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Isla Vista massacre: when testosterone runs amok

On Friday, Elliot Rodger (22) murdered six other people and himself – in an act of stabbing and frantic shooting – in Isla Vista, California. The son of the British-born Hollywood director Peter Rodger has previously announced his plans to murder many women – those who rejected him – because of his sexual frustration. I think that there are too many men who say similar things so it would be impractical to "stop" all of them. So it's disputable whether the event could have been avoided. But the feeling that it could have been is particularly annoying.



Isla Vista is the town adjacent to the campus of the University of California in Santa Barbara. It only has 23,000 people – 1 / 300 thousand (thanks, Gene!) of the world population – but it just happens that I have lived there for half a year, H1 of 2001, before my PhD defense on 9/11/2001. (And I have visited UCSB approximately 3 times at other moments.) It is a coincidence that my visit in 2001 began with another memorable shooting spree in February (yes, I have better alibi in 2014). So I know the town rather well which is why I found the news more shocking than some generic reports about murders.




It's not just the name "Isla Vista" that feels so close. The shooting took place in the Isla Vista Delimart, see the picture at the top taken from Google Maps Street View. I have eaten there many times! It's some place with sandwiches and things like that. See the new pictures from that place. I also think that there is a nearby restaurant where I ate with the Czech American general relativist Karel Kuchař – the only time I met him in my life (it's the son of this one). Also, I recognize Seville Road where he lived and started with the stabbing.

I don't remember where I precisely lived in Isla Vista and I won't investigate because it could be scary. Note that the UCSB campus is formally in Goleta, the adjacent town. And maybe it doesn't belong to Goleta.




The motive seems as mundane as you can get – the lack of sex that the shooter needed. Among the chemical compounds, testosterone is the likely culprit. Its molecules are driving many men to be godless f*cking machines and if that's impossible, godless killing machines.

Looking at this single terrifying event, it would be easy to outlaw testosterone and many feminists are actually working on that plan. However, I would claim that testosterone is also responsible for much of the positive progress that the human civilization has experienced (not to mention the more general progress of mammals in their quest to evolve). Aggressive, self-confident men may look dangerous and annoying. But the same testosterone-driven energy leads them to compete and create some positive things as well. And by the natural and cultural selection, the positive things are more likely to pass the test of time.

When I once suggested to a close enough non-feminist female colleague that she had to have some excessive testosterone as well, she would reply that she had actually been diagnosed with the complete lack of testosterone and the surplus of estrogen, or something like that. It's plausible she was right and estrogen may act in similar ways as testosterone. Motivated by other reasons, Al Gore has proposed to give the world one big shot of estrogen. Maybe he had a point.

But we would surely enter an uncharted territory without testosterone.

So the deaths are making me sad and upset but there's some sense in which I think that the best solution should have been that the ladies around Mr Rodger should have been more open to this horny simple and potentially dangerous man.

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reader Shannon said...

Well, he could have used prostitutes... Maybe this lunatic was more after the emotional relationship rather than the sexual one. That s why he couldn't find anyone: he was totally screwed up.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Those who are not screwed up are those who are in a relationship purely for sex and no extra emotional baggage?


I thought that being screwed was *defined* as being in the state of sex, as the more passive player. ;-)


reader ALs said...

Plz remove the last paragraph while you still can.


reader Brute said...

It's an error to blame this sorry event on men, as it would be to blame it on his race or sexual orientation. This is a freak event, no matter how tragic.


reader kashyap vasavada said...

With a population of world like 6-7 Billion people, you can expect that there will always be quite a few people who want to take out their frustrations on innocent people who are not at all responsible for their problems. The only solution is not to make firearms available to these people. But here in U.S. people are concerned with constitutional right of bearing fire arms. So even simple solution like gun registration is not possible. If you tell them that in many parts of the world, getting fire arms is not easy, and people live perfectly normal life with all the freedom , they would not listen! Such an event is very rare in most other countries.


reader Alex said...

