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SUPPOSE you had to predict which kids in a roomful of 3-year-olds at your local preschool were likely to grow up to be violent criminals. How would you decide?
Most of us would probably round up the usual sociological suspects, and check whether a child comes from a broken or abusive home, is part of a family living below the poverty line, or has a parent who is a convicted criminal. But there's an easier way, says Adrian Raine: just measure their resting heart rate. His research shows that low
Originally posted by CosmicCitizen
reply to post by ModernAcademia
Athletes, especially long distance runners, have a lower resting heart beat also.....does that mean that runners are more apt to be criminals?
Originally posted by soficrow
reply to post by ModernAcademia
Important - highlights the limitations of our Western focus on "cause and effect." Fact is, life is "multi-factorial" - no single cause can explain most effects we see around us. Life is just waaaay more complicated. Multiple "factors" act together to create the 'whole' and even the slightest deviation [quantity, quality, timing] of any given component/factor can radically alter the end 'product' of one compared to another. Kinda like what we've learned about predicting weather except even more bewildering.
Biology is not destiny, however, and Raine is careful to note that none of these physical differences guarantees a life of crime. Raine himself is a case in point: his resting heart rate is 48 beats per minute, and his brain scans are more similar to those of many murderers than of normal people. Without doubt, environmental factors also play a role in tipping someone towards crime. Indeed, it often takes both bad biology and bad surroundings to induce criminal behaviour.
Even so, it seems clear that biological factors underlie much criminal conduct. If so, Raine argues, we should treat it as a medical condition. "Treating the physical causes will work more quickly and effectively than repairing the complicated social factors that also contribute to criminal behaviour," he argues.
In the final few chapters, however, Raine sets aside his academic cap and tries on a more speculative one, with somewhat less success. Suppose, for instance, that in another 20 years our knowledge has progressed to the point where we can scan someone's brain and predict that they have better-than-even odds of committing a murder in the next few years. What should we do? Raine spins a dystopian fantasy of a future where at-risk individuals are forced into treatment centres and held there until their brains can be modified to reduce the risk.
Pushing the limits even further, he imagines screening and re-educating children, or even requiring prospective parents to prove their knowledge and fitness before being granted a parenting licence. All this is certainly interesting - but Raine sheds his authority when he crosses the line between science and speculation. Back to the lab.