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Hotter Weather Actually Makes Us Want to Kill Each Other
August 2, 2013 9:49 AM   Subscribe

A new meta-analysis finds that extreme changes in temperature increase the likelihood of inter-group conflict. (SLA)
posted by MisantropicPainforest (76 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Yet another reason to fight global warming.
posted by cthuljew at 9:56 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


To clarify, they found a correlation, not causation.
they still don't know why it is that temperature change makes us so belligerent. And, more importantly, they aren't saying climate change is the only or even primary cause of violence.
posted by stbalbach at 9:56 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hotter weather makes me want to kill people more than usual.
posted by elizardbits at 9:57 AM on August 2, 2013 [39 favorites]


I thought this was pretty common knowledge. I remember (I think) from my high school psychology class that two things were almost guaranteed to cause aggression and was universal across human societies-heat waves and being forced to wait/standing in line.
posted by bartonlong at 9:59 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Relevant Siouxsie
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 10:01 AM on August 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


CO2 makes us dumber, and now with more violent.
posted by stbalbach at 10:02 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, we got to "correlation does not equal causation" and "didn't we know this already?" in less than 4 comments!
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:03 AM on August 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


Relevant Predator 2 trailer
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:04 AM on August 2, 2013


Anyone else have Siouxsie and the Banshees playing in their heads now?
92 Degrees
posted by Pistache at 10:04 AM on August 2, 2013


I guess that's a yes.
posted by Pistache at 10:05 AM on August 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Geez, it's getting heated in here.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 10:07 AM on August 2, 2013


I've about had it with you and all your shit.
posted by jquinby at 10:09 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


They needed a meta-analysis for that? Haven't these people read any Chandler?
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'd say hot HUMID weather leads to an enhanced desire to kill. People, my clothes, the air
posted by angrycat at 10:10 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


stbalbach: "To clarify, they found a correlation, not causation."

From the Iowa State University study linked in the article:

"A broad view of the research suggests that in many settings hot temperaturers cause increases in aggression. There are conditions that limit the generality of this conclusion, but the overall pattern of data is impressive and convincing."

That makes it sound to me more like causation than correlation.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 10:11 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


aggravated humidicide.
posted by elizardbits at 10:12 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Hot humid weather makes me too lethargic to actually do anything about wishing death on anyone.
posted by theora55 at 10:16 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Didn't we already know that causation doesn't equal correlation? HUH?
dang it's hot and humid in here
posted by 1adam12 at 10:18 AM on August 2, 2013


Every time results from a scientific study are posted on the Internet, the phrase "correlation does not equal causation" always appears as a comment. I'm not saying that posting the results causes the comment, but there definitely seems to be a correlation.
posted by ogooglebar at 10:19 AM on August 2, 2013 [36 favorites]


Geez, it's getting heated in here.
posted by JoeXIII007 at 1:07 PM on August 2 [+][!]


I guess you could say that this conversation is

( •_•)
( •_•)>⌐■-■
(⌐■_■)

getting a little hot.

YEEEEAAAAHHHH!!!!
posted by obscure simpsons reference at 10:22 AM on August 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


This explains so much about Australians.
posted by The Notorious SRD at 10:22 AM on August 2, 2013


Seems like they need to do a study of population shifts during the climate change periods. Hot weather might predispose monkeys to violence, but shifting around and nudging others makes for angry monkeys.
posted by smidgen at 10:23 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've always hated summer. So much I wanted to kill it.

Now I know why.
posted by grubi at 10:28 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not to pile on, but didn't we already know this?
It's certainly been established (albeit anecdotally) on a weather basis if not climate. The first example that springs to mind is the blackout riots in NYC in 1977, although there were multiple factors involved.

Regarding weather vs climate, it would be interesting to see over what timeline this effect is noticable, e.g. if the climate warms 2 degrees over ten years vs. 100, at what point does this effect stop being observable.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 10:30 AM on August 2, 2013


"correlation does not equal causation"

I didn't say that, and that phrase is misleading. There's nothing wrong with correlation, people do financial trading based on correlation and make money, one doesn't need to know why something works, just that it does. The same here. Yes there is a correlation between temps and violence, the correlation is real, it exists. Exactly why this correlation exists is a separate question. Saying something is "correlated" doesn't mean there is no underlying causation, just that the causation is not exactly known at this time. Causation is very difficult to prove - and anyway, it's often not even needed. Correlation is good enough (if you believe in math). Two data sets will have correlation AND causation, they are two separate things. They have found correlation but are making no claim to a causation though offer some suggestions and theories.
posted by stbalbach at 10:31 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


