Print Story fear factor
By Merekat (Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 02:49:35 AM EST) (all tags)
Within a week of arriving in Ireland, a Swiss student is murdered.

Living in Switzerland is interesting. The fear factor is very low. This is not to say that there is no crime at all, just that people seem to find it unexpected. In Ireland, I'm not aware of any of my female friends who would walk a path like that in groups smaller than three, even if drunk. I am in no way saying that the girl was responsible for her own death - that would be absurd. Only that living in Switzerland probably doesn't help equip the average person for the rest of the world.

A few years ago, I was in Rome. Three of us were walking back to the hotel. All women, me from Dublin, one from Madrid and one from Oxford. The walk took us past the main train station. Standard city rules, main train stations at night are unpleasant and dangerous. No need to avoid them, but keep your wits about you. Neither myself nor the woman from Madrid could understand how the woman from Oxford was so blithely unaware of this that her behaviour was such that she could have been walking through an empty field with nobody around. Certainly no pickpockets or bag snatchers to take her loosely held bag, no con artists to distract you with a story while another robs you. You get the idea.

I've been mugged once in my life, and ducked below a bottle thrown another time which shattered on the wall behind and covered me with glass. I've been covered with safety glass on another occasion when someone threw a brick from a bridge into the window of the train I was on. I have been badly beaten up, though not as an adult. I have not been raped, though I know at least one person who was. This is probably not an atypical profile.

I still can't work out a sensible motivation for crime - the type with individual human victims. I think an impeded imagination might be involved somewhere. IMO, crime can be harder work than work, for unpredictable returns and sensational risks. Yet that side doesn't get imagined and weighed up and found wanting. Imagination is also the basis of empathy - appreciating someone else's viewpoint and then not fucking them over.

Maybe I'm the one with the broken imagination. I just can't see the appeal.

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fear factor | 14 comments (14 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
I've never been assualted or mugged by jump the ladder (2.00 / 0) #1 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 03:58:36 AM EST
Despite living in London and three years at Manchester Uni in a fairly dodgy area. Never been burgled either. Just lucky I guess...

Me too by Cloaked User (2.00 / 0) #5 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 07:09:06 AM EST
14 years in London and so far no muggings, no burglaries, never even seen a serious fight, etc.

On the other hand, one of my friends has been mugged three times, I have known a couple of women who have been raped (although possibly not in London), have known people who have been burgled, etc.

I don't know that I do anything different, and I certainly don't look tough or anything.

This is not a psychotic episode. It is a cleansing moment of clarity.

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Crime is generally committed by debacle (2.00 / 0) #2 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 04:19:37 AM EST
By people of less than total mental stability, whether it be temporary or perminant.


buy a gun by sasquatchan (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 04:55:46 AM EST
sheesh. Don't all the swiss have guns anyway, how they stay neutral ?

Do the Swiss let women own guns? by georgeha (2.00 / 0) #4 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 05:20:43 AM EST
They've only had the vote for 30 years, no sense rushing things.

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haven't experienced much crime by MillMan (2.00 / 0) #6 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 07:55:21 AM EST
a few items stolen here and there. A friend of mine did get beat up while she was studying in Ireland for a semester. Some girl followed her out of the pub, claimed she was looking at her boyfriend wrong or somesuch, and beat her up. That sort of thing seems less common in the US, especially coming from women.

When I'm imprisoned as an enemy combatant, will you blog about it?

Crime has one main root: need. by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #7 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 07:50:23 PM EST
I get the impression you think the criminal does his job because he enjoys it.

In most cases I think he does not care, robbing somebody is just a way to get some satisfactor: food, drugs or more money.

Most robbers do not take things personally, the victim is just something that comes with the territory and to be ignored unless he oposses resistance.


need? by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #8 Wed Oct 10, 2007 at 10:18:27 PM EST
Want, I give you. Many criminals are significantly better off than their victims. Not all are drug addicts etc. A need for something more esoteric like power, perhaps?

I'm not saying that they enjoy it (though I would be willing to bet that some do - I have watched teenage boys laughing as they kick someone on the ground), just that some time in the decision-making process they have evaluated it as better than the alternatives and I'm curious about how such a decision is reached.

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Too much PRINCE2 by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 03:14:57 AM EST
I think 'evaluate' and 'decision-making' are words too grand for most people's behaviour. I know that in general they're grander words than most of my lifestyle decisions. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who've made better choices than I have.

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i disagree by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #10 Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 03:19:45 AM EST
I think these processes happen, but quickly, sometimes subconsciously. In other words, I believe there is always a locally explicable why and a path towards it but finding it out retroactively what it was is frequently impossible.

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Well, decisions are made. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 03:33:21 AM EST
I'd just say that quite often they're made as a sum of short term decisions. Which obviously leads to finding local maxima for the function satisfactory_lifestyle (takes arguments nature, nurture), instead of going on to find the biggest summit possible. So that's why it's easy to see from the outside, or indeed in the abstract, that things are suboptimal, but it's hard to get the strength for that change from the top of one's own local maximum.

I'd disagree that it's impossible to find the decisions made that lead to a lifestyle, too. Assuming you have the cooperation of the person whose lifestyle it is, I think it's not too hard to decode what decisions they make wrong, what bad paths they've taken, and how to change behaviours.

This does assume sufficient time and intellect to analyse things well, of course. In cases where there is a failure of imagination or intellect, then the work of the external guide/detective is much harder. And in cases where there's narcissism or psychopathy, then it's pretty near impossible.

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impossibility by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #12 Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 03:39:36 AM EST
I think it is impossible to be sure, would be more sensible. Once you make an analysis of something, there is an evaluation going on which ranks some things higher than others and is influenced (in any direction) by vested interests, self-perception, societal expectations etc. It is always mediated, to use an annoying word.

On local maxima etc., I don't think it is necessarily 'best' to always work to the biggest summit possible. Overall a series of local maxima may be more pleasant to experience.

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I think we're in agreement. by ambrosen (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Oct 11, 2007 at 03:51:52 AM EST
Although for local maxima, there's no reason why one of the vectors we're trying to maximise at the highest summit is 'how good it was to get there'. I'm assuming a perfect function. I guess it's the spherical cow* of this kind of quantitative analysis of qualitative experiences. Ditto for the analysis. I think it could be done well enough on a case by case basis. To do everyone that needed it: well, that would be far too much.

*I just googled for 'assume a spherical cow', but ironically the second author on that paper is one of the people who had a large influence on my thinking in this field. Although I was always at a disadvantage because I was trying to bridge this and bog standard Chomskyian linguistics. Also, my strategic decision making at the time was extremely poor. I should have had a year out before starting graduate school. I'll make sure anyone else I have to suggest it to does.

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You are saying... by Dr H0ffm4n (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu Nov 08, 2007 at 03:57:43 AM EST
that most crime is opportunistic. Which it is.

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