Socially inept and looking for 'true love' but attracted to bimbos who just wanted to get laid by 'bad boys'. Tragic


reader Smoking Frog said...

So the deaths are making me sad and upset but there's some sense in
which I think that the best solution should have been that the ladies
around Mr Rodger should have been more open to this horny simple and
potentially dangerous man.


If that made aby sense, we'd have seen a great many men committi mass murder for the same reason. We haven't. There was something terribly wrong with this guy, mentally, morally, and spiritually. Read - or skim - his 107,927-word autobiography, or "manifesto," as the media call it:

My Twisted World

You can see that it's based on a tremendous sense of entitlement and superficial thinking.

Looking back from my nearly 70 years: Except the hatred and wish for retribution, I could have written something similar, but I would have been wrong - about the facts. It wasn't true that "girls don't like me." I only thought it was true. To be sure, it was, perhaps, relatively true, in certain contexts and during certain periods, but I'm not even entirely sure of that.

With Roger, it may have been different; I suspect he was very off-putting, maybe even frightening, so he created a more self-fulfilling prophecy than I and a great many men did. But this would be due to whatever was terribly wrong with him.

With the common experience of most males, it is easy to sympathize with him, but this is a trick one plays upon oneself. One skips over the fact the one did not commit mass murder for this reason and does not know of anyone who did.


reader Ann said...

And sadly a father of one of the victims the guy killed is blaming politicians and the NRA. The old tired 'blame the guns' rant.


reader Peter F. said...

In a loose but very seriously significant sense [minus your joking], "emotional baggage" [i.e. CURSES put by 'specific/synaptic hibernation' imploring {SHI} threats or, to use the tacky conventional terminology, "traumatizing" predicaments or ordeals that leave behind inside the brain states that insidiously drive PTSDs] is precisely what I interpreted that Shannon's words "totally screwed up" referred to.


reader cynholt said...

In his YouTube manifesto, Rodgers sounds like a lead villain from some movie that wants to take over the world. He has the evil laugh down; all he needed to do was the hand wringing, and a cape. Oh, he could get a girl alright; but not the kind he wanted. Obviously, the trophy coeds with the fetishized blonde looks didn't find him attractive. Those who would date him, he probably thought was not good enough for him. He is seething with narcissism. Most likely, it arose from being brought up in the Hollywood environment. It appears he was so trapped in the world of shallowness that his intellect was gone. He could only come to irrational solutions.

I really despise the empty, self- absorbed, consumerism of American culture. It has infected us all.


reader Gene Day said...

Of course he felt unloved,
Shannon. As a male of the species I experienced similar feelings a (very) long time ago but my frustrations never moved me to think about violence. We all feel unloved at one time or another. Young men often join gangs and do awful things because of this same state of mind.
He must also have had off-putting mannerisms that turned people away from him. I do think that such people can be helped to see themselves more clearly.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Right, it is a freak event, but it still has some logic, some reasons, and much of them were pretty clearly articulated by the killer himself. I think it's unfortunate for the society to always adopt a knee-jerk reaction of polarizing itself against everything that the killer would say or think. I would in no way justify the terrifying act but that doesn't prevent me from seeing that he had a point when he would say which boys would get laid instead of himself etc.


Well too many mass killers of this type end up being handsome guys etc. who should be much happier and I surely do think that the society, and not just the killer, carry a fraction of the guilt for these folks not to be incorporated in a more symbiotic way.


reader Shannon said...

Dear Gene, I believe that some people can't receive love and it is so bad that helping them is like going to hell with them. Too dangerous. These people can only be shot by remote control.


reader Eclectikus said...

Just one sample: "The EU has agreed that at least 20% of its €960 billion budget for the 2014-2020 period should be spent on climate change-related action. This represents around a threefold increase from the 6-8% share in 2007-2013."

http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/finance/budget/index_en.htm


reader Shannon said...

Yep and all this is agreed behind our back by non-elected civil servants in Brussels who don't even pay taxes and who earn more than our national leaders.
http://treatthetreaty.org/


reader Shannon said...

