Reductio ad Racism

A reductionist fallacy occurs when we take an incredibly complex issue and reduce it to one factor while ignoring other possible factors.

Race is almost always cited as being one of, and often the most, significant factors for arrests, sentencing, and incarcerations. However, I believe that this is due to lack of imagination on behalf of researchers. Race is often presented as a causal factor – because someone is black, they are more likely to be targeted by police or policies and end up incarcerated. However, there are other intervening variables.

According to the Cato Institute, native born blacks have the highest incarceration rate of all racial and ethnic groups (4.21%). However, black legal immigrants have an incarceration rate of 0.57%, which is lower than Hispanic and “other” (mostly Middle-Eastern) races. This is a massive difference, and is the largest difference between native and immigrant incarceration rates between any racial and ethnic group. If blacks from Africa have such a relatively low incarceration rate compared to native blacks, can we really attribute the discrepancy in incarceration rates to only race?
We again discuss race as it relates to poverty and crime, but we refuse to admit that poverty may be the more important variable. Blacks make up 34% of the prison population (while only 13% of the total population), while whites (67% of the total population) make up 30% of prisons. Blacks also have a poverty rate of 22% compared to 9% for whites. We MUST consider that the reason why black incarceration rates are so much higher than white incarceration rates, is because there is a much higher rate of blacks in poverty than whites.

When we tease poverty out, rates of violence, arrests, and incarceration are virtually identical. According to the BJS, “Poor urban blacks (51.3 per 1,000) have rates of violence similar to poor urban whites (56.4 per 1,000).” If poverty is an equalizer, then race cannot be the primary factor.

There’s also the argument of geography. Crime is generally higher in urban areas. There is a higher concentration of blacks in urban areas. Again, when comparing overall crime rates by race, we should consider that most blacks live in crime areas than whites, but that does not mean that whites living in urban areas are committing a lower rate of crime. In most crime data used to make an argument about race, urban blacks (the majority of blacks) are essentially compared to suburban and rural whites (where they are the majority). Geography is the lost variable that I have rarely, if ever, seen considered. Perhaps research exists, but I have not seen it.

Of course, culture, as always, is ignored. American black culture, African culture, rich culture, WASP culture, Hispanic culture, Japanese culture, Asian culture, redneck culture, etc. are all different. They often have different dreams and aspirations, as well as opportunities. Their beliefs, values, and social norms are determined within the group and are difficult to change. There are plenty of examples of people moving from one sub-culture to another within a more dominant one. Assimilation rates differ, and the desire to assimilate is different among various cultures.

The argument is much more nuanced than the racial disparity proponents want to admit, and we would be hard pressed to find a plethora of data out there that dives into these nuances. It’s easier to employ the reduction fallacy, especially when it constantly remains unchecked. Political correctness and the fear of being labeled a racist stifles any further investigation.

Future research should acknowledge that racial categories are not monolithic. I doubt that will happen, because it goes against the narrative of race being the most determinate status in the history of everything.

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Social Suicide and Mass Murder

On Valentine’s Day a 19-year-old kid marched into his old high school and opened fire on students who walked out of their classrooms when the killer pulled a fire alarm just before the end of the school day. Reports have come out giving us some insight on his life. The media (both mainstream and social) is focusing on guns and mental illness. Here is why I believe they are looking at the wrong thing.

In Emile Durkheim’s seminal work, Suicide, he looked at death records from several countries in Europe. He found that there are essentially four types of suicide: 1) Egotistic – when someone experiences a lack of social integration or are isolated (widows, hermits, victims of bullying); 2) Anomic – lack of moral regulation or a sudden change in life where the “new normal” feels overwhelming. There is a sense of “normlessness” where all of the social norms we abide by change and the new rules are difficult to grasp (losing a job or loved one; moving to a new country); 3) Fatalistic – overwhelming oppression and hopelessness (prisoners, terminally ill); 4) Altruistic – for the greater good (soldiers, firemen, suicide bombers).
Durkheim found that suicide is not a psychological phenomenon, but a social one. Changes in one’s social integration is a greater indicator of violence against oneself than any psychological condition.

