Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Boys are socialized to have a very narrow and rigid definition of masculinity.

Mask You (Linity) 

After  examining the social construction of what it means to be feminine, we are now taking a look at the social construction of masculinity.

Question 1 : What are three words that describe what it means to be a man?




Question 2:  What are three words that describe someone who is not a real man?

Now examine some of these statistics:

Boys are 30% more likely to flunk.
Boys are 2.5 times more likely to be suspended.
Boys are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with learning and emotional disabilities

Question 3:  Why do you think this is true?


Sociologists find that the construction of masculinity puts boys at risk in school:
There is a disconnect between school and masculinity; masculinity is constructed as “active” while school is constructed to be passive; sit-down, pay attention, take notes are docile, passive and feminine.

Other disturbing statistics:
40% of teenage girls 14-17yrs say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
1 of 5 college females will experience some form of dating violence from their male partner.
1 in 3 High School students have been or will be in an abusive relationship.
 Zacariah Foundation http://www.zcenter.org/index.htm

Why do you think this is true?


After carefully examining violence in America, I hope you see the larger dynamic of what is going on here.  Masculinity is a mask that many men wear in America. It is a way of masking or hiding who they really are in order to validating their self worth according to how the culture tells them they are supposed to be. Men in America are shaped by a culture that reinforces the idea that toughness, violence and aggression are normal ways of being male. They are also taught to not be vulnerable  or emotional or nurturing.  This creates a culture where overwhelmingly males are violent compared to females. Have you experienced this mask of masculinity? How? What are some other ways our culture should be constructing masculinity to provide validation for guys who are not violent? Are there examples out there that you know about? All of the agents of socialization play a role in this process.  Here is one example of the way the media creates this mask:

video

Friday, February 24, 2017

Tough Guise

Today we watched a video about how our society socializes boys in a narrow and limited way. That video is called "Tough Guise". In other words, the disguise to seem tough that guys put on. Watch Tough Guise 2 on mediacast by clicking here.  Please read the article I assigned by Kimmel and Mahler related to this.
The documentary has a few important parts.  First, is the idea that men are at risk because masculinity is a social construction that says violence, anger and toughness are the only okay emotions or reactions for males.  When violence occurs in society, the media and society ignore the masculine element.  They just assume that it is natural.
However, the connection between masculinity and violence  has only been around since society changed from an agricultural patriarchy to a modern more egalitarian society.  As our society changed to be more urban and more equal, men have been taught to fear women and fear the changes.  These changes helped to popularize the Western movies and shows that have only been around the last 75 years or so.
Along with the change of society came changes in acceptance of women as equal and changes in gay rights.  Fear of the changes in society is filtered throughout society via politics and media.  Guns are a symptom of the fear of the changes. There is a siege mentality that promotes rugged individualism and gun ownership as a way of fighting back both literally and figuratively.  Guys today are taught that violence is the only way to be really considered a man and to hold onto their manhood.
This includes denigrating anything that is female or gay.  This creates a dangerous anti-woman attitude.
He ends with the idea that we can all make little changes in how we talk and act and think. We can support movies that show honest portrayals of guys and movies that help broaden the box that guys fit into. 

Below are some of the sources that are referred to in the movie.

Jackson Katz
Jackson Katz, narrator in the video has his own website.  Also, here is his book, The Macho Paradox
Here is Katz speaking at a TED conference:




Real Boys; Rescuing Our Sons from the Myths of Boyhood, book by William Pollock.  Pollock documents how at a very early age boys are taught to accept traditional male gender traits of being tough and repressing their emotions.
Excerpt available here.
Based on William Pollack's groundbreaking research at Harvard Medical School over two decades, Real Boys explores why many boys are sad, lonely, and confused although they may appear tough, cheerful, and confident. Pollack challenges conventional expectations about manhood and masculinity that encourage parents to treat boys as little men, raising them through a toughening process that drives their true emotions underground. Only when we understand what boys are really like, says Pollack, can we help them develop more self-confidence and the emotional savvy they need to deal with issues such as depression, love and sexuality, drugs and alcohol, divorce, and violence.

