Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Could this be a viable experiment? Criticism wanted

  1. Jul 27, 2009 #1


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Hi all!

    It is well known that school drop-outs are disproportionately correlated with criminality.

    a) According to pc social sciences theory, this is basically to be explained by that severe problems/failings at school generates a sense of loserhood, frustration and aggression leading that person into a criminal life.

    b) A less fashionable theory (at least here in Norway) would say that the anti-social instincts of the prospective criminal would make him care less about standard achievements, thereby explaining his failure at school (as well as his criminal behaviour)

    I have wondered a bit about how test these hypotheses, and since b) makes more sense to me than a), that has left me in a quandary, since precious few norwegian social science studies rarely go beyond establishing that correlation, while having a) as an axiomatically given explanation.

    So, if any one knows of any reputable study that tests a) vs. b), I would be most grateful!

    I have devised a sort of experiment that I think might be used to distinguish between a) and b) in predicted effects, but I would very much like to have it scrutinized&criticised by you fellows:

    I will set up a simplified MODEL, and then see how a) and b) would compare to that model:

    A) Regard the pupil group as composed of two sub-groups, those who test "low" on general intelligence tests, and those who test "high" on those tests.

    B) Now, it is my first contention (that should be verified) that if we look at the non-criminalized population, there will be a significantly higher drop-out rate among those testing as "low" in IQ, than among those scoring high.
    As I see it, in so far as this is true, success in school requires quite a bit of intellectual effort, and those who score well on IQ tests should have it easier to master school than those who make a low score on the IQ test.

    Given that B) holds:

    C) a) states that academic failures generate criminality in the loser.
    But then, two implications should hold:
    ai) Criminals on the whole should be found to have less IQ than the average population, because criminals would be disproportionately drawn from the school drop-outs (otherwise, they haven't had that failure crucial to a)), who, in virtue of B), should be less intelligent than the success pupils.
    aii) There should be no significant difference in IQ between the criminal drop-outs and the non-criminal drop-outs (they are drawn from the same mold)

    D) b) states that a criminal mind, amongst other things, generates failures in school.
    The following two implications should THEN hold:
    bi) There is no reason why criminals should differ in their average intelligence level than the rest of the population.

    bii) The criminal drop-outs ought to display significantly higher IQ than the non-criminal drop-outs, since the criminal drop-outs would include lots of intelligent persons who could easily have mastered school if they wanted to.

    While I think bi) is possibly shaky, the comparison aii) and bii) seems to me to be an interisting test case for the validity of either a) or b)

    I think my logic is very sound here, but would like some criticism!

    PS. If anyone knows about experiments that have been performed along these lines, I would be most grateful to hear about such..
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 27, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    It shouldn't be hard to come up with studies done in other countries, but this might not be what you need to know about.

    I know they did multivariate statistics about the causes of "juvenile delinquency" back in Chicago in the 1930s. "Multifactoral analysis".
    American sociology was already into that kind of multidimensional statistics back in 1930s.
    Remember we had Al Capone. We've been worried about crime for a long time.

    You look at everything. Including the cultural factors like family structure. American inner cities have always been ethnically fragmented. Different socioeconomic and cultural groups would have very different frequency of criminal behavior.

    I can't believe that Norwegians are so naive as your post seems to say. It sounds like ideological blinders. Maybe in a totally homogeneous society where everybody is a blond Lutheran it might turn out that crime correlates simply to just a very few factors like poverty, lack of intelligence, and failure in school. But I doubt that Norway is really such a homogeneous society even in the minds of policy makers. A real sociologist (which I am not!) would surely look at many other factors.

    I am not sure that a study from another country would apply though. Crime is defined by the society and the causes of criminal behavior must be specific to the society. You had better get some papers by sociologists in some country that is LIKE Norway, as much as possible.

    Similar education system. Similar amount of immigration from about the same regions and cultural makeup. Similar degree of economic stratification. Similar extent of inner-city gangs. Gangs are important in the US as schools of criminal behavior. Drugs and family stability of course.

    A US study might not be applicable to Norway. You just can't say "crime is crime" wherever it happens and assume the causes are the same. I don't have to even say this.
  4. Jul 27, 2009 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    "I can't believe that Norwegians are so naive as your post seems to say. It sounds like ideological blinders."

    You don't know half of it.
    Our "grand old man" in criminology, Niels Christie, whose way of thinking totally dominates his field in Norway, said recently in an interview that what he really wanted was that the perpetrator and his victim should meet for "a conciliation", in which the perpetrator makes a display of regret and the victim an embrace of forgiveness, RATHER THAN the "barbaric" punishment of criminals (because in his view, punishment is barbaric because it involves inflicting pain upon the criminal).

    This is how the mentality of public Norway has been for several, suffocating decades.
    Fortunately, in the later years, some signs of sanity is beginning to show themselves.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook