wouldn’t ignore that guy in the distribution of the number of shots a group of people can drink, you sure wouldn’t use him to make a definite statement about alcohol consumption.

And neither should we use Cho Seung-Hui to make blanket statements about violence. Cho Seung-Hui is an outlier. He’s an anomaly. We should not base legislation on the horrific actions of one person who had serious psychological problems. If this was medieval England that guy would’ve went ape-shit with a bastard sword until the peasants tackled him. His illness should not be manipulated as a political power-ploy to eliminate our rights as United States citizens.

Also, we’re simply too close to the tragedy to rationally discuss policy. I agree that we need to have a logical dialogue about the pervasiveness of violence in our culture and the impact of firearms, but now is not the time for that.

Mourn the dead. Care for the wounded. And some time in the future when we’re all a little more level-headed we can have those discussions.

Oh, and Dr. Phil, you have my permission to shut the fuck up.

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Comments

  1. Flood says:

    I hate it when I have to agree with you, but mostly I do. However, I think that you personal abuse of violent video games (or did you think I would forget your unholy alliance with the Thor against the snow giants?) perjudices your judgement against the clear thinking and unreactionary think of a great man like Dr. Phil. I can feel you biased, muddle-headed scorn mar an otherwise passable essay.

    And, please, what about the baby elephants?

  2. Hypermark says:

    Scoundrel! Thou darest to insult the Odinson? Verily, thou shalt taste the bitter sting of the mighty Mojolnir!!!

  3. Flood says:

    BUT, WHAT ABOUT THE ELEPHANTS!

    and like you have jack shit to bring to the table. You’re just like (to quote sean connery in the untouchables) a whop bringing a knife to a gun fight.

  4. Hypermark says:

    The baby elephants are stealing the water from the Mexicans.

  5. Flood says:

    My god, is no one innocent

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