Guyland; The Perilous World Where Boys Become Men, book by Michael Kimmel.  Kimmel's research focuses on kids slightly older than those in Pollack's research.  Here is a review from the NY Times.
In mapping the troubling social world where men are now made, Kimmel offers a view into the minds and times of America's sons, brothers, and boyfriends, and he works toward redefining what it means to be a man today—and tomorrow. Only by understanding this world and this life stage can we enable young men to chart their own paths, stay true to themselves, and emerge safely from Guyland as responsible and fully formed male adults.  Here is a post from Kimmel in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre.

 Dude You're A Fag, book by sociologist C.J. Pascoe.  From the amazon summary, "High school and the difficult terrain of sexuality and gender identity are brilliantly explored in this smart, incisive ethnography. Based on eighteen months of fieldwork in a racially diverse working-class high school, Dude, You're a Fag sheds new light on masculinity both as a field of meaning and as a set of social practices. C. J. Pascoe's unorthodox approach analyzes masculinity as not only a gendered process but also a sexual one. She demonstrates how the "specter of the fag" becomes a disciplinary mechanism for regulating heterosexual as well as homosexual boys and how the "fag discourse" is as much tied to gender as it is to sexuality."  Here is a video of the authors discussing their work.


Cool Pose; The Dilemmas of Black Manhood, book by Richard Majors and Janet Mancini Billson.  Here is a review from the NY Times;
While the cool pose is often misread by teachers, principals and police officers as an attitude of defiance, psychologists who have studied it say it is a way for black youths to maintain a sense of integrity and suppress rage at being blocked from usual routes to esteem and success.




Leading Men; Presidential Campaigns and the Politics of Manhood, book by Jackson Katz.
In Leading Men, Jackson Katz puts forth the original and highly provocative thesis that presidential campaigns have become the center stage of an ongoing national debate about manhood, a kind of quadrennial referendum on what type of man—or one day, woman—embodies not only our ideological beliefs, but our very identity as a nation.  Of course this debate has enormous implications for women—both as potential candidates for the presidency and as citizens.


Violence; Reflections on a National Epidemic, book by James Gilligan.  Drawing on firsthand experience as a prison psychiatrist, his own family history, and literature, Gilligan unveils the motives of men who commit horrifying crimes, men who will not only kill others but destroy themselves rather than suffer a loss of self-respect. With devastating clarity, Gilligan traces the role that shame plays in the etiology of murder and explains why our present penal system only exacerbates it. Brilliantly argued, harrowing in its portraits of the walking dead, Violence should be read by anyone concerned with this national epidemic and its widespread consequences.



Gunfighter Nation The Myth of the Frontier in 20th-Century America, a book By Richard Slotkin.  Excerpt from the NY Times;
According to the myth of the frontier, says Mr. Slotkin, "the conquest of the wilderness and the subjugation or displacement of the Native Americans who originally inhabited it have been the means to our achievement of a national identity, a democratic polity, an ever-expanding economy and a phenomenally dynamic and 'progressive' civilization." Central to this myth was the belief that "violence is an essential and necessary part of the process through which American society was established and through which its democratic values are defended and enforced."
 Terrence Real's book I Don't Want To Talk About It; Twenty years of experience treating men and their families has convinced psychotherapist Terrence Real that depression is a silent epidemic in men—that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression’s “un-manliness.” Problems that we think of as typically male—difficulty with intimacy, workaholism, alcoholism, abusive behavior, and rage—are really attempts to escape depression. And these escape attempts only hurt the people men love and pass their condition on to their children.




