The Mass Shooters

Here is a visual break down of Isaac’s results looking into the belief systems of mass shooters here in the United States:

 

This entry was posted in atheism, Culture, mass shootings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to The Mass Shooters

  1. Jack says:

    Does this pie chart show the number of incidences, or the number of people killed?

  2. Derek Ramsey says:

    @Jack

    Incidences:

    Atheist/Agnostic: 8 out of 18
    Islamic: 3 out of 18
    White Nationalist: 2 out of 18
    Buddhist: 1 out of 18
    Unknown: 4 out of 18

  3. Derek Ramsey says:

    Here is the pie chart for number of people killed vs ideology:

  4. Dhay says:

    Jack > Does this pie chart show the number of incidences, or the number of people killed?

    It shows number of shootings: for atheists/agnostics it shows 8/18 or 44%.

    Had it shown number of killings: for atheists/agnostics, 195/364 or 54%.

  5. Dhay says:

    The raw figures are (using Michael’s pie graph headings):

    Religious Typology Shootings Killed
    Atheist/Agnostic 8 195
    Islamic 3 77
    White Nationalist 2 33
    Unknown 4 47
    Buddhist 1 12
    18 364

  6. Isaac says:

    Nice! Thank you for the pie graph.

    Just to reiterate, I used 1999 as the cutoff date because it’s the year Columbine happened and roughly the start point of what is now called the “epidemic” of American mass shootings. It’s also a nice round number, being exactly 20 years ago.

    I also only included shootings with 10 or more innocent victims. This covers nearly all of the infamous, headline-grabbing shootings that everyone is familiar with, while keeping the size of the sample reasonable enough to prove each shooter’s ideology fairly.

  7. Arkenaten says:

    These figures are solely for the USA, am I correct?

  8. Isaac says:

    Arkenaten,

    Yes, just the USA. Also, only shootings with at least 10 victims (not including the shooter.)

    Opinions about what constitutes a “mass shooting” are all over the place; those are just the criteria I used. When you get down into single-digit victims, not only do you have a much more unwieldy sample, but it also becomes much harder to dig up enough information to confidently know the shooter’s ideology, due to less media reporting.

  9. Arkenaten says:

    So it would probably be fair to say that, any conclusions drawn from these stats regarding individual religious or non religious beliefs are effectively meaningless in a global context.as the US religious scene is generally considered somewhat of an outlier.
    Maybe a more reliable demographic should rather focus on mental illness and the insidious influence of religion on the population as a whole?
    Just a thought.

  10. TFBW says:

    Heh. Arkenaten has an interesting way of saying, “I don’t like the results of your research, so I will dismiss it on spurious methodological grounds, and vaguely suggest an alternative methodology that I suspect won’t have the same problematic implications — not that I intend to do any of the work I suggest.” What, pray tell, Arkenaten, is so special about US-based atheism or US-based Christianity that it renders the results “effectively meaningless” relative to other generally Western cultures? Are you seriously suggesting that, say, Polish Christianity and atheism are so vastly different from their USA counterparts that the figures are quite possibly reversed there? Please illustrate your objection with examples for the sake of clarity, otherwise it’s far too easy to dismiss your complaint as a post-hoc rationalisation.

  11. Dhay says:

    Arkenaten > Maybe a more reliable demographic should rather focus on mental illness and the insidious influence of religion on the population as a whole?
    Just a thought.

    Had you been arsed to read Isaac’s long and thoughtful OP in the previous thread you would have found — it’s at the end:

    — The plea to focus on mental illness also seems illogical, given that mental illness has always been present, and treatment for mental illness is believed to be much more effective than in the past, when mass shootings were rare. If these shootings are the result of increased mental anxiety, then what’s making us all go crazy in such a specific way all of a sudden? And how is it that most religious Americans are immune to this illness, which only produces mass-shooting affects in radical Islamists, nihilist atheists, occultists and white supremacists?

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/11/04/what-do-mass-shooters-believe/

    It seems to me it’s the perfect answer to your question — which makes me wonder why you posed a question already answered. Maybe you will now read the thread — or at minimum the OP — and apply basic reading comprehension.
    Just a thought.

  12. Kevin says:

    and the insidious influence of religion on the population as a whole?

