Claire S's Reviews > Explaining Criminals

Explaining Criminals by Gwynn Nettler
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's review
Feb 06, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: fiction-not-at-all, f_truth-mixt-q, form_complexia, pol-paradigm-shift-pssbl, psyche-of, war-mltry-conflt-occ, workplace, to-read, a-7-nearly-kinda-reading
Recommended to Claire by: Found at work..

Actually sounds very interesting, is about understanding people who commit crime, and it's very deconstructionist. About 'understanding' a person, it talks about the various meanings of that - that mostly people mean 'to have empathy with a person' when they say that, but the interest of this book is to 'have knowledge of' and in particular 'to predict the activity of', and that having empathy for or appreciation for is often useless in predicting the activity. Talks about the uselessness of knowing 'why' someone does something, about reasons for action, cause of action, motive for action all being distinct often, and that there can be other factors such as one's environment (people doing something in a survival situation that they would never do otherwise), and internal factors such as one's mental state.
Now I'm starting chapter 3, and it's all about continuities (of behavior) and contingencies; and talks about prophecy, forecast and prediction. Perfect tie-in with Macbeth! Anyway, I'll try not to keep writing about every aspect of every page, but it is very interesting!
So the three uses of this book all appeal - understanding the behavior of people who commit crimes in interacting with the justice system (cause that's what the nonprofit I work at does), understanding criminal behavior in order to avoid being a victim of it (cause victimhood doesn't appeal), and understanding - more broadly - human behavior for those who would write fiction (cause someday I'd like to).
Plus the style is interesting, part deconstructionist, part psychology (study of individual behavior), and part sociology (study of group behavior). Is kind of a sherbet course between other flavors..

The other thing I am hoping to get some shards of insight on is the behavior of riots/mobs of people/terrorists, and 'leaders' who set into motions such action, and the other related entities who are within close contact of either group.

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Reading Progress

02/14/2009 page 29

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