Now, let’s apply this theory to what we know about the Valentine’s Day shooter.

  1. He was social isolated. Most reports are that he was bullied pretty regularly. He had very few friends. He was kicked out of school and other social organizations. This is indicative of Egotistic suicide.
  2. His adopted father died a few years ago, but his adopted mother died just three months ago. This dramatic social event would be a likely catalyst for anomic suicide.
  3. He apparently exhibited numerous histrionic outbursts – I believe these were to draw attention to an otherwise lonely boy – yet still managed to fly under the radar of law enforcement.
  4. Therefore, he was isolated from peers by choice (making numerous threats) or force (expulsion and bullying), as well as dealing with the death of his last remaining parent (and I have to wonder if being adopted started his feelings of social isolation). He also lives in a country where guns are weaved into the fabric of the nation and are constantly depicted in the media in both positive and negative lights.

It seems to me that this is a social recipe for a disaster. Rather than turning the weapon on himself, he turned it on others. Regardless, he follows a similar pattern to other mass murders, serial killers, and the suicidal. Reports are that the Vegas shooter, Steven Paddock, lost a lot of money before his rampage and was socially isolated from almost everyone except his roommate/girlfriend. The Columbine shooters were socially isolated and bullied. The same goes for the Aurora shooter, the Virginia Tech shooter, and almost all other mass murderers over the last 20 years.

I truly believe that we need to stop thinking of these events as psychological anomalies. There is something wrong with the SOCIAL fabric of the nation right now.

We have been in perpetual war since 2001. We just experienced a major economic recession. Social media and online video games are keeping kids from face-to-face interactions. We are the most medicated society in history. Our social and demographic categories are being constantly challenged and redefined. Religion is becoming less and less of an effective institution. Our electorate is becoming more and more divided.

Basically, we are in a national state of anomic normlessness that is leading to increasing social isolation. As our institutions continue to crumble, so does our ability to maintain solidarity. Without social solidarity and stability, we feel hopeless. We feel socially suicidal.

Some of us develop depression. Some of us do kill ourselves. Some are committing mass murder. The signs and symptoms are all there.

Since Suicide was published in 1897, data continues to back up Durkheim’s theory. I truly believe that we are experiencing social suicide that is beginning to manifest in social homicide.

These shooters are not “mentally ill”, they are socially constructed monsters. No laws can stop the inevitable destruction brought about by social unrest. Medicating the problem like we medicate our citizenry will not solve the problem.

Rightly Dividing the Word: The Psalms Multiple-Timeline Effect

Psalms really is an incredible book. There are passages that move seamlessly between references to ancient Israel under the reign of David to the millennial reign of Christ, full of references to the second advent and Antichrist.
 
You can read the book literally as writings of David, his servants, and others that are talking about things happening directly to them, but there are references to events that did not occur at that time or in the time before. Prophecy is intertwined with the present.
 
The only way to understand the complexity of these passages is to literally “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15).
 
Someone who has not studied the Word of God would miss all of the subtle references. They would not be able to rightly divide the word of truth.
 
It’s also a fascinating glimpse at how I believe God perceives time. Human beings are capable of distinguishing four dimensions (The combination of any three from – length, width, height, depth, breadth; and time). God is not confined by these four dimensions as we are.
 
Anyone familiar with super-string theory understands that there are dozens (or more) dimensions operating simultaneously. I believe God is outside of, yet encompasses, all possible known and unknown dimensions. Thus, His concept of time is infinitely more complex than what we could ever understand.
 
The interweaving time periods found in the book of Psalms is but a micro-fraction of a perception of time that sees past, present, and future simultaneously. So when God, as the true author of Psalms, speaks as he does in Psalms 79 of multiple applications to multiple time periods, a person who has not studied may miss the references.
 
For instance: verse 1 says “O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps.” This had not happened during the time of David. However, this happened in 70 AD, and again during the Crusades, and will again happen during the Tribulation.
 