    Insidious is a negative adjective. Scientific studies show that religion is a positive influence on mental health. So again, the greatly disproportionate number of atheists in this demographic could be quite indicative that atheism offers absolutely nothing for mental health.

    Which is, let’s be honest, pretty obviously true. Nothing like an accidental existence with no hope and no purpose, and an eventual end to all life in which nothing done amounts to anything, to help deal with all that pressure in life.

    I think the cruelest thing an atheist could do is write books trying to convince poor people, or depressed people, etc that there is no god.

  13. Arkenaten says:

    Heh. Arkenaten has an interesting way of saying, “I don’t like the results of your research, so I will dismiss it on spurious methodological grounds etc …

    Not at all. I am merely ensuring that this research and the conclusions drawn or alluded to are confined to the USA.

    The cultural conditions in the US pertaining to religion are, in several ways, unique among Western countries.
    Christianity underpins much of US culture whereas in other more socially developed Western countries religion hardly features on the landscape.
    An example of this would be the apparent claim that no political candidate in the US would stand a snowball’s chance in Hades of being elected were they to declare they were atheist. .
    In Australia or the UK or probably most of Europe, nobody would bat an eyelid.
    I know it would have no effect in my country and, as far as I am aware, a candidate’s religion or lack of it are never discussed

    So this is why I wondered how much of an insidious influence/effect religion in the US had on those responsible for the mass shootings, especially in light of the apparent lack of any reasonable gun control and the ease of access to firearms.

  14. Arkenaten says:

    I think the cruelest thing an atheist could do is write books trying to convince poor people, or depressed people, etc that there is no god.

    Would it be okay to market said book to people were financially and mental sound?

  15. Michael says:

    Maybe a more reliable demographic should rather focus on mental illness and the insidious influence of religion on the population as a whole?
    Just a thought.

    LOL. It looks like Ark is trying to blame the disproportionate number of atheists among mass shooters on……..religion.

  16. TFBW says:

    So this is why I wondered how much of an insidious influence/effect religion in the US had on those responsible for the mass shootings, especially in light of the apparent lack of any reasonable gun control and the ease of access to firearms.

    Are you saying that it’s unwise to trust atheists with the right to keep and bear arms? After all, if access to guns were reduced uniformly, it would make no difference to the ratios, only the absolute numbers (assuming a simple linear relationship between access to guns and mass shooting incidents, which is terribly simplistic, but seems to be the usual assumption behind such comments). Or are you saying that the “insidious” effect of religion is to make atheists unelectable to public office, and that anyone who suffered such hardship would be more inclined to go on a shooting spree, so blame religion for poking the bear?

  17. Dhay says:

    Kevin > Scientific studies show that religion is a positive influence on mental health.

    Is that causality, with the various contributing factors (perhaps quantity and intensity of prayer, level of church attendance, etc, etc) identified and quantified and their causal mechanisms identified, or is it merely statistical correlation?

    I raise the question because in the recent “Rambow” thread Derek Ramsey draws attention to research, and I then link to discussion of it, which Derek then nicely summarises as:

    Evolutionary theory and associated research has a lot of interesting things to say. For one, religion is selected adaptive beneficial behavior, associated with many positive benefits. For another, atheism is evolutionary maladaptive at the group and individual level and is correlated with scientific markers of high mutational load.

    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2019/11/20/the-rambow-effect-how-moderate-views-fuel-extremism-2/#comment-34087

    That’s “atheism is correlated with scientific markers of high mutational load” which, claims the article discussing, correlates with poorer physical and mental health:

    Poor physical and mental health are both significantly genetic and imply high mutational load. Dutton and his team demonstrate that this specific form of religiousness, when controlling for key factors such as SES, predicts much better objective mental and physical health, recovery from illness, and longevity than atheism.

    It’s generally believed that religiousness makes you healthier because it makes you worry less and elevates your mood, but they turn this view on its head, showing that religious worshippers are more likely to carry gene forms associated with being low in anxiety.

    http://www.unz.com/article/are-atheists-genetic-mutants-a-product-of-recent-evolution/

    That is, if — big IF, I would treat it with great caution — if this is correct, genetic mutations are correlated (yes, it’s that word again, beware) with both poorer physical and mental health and also correlated (beware) with reduced religiosity/increased atheistic tendencies.

