Earlier today I wrote a post about optical illusions. I was hoping it would distract me from thinking about the Virginia Tech shootings. It didn’t. I began to see connections between the illusions and the tragedy: That sinking feeling that somebody was being shot, that spiral like a gun sight.
The problem is that human brains are connecting machines: we can connect anything to anything else. Trying not to think about the shootings was the worst thing I could do. How should I be handling it? I should be talking about it directly — preferably face-to-face or over the phone. I did spend some time talking with Greta and with each of my kids about it last night — and last night, I slept well. But this morning everyone rushed off to school and to work, and I started watching some of the online footage of the shootings. After a while I couldn’t think about anything else, so I began to look for distractions. As I should have known, the distractions just weren’t distracting enough, and I kept connecting everything back to the grisly deaths in Virginia.
What I’m planning to do is to call my brother to talk about it. I haven’t spoken with him for over three months (mostly because I feel guilty about not calling), so it will be great to catch up and share our thoughts about the tragedy. But I can’t call now because of time zone differences. In the meantime, I’ll have to settle for virtual conversation with my fellow ScienceBloggers, who have written many, many thoughtful posts on the tragic events in Virginia. In case you’re in a similar situation, I thought I’d offer a guide to what the ScienceBloggers are saying.
Horror, fear, struggle to cope with the tragedy
Shelley Batts of Retrospectacle.
P.Z. Myers of Pharyngula.
Jason Rosenhause of Evolutionblog.
Janet Stemwedel of Adventures in Ethics and Science.
Alex Palazzo of The Daily Transcript.
Craig Hildreth of the Cheerful Oncologist.
John Lynch of Stranger Fruit.
Searching for causes and solutions
Cognitive Daily finds a connection with suicide.
Retrospectacle explores the possibility of a “social meme”.
The Questionable authority suggests limited gun control might help reduce gun violence.
Evolving Thoughts argues for even more restrictions.
Galactic Interactions argues that now is not the time to enact more gun restrictions.
Uncertain Principles argues that it’s tactless to argue about gun control right now.
The Questionable Authority argues that now is the time to speak.
Uncertain Principles repeats its previous argument using more colorful language.
Debunking the pundits
OmniBrain is critical of those leaping to blame video games.
Mike the Mad Biologist says Instapundit’s “guns for everyone” argument is wacked.
Pharyngula lambastes Debbie Schlussel for suggesting a link to Muslim terrorism.
Respectful Insolence skewers Ken Ham for trying to connect the tragedy to atheism.
So does Dispatches from the Culture Wars.
Searching for hope
Evolving Thoughts identifies a hero in tragic circumstances.
Go visit these blogs and comment, or comment here, but most importantly, talk — to your friends, your loved ones, to a counselor or clergy member if necessary. Only by confronting a tragedy such as this can we begin to put it behind us — and hopefully, prevent it from happening again.