In fact, nothing written in the verses 1-4 occurred during the period that Asaph wrote Psalms 79, though they are written in present tense. Verses 4-5 describe the Jews during the Church Age (right now), and verses 6-7 are in reverse chronological order (7 is the Tribulation, and 6 is the Second Advent).
 
There are examples of this time period switching all throughout the Psalms. You can cross reference almost all of the prophetic verses to other prophetic passages in both Old and New Testaments. It really is remarkable.

The Satanic Era

In the first episode of Mindhunter, the Netflix show about how the FBI serial killer program began, an interesting proposition was presented. The gist is that prior to the 1970s, crime had motive. In the contemporary era, however, motive was no longer a factor. Serial killers may have a modus operandi, and even a purpose, but they essentially kill indiscriminately. Random people become targets. Of course, this is a fictional story, but does that make the point any less relevant?

We may understand a killer has a motive, such as creating fear or terror, but there is no motive for target selection. Consider the most recent case of the Las Vegas shooting. As of this writing, a full month has passed and no one knows what motivated Stephen Paddock to shoot 500 people. Many terror attacks are on large groups of people, but none involve a personal motive.

Gone are the days of organized crime when gangsters wanted to “send a message” by killing a rival or snitch. No longer must a woman die because she was cheating on her husband. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time is as dangerous as infidelity in today’s world. When did this change?

I will once again point my finger at what I have termed “the Satanic Era” of the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, the majority of mass killings were familicide. Since the 1960s, mass killings have been in public places against innocent bystanders. The deadliest decade prior to 1960 was the 30s, with 9 mass shootings. The 1960s had 6, the 70s had 13, there were 32 in the 1980s, and over 40 in the 1990s. The number since then as only increased.

Again, low numbers of mass shootings which primarily were targeted at family members prior to the 60s. Much higher frequency of shootings with a major increase in bystander fatalities since the 1960s.

How about serial killers, the focus of Mindhunter? According to one site, there were only a dozen or so serial killers in the United States in the decades leading up to the 1960s. There were 19 in the 1960s, 119 in the 70s, 200 in the 80s, and 141 in the 1990s. The number has since dropped to 60 or less in the twenty-first century, but the line drawn through the Satanic Era is still worth noting.

It does appear that this notion of random killing has increased since the 1960s.

17,000 women were forcibly raped in 1960. By the end of the decade, the number of victims had more than doubled. By 1992, the number peaked at over 109,000.

Recreational drug and alcohol use, though prevalent regardless of drug laws, has exploded since the 1960s.

Increases in violence against strangers, depictions of violence and sex in film and television, sexual assault, drug use, alcoholism, the opioid crisis, teen pregnancies, deviant sexual behaviors, homosexuality, transgenderism, mass murder, and serial killings are directly correlated with the decline in major religion and distrust of major media and government institutions.

In every single one of these categories – religious decline (secularization), increases in crime and deviance, the birth of new religious movements and serial killers – you can draw a line before and after the Satanic Era of the 1960s and see that there has been a seismic social shift in the United States.

One cannot help but notice that many of the same issues of the 1960s are manifest today. Civil unrest, shouts of racism, segregation, unending protest, free love, excessive drug use, sensitivity toward anything deemed “offensive”, attacks on free speech and the Constitution, militarized police, political corruption, calls for revolution, Marxism, and the list goes on and on.

I am a child of the 80s, but I would love to hear from those who were alive during the 60s. Does your lived experience mirror my theory? Has the shift been noticeable? Do you think there has actually been a shift? Please, I want to hear from you.

Less “Reform”, More Revival

In the aftermath of last weekend’s Las Vegas massacre, Democrats came out almost immediately and called for new gun control regulations. Republicans came out and defended the Second Amendment, and back and forth we went.

When a maniac in a Dodge Charger drove into a crowd in Charlottesville, we began fighting over what statues were now deemed too racist to stand. The media blamed Trump for bringing racism back to America, and the GOP reflexively started defending the First Amendment.

These types of reactions and counter-reactions make up the political dance we’ve become accustomed to. Allegations and arguments are becoming so tired and shallow that it takes only a new voice, rather than new idea, to seemingly supercharge political partisan hacks.