Here is Katz's conclusion from the movie:

Too often, we define masculine strength by who can blow away the most people, who can flex the most muscle, who can impose their will and inflict the most damage. But this cheapens the real definition of strength and toughness.
We respect the toughness of firefighters who rush into burning buildings when others are rushing out, police officers and other first responders who put their lives on the line, and our men and women in the armed services who show courage under fire – not because they’re out to prove something, but because they steer themselves in the face of danger and face down their fears in service to others.
For the same reason, we should respect the toughness and strength of men who challenge the myth that being a real man requires putting up a false front, disrespecting others, and engaging in violent and self-destructive behavior.
We should respect all the men out there who aren’t threatened by women’s equality, who have the confidence to listen to women, learn from them, and grow in the process, who refuse to engage in homophobic abuse and bullying to prove they’re one of the guys, who show empathy for others rather than joining in or remaining silent when other guys prop themselves up at the expense of others, and who meet change and difference with a willingness to make change and a difference themselves.
Strength is about adapting to change, not about retreating from it and lashing back with violence out of fear. And it’s high time we had a definition of manhood capable of meeting that challenge.


Here is a poster from Katz that is printable with Ten Things Guys Can Do To Prevent Violence;
ten things men can do to prevent gender violence
  1. Approach gender violence as a MEN'S issue involving men of all ages and socioeconomic, racial and ethnic backgrounds. View men not only as perpetrators or possible offenders, but as empowered bystanders who can confront abusive peers
  2. If  a brother, friend, classmate, or teammate is abusing his female partner -- or is disrespectful or abusive to girls and women in general -- don't look the other way. If you feel comfortable doing so, try to talk to him about it. Urge him to seek help. Or if you don't know what to do, consult a friend, a parent, a professor, or a counselor. DON'T REMAIN SILENT.
  3. Have the courage to look inward. Question your own attitudes. Don't be defensive when something you do or say ends up hurting someone else. Try hard to understand how your own attitudes and actions might inadvertently perpetuate sexism and violence, and work toward changing them.
  4. If you suspect that a woman close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help.
  5. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically, or sexually abusive to women, or have been in the past, seek professional help NOW.
  6. Be an ally to women who are working to end all forms of gender violence. Support the work of campus-based women's centers. Attend "Take Back the Night" rallies and other public events. Raise money for community-based rape crisis centers and battered women's shelters. If you belong to a team or fraternity, or another student group, organize a fundraiser.
  7. Recognize and speak out against homophobia and gay-bashing. Discrimination and violence against lesbians and gays are wrong in and of themselves. This abuse also has direct links to sexism (eg. the sexual orientation of men who speak out against sexism is often questioned, a conscious or unconscious strategy intended to silence them. This is a key reason few men do so).
  8. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about multicultural masculinities, gender inequality, and the root causes of gender violence.  Educate yourself and others about how larger social forces affect the conflicts between individual men and women.
  9. Don't fund sexism. Refuse to purchase any magazine, rent any video, subscribe to any Web site, or buy any music that portrays girls or women in a sexually degrading or abusive manner. Protest sexism in the media.
  10. Mentor and teach young boys about how to be men in ways that don't involve degrading or abusing girls and women. Volunteer to work with gender violence prevention programs, including anti-sexist men's programs. Lead by example

Thursday, February 23, 2017

LGBT Panel


Today we were fortunate to have a group of students share their experiences in dealing with LGBT issues. Interviews are one way that sociologists conduct qualitative research and I think this is always a valuable way of learning from the LGBT community.  I think there are a few themes that come out of the panel.
First, students explain the way they not only could not choose their sexuality or gender identity but in some cases they worked actively to try to deny it and fight against it.  I find it hard to imagine how difficult it must be to mentally try to be something you are not.  This is an example of the difference between nature and nurture.  It is very hard for them to deny their nature even if they are nurtured against it.
Second, I think that the students show a similar pattern of how difficult their relationships are in their agents of socialization.  Students show how difficult it is with their families, schools, religions and even peers/friends.  Being gay, bisexual or transgender creates a role conflict with all of these groups that operate under traditional gendered traits.
Finally, the panel shows the individuality of each person.  Sex, gender, sexuality and gender identity all exist on a spectrum (as opposed to the narrowly defined boxes that our culture uses).  The individuals on the panel exhibit their own unique identity in these categories and they have their own unique coming out process. We should be mindful of that individuality.  Don't stereotype them, instead respect each person's self identity.  This includes the pronouns that they use, as well as other things like their interests, hobbies, haircut and clothes.
In conclusion, I think it was incredibly courageous for these students to share their experiences.  I hope you found it moving and enlightening.

