Thursday, May 29, 2014

Worth Reading, 5/29/2014: Measles. Misogyny.

1.  Measles have returned as an infectious disease in the US.  The main reason has to do with the anti-vaccination movement.  The fewer the people are who get vaccinated, the lower the herd immunity is.  Whether to get a vaccination or not is one of those cases where the benefits and costs of the decision fall partly on the rest of the society, but where the individual's decision-making does not properly take those into account.  Because, duh, other people.

Similar thinking applies to the overuse of antibiotics in that the effects of that overuse on the rest of the society may not enter the private calculus.

2.  I was surprised by some of the debate about what motivated the Santa Barbara massacre:  the insistence that the causes must be found in only one aspect of the horrors.  Either it's mental illness, or it's gun or it's misogyny, and because  misogyny isn't that rare in the US society (or any of the other societies I know about), it can't be misogyny!  Because most misogynists don't go on a rampage!  But then neither do most gun-owners or most people who use mental health services. 

The lack of proper gun control in the US is a major factor, possibly the main reason why the rates of mass killings in this country are so high, and the holes in the mental health network have played a role in many of the earlier killings.  But that these two factors are important doesn't mean that the reasons the Santa Barbara killer gave us or evidence from prior mass killings should be ignored.

This 2013 NYT article provides some tentative support for the way mental illness and social trends might interact.  Put in a simple way:  Perhaps the talk in the society influences the talk inside someone's head, perhaps the tone of conversations in a  PUA group (not comfortable reading) influences the tone of someone's already-dangerous thinking.  Then there's the entitlement-to-sex thinking, as discussed in this article.