Front National is winning !


reader Eclectikus said...

Terrible. And no wonder that Disney being one of the actors in this masquerade, I've always known they were wicked (8()


reader cynholt said...

Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps capitalism and democracy are systems not meant in truth to free us, but to enslave us? For with all the talk of freedom that they bring economically and politically, in reality what is happening is the opposite.

Perhaps capitalism and democracy are the two most perfect systems working together to create the illusion of freedom, while the elites slowly tighten the noose. Meanwhile, they accumulate financial and political power until the masses are left standing dazed, confused, trapped in a world where they are not free, but, enslaved by debt and the fear of terrorism, both against them and if the state decides, by them.


reader HenryBowman419 said...

I note that the perpetrator killed three of his victims by stabbing them to death with a knife.


reader Uncle Al said...

Put a brothel on every high school and college campus. All the male miseries of the world will be salved.


reader kashyap vasavada said...

Yes. But in all such incidences the casualties would be much less if the person did not have guns. There was a major gang assault with knives in China few months back. Just imagine how much worse it would have been if those people had guns. One can argue also that it is possible to kill people with bare hands!! Everywhere there are mentally disturbed people. There is no question that gun culture in U.S. has made things worse.


reader John Archer said...

Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps capitalism and democracy are systems not meant in truth to free us, but to enslave us? For with all the talk of freedom that they bring economically and politically, in reality what is happening is the opposite.

What would suggest to replace democracy?

But before you reply, assuming you do, I'd like to expand a little.

Although it's extremely unlikely that there will ever be a 'perfect' or optimal form of democracy, what we seem to have in most of the West now are highly defective forms of the beast (more accurately, mere facades), where the respective political classes—which include NGOs and tranzi organisations etc, and even the media—are out of control, being effectively unaccountable to their peoples. So there is vast scope for improvement in the institutions of so-called democratic governance. This is especially true of the UK.

Now if by "democracy" you simply mean these highly defective forms then the obvious replacements are improved versions. However, I suspect you might not have intended this but are focussing on something more fundamental, on the basic idea itself.

Either way, what would you have?

Similarly for capitalism, which I take as synonymous with the free market. Sure, it can be highly imperfect, and indeed corrupt (cronyism for example), but what would you replace it with?

All the alternatives to both that I've heard of are far worse, dangerously so in most cases.

If you do respond, I hope it doesn't involve any 'wise men' solutions, unless your idea is to drag them out and split their skulls, in which you'll have to get in the queue.


reader Curious George said...

He could have joined a pornography/sex work program at UCSB,
http://motls.blogspot.com/2014/03/ucsb-professor-of-pornography-faces.html


reader David said...

Nobody seems to be blaming Xbox. Videogames like Call of Duty can really make young people sick.


reader John Archer said...

Shannon,

I've only just heard that Marine Le Pen's Front National are doing extremely well.

Many congratulations.

EXCELLENT! :)


reader Rehbock said...

Screw has many meanings in English. :-)


reader Shannon said...

:-). Thanks John!
I am enjoying so much watching the cresfallen faces from all the other parties.

Now it is going to rock'n'roll at the EU parliament. Imagine, Nigel Farage multiplied by 25... Lol!


reader phil said...

as a ucsb student who also eats regularly at the iv deli mart, this was all a real shock to me. ucsb and isla vista already have a pretty bad reputation, and i hope people don't think less of our school because of this isolated event.


and lubos, i very much disagree with the sentiment that you express in your last paragraph. girls didnt talk to him because he was creepy and misogynistic, and though that he deserved the girls he went after, as if they had some obligation to give him attention. they didnt talk to him because he was a weird, creepy asshole. the guys you talk about, the aggressive, self confident men, get girls all the time. elliot rodger wasn't one of them. he was far from confident, with just the aggression and annoyingness. saying that girls should have given him a chance is like saying that they should give heroin a chance- its dangerous and creepy, but maybe, just maybe, it will turn out okay


reader John Archer said...