Here are more LGBT stories online.

Here is a link to the Reconciling Churches network within the Methodist Christianity.

Here is a link to the Reconciling Lutheran Christian churches.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kimmel and Mahler

Based on the article by Kimmel and Mahler, please answer the following questions:

1.  Without discussing or looking at your neighbors, please list three words that describe what it means to be a real man:


Now list the first three words that come to mind when describing someone who is not a real man:


Next, please take out the article by Kimmel and Mahler titled, Adolescent Masculinity, homophobia, and violence:  Random school shootings, 1982-2001. 

As a group, please answer the following questions:

2.  What is the most significant variable that correlates with random mass shootings?  What evidence does Kimmel and Mahler cite to show this?






3.  What are some of the ways in which researchers have tried to explain random mass shootings but have missed the variable (from #2 above) in their explanations?






4.  What was the geography of the shootings?  Where were the random school shootings more likely to occur?  Why?





5.  Explain how Kimmel and Mahler studied the phenomenon of random school shootings.







6.  What findings did the authors have about homosexuality and random school shootings?








7.  What were the school cultures like where the shootings occurred?





8. Why does the author say that boys are more likely to commit random school shootings?






9.  What race are the random school shooters more likely to be?  Why?








10.  What factors might help prevent random school shootings?


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Service Step 2: Recording your hours

Within one week of serving hours, I'd like you to post about it.

For Step 2 of the Community Service Experience you should record on your blog what you experienced: Before, during and after you have a service experience, try to be mindful of these questions: Things to record: How did you feel about the service before going? What were your expectations? Were there aspects that you were apprehensive about? Where did you have to go for the service? Had you been there before? If not, what was it like going to this place? Who were the people you came into contact with? What were they like? What was the interaction like? What was the actual job you did? What was it like? Was there anything that surprised you? What were you thinking as you did it? How long did your tasks last? What did you think as you went home? Also you MUST include: Name of organization you volunteered? Where was your experience (address)? Date(s) and time(s) of experience? Supervisor or person in charge and phone/email address? And include a picture of you doing the service or you at the site.


After each service experience, you should write your observations down. These observations will be posted to your blog (in addition to your usual weekly posts). This should help you to remember the details about your experiences so that later in the semester you will be able to write a sociological reflection about your experiences. This also provides evidence of your participation in the service experience. Please fill out the information below or you may type and print it out, but be sure to include the information requested below. Please post about your experience within 1 WEEK after you do the service.

One of the ways that girls are socialized is by seeing unrealistic ads.

The Average Girl...

"I'm not the average girl from your video
and I ain't built like a supermodel
But, I learned to love myself unconditionally
Because I am a queen
I'm not the average girl from your video
My worth is not determined by the price of my clothes
No matter what I'm wearing I will always be the india arie
"
- India Arie

video

The average girl in your video, on your magazine cover, or in your advertisement, is far from average. We live in a media age and are bombarded with information. Much of this information is about how we are supposed to view ourselves. For females, the difficulty is especially tricky. Females are under siege with advertisements, movies, toys and magazine ads that all create an unrealistic, unnatural and unhealthy body image. This can lead to self-esteem problems, unhappiness, eating disorders and a desire to seek self-worth in material possessions. Here are some websites worth exploring:

These pictures show the digital enhancement of models like Britney Spears. The picture you see in the magazine is not of a real person.

video
Love your body from the NOW foundation
Includes offensive ads, positive ads, a presentation of sex and stereotypes


Dove's Campaign for Real Beauty
Includes some short films and articles and online workshops for girls and their families.