    So again, the greatly disproportionate number of atheists in this demographic could be quite indicative that atheism offers absolutely nothing for mental health.

    Or perhaps — perhaps — (the few) people with very bad mental health, such bad mental health that they become warped-thinking mass shooters, are greatly disproportionately likely to be atheists.

  18. Arkenaten says:

    I am merely suggesting it might be worth investigating, especially bearing in mind the level of influence religion has in the US.

  19. Arkenaten says:

    And how is it that most religious Americans are immune to this illness,

    I’ll venture off the top of my head that serious depression is present in far greater numbers among the religious than it is among atheists, so unless you provide recognized data for your assertion then I’ll dismiss it with impunity.

  20. Kevin says:

    I’ll venture off the top of my head that serious depression is present in far greater numbers among the religious than it is among atheists, so unless you provide recognized data for your assertion then I’ll dismiss it with impunity.

    I dismiss the top of your head with impunity. Unless you provide recognized data for your assertion…?

  21. Dhay says:

    Arkenaten > I am merely suggesting it might be worth investigating, especially bearing in mind the level of influence religion has in the US.

    Though you claim — or is it, you insinuate — that such an investigation might be worthwhile, I see no indication that you are capable of that investigation; but if you are, do by all means investigate and then report your findings back, with evidence, for discussion.

    Arkenaten > I’ll venture off the top of my head that serious depression is present in far greater numbers among the religious than it is among atheists, so unless you provide recognized data for your assertion then I’ll dismiss it with impunity.

    Ah, I know this one, it’s like an interest in the history of the Peninsula Wars being present in a far greater number of farmers than in academics, the reason for that being there is a far, far greater number of farmers than of academics. With atheists being 4% of the population (recent Pew figures, ±1 percentage point) and Christians being sixteen times more numerous at 65%, it would be truly astonishing if you were not (technically but meaninglessly) correct.

    On the other hand, if you are venturing “off the top of [your] head” — is that the same as making it up? — that serious depression is present in a far greater proportion of the religious than of atheists, unless you provide recognized data for your assertion then I’ll dismiss it with impunity.

  22. Michael says:

    I’ll venture off the top of my head that serious depression is present in far greater numbers among the religious than it is among atheists, so unless you provide recognized data for your assertion then I’ll dismiss it with impunity.

    Science says something different from the top of your head. From a couple months ago – note the consensus view reported at beginning of abstract:

    Several studies have shown protective effects between health outcomes and subjective reports of religious/spiritual (R/S) importance, as measured by a single self-report item. In a 3-generation study of individuals at high or low familial risk for depression, R/S importance was found to be protective against depression, as indicated by clinical and neurobiological outcomes.

  23. Dhay says:

    From the paper:

    Interestingly, McClintock et al. [28] found that in the USA and India, individuals scoring in the top quartile of the R/S commitment factor (the one that correlated highly with R/S importance) were about 50% less likely to experience major depressive disorder, suicidal thoughts, and generalized anxiety disorder.

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6799910/

    Or in English, the most religious were also the most free from depression.

  24. Isaac says:

    Ark (can I call you Ark?):

    You said:

    “The cultural conditions in the US pertaining to religion are, in several ways, unique among Western countries.
    Christianity underpins much of US culture whereas in other more socially developed Western countries religion hardly features on the landscape.
    An example of this would be the apparent claim that no political candidate in the US would stand a snowball’s chance in Hades of being elected were they to declare they were atheist. .
    In Australia or the UK or probably most of Europe, nobody would bat an eyelid.
    I know it would have no effect in my country and, as far as I am aware, a candidate’s religion or lack of it are never discussed

    So this is why I wondered how much of an insidious influence/effect religion in the US had on those responsible for the mass shootings, especially in light of the apparent lack of any reasonable gun control and the ease of access to firearms.”
    —————-

    Your theory that religion might have an “insidious effect” that somehow causes atheists to murder complete strangers en masse has a few problems. Many of your assumptions from this comment are factually wrong, so you’d have to adjust them to test your theory.

