16 Nov 2014, 16:25

laws against murder

Speaking about fifteenth century Europe, Dan Jones:

In this age, men fight. That’s what they do.

I was listening to Dan Jones on the Diane Rehm Show the other day, and he made this comment in the middle of explaining that the society of the Wars of the Roses was much more militaristic than today’s western society, something she found surprising. The link above has a transcript; the exchange starts at 11:26:27, but the whole show is quite interesting, I thought.

In any case, there’s a widespread misconception (on all sides of the political arena) that modern times is particularly violent, when exactly the opposite is the case. Violent crime has been falling since the early 1990s in the US, and there’s a longer term trend toward massively lower violence rates in the West. So, when I read Kyle Bennett’s modest proposal, I wondered if strictly enforced rules against murder aren’t part of why we have this long term trend.

Perhaps Kyle is too optimistic about the number of people who, like him, have never thought about homicide. The homicidal ideation on Wikipedia suggests right up front that the number is closer to 1 in 2 than 1 in a million, and that’s for the lower bound of those who are willing to admit that to a researcher.

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