Identify a contemporary news story in which one or more tentative explanations are offered for some specific behavior or type of of behavior. Once you have identified the article formulate these explanations or arguments into propositional statements. What kind of evidence would be needed test the propositions? Do the explanations offered make reference to specific social influences? In what way?
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The article I have linked below regards the "knockout game" - where people, typically youths, attempt to knock a person unconscious with a single punch. The punch is typically delivered to a complete stranger in a public area, and typically to the back of the head, with the victim being relatively unaware of the attack.
The reasons postulated within the article include the "thrill" of the attack, and the bragging rights that it garners, particularly via the Internet, such as by posting videos of the incident.
A propositional statement is one which attempts to formulate some expression of truth. The issue here is that it's very difficult to phrase a good propositional statement that doesn't go too far, such as "hurting people feels good". We should be careful to balance our proposition so that it fits the available information.
Some proposition statements might include:
- The prospect of fame can inspire violent acts
- It is possible to experience positive emotions by committing physical violence
- Socioeconomic status may be related to moral standards
- The Internet is a direct influence upon social behavior in the real world
Evidence needed to test these observations would include case studies and interviews, neurological research and psychological evaluations. The offered explanations specifically refer to the Internet and youth; they imply that impulsive behaviors common among young people might be harnessed in order to increase the appeal of the knockout game, and that the Internet provides a portal to an unlimited audience. This may also imply something about the social values of the perpetrators; that they crave attention, even if it is the anonymous attention of the Internet. The article discusses "competing for views" - attaching a numerical measure to one's popularity.
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