Here are examples of offensive ads from the NOW Foundation. These ads generally objectify women as sex objects.

Commonsense Media
a compilation of the latest articles on self image and resources to combat it.


Negative effects that media has had on teens, especially young girls and their body image.

Excellent article on our assumptions about our bodies is shaped by the media and even doctors and is not always correct, for example these women all are "average" weight but have vastly different sizes because of their body type:


 


"I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am not your expectations (no)
I am not my hair
I am not this skin
I am the soul that lives within
"
- India Arie

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day?


My daughter on Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day?

What is this day really about? We like to talk about it being a day to celebrate love, but it is really a day to celebrate romance. So often, I think Americans (and Westerners in general) equate the word "love" with romance and passion. However, many cultures view love and marriage differently. They view it more as being a good team member. It is more of a partnership between two people who care about each other. There is a recent article in the Atlantic called "Marry Him" about how too many women are looking for the perfect man who looks perfect, acts perfect shares the right interests and has that spark that makes their heart flutter. This is creating unrealistic expectations. Here is an interview with the author of the article. How do you feel about this? Do you think that our vision of love is too romantic and not practical enough?

When I was in high school my school brought in this speaker/author to talk about the difference between love and infatuation. Here is his book. He explained that biologically, we have a rush of emotions when we "fall in love". This is romantic love and infatuation. But it isn't real love. It wears off. Biologically he said it will last for 6 months or so and then it wears off. After that, you see the other person more realistically and that means you have to make a conscious choice about being with this person. That is what real love is - it is a conscious choice to care about someone. Even when we are upset or angry with the other person we still choose to care about them and thus we still love them. The author of the book includes a list of a dozen or so key aspects of a relationship to examine. I found this blogpost that lists the key criteria to distinguish between real love and infatuation. The book was really a good source for me to sort through all of these emotions when I was going through high school and college. You can get it used from amazon for like $4.

For more sociological insight into Valentine's Day checkout this link.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Post 4: Socialization

We have been learning about the socialization process.  This includes the distinction between nature and nurture and the importance of nurture.  We also saw that certain agents of socialization (family, school, media) play a strong role in the nurture process. Sometimes they nurture you purposefully (manifest lessons)  and sometimes they nurture you unintentionally (latent lessons).  Explain the nature-nurture dynamic and how agents play a role in it.  Give examples of socialization from your own life.

Please remember to

1.  write properly and post on time.

2. explain at least one source such as a reading (What is human nature? or Agents of Socialization), or a video (Danielle, Consuming Kids).  Also, your textbook is always available to you as a source.

3. explain two or more topics we have learned (such as those above in bold) and give unique examples of how they might apply to your own life, or something unique from your perspective.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

The Media, especially TV is a powerful agent of socialization.


Here is the group activity that we are working on today.  Please read the post below and answer the questions on your discussion sheet as a group.

By watching the documentary Consuming Kids and doing the The Un-TV experiment, I hope you became more aware of how the media impacts you.

Part I. First, discuss the Consuming Kids video.  Hopefully, the Consuming Kids video helped illustrate the socialization messages that TV has for us and the reality that it is more like a two-faced back stabber than a friend. Below is the trailer for Consuming Kids. But you can see the whole video by clicking here and logging into mediacast, or in parts at youtube and find more info on the Media Ed website.
video
Part II. The Un-TV experiment.  Hopefully you were really able to experience this experiment. If you did, you may have noticed the mindless trance that TV creates. You may also have seen that TV is in its essence quite boring and so it uses technical events as well as tv's own message that you should believe it is entertaining and exciting. Regarding the news on television, it is really one more entertainment program that presents itself as news. Very little of the news is actual news (in the sense that it is information that you need to know). See this post about headlines that you won't see in the news. Furthermore, the news is there to give you a sense that it is important. Here is a video making fun of the typical news magazine story. Isn't that funny? How true is that? Another one that is pretty funny, though politically charged is comedian Lewis Black's critique of Glenn Beck.