    1. It is false that “religion hardly features in the landscape” in Australia, the UK, Western Europe, etc. In fact, Christianity underpins the vast majority of every one of those cultures, in many cases, much more so than in the U.S. Norway, for example, didn’t have a principle of separation of church and state until THIS decade. The Lutheran Church is still part of their federal government. You’re talking about some of the most rigidly Protestant, evangelistic nations in world history, and they’ve been steeped in it for hundreds of years.

    2. The nations you allude to have only been secularized in very recent times, and most of the largely-secular population there is still young people. You’d have to wait at least about 60 years to determine whether secularism is going to make a positive difference on their cultures (and the early returns, comparing each of these nations to their prior selves, are…not good.) These are not non-religious places; they are extremely Christian places that only now are transitioning to being post-Christian.

    3. What’s more, they don’t have significantly fewer mass shootings per capita. I limited my study to the U.S. because narrower focuses produce more accurate results; not because there’s no connection between post-Christian Europe and sociopathy. The U.S rate of mass shootings, per capita, is about the same as Europe’s. Norway, Switzerland, and Finland have higher rates, because they have relatively tiny populations. Your starting premise, that these are more peaceful people, is unproven.

    4. You don’t make a connection (even a hypothetical one) between Christianity and ease of access to guns. That’s because there isn’t any. The United States is a more wild and libertarian place because it was built by frontiersmen and farmers, an ocean away from any other literate civilizations, and secondly because the framers of the Constitution were, by virtue of experience, suspicious of state power and prioritized personal freedom over safety and security. Not because they were any more Christian than Europeans. I’d wouldn’t argue that the Victorian Era was any more or less religious than the U.S. at the time of the 2nd Great Awakening. But Europe was still, back then, considered more sophisticated. Religion has nothing to do with the reasons why.

    5. Finally, you should read my appendixes back on the longer mass shootings post. Over the past 100 years, guns have become MUCH harder to get in the United States, much LESS commonly used, and MORE restricted. Actual machine guns were easy for kids to buy in the 1920s. Nobody shot up a school. Over the same period, Christianity has become much LESS of an influence on the culture. So what’s your theory exactly? That LESS Christianity + FEWER guns = atheists starting to commit mass murder because…of Christianity and guns? Where were all the school shootings 100 years ago, when high-powered guns and Christianity were absolutely everywhere?

  25. Arkenaten says:

    Unfortunately , as the host has decided to don his anal-retentive persona and behave like an Arsehat and refuse to publish comments, further dialogue is not going to be possible. You will have to play with yourself from hereon.

  26. Derek Ramsey says:

    @Arkenaten

    “Unfortunately , as the host has decided to don his anal-retentive persona and behave like an Arsehat and refuse to publish comments, further dialogue is not going to be possible.”

    My comments always go to moderation and are sometimes deleted as well. You don’t hear me complaining about how Michael chooses to run his own site. Get over yourself and try posting something that is both civil, rational, and on-point, rather than trying to play the victim.

  27. Arkenaten says:

    Oh, I am ”over myself” Derek, of that you can be sure.
    And while everyone has the right to run their blog the way they see fit, a great many Christian bloggers have problems with evidence – and thus honesty – tend to moderate.

    Those who ”play the victim” are generally those for whom evidence is not on their side, and thus they often feel the need to defend their untenable position even at the cost of integrity.
    Micheal has already stated he has banned me but obviously felt that by releasing certain comments he can point score.
    This lack of integrity is one of the major reasons that Christians require apologetics merely to try to legitimize their rather silly beliefs.

  28. Michael says:

    Those who ”play the victim” are generally those for whom evidence is not on their side, and thus they often feel the need to defend their untenable position even at the cost of integrity.

    Micheal has already stated he has banned me but obviously felt that by releasing certain comments he can point score.

    As I explained before, I banned Arkie back in 2015 for being a troll and forgot that I had done so. Here is the relevant comment with the relevant links:
    https://shadowtolight.wordpress.com/2016/04/21/street-epistemologists-get-their-needed-crutch/#comment-34070

    I’v been letting Arkie’s latest comments through as a form of courtesy. Y’try to be a nice guy and look what happens. So enough is enough. Arkie’s comments will no longer come through (unless he/she invents a new sock).

  29. Kevin says:

    I think that brand of atheism has more to do with being edgy than it does with anything resembling logic.

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