Tag Archives: Research

The sad case of Esteban Santiago-Ruiz

49457979-cachedThe gunman at Fort Lauderdale’s airport had psychiatric problems, and the symptoms seem to have started after he was deployed to Iraq.

Some researchers point to a link between combat stress and violence at home. But other research says there isn’t such a direct link between the two.

Santiago-Ruiz killed five people in Florida, and now faces the death penalty.


Survey: Most churches stayed “above the electoral fray”

downloadA new Pew study says that

Among voters who report attending religious services at least once a month, relatively few say information on political parties or candidates was made available to them in their places of worship (14 percent), and even fewer say they were encouraged to vote in a particular way by their clergy (5 percent). Similarly, very few voters overall say they were contacted by religious organizations about the election (6 percent).

Part of me says “Good for them,” but the rabid, take-no-prisoners part says “How can you stay above it?”

Come to the Mark Twain Writers Weekend

1000509261001_1852400221001_bio-biography-41-american-authors-mark-twain-sfIt starts Friday night and continues through Sunday. Here’s a schedule.

You can pretty much register at the last minute. I’m teaching a class on non-fiction research at 9:30 a.m. Saturday. BEFORE YOU START SNORING, I promise it won’t be dull.

Come early! Come heckle!

We need research into gun violence

gunviolenceresearch_590_394For all the rhetoric that has been flying back and forth in the last few days, we are mostly just guessing about what are the best solutions to gun violence, because research dried up for it (thanks, NRA!) 20 years ago.

We need research, now. I wrote this, Ignorance Is Killing Us, for Conn. Health Investigation Team.

Jay Dickey comes to Jesus

151007133739-lv-jay-dickey-gun-violence-00031224-small-169But Jesus is busy.

It’s too late for countless of thousands of victims of gun violence since 1996, but the former GOP congressman who is responsible for the lack of funding on gun violence has had a change of heartJay Dickey:

who spearheaded efforts in 1996 to block the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s gun violence research, is calling on Congress to repeal the amendment that carries his name.

“It is my position that somehow or someway we should slowly but methodically fund such research until a solution is reached,” he wrote in a letter released through the office of U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson. “Doing nothing is no longer an acceptable solution.”

Little late, sir. Actually, a lot late.


The sad and sorry case of Jared Fogle

jared-fogle-2Jared Fogle, who became famous as the Subway Guy when he lost 200 pounds by eating primarily at Subway restaurants, pleaded guilty this week to engaging in sex with minors, and distributing and receiving child porn.

The affable rags-to-riches guy turned out to be a garden variety pedophile.

You can read more here, but the first link above is his actual plea agreement. His wife is filing for divorce.

This news is sickening on so many levels, but what also hurts is the ill-informed conversation about Fogle’s background, and what may have moved him to do these things. Research does not support the much-repeated notion that early childhood sexual abuse moves one to grow up to be an abuser. The so-called “abuse excuse” used so often in court is not grounded in fact. In fact, from that “research” link:

It is a mistake, when considering the problem of sexual offending, to immediately focus in on the question of whether someone has a history of being sexually abused. There are a range of factors that have been identified as being linked to sexual offending, and there are disputes amongst researchers as to which of these is most significant. For example, some researchers challenge us to look at the role of gender, given that the overwhelming majority of those committing sexual offences are male, with around 80% of boys and 96% of girls sexually assaulted by males.

There is a common, if unsettling, finding from the research on the role of masculinity in sexual offending. Men who commit sexual abuse have a lot in common with men in general, and tend to identify with traditional or stereotypical ideals of masculinity.


In fact, research findings suggest that most men who have sexually offended were not sexually abused.


One British study examined the future offending behaviour of boys who had been sexually abused. It found that 88%, the vast majority, did not go on to commit sexual offences.

This is of unique interest to those of us who survived childhood sexual abuse. The shame of having lived through it is bad enough, the secrecy, the hurt, all of that, but then to have people assume you will turn around and commit the same heinous act on children is maddening. The vast, vast, vast majority of us would cut off our hands first.

Would that public conversation would delve a lot deeper into this, rather than rely on pat answers that don’t work. Here. Read this, too.

Pray for me, won’t you?

classof2017Tomorrow, I’m giving the Cremins Lecture at University of Hartford, which is an honor and I’d be over the moon  to be asked if I wasn’t so damn nervous.

I’m not usually nervous. Give me a mic and I’m happy as a clam, but this time, I’ve agreed to talk about Frog Hollow, as in “Searching for the American Dream in Frog Hollow,” the book I’m working on for Wesleyan University Press about a particularly interesting neighborhood in Hartford. It’s the first time I’ve talked about my research, other than to say, “Hey! I’m writing a book!” It almost feels like I need to pony up — and I think I knew that when I agreed to talk about Frog Hollow rather than Isabella Beecher Hooker, whom I talk about in my sleep, I’m told. This upcoming speech has forced me to stay on task with my research. (I grew up in a newsroom and entertain myself with the notion that I work best under pressure. That is a lie. No one works best under pressure. It’s an excuse to put off working.)

The lecture is named after Patricia Cremins, an educator who died in 2011 and left a big hole \when she left. She was long-time president of UHa’s President’s College, a really cool program that extends the university’s educational efforts into the broader community.

I wish I’d met her. She sounds fascinating.