Test Your Murder IQ

outline of a body in chalk

Concerning murder, have you ever thought about any of the following questions?

  • When is it murder-o’clock—the time of day when most murders occur?
  • What is the most common motive for murder?
  • What percent of murders involve alcohol consumption?
  • What is the most common method used to murder someone?
  • What percent of murderers are premeditated?
  • What are your chances of being murdered?
  • What are your chances of murdering someone?
  • How many people were murdered in your city last year?
  • How many in your country?
  • What percent of murders go unsolved?
  • How has the rate of murder increased or decreased over the last ten years?
  • How do murder statistics breakdown by age, sex, and race?
  • What is the average amount of time it takes to catch a murderer?

The knowledge of murder comes to most people in two primary ways, I would imagine:

  • Culture
  • Intuition

Murder is undoubtedly a popular cerebral preoccupation, but that preoccupation would not exist if the thought of murder were not connected to, and one and the same with, the most extreme form of terror lurking in the deepest well of our animal brain.  I must confess, that my mind is often held captive to this interest not as something I want to do, but as something I wish to understand.  Maybe the most fundamental reality about the human condition is that one human is willing to kill another one.  

Is it even possible to imagine a functioning society that held the sanctity of human life as an inviolable precept?  If two coexisting societies held opposite beliefs on this topic, which do you think would come to dominate the other?  If we observe, abstractly, that we should follow the Golden Rule, the fact that the phenomenology of murder exists at all should make us question why this rule isn’t always followed, or why it it ever is.  Why do some societies end up murdering so much more than others?  What should we do to people who murder?

The idea of murder is a bountiful subject for the philosopher, but the appeal of the depiction of murder is engaging to varied audiences. Yet, I’m at a bit of a loss when it comes to understanding why we are so fascinated by something we dread so much.  Why doesn’t the dread win out and cause us not to want to think about it as is usually the case?  

 I am also at a deeper in loss in trying to understand why we allow ourselves to be exposed to depictions of murder multiple times a day, every day, and still not bother to inform ourselves about the topic in a more thorough manner.  Think of how dramatically our understanding would improve if we took the same approach to murder as we do our favorite sports team, or even something as mundane as the weather.

Further, when we think about the events raised in Making A Murderer, how would we view what happened if we were equipped with a better understanding of the phenomenology of murder?

What percent of murders involved a means of killing that included shooting a bullet into the victim’s head, slitting her throat, and stabbing her stomach?  Do you suppose that clearer data would ever change your understanding of this case?  What if it happened to be that only one murder in ten million involve all three such methods of killing?  

It’s not difficult to go on in this vein either.  How many murders involve more than one murderer?  How many murderers chose to get rid of the evidence by backyard cremation?

I’ll let you do your own research on these questions, but what I will tell you is that I have done mine, and I’m here to tell you that the probability that someone like Brendan Dassey and Steven Avery, together, murdered someone the way they were convicted of murdering someone is vanishingly small.  In fact, it is probably unprecedented in an annals of muderology.  It is profoundly difficult to overstate how unlikely it is that such a sequence of events we are being asked to believe unfolded in the way they are said to have unfolded.