Rather than rally for gun control, healthcare reform, or ending racism, why are there no calls for revival?

We live in a nation that, as of last year, claims to be 77% Christian, though only about 20% seem to take it seriously enough to go to church once a week. Yet when a sadistic mass murderer spends $50,000 on weapons and ammo so that he could spray bullets into a crowd of innocent concert goers, not one talking head called for people to get saved. Some on CNN and Fox News called for A savior, but no one called for THE Savior.

Did the evangelical political hero, President Donald J. Trump, mention one word about turning to God? Where was Osteen? He tweeted out a general platitude, like most Christians, saying to trust in the Lord. Other politicians sent “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. This is a lovely gesture, and as a resident Las Vegan, I appreciate prayers. Prayers work. However, prayer is not salvation. While everyone has been concerned with the physical health and safety of all in Las Vegas, it seems like few, if any, have been concerned with our souls.

In a “Christian” nation, millions of people should have been out in the streets witnessing for Christ and sending out invitations to church. Instead, we hit Twitter and started arguing about gun rights with complete strangers.

Jimmy Kimmel, a devout practicing Catholic, used his powerful platform to demonize the NRA and legal firearm owners rather than conduct an altar call and preach the gospel. Many others followed this pattern.

There is no more relevant time to witness to the unsaved than after a national tragedy. It’s never “too soon”, but it is often too late to do so.

You never know when an armed gunman will strike where you are.

You never know when a bomb will destroy the building you’re in.

You never know if you’re on a plane with someone who wants to crash it.

You never know when a drunk driver will come from out of nowhere and take your life.

Last Sunday night’s events were a reminder of our fleeting mortality. Life can end when you least expect it. Are you confident in your beliefs on the afterlife? Are you sure you are just going to become worm food? Are you positive that you will be reincarnated until you reach Nirvana?

I am 100% positive that I will be in Heaven with God and Jesus Christ when I die. I will not waver from that belief.

If you are questioning, at all, what happens when you die, talk to me. Yes, I am being an opportunist. I am taking advantage of fear and tragedy. That’s because I want you all to be as sure as I am that your eternity is secure.

Debate Should Not Lead to Death

I have been in my fair share of arguments. I have debated on Facebook, among friends, and in classrooms full of people. When the situation isn’t resolved, I generally leave the conversation feeling awful. No matter how hard I try, I just cannot convince the other side that I am right. I do not want innocent babies ripped apart in the womb. I do not want speech, no matter how hate filled, to be banned. I do not want anyone to go to hell when they die. I do not want my Constitutional rights taken away.

I do not like being wrong. I come in to every argument with as much knowledge as I can muster. I approach every debate with the mindset that empiricism trumps emotion. I want to be able to point to statistics and use my Sociological training to raise awareness and debunk irrational arguments. When I fail, I take it personally. After all, if I cannot convince an atheist that my religious beliefs are correct, then I’ve just my shot at seeing them saved by God’s grace. If I cannot convince a liberal that abortion is murder, then they will continue to advocate for the slaughter of innocents. If I cannot convince the Left that I have the RIGHT to bear arms, then my family may be in danger one day and I will be weaponless.

These are important arguments to me.

However, there are an increasing number of times when I feel rage from my opposition. Whereas I am saddened by my failure in disagreement, the other person HATES me. When I am disappointed, they want me silenced. They want me to lose my reputation and job. If I were to take social media seriously, I’d think they want me…dead (as a member of the NRA, there have been dozens of calls for my murder).

After this most recent mass shooting in Las Vegas, irrationality has become the norm. I know people who were there. I know others who lost someone. I drive past Mandalay Bay several times a week on my way to UNLV. I can see it from school. I can see it from the highway. I can see it when I drive to my home from grocery shopping. No one has to tell me the impact and devastation caused by the actions of an evil mass murderer. I am reminded of it several times a day, and most likely will continue to be so long as I live in Vegas.