Haha! Moi aussi! :)

There is just so much pain these bastards have coming that only some truly outrageous atrocity perpetrated on them would satisfy me. So, yes I'm certainly enjoying their pain but it's NOT ENOUGH, not by a long chalk!

It seems we'll just have to go blood-hungry a while longer. I want to see them executed.

UKIP is doing rather well here too. It's just such a shame they're such wimps when it comes to what really matters, namely being suitably rabidly 'racist' and getting rid of all the immigrunts the other parties flooded the country with. Primarily we're talking about that hideous turd-world bunch, but also the flood of continentals whose own countries I'm pretty damned sure would hardly welcome the boot being on the other foot with hundreds of thousands if not millions of Englishmen flooding into their countries. Indeed, I think there would be massive civil unrest.


reader Uncle Al said...

Taking your sexuality to wymyn is like boarding your dog at a taxidermist. Sure, you'll get it back.


reader Dilaton said...

Dear Lumo,

while Dimension10 has used the whole TRF article as a negative review for the corresponding paper, I did not use exactly every paragraph for the current version

http://www.physicsoverflow.org/17895/entropy-of-non-extremal-black-holes-from-loop-gravity

I do not want to bug you again, but I thought it would be appropriate to tell you this, such that you can have a look if you want and roll back for example, if the take home message does no longer come out clear enough ...

Cheers


reader John Archer said...

My first thoughts too.

Of course, if he were short of cash for the those lovely ladies' services he could have dropped by the local vicar's skip where he could have picked up a few free 'empties'. Only in this case they'd probably be quite full. Still, a garden hose, detergent and some vaseline would probably make them serviceable again. He could even have had his own plastic harem.

http://en.ria.ru/images/18455/47/184554797.jpg


reader Gene Day said...

I doubt this guy was that far gone, Shannon, but, obviously, his delusions persisted for years. I have known a couple of young men with
Asperger’s syndrome and, in a supportive environment, they have done quite well.
The trick is getting to them early.


reader Sage Basil said...

he was a communist (for living a better life than me... I hate you); being too stupid to get a woman in his BMW is a comorbidity with communism. And now you blame testosterone and forces of nature, which have led billions of men to not do this kind of thing, instead of communism, a part of modern culture.


It seems to us today that communism is as natural as the air we breathe and testosterone is only a factor in the decisions of half the population. In the past, and in the future, testosterone is always there, but communism is not.


reader kashyap vasavada said...

Off-topic

Hi Lubos: There is a reference in the blog “not even wrong” about a press release and a paper by
Jun Nishimura and collaborators:
http://www.kek.jp/en/NewsRoom/Release/20140507143000/
http://arxiv.org/abs/1311.5607
As expected he says this is an old hype!! I would like to see
your opinion (which I surely trust more), when you get time. Since the original work started in 2008, it is quite likely that you have written a blog on this and I might have missed it.
Thanks.


reader Bobsyouruncle said...

"With all the freedom" On its face the statement can't possibly be true. You can't have all the freedoms with one less freedom.


reader Brute said...

I hear you. But it seems somewhat bizarre to me to claim that the issue is sexual. This fellow was not a well-balanced human being but for this sexual frustration. He was deranged in general.

After all, it isn't hard to find sexually frustrated people. Just got to a shopping center and look around. Still only few, extremely few, go for homicide.


reader Shannon said...

Well done!
I only hope that Farage won't be like a saintly hypocrit with Le Pen at the EU.


reader maznak said...

I am sort of agnostic when it comes to gun control. But this argument is valid: The bad guys will always find ways how to get them. Some mass killers might have been stopped sooner if a good guy with a gun was nearby. Remember Breivik?


reader scooby said...

I can't believe you're using this argument. Do you think Breivik would have managed to kill 69 people if he didn't have a gun in the first place?


reader Casper said...

