Of Mice and Men, an Untold Tale

found online by Raymond

From (O)CT(O)PUS at The Swash Zone:

How can we account for a rash of mass murders that defy explanation but have become all too commonplace?

Perhaps it is time to revisit the research of John B. Calhoun, who studied the effects of over-crowding on social animals at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Originally published in 1962, his findings have profound implications in the fields of architecture, urban planning, criminology, and the psychosocial sciences.

Imagine a fully enclosed 9-foot by 9-foot square box. Introduce fours pairs of breeding mice and supply unlimited amounts of food, water, and nesting material. In essence, Calhoun created a perfect utopian environment free from predators. All things being equal, the only test variable under study was the confined space of a box.

Calhoun watched the population double every 55 days. He observed profound breakdowns in social structure over time and a dramatic increase in the rate of internecine violence.

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2 thoughts on “Of Mice and Men, an Untold Tale”

  1. Sorry, I don’t buy it. The United States has a considerably worse problem with mass killings, and violent crime generally, than other developed countries have — yet it’s among the least densely populated of the developed countries. The UK has a population one-fifth that of the US, but has one-fortieth of the land area, thus a population density eight times ours — yet it’s a far less violent society. Japan is even more densely populated (especially considering that most of its land is steep mountains, cramming most of its 127 million people into narrow coastal flatlands), yet has even less violent crime. I’ve been to Tokyo. It’s incredibly crowded by American standards — you feel tightly hemmed in everywhere. But it’s one of the safest big cities in the world.

    In general, violent crime in the US has declined since the 1980s, even while population has grown.

    The reasons behind mass shootings and varying rates of violence are probably complex, but the evidence doesn’t support the idea of population density having much to do with it.

  2. Humans wouldn’t fare much better than mice after several generations of this kind of environment.

    But I agree, this is not the case now. It is our culture, or lack thereof. We are a gun loving country, conditioned by TV, war, reverence for the military and law enforcement, and belligerent politicians from early childhood.

    Guns solve our problems…until they become the problem. The solution requires a society’s evolution of consciousness and conscience. We are heading in the opposite direction. And we know the opposite of evolution is extinction, right?

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