Although I am shaken, sullen, and uneasy, I cannot and will not use this tragedy as justification to rid my city or country of firearms. As a matter of fact, I want MORE freedom and LESS restriction on firearms. Rather than feel weakened by the event, I feel my resolve strengthened. When I feel unsafe, I want to increase my own stockpile of weapons. I want to freely exercise my Second Amendment (that is, GOD-GIVEN) right to protect myself and family by any means necessary.

No counter-argument can change my mind. I see the statistics that show the correlation between INCREASED gun ownership and DECREASED crime rates. I understand the scenarios where a good guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. I know personal instances where having a firearm stopped robberies and sexual assaults from happening. I know that if someone were to come into my home in an attempt to violate the safety of my family, they will be met with lethal force.

More guns save lives than take them, not matter how many mass shootings occur; it’s just not sexy to report them on the news. It’s difficult to know the actual number, as gun saves are not often reported to the police or FBI.

We can disagree on this matter. You can push for gun control, and I will work tirelessly to resist your effort. I can promise you this, while I may be disappointed in our disagreement, I will never wish you dead. I would never want you to lose your job over it. I would never want you to lose your life. I just hope you feel the same.

Notes on Deuteronomy 30-34

God wants us to hear, learn, and fear the LORD (Deut. 31:12-13). This order is repeated twice. We are to hear and learn the Word of God, then we are to fear Him. I believe this is because the more we learn of God, the more we cannot help but fear him. Unfortunately, our modern churches don’t actually teach the Word of God, and Christians do not fear the LORD.

Why should we fear God? Just look at the threats made to Israel (and the threats have become real since) in Deut. 31:17. God’s anger is kindled, he forsook them, hid his face from them, and devoured them. This sounds like a God you should fear.

God is described as the Rock (Deut. 32:4), which is not the same as Simon Peter (the rock) on whom the Catholic Church has been built (according to them). Our Rock is Jesus Christ, not Peter. The Christian church is built on Christ. Psalm 62:6-7 says “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense; I shall not be moved. In God is my salvation and my glory: the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.”

Again, this is not talking about Peter, but God and Christ.

Deut. 32:8 once again shows the “negativity” of The Bible. It says that the most High (God) “divided,” “separated,” and set “bounds.” These are not inclusive, uniting words. They are divisive. Christians “are not of the world” (John 17:16), and should be divided, separated, and have bounds that we should not cross.

Modern Christians cross those bounds as often as we can, don’t we?

God also warns us of sacrificing “unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not” (Deut. 32:17).

I think this idea of new gods is pertinent to the entire world. When we think of gods, we think of the ancient Roman and Greeks; of Zeus, Jupiter, Apollo, Thor, Odin, Shiva, Buddha, etc. We scoff at the very idea that we would ever worship a god.

However, we worship NEW gods. We pray at the altar of celebrity, sports, and television. We build shrines to Tom Cruise or Jennifer Lawrence. We pray to “the football gods” when our team takes the field. We attend the church that Babe Ruth built.

The statistics on church attendance during football season are staggering. About 40% of men and 18% of women watch more than six hours of football a week, while less than 20% attend church for even one hour, and 22% of churchgoers would skip church for football.

We worship new gods alright.

What America has become is “a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them” (Deut. 32:28). We are walking the same path that the Israelites were on over 3,000 years ago. The very path that led to their scattering, suffering, and destruction is the one that we are gleefully running down.

Why? Because we have forgotten to fear the LORD.

Deut. 32:31 says “their rock is not as our Rock.” Peter, the Pope, Mohammad, Buddha, Odin, Zeus; these are the rocks that other religions are built on. Jesus Christ, the LORD is the Rock that should be our foundation. The Jewish religions missed that mark as well, as they deny that Christ is Messiah. Their only refuge is that they are God’s chosen people whom He promised to restore. Christians, that promise is not given to America. When God destroys our nation, there will be no coming back.

These are the warnings the God gave us through Moses; the only prophet “whom the LORD knew face to face” (Deut. 34:10). No matter the claims from the Vatican or Mecca, none are as great a prophet as Moses who died before entering the Promised Land.