From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue Jan 15 2002 - 09:14:03 GMT

  • Next message: Ray Recchia: "Re: Knowledge, Memes and Sensory Perception"

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    At 02:11 AM 15/01/02 -0500, you wrote:

    >>Right. For a causal relation to be suspected the "caused" event must
    >>happen later in time, and the alternative of both being caused by some
    >>unknown event must be ruled out or at least considered unlikely. I
    >>consider it possible but unlikely that the spike in suicides following
    >>media reports has a common relation to some unknown event. Do you have a
    >>different opinion?
    >Black Friday. Ease of access to guns. "Disintegration of family
    >values." Even in the whole "going postal" thing there was some
    >discussion of the "corporate culture" of the USPS which lead to greater
    >employee stress and unhappiness. The media reports confound the issue,
    >because you don't know whether or not the suicides would have happened if
    >it weren't reported. I don't think there is ever an instance where
    >someone commits suicide only because of the media, there is usually other
    >stuff going on in their life. And there are certainly forces which effect
    >large populations, so they are happening in many people's lives
    >simultaneously. This starts to sound like my history class: sufficient
    >causes, final causes and contributing causes. It's rarely an
    >all-or-nothing matter.

    Certainly true. But these effects with the exception of an economic upset
    are spread out in time, not concentrated. If I remember correctly the
    suicide rate picks up a for a few weeks after a famous suicide and not at
    other times. If this is the case, it would seem to me media influence is
    causing, at least accelerating some of the suicides.

    Keith Henson

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