Mental Illness, Gun Violence, and Lying

It’s hard to get through a week without more incidents of gun violence in the US, and Republican claims that they’re all due to mental illness. So why is the US an extreme outlier in gun violence? Why would more people per capita in the US be mentally ill? The Repubicans can’t explain that. (My explanation, a few posts ago, is that there are mentally ill people in every nation, but the the US gives easy access to the mentally ill to assault weapons; that is, those most attracted to assault weapons whose purpose is to kill masses of people, are by definition mentally ill.)

I’ve missed a couple of days of blogging here, laid low with another cold, this one sniffly, coughy, and chest congested. But no temperature; not COVID. I think my partner picked this bug up somewhere (because he had it first), and brought it home to me. It’s curious that I’ve had two colds now, in two months (the previous one was in early March), after some three years of none at all, because of mostly staying at home due to COVID threats. I suppose I’m back to normal; for my entire life, since I was a schoolchild, I’ve *always* had two or three colds every year. Though rarely flus, with temperatures, chills and being laid up in bed for a week or more. With a cold, it’s downtime for three or four days. And I’m getting better. And being laid up gives you time to think, and… make decisions.

For today, a couple takes on the weird political situation in the US.

Salon, Paul Rosenberg, 7 May 2023: Undoing Undue Hate: The corrosive role of common false beliefs, subtitled “Author of ‘Undue Hate’ on how a handful of universal cognitive biases exacerbate perceived divisions”

An essential piece, worth close examination. For now I’ll list his key points. It’s all about being self-aware, and not swayed by the crowds.

1, Over-precision, i.e. over-confidence in what we believe and know
2, “What you see is all there is” (citing Kahneman)
3, Naive realism
4, Motivated reasoning
5, Lack of intellectual humility
6, Unmotivated confirmation bias

I’ll return to this.


Salon, Kirk Swearingen, 6 May 2023: Why are Republicans so bad at lying?, subtitled “They lie so much, shouldn’t they be better at it?”

There are many things to wonder about the far-right in this country, such as why they are afraid of history and science, why they say they hate tyranny and yet want to control other people’s personal choices and keep them from voting, and why they think religious freedom is their freedom to force their religious beliefs on the rest of us. (Oh, wait, I just answered my own question!)

But given that they lie so much — about the Constitution, about their political opponents, about what it means to be a patriotic American — one would think they’d at least be good at it.

When I heard that unmeritorious in a report about the lawsuit naming Carlson, I laughed out loud. Well, when they use a twenty-dollar word like that, he must be innocent.
When a person is lying, it’s nearly impossible to be simple, to be forthright. A liar just has an overwhelming need to gussy it up. Thus, you’re not innocent, you are completely innocent or absolutely innocent. A charge against you isn’t merely false, it’s totally false or completely bogus, or some such, from the liar’s well-thumbed thesaurus.

If you are a certain conman cult leader, you’re not just absolutely innocent of the many serious charges brought against you, it’s a political witch hunt, a massive fraud, a conspiracy not against you, but against your followers, you being, by the way, the MOST INNOCENT and BELOVED president in the history of the world who will have vengeance on all his enemies, who will be your retribution.



Vox, Nicole Narea, 8 May 2023: Mental illness is not responsible for America’s guns crisis, subtitled “Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wants more mental health resources after the Allen mall mass shooting. It’s not a real solution.”

Once again, the Republicans blame “mental illness” on gun violence. Since there is so much more gun violence in the US than in any other countries around the world, they don’t explain why the US would have so much more mental illness than any other country. They are being obtuse. Playing to the gun manufacturers and the 2nd amendment absolutionists — many of whom simply like to play at gun fantasies, as mentioned in previous posts. The rest of us suffer.

As here:

Salon, Heather Digby Parton, 8 May 2023: For the love of guns, subtitled “What we all give up so that they can own their lethal weapons”

Citing Republican claims that “that mental illness is causing all of this bloodshed or it’s an act of God and there’s nothing we can do about it.”

But Parton then spells the situation out, brutally.

Gov. Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, is correct about the fact that Texas has a 73% higher gun death rate than California so Abbott is being disingenuous when he makes that claim. There is simply no doubt that states with looser gun laws have higher rates of gun violence. And the gun laws are getting looser by the day with both Texas and Florida recently just letting their gun-freak flags fly and allowing unlicensed carry pretty much everywhere.

“We go over this every time”:

As it happens, Texas also has very high rates of mental illness and the lowest rate of access to mental health care in the country so he needs to stop cutting mental health services in the state if wants to have any credibility on that issue. We go over this every time there is a mass shooting but it’s apparently necessary. As this survey shows, mental illness is prevalent all over the world with estimates of more than a billion people suffering from one form or another. It’s obvious that mental illness is universal across all humanity. Yet we are the only country that has this problem with constant mass shootings. It is intensely frustrating to have to make this point over and over again but there’s no choice. An average 6th grader can look at those facts and determine that while we all have mental illness in our societies the reason only America is awash is gun violence is because we are awash in guns. No other country is suicidal enough to allow this.

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