So it's the weather and not poverty. I guess we can go back to ignoring the poor. YAY!
posted by Renoroc at 10:34 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect that they did not take this contrary evidence into consideration.
posted by Flunkie at 10:37 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


According to Nelly's *ahem* seminal 2002 thesis (Hot In Herre), increased temperatures also lead to an increase in the incidence of dishabille. There you have it: heat --> sex and violence.
posted by fikri at 10:39 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Grrr, did they really write "in many settings hot temperatures cause increases in aggression" in the first line of the abstract? As one professor stressed to us meteorology undergrads, only objects can be hot or cold, warm or cool. Temperature is not an object. The temperature can be high, low, average, highly variable or what not but it can never be hot or cold.
posted by plastic_animals at 10:39 AM on August 2, 2013


Statistical outlier here: cold weather makes me want to kill people and then crawl inside the meatsuit to keep warm, brrr.
posted by WidgetAlley at 10:40 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's certainly been established (albeit anecdotally)

In science, the words "established" and "anecdata" do not get along very well.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 10:42 AM on August 2, 2013


This is a case in which reading only a popular-press gloss of a very complex research article obscures rather than clarifies the matter. I haven't read the entire study closely, but on a quick skim-through, its evident that they aggregate data from a lot of very different kinds of studies. In particular:

(1) They aggregate data from a number of very different studies, including studies of (a) the impact of climate on interpersonal violence and crime; (b) the impact of climate on intergroup violence and political stability; and (c) the impact of climate on institutional stability. These are three very different outcomes, and in all likelihood correlations result from very different mechanisms (e.g. hot weather may make individuals more touchy and thus likely to get into fights; it also might cause reductions in labor productivity leading to institutional destabilization). They also aggregate studies across thousands of years and thus using multiple methodologies (e.g. archeological reconstruction, observational epidemiology, etc.).

(2) If you look at the data, there is some interesting regional variation in what the studies show. Figure 4 shows that studies in Tanzania, Australia, and India identify positive correlations between climate change and interpersonal violence, while studies in the USA show no or even negative correlations. Figure 5 shows that almost half of their sample for climate change and intergroup conflict is studies of sub-Saharan Africa.

The diversity of studies is both a positive and negative in this study: on one hand, it helps bolster the generalizability of the observation that climate change has an impact on human behavior; on the other hand, it obscures geographic or cultural differences that may be very important factors in mediating or moderating this impact. This is why "correlation isn't causation" is so important to remember in a case like this: a generalized correlation based on meta-analysis of very different studies of very different populations and time periods really can't tell us much if anything about the specific mechanisms underlying these correlations in particular times and places.
posted by googly at 10:44 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


There is some disagreement about this meta study, don't know how accurate it is:
“I struggle to see how the authors can claim a remarkable convergence of quantitative evidence when one-third of their civil conflict models produce a climate effect statistically indistinguishable from zero, and several other models disagree on the direction of a possible climate effect,” said Halvard Buhaug, research director at the Peace Research Institute in Oslo whose work has cast doubt on ties between climate extremes and conflict. “Surprisingly, the authors provide no examples of real conflicts that plausibly were affected by climate extremes that could serve to validate their conclusion. For these and other reasons, this study fails to provide new insight into how and under what conditions climate might affect violent conflict,” he said in an email conversation.
posted by stbalbach at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is not news to anyone who has spent summers in Arizona.
posted by azpenguin at 10:45 AM on August 2, 2013


This explains so much about Australians Mad Max movies.
posted by slogger at 10:50 AM on August 2, 2013


Relevant Momus blog post
posted by acb at 10:55 AM on August 2, 2013


Hotter weather makes me want to kill people more than usual.

I was worried for a moment when I read this as "Hotter weather makes me want to kill more people than usual."
posted by ogooglebar at 10:57 AM on August 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is not news to anyone who has spent summers in Arizona.

I can't for the life of me figure out why they built Phoenix where they did. Why in the hell would millions of people freely choose to live in an oppressive, treeless, sun-blasted wasteland where you're always one blown compressor motor away from death? You do know that if you drive just a couple hours north to Flagstaff, it's really quite pleasant, right?
posted by Naberius at 10:58 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


This could explain St. Louis. Like, all of it.