Your last paragraph is not helpful at all. Since in a normal Western country its not difficult for a bloke to get a root if he really wants one the murderer must have been an extremely creepy person to put off so many women as he did. It is ridiculous or even completely mad to expect women to do what you suggest in order to reduce crime in this way. If, as claimed, this person was a 22 year old virgin in America for non-religious reasons then his problems obviously go way back to the diaper stage. Blame the parents, not the victims of his unwanted advances.


reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Casper, I didn't write that they would be doing so with the knowledge to prevent a serial murder. It's impossible because they couldn't have known that it would have occurred. What I meant was that even though I didn't know him, so it's rating a rabbit in a pack, I tend to agree with the killer that his environment was behaving to him inappropriately.

Parents may also be blamed but perhaps for other reasons than you suggest. I suppose that this guy was arguably annoyed to see that his dad was sleeping with everyone which - I suppose - forms much of the job of the Hollywood assistant film directors. Such an annoyance was likely to be there, it was inevitable, and I tend to think that the father's sleeping with everyone is a major problem that should be blamed because it has set an unrealistic and morally skewed example for the son.


reader Hacienda said...

This kid was a sociopath. "Dropped on his head". Occam's Razor.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elliott_Rodger#Perpetrator



Freakish environment magnified early pathology.


reader Casper said...

Well I've no doubt that Lubos will be offering to service many of the profoundly unattractive women who are in the same emotional state as the murderer due to lack of sex. Every man must do his duty and all that.


reader papertiger0 said...

Broken home (his parents were disinterested bystanders) + Hollywood culture + treatment by mental professionals (in Calif that means social studies graduates were pumping the future psycho with ritalin or other psychotropic drugs to "cure" him of his maleness.


Monsters are created, not born.


reader zlop said...

Luboš misses the point, that Psychopathic culture and mood altering pills, blur reality and eliminate restraint.


reader zlop said...

Environment influences gene expression.


reader Mark Luhman said...

Next we will find out he played American football, the root of all evils.


reader andy said...

He was schizophrenic. There is no understanding the insane mind. By definition, it makes no sense - it's insane.


reader BiggerFatterPolitics said...

In all these mass shootings prescription psych meds are involved. We have less gun owners today than we did 30 years ago but we have more mass killings.


Click Here Medical Industry Steals More Than the Bankers and Kill More Than the Nazi Holocaust



We don't need gun control we need doctor control. US health care is unregulated and as a result US health care kills 1 million innocent Americans each year. Some people would call that a holocaust.


reader zlop said...

Schizophrenics cannot filter out and assign importance, imagine and become paranoid.

"The Truth About Elliot Rodger - YouTube"
"Robert Hare - Psychopath/Sociopath - The Difference"

Elliot Rodger, a psychopath, was not insane, lived in the imposed cultural, sadistic reality. Prescribed drugs removed restraint.


reader CentralCharge15 said...

Hi Lubos, slightly off-topic but related to LQG and it's claimed predictions, Deepak Vaid has recently submitted his paper on the quantum hall effect and black hole entropy in Loop Quantum Gravity to the reviews section of PhysicsOverflow:

http://physicsoverflow.org/19288/quantum-hall-effect-black-hole-entropy-loop-quantum-gravity

I wonder if you would be interested in writing a review for it?


reader Luboš Motl said...

No, sorry, I wouldn't. It's the same stuff about the LQG black hole entropy claims I've spent quite some time with. This industry is completely irrational.


It's OK that someone makes predictions. But things are uninteresting because all these predictions are wrong. That's the problem. People obsessed with "making predictions" whatever they are are just cranks.


reader Dilaton said...

Haha yep, that is my favorite scene LOL I have certainly seen it 100 times ... :-)


Of course Reviews on PO can aslo be very negative as needed, to debunk nonsense etc ...


Cheers


reader CentralCharge15 said...

Yes I know that and agree of course. I was just wondering if you would be willing to write a (short) (negative) review of the paper, but I understand that you're probably fed up of doing that since decades : )