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Mass killer, the real driver of massacres, according to a study conducted by New York University

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The more mass killers differ from their predecessors, the greater the degree of notoriety they will achieve. The media can and should play a central role Avoid emphasizing the exceptional nature of these events To focus on responsible reporting of incidents. These, in a keen compilation, are the central points that emerge from a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (Pnas), conducted by scientists from New york university Brooklyn.

The authors note that mass shootings are becoming more frequent in the United States, but there is limited understanding of The method of work of these multiple murders. To shed new light on this dramatic aspect, the research group, formed by Ryan Soukara, Roni Barak Ventura, Maxim Peleja, Sihan Weya, and Maurizio Porfiry, used data on There were 189 mass shootings in the United States between 1966 and 2021. The team examined the information received from various sources, and classified the incidents according to the number of victims and the location of their occurrence, in order to understand the motives behind the violent acts committed by the perpetrators of these violent acts.

Mass shootings are poorly understood, the authors write, because the motives that drive the killers to perform these gestures are not fully understood. Gun massacres are classified as such when there are more than four victims, but they are often more deadly. According to current estimates A third of these seizures occur in the United States, which is associated with the highest number of mass shootings of any country in the world. The perpetrators of the massacres are often suicidal, but in some cases they are arrested or killed by the police. Some research indicates that the rate of firearm deaths in the United States has tripled since 2011, to the point where today a shooting occurs approximately every 64 days.

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The team used information theory to determine the level of uniqueness in the shootings, which were considered in relation to previous attacks. At the same time, the scientists compiled daily counts of visitors who opened Wikipedia pages dedicated to the specific episodes analyzed. The researchers then investigated the extent to which the specificity of the criminal act was related to the notoriety of the killer. The data obtained reveal that A Greater diversification of the attack compared to previous episodes can ensure a higher resonance of the eventor.

As the survey shows, in most cases, the authors were looking for it Fame and notoriety, by particularly brutal acts or by leaving written testimonies of their activity. Researchers have found that mass killers tend to plan their attacks carefully to set themselves apart from their predecessors. Experts say the findings of the work raise concerns about media reporting of the attacks, which should instead ensure responsible and sanitized reporting of mass shootings.

The authors identify 28 heroes who worked in pursuit of fame and notoriety, and whose outbursts were more spectacular than the others. “Our data set — write the experts — was not designed for the purpose of providing accurate detail for every aspect of a shooting, for example, we did not differentiate between episodes based on the arrest or death of the perpetrators, since these characteristics do not depend on the control of the killer, as well. on its demographic characteristics. The most famous episode was Carnage Columbine High School, which occurred in 1999, and her Wikipedia page had an average of 5,387 daily visits. At the end of the shooting, 12 students and teachers were killed and 24 others were injured. The perpetrators, two students from Columbine High School, committed suicide by shooting themselves.

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Next, the authors cite an event that occurred in 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School, associated with an average of 2,204 daily visits to a Wikipedia page referring to the massacre. On this occasion, Adam Lanza, now 20, opened fire inside the educational facility, killing 28 people, 20 of whom were children between the ages of 6 and 7, before killing himself before the authorities arrived. Third in scale and resonance, scientists report the 2017 Las Vegas Strip massacre, during which 61 people were killed, and 851 people were injured. And again, the perpetrator of the shooting, Stephen Paddock, a 64-year-old man, shot himself after opening fire from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel.

“We acknowledge the controversy over the publication of work of this kind, – the authors emphasized – one might think that our analysis offers interesting insights into mass murderers seeking fame and notoriety. However, previous research on this topic has been mostly descriptive in nature, which hinders understanding The method of work of these criminals. Our work provides quantitative insights into the behavior of fame-seeking mass shooters.. The theoretical basis for this study could be useful in other relevant and unrelated behavioral domains of the context of aggression“.

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Valentina DePaola

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