May 12, 2013
Adrian Raine On The Criminal Mind
In a Wall Street Journal essay Raine surveys recent findings on the biological causes of criminal behavior.
In a 2013 study, Kent Kiehl of the University of New Mexico, looking at a population of 96 male offenders in the state's prison system, found that in the four years after their release, those with low activity in the anterior cingulate cortex—a brain area involved in regulating behavior—were twice as likely to commit another offense as those who had high activity in this region. Research soon to be published by Dustin Pardini of the University of Pittsburgh shows that men with a smaller amygdala are three times more likely to commit violence three years later.
Once we can predict certain people to have an over 50% chance of being criminals what do you think we should do about it?
Long time readers might recall previous FuturePundit posts on Raine's research into biological causes of crime. Raine is the author of a new book, The Anatomy of Violence: The Biological Roots of Crime. I just bought it and have begun reading it.
Update: Once someone has crossed over into criminality do you think it is acceptable to tell them they can only get parole if they get their brain modified to make them less criminally inclined?
Randall Parker, 2013 May 12 11:13 PM
This is like the society depicted in "Queen of Angels", when effective neurobiological therapies have been developed to cure criminal behavior. Criminals get "therapied". Enhancement is also common and consists of mostly life extension treatments as well as other capabilities, like living in zero-gee for a long time. People who enhance themselves are called transforms.
This reminds me of what Sam Harris has to say in his book on Free Will;
“Take a moment to think about the context in which your next decision will occur: You did not pick your parents or the time and place of your birth. You didn't choose your gender or most of your life experiences. You had no control whatsoever over your genome or the development of your brain. And now your brain is making choices on the basis of preferences and beliefs that have been hammered into it over a lifetime - by your genes, your physical development since the moment you were conceived, and the interactions you have had with other people, events, and ideas. Where is the freedom in this? Yes, you are free to do what you want even now. But where did your desires come from?”
― Sam Harris, Free Will
There are many classes that we are obligated to take during our classes, but not one with basic psychology or that teaches us to deal with our negative emotions.
I have just finished reading Professor's Raine's book and, although I do not totally agree with him, he makes very logical, thought-provoking points. Professor Raine emphasizes the biological determinants of violence but also correctly, in my opinion, points out the effects of environment as well as genes on violent behavior.
I draw somewhat different conclusions from Professor Raine's analysis. It seems to me that an early focus on childhood development, appropriate testing, and treatment would significantly reduce violent behavior. I am horrified by the idea of preventive detention. I do not believe his work supports this idea and, even if it did, pettifogging bureaucrats imposing this type of dicta would drive me to violence.
Professor Raine's book should be read by those who wish to reduce violence and should start a more rational discussion on this very contentious topic.
In response to Sam Harris, freedom consists of not having your choices dictated from the outside. Not having them be the consequence of causal factors is properly referred to as "random", not "free". So say the 'soft' determinists, of which I am one.
Yeah, once somebody has actually committed a violent crime, and been convicted, you can do all sorts of things to restrict their liberty as a condition of parole.