What do we know about ourselves and how do we know it?
Allegedly, Robin Parks was laid of by the U.S. Postal Service back in December 2009. Yesterday, he went on what some described as a “shooting rampage”: while driving and being intoxicated with alcohol, he randomly shot a three cars. It happened in Polk County, Florida, just a few days after the Cumbria shootings which left 12 dead (including the shooter, Derrick Bird). Just as it was the case with Bird, Robin Parks “didn’t fit the profile of someone who would go on a shooting rampage (…)”. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said of him “he lives in a house with a manicured lawn” (The Ledger)
So, another crazy shooter right? Yet, chances are good you never heard of him. As of today, a search on Google News shows only a few links to the case : The Miami Herald, The Ledger, The Tampa Tribune. Nothing from The New York Times, The Associated Press, nor Reuters. And you won’t find a thing about Robin Parks on Wikipedia. How’s that?
The main reason would be that he didn’t kill anybody : he injured two people. So for the media, there’s no “killing spree”. Scholars who define mass murder as the killing of four or more won’t see a case here. And yet, the guy lost it. In a way or another.
There are problems with the way we – the general population – come to understand those events. Just as there are problem with the way media treat them. A quick search will show that there are also problems with the way science had been trying to explain them in the past decades. Those problems – those biases – may nonetheless be representative of something.