No explanation

Anybody who knows me will know that I crave explanations. It’s likely one of the things that’s so appealing to me about being a scientist. I’ve written about the confusion between explaining and justifying before. In fact, a post about this was one of the first things I wrote for Hitting Bregma. As much as I hate it, so many things go unanswered. Last night, many witnessed the deadliest mass shooting in America’s history. What we think we know is that a man named Stephen Paddock opened fire from a hotel room into a country music concert below. As of now, 58 are dead and more than 500 injured (unclear how many were injured by gunshot, and how many were injured in the frenzy during the shooting). This horrific event seems, at least for now, without explanation. For me, that makes it even worse than it already is.

The Washington Post is reporting that the shooter has no history of violence, no hard-line political or religious affiliation, and his family seems genuinely shocked that this could have happened, and that he could have done such a thing. Reporters have interviewed neighbors, who describe him an a bit standoffish and isolated, but nothing extraordinary. Yet the even of last night took significant planning. It appears that multiple weapons, none of which is easy to get, were used in the shooting, and the shooter had lots of ammunition. So I’m left with the unsettling sense that he was planning this for a long time, and people around him had no idea it was happening.

Of course, we could learn more. There could be a manifesto somewhere. We could meet an accomplice at some point, or even learn that he wasn’t the shooter, but was set up to look that way. At this point, all we know is that somebody killed and injured too many people in a very short period of time…it would be nice to know more, but sometimes that isn’t in the cards.


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