More on how we persist in seeking simple/simplistic(?) causal explanations (with apologies to Big Ian)
I suspect it’s a cultural thing in the West but one which echoes and amplifies how our brains seem to work.
From today’s Guardian (my italics):
The gunman who carried out the massacre on the campus of Virginia Tech fired more than 170 rounds in nine minutes and died with a bullet to his head in a classroom surrounded by his victims, the police said yesterday, providing more details ont he incident. But investigators still do not know what made Cho Seung-hui do it.
…State police superintendent Colonel Steven Flaherty said the investigators had compiled 500 pieces of evidence from Norris Hall, but still had no answers about what motivated Cho to carry out such a bloody killing spree.
“We certainly don’t have any one motive that we are pursuing at this particular time, or that we have been able to pull together and formulate,” he said. “It’s frustrating because it’s so personal, because we see the families and communities suffering. They want answers.”
Yes, it’s “frustrating” not to be able to explain things simply.
Yes, people “want (simplistic) answers”,…to “stop their suffering”.
But that doesn’t make that kind of answer true or useful beyond providing comfort.
If – like me – you see individual behaviour in the larger context of human systems, you’re not going to be surprised that the causal factors at play for things like this are hard to disentangle.
‘Cause that’s how it is – things may make more sense retrospectively (as all complex phenomena do) but even that won’t tell you how it happened – what the causal relationships are – or when it’ll happen again.
You need a different kind of thinking and analysis for that. Sorry.