(I still think Spike Lee should have set Do the Right Thing in St. Louis.)
posted by BlueJae at 10:59 AM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


there is a great short story about this (based on 93 degrees F being the 'murder point') by either Harlan Ellison or Trevanian (sorry I cannot remember) in a short story collection that might have come out in the 90s. I've always found this idea fascinating...
posted by supermedusa at 11:04 AM on August 2, 2013


ok I think it must be this collection

Hot Night in the City

Trevanian is an excellent vocabulary builder, kids!
posted by supermedusa at 11:06 AM on August 2, 2013


I can't for the life of me figure out why they built Phoenix where they did. Why in the hell would millions of people freely choose to live in an oppressive, treeless, sun-blasted wasteland where you're always one blown compressor motor away from death?

Judging from my experiences in Phoenix, it's because they want a warm climate like Southern California but don't want to pay taxes or see brown people.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 11:06 AM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


yeah, Phoenix...when I lived in Las Vegas I knew people from Phoenix (because Vegas is a step up) who said its ALWAYS 5 degrees hotter in PH than in LV. so yeah, its 110 in LV woohoo omg its 115 in Phoenix :P

the murderers are just trying to be nice!
posted by supermedusa at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2013


Point of Order: All Siouxsie is always relevant.
posted by Navelgazer at 11:09 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Claiming that Phoenix is "warm" in the summer is like claiming that Mitt Romney is middle class.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 11:10 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Alfred Hitchcock beat them to it. (video, sad).
posted by windykites at 11:16 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, the humidity!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:37 AM on August 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is not news to anyone who has ever spent August in New York City.
posted by monospace at 11:41 AM on August 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Any big-city cop, EMT, or ER staffer could have told you this.
posted by deadmessenger at 11:54 AM on August 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Throw in a full moon and it's like a city-wide version of The Gong Show.
posted by jquinby at 12:01 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Be interesting to see how lynchings correlated with local temperature peaks.
posted by jamjam at 12:08 PM on August 2, 2013


This is not news to anyone who has ever spent August in New York City

So far we have Phoenix, New York City, St. Louis, and Australia.

Man, how did all you guys *know* this but did't present your findings?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:21 PM on August 2, 2013


I've been presenting them to anyone who will listen either in rage filled screams or relentless CAPSLOCK all summer long.
posted by elizardbits at 12:22 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you look at the data, there is some interesting regional variation in what the studies show. Figure 4 shows that studies in Tanzania, Australia, and India identify positive correlations between climate change and interpersonal violence, while studies in the USA show no or even negative correlations.

I wonder whether they took into account the prevalence of air conditioning. I don't know about Australia, but I would think that in Tanzania and India, people would be less likely to be able to say, "Wow, it's hot -- guess I'll stay inside today," thereby decreasing the chance of pissing off some other sweating person.
posted by Etrigan at 12:23 PM on August 2, 2013


This was posited back in 1954 by the Ray Bradbury story "Touched with Fire", which I just found out was also turned into an Alfred Hitchcock Presents with the punched up title "Shopping for Death" (full episode). Apparently in 1990 'Ray Bradbury Theater' did another version using the original title (imdb info only)
posted by FatherDagon at 12:29 PM on August 2, 2013


*does CTRL-F for "Fondly Fahrenheit," gets nothing, walks away puzzled*
posted by languagehat at 12:31 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There you have it: heat --> sex and violence.

As long as I can choose which one I'd rather...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:32 PM on August 2, 2013


To say it makes us more violent or belligerent is to ignore the obvious.

Disruptive natural events often displace populations. Displaced populations are both victim and perpetrator of crime, for all the obvious reasons. Katrina refugees in Houston, for example.
posted by surplus at 12:40 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


To say it makes us more violent or belligerent is to ignore the obvious.

FTFA:

"They do offer a few theories, though. Climate change causes migration, and as big populations move, they might confront existing residents in a battle for resources and land. It can also alter physical environments in a way that predisposes people to confrontation, or -- particularly in earlier eras -- might have caused people to wrongly attribute environmental conditions to the actions of their enemies. Other studies have shown that hot temperatures make us more hostile psychologically."
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 12:46 PM on August 2, 2013


It's obvious what is happening here. The more violent we become, the hotter it gets.
posted by moshjosh at 12:56 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


*does CTRL-F for "Fondly Fahrenheit," gets nothing, walks away puzzled*

Came in here to make that reference, but stopped along the way to read the story again thanks to google. But yeah.

