Our idea of Elliot Rodger is a description of who we are

June 2, 2014

Monday, June 2, 2014

Good morning:

Just as light passing through a prism separates into beams distinguishable from each other by color, our reaction to Elliot Rodger and his day of rage, which ended with his suicide after killing six and injuring 13 students, is a reflection of our knowledge and sensitivity to debilitating mental illness. The national reaction, this blog’s reaction as a community within that larger group, and our individual reaction identifies who we are and where we stand. As such, it is worthy of independent study to increase our understanding of ourselves.

Individual perception is a selective interpretation of information we acquire through our senses. We use our brains to assemble that information into something we recognize and understand. The resulting idea is what we call reality.

Individual perception of reality may vary from person to person due to differences in sensory detection and past interpretations of reality. This is why we often see what we expect or want to see.

Scientists use the term experimental bias to describe this process and they design experiments to exclude it. For example, in a blind study to determine the effect of a drug, participants will be separated into two groups. One receives the drug while the other receives a placebo. Participants in both groups do not know if they are receiving the drug or the placebo. To further exclude bias, the people who administer the drug do not know if they are administering the drug or a placebo.

The New York Times has an article today that informs us about the opinions that various adults in his life had about him and the effort to get through to him.

I have changed my initial opinion of Elliot Rodger from he was a rich and incredibly spoiled brat to he was a rich and desperately sick human being afflicted by a compromised sensory detection system and a compromised memory storage system that further skewed his interpretation of reality.

I now have compassion for Elliot Rodger which I did not have when I wrote my first post.

I believe empathy and compassion are our signature characteristics. I do not believe we would have survived the last ice age without them.

How we react to Elliot Rodger and his day of retribution defines who and where we are.

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