Besides the "news" TV is interspersed with a message to you to be a consumer and a conformer.  It is also produced so that as a viewer you don't question what you are doing, certainly not while you are watching the TV.  The TV is in many ways like a good friend of ours waiting for us in our living room. It's there with us giving us the feeling that we are connected and engaged to society, when the reality is exactly the opposite.

Part III.  Quizzes.  And if you are skeptical that you have been socialized by the media, try playing one of the corporate logo games here. See how much you have been influenced.  Or try this quiz of tv show theme songs.Or this quiz from sporcle for commercial jingles.  Or this commercial jingle quiz from business insider.  What is interesting to me is that none of us ever consciously tried to learn the logos or the theme songs and jingles, but we know so many of them.  TV influences us without us realizing it.

Part IV. FIJI.  Even more evidence of the powerful force the TV has on us comes from the small Pacific island of Fiji. Ann Becker studied Fijian norms before the island was able to get satellite TV. After getting satellite TV, in a very short time period, just a few years, the island had reversed its norms and was now experiencing the body dysmorphic disorders of the United States. Here is one summary from Harvard. And Here is one from the NY Times. Here is an excerpt:
'You've gained weight'' is a traditional compliment in Fiji, anthropologists say. In accordance with traditional culture in the South Pacific nation, dinner guests are expected to eat as much as possible. A robust, nicely rounded body is the norm for men and women. ''Skinny legs'' is a major insult. And ''going thin,'' the Fijian term for losing a noticeable amount of weight, is considered a worrisome condition. But all that may be changing, now that Heather Locklear has arrived. Just a few years after the introduction of television to a province of Fiji's main island, Viti Levu, eating disorders -- once virtually unheard of there -- are on the rise among girls, according to a study presented yesterday at the American Psychiatric Association meetings in Washington. Young girls dream of looking not like their mothers and aunts, but like the slender stars of ''Melrose Place'' and ''Beverly Hills 90210.'' ''I'm very heavy,'' one Fijian adolescent lamented during an interview with researchers led by Dr. Anne E. Becker, director of research at the Harvard Eating Disorders Center of Harvard Medical School, who investigated shifts in body image and eating practices in Fiji over a three-year period.
Here is a poster called "What are you missing?" from Media Ed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Unit 1: Connecting Research, ingroups-outgroups, mindfulness and the fear of guns v. terrorism

https://qz.com/898207/the-psychology-of-why-americans-are-more-scared-of-terrorism-than-guns-though-guns-are-3210-times-likelier-to-kill-them/