/was beaten to it by the best
posted by hap_hazard at 1:07 PM on August 2, 2013


It was so hot and humid for the first part of July, that I think I killed myself. My skin made a determined effort to depart from the body politic altogether, although where it planned to go remains a mystery.
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:07 PM on August 2, 2013


My girlfriend wrote this (article, not study) ... </humblebragbyassocation>
posted by nutate at 1:10 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's certainly the folk wisdom on the streets of inner city Chicago. Hot young bored underemployed men wandering around agitating. In the winter, it's too cold to do much.
posted by jenlovesponies at 2:00 PM on August 2, 2013


It's not the heat, it's the humanity.
posted by jclarkin at 2:50 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


It's certainly been established (albeit anecdotally) on a weather basis if not climate. The first example that springs to mind is the blackout riots in NYC in 1977, although there were multiple factors involved.

You mean like the giant blackout?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 2:51 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


You don't fucking say.

*fails again to fit into freezer, weeps*
posted by Space Kitty at 3:38 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"In the hood summer time
Is the killing season
It's hot out this bitch;
That's a good enough reason."

-50 Cent, "Heat"
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 3:43 PM on August 2, 2013


My girlfriend wrote this (article, not study) ... </humblebragbyassocation>

'Humble' has had an interesting evolution over the last decade-in addition to humblebragging, people use it now in place of 'honored' (or maybe to mean 'extra-honored') when they achieve some recognition. e.g. "I was humbled to receive the award". Here's Brian D. Mclaren being 'humbled and honored' by his award. The Queen of England was humbled that so many people gave a shit about her Diamond Jubilee, and so on.

Previously, while there might have been some honor in being a humble person, to BE humbled was to have been put in your place in a way that involved losing face, and nothing that anyone would have remembered as a particularly good time. This is still the more common usage but diametrically opposed to the new one, it seems to me.

Anyway, that's just a brag, nutate, not a humblebrag. But it makes me curious that maybe there's a significant population of speakers now for whom there is no significant difference between a brag and a humble brag, for whom those two words are synonyms. Maybe for them a humblebrag is an honorable brag, a brag that is truly bragworthy? That seems in keeping with the nutate usage and the new sense of humble. Keep an eye out.

Harris Wittels is a pretty funny dude and I would like to blame him for all this but I can see people complaining about the shift from as far back as 2005, so.

Back to your regularly scheduled activities.
posted by Kwine at 3:51 PM on August 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


As one professor stressed to us meteorology undergrads, only objects can be hot or cold, warm or cool. Temperature is not an object. The temperature can be high, low, average, highly variable or what not but it can never be hot or cold.

I see your "grrr" and raise you a "gah".

Clearly not a professor of English, this guy. Take the question "Is 100 °C hot?" asked by someone who only knows fahrenheit. Is that a meaningful question that can be meaningfully answered? Yep. There's no object there, except an implied human.

Likewise with the quoted abstract - the humans that are experiencing the temperatures as "hot" are implied.

Trying to rule out usages like this causes more harm than good. I can say that 100 mph is fast; I can say that 3000 miles is far. I can even say that my broken down car is unhappy.

There's no need to limit your expressiveness just to cargo-cult a scientific style.
posted by bonaldi at 6:23 PM on August 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Climate Change Occurring Ten Times Faster Than at Any Time in Past 65 Million Years
posted by homunculus at 6:24 PM on August 2, 2013


I don't think it's true that people who say that they are "humbled" to receive an award mean they are "honored" to receive it (especially the guy who said he was both). They mean to say that receiving it makes them feel humble - i.e. they do not feel that they deserve the honor. "Humble" both as an adjective and a verb have had this "not proud/made to feel not proud" meaning for a long, long time. In fact it's the OED's #1 definition of "humble" as a verb; the "put in your place in a way that involved losing face" definition that you mention is #2.
posted by Flunkie at 6:25 PM on August 2, 2013


Might as well point out to the Siouxsie/"92 Degrees" fans (because it took me years to run down): the narration
"Did you know, Putnam, that more murders are committed at 92 degrees Fahrenheit than any other temperature? I read an article once - at lower temperatures, people are easy-going; over 92, it's too hot to move - - but at JUST 92, PEOPLE GET IRRITABLE!"
comes from the sheriff in It Came from Outer Space.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 6:30 PM on August 2, 2013


There's no need to limit your expressiveness just to cargo-cult a scientific style.

Aaaaand folks, there goes the usage prescriptivist. Waiting for a spelling nazi pedant to join in. Things are getting warm. Another 3 degrees and we'll see some action!
posted by BlueHorse at 9:17 PM on August 2, 2013


I'm going to assume all usage of the word "humble" from here on out is in line with that of The Iron Sheik.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 1:32 AM on August 3, 2013


Watching Fox News makes people distrust science: A new study breaks down the media's effects on public perception of climate change
posted by homunculus at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2013


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