Author's Note: This article was published in the spring of 2014, but it's just as valid today. You may also enjoy this piece from Psychology today, one I wrote in response to the Newtown killings.
John Elder Robison
- · Almost all serial killers and mass murderers are male. Should we be scared of males just because most murderers are male? That’s actually a pretty well-known fact but males remain pretty acceptable in most societies;
- · A majority of serial killers and mass murderers are Caucasian. Caucasians are welcome most places too – at least in the United States and Canada;
- · Of those who are not Caucasian a majority are the predominant race of the land where they killed. “They eat their own,” is a common proverb, and like most proverbs, there’s an element of truth in it;
- · In America, a majority of serial killers and mass murderers came from middle class or affluent backgrounds. Few came from poor backgrounds. That’s a surprise to many but it’s true;
- · In America, the vast majority of serial killers and mass murderers employ both automobiles and firearms in the commission of their crimes. Yet there is very little regulation over the ownership or use of either in most of the United States;
- · A majority of serial killers targeted victims who were physically weaker than themselves – principally women and children. With all the talk of bullying today that comes as no surprise, but it’s not clear how you’d use that insight to avoid a serial killer;
- · Many serial killers target victims who belong to groups scorned or marginalized by the society in which the killer lives. That too is not surprising to anyone reading the news. It’s dangerous to work as a hooker or a drug dealer. If that’s the career path you choose the risk of death at the hands of serial killers is just one of many hazards.
This study would have had a lot more validity if they had taken their sample of 239 killers and asked, "What psychological, neurological, or psychosocial issues can we definitely attribute to each killer?" That would have produced a much more nuanced and complex result, but it would have been a result with real meaning. The present study - looking only at autism and head injury - and its possible-probable-definite language, is hogwash.