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May 22, 2008

Researcher Says He Can Predict Violent Behavior by Youngsters Based on a Complex Analysis of Their Writings; Stuff to Look for Includes Seething Anger, General Derangement, and Statements Like "I'm Going to Kill Everybody"

Props to a Fark.com poster for pouncing on the absurdity of this. The "I'm going to kill everyone" thing isn't mentioned by the researcher; that's a Fark exaggeration. But the word "kill" is.

"Groundbreaking research," the psychiatrist says of his own dubious "discovery."

A psychiatrist and university researcher says he's analyzed the writings of two Colorado killers and believes it is possible to predict who could be a mass murderer in the future.

"This is groundbreaking research," said University of Minnesota researcher Dr. Jerry Ronning, who has analyzed writings of Colorado religious shooter Matthew Murray, Columbine High School gunman Eric Harris and Red Lake, Minnesota school shooter Jeffrey Weise.

...

Ronning uses a computer program that measures the frequency of words that pertain to emotion and thought.

"Of the kids who are violent, we find that they have the capacity and tendency to use much more emotional terms. They seem able to translate their feelings into words to a much greater extent than perhaps the average (person,)" said Ronning in an interview with 9NEWS at his office in Minneapolis.

According to Ronning, examples of emotional words are: happy, sweet, nasty, kill and grief. Thought words such as: consider, maybe, because and effect. Ronning says thought words keep emotional outbursts in check.

Ronning says a balance between the two indicates a stable person.

Two points: First, I think we can exclude the "emotion words" happy and sweet from predicting violence. I'm going to focus on nasty, grief, and kill. Actually, the hell with nasty and grief, I'm going to focus laser-like on kill.

Second: He's discovered that people who cannot control their violent emotions may be more dangerous than those who can.

Do they award Nobel Prizes for stupid?

Ronning found a high level of emotional words in Murray's writings and a declining level of thought words. His research looked at writings starting about 18 months before Murray went on his shooting rampage in Arvada and Colorado Springs.

An excerpt from Murray's writings, believed to have been written on Aug. 5, 2007: "You raped the soul from the child in me. Crying all alone, the tears flowing down my face in a beautiful stream, the lovely misery and lonely darkness surrounding me as I see everyone going on with their meaningless vain fake lives, all the posers and wannabes, all the abusers."

Ronning says the passage is an example of descriptive emotional words.

Before this groundbreaking research I never would have figured that violent and morbid thoughts were a sign of violent and morbid temperament.

Then in a passage written just days before the shootings, Ronning says Murray's writings dramatically change and become less emotional and more thought oriented.

"Just because I'm not one of the 'beautiful people,' just because other people don't understand or because I'm not 'popular' does not mean I need to take any more (expletive) from anyone," wrote Murray on Dec. 1, 2007, approximately eight days before the shooting sprees.

Ronning says the change would appear to be a dramatic improvement in a person's mood, but is really a grave sign of impending trouble.

Ummmm... actually I read it as a "grave sign of impending trouble." Who would see a threat to "not take any more shit from anyone" as a "dramatic improvement in a person's mood"? Do we need Doc Ronning to tell us that a passage like, say, "God, I'm so happy and contented with the brand new duct tape and ether bottle I got for my lucky Murder Kit!" is really not as "positive-sounding" as it may first seem?

Is this for real? Am I being punked?

I have to think -- I hope -- that this psychiatrist's findings focus more on subtle statistical analysis than stuff like "kill" and "rape" and "dying," and that the reporter just got it wrong, or oversimplified it because he's a retard.


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posted by Ace at 11:51 AM

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