According to the New America Foundationjihadists killed 94 people inside the United States between 2005 and 2015. During that same time period, 301,797 people in the US were shot dead, Politifact reports.
At first blush, these numbers might seem to indicate that Donald Trump’s temporary ban on immigrants from seven countries—a goal he said was intended to “protect the American people from terrorist attacks by foreign nationals admitted to the United States”—is utterly misguided.
But Trump is right about at least one thing: Americans are more afraid of terrorism than they are of guns, despite the fact that guns are 3,210 times more likely to kill them.
Chapman University has conducted a Survey of American Fears for more than three years. It asks 1,500 adults what they fear most. It organizes the fears into categories that include personal fears, conspiracy theories, terrorism, natural disasters, paranormal fears, and more recently, fear of Muslims.
In 2016, Americans’ number-one fear was “corruption of government officials”—the same top fear as in 2015. Terrorist attacks came second. In fact, of the top five fears, two are terror-related. And number five is not fear of guns but fear of government restrictions on guns. Fear of a loved one dying—whether by gun violence or anything else—came next.
One reason people’s fears don’t line up with actual risks is that our brains are wired by evolution to make fast judgements which are not always backed up by logical reasoning. “Our emotions push us to make snap judgments that once were sensible—but may not be anymore,” Maia Szalavitz, a child psychiatrist, wrote in 2008 in Psychology Today.
Also, fear strengthens memory, she wrote, so that one-off catastrophes like plane crashes or terrorist attacks embed in our memories, while we blank the horrible accidents we see daily on the highway. “As a result, we overestimate the odds of dreadful but infrequent events and underestimate how risky ordinary events are,” Szalavitz explained.
Risk perception (pdf) used to be based on an analytical equation: you multiply the probability of an event by the potential damage of its outcome. But Paul Slovic, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, understood the powerful role of emotions in decision-making and altered that equation, noting that many things affect how we perceive risk:
  • do you trust the person you are dealing with
  • control vs. lack of control (lack of control inflates risk perceptions)
  • is it catastrophic or chronic (catastrophic inflates risk perceptions)
  • does it incite dread or anger (dread inflates risk perceptions)
  • uncertainty (lack of knowledge about something inflates risk perceptions)
“Most people do not distinguish well between a one-in-a-thousand risk and a one-in-a-million risk,” said Mark Egan, an associate advisor at the Behavioral Insights Group in London.
Baruch Fischhoff, a decision scientist at Carnegie Mellon, said that the unpredictability of terrorism can make it scarier than something like a car crash. “Terrorism is not like motor vehicle accidents, where past performance predicts future performance,” he said. “Terrorism could change and it’s not irrational for people to react differently to an uncertain risk.”
That’s exactly what Americans did after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. People began flying less and driving more. The result, estimated Gerd Gigerenzer, a German risk specialist, was that 1,595 more Americans died in road accidents during the 12 months after 9/11 than would have otherwise.
Michael Rothschild, then an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin, calculated some of the risks we face:
  • One in 6 million: Risk of dying in a plane hijacking, assuming you fly four times a month and hijackers destroy one plane every year. (Just to be clear, since 9/11, hijackers have not destroyed any flights in the US.)
  • One in 7,000: the risk of dying in a car accident in any given year
  • One in 600: the risk of dying from cancer in any given year
According to data compiled from the Centers for Disease Control, over 2005-2014, an average of 11,737 Americans a year were shot dead by another American (21 of them by toddlers), 737 were killed by falling out of bed, and nine were killed by Islamic jihadists—who in most cases were US citizens, not immigrants (Nearly twice as many Americans kill themselves with guns as kill each other).
Rothschild blamed politicians for overstating the terrorist risk. Media saturation is also to blame. Having ready access to images of every atrocity known to mankind makes us prone to what behavioral scientists call “availability bias,” the tendency to give weight to what comes to mind most easily. The blanket coverage of the Sept. 11th attacks successfully seared the images of terrorism on our brains; shootings, which happen every day and—with the exception of a few mass shootings—are largely ignored, have less of an effect.
“We over-react to visible threats,” said Max Bazerman, co-director of the Center for Public Leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and an expert on decision-making. “When there is someone out to get you, it is more visible than when you are silently dying in a hospital.”
After the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, Roxane Cohen Silver and two co-authors looked at what caused more acute stress: being at or near the bombing itself, or being exposed to it in the media. They found “[r]epeated bombing-related media exposure was associated with higher acute stress than was direct exposure.”
President Trump may believe he is responding to people’s outsized fears of terrorism. Unfortunately, his hastily arranged executive order won’t work—not least because, as the Wall Street Journal found (paywall), “of 180 people charged with jihadist terrorism-related crimes or who died before being charged” only 11 came from the seven countries banned in Trump’s order. He didn’t ban people from Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, or Egypt—the home countries of the 19 perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks.
Some things to consider:
How does this article illustrate that sociology is more than common sense?
What types of research does the article use?
How might ingroup-outgroup mentality play a role in the article's conclusions?
How can we be mindful about our fears?