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Joined: 6 May 2008
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Location: Stendec

15 Jun 2018, 3:28 pm

A bored Fnord rambles on ...

So ... from what I've gathered from the comments here, and from various blogs, forums, and legitimate news sources, there are some things that are merely "weird" that may tend to creep people out, but that ordinarily do not indicate an immediate or imminent threat. Ethnic or regional differences may account for most of these. The following list is by no means exhaustive.

Odd Speech: An ordinary speech impediment or physical deformity is not at issue here. However, a person may use words that were part of the common vocabulary many decades ago, use excessive slang, or use large words when smaller words would work just as well.

Odd Appearance: A person may dress themselves (?) inappropriately to the weather or social environment. Jeans and a tee-shirt at an interview, revealing skirts and blouses in church, or a sweater and a jacket in July are typical examples. Personal wealth (or lack thereof) may play a role, as well, or the person may be merely "making a statement".

Limited Social Contact: Some people are just shy, feeling anxious whenever they are the center of attention, and tending to avoid others whenever possible. Others are "lost in their own world" of computing or mathematics. Still others will not speak to members of certain social or economic classes.

Poor Personal Hygiene: Some people don't brush their teeth, use deodorant, or change their socks on a daily basis, and while this may offend the sensibilities of others, it is not a threat (unless you happen to be down-wind).

Some behaviors may be considered "borderline" by many, and while they may not necessarily be threatening, they seem to be "early warning signs" of future threats:

Disorganized Speech: Rambling, run-on sentences that exhibit a variety of subjects, tenses, and grammatical errors; irrelevant or out-of-context comments; and mumbling to one's self may indicate a disorganized mind. However, this disorganization may also be a symptom result of fatigue or stress.

Recreational Drug Use: The occasional drink may be acceptable in most Western cultures, but an obsession with alcohol or other recreational drugs, or an outright addiction, may indicate a potential for anti-social behavior.

Staring: People stare into space, at stationary or moving objects, or people; sometimes out of admiration or boredom, or sometimes out of anger, desire or fear. Regardless of why, staring at people is considered rude (at best) or threatening (at worst) by many people. The degree of staring may be subjective (men seem to have trouble avoiding the sight of ample "boobage", for example), and only the 'victim' can judge this degree. However, when staring is accompanied by aggressive or intimidating posture, it could signal a potential threat.

Unrealistic Claims: Paranoiac claims, where the person making the claim is certain that 'they' are victimizing him in some way, are warning signs of the potential for violence out of a misplaced sense of self-defense. Peculiar ideologies, such as the stated belief that a particular culture, race, religion, or gender is somehow 'inferior' in all respects. Is a warning sign of the potential for violence out of a misplaced sense of the 'proper' order of society. Conspiracy theories, pseudo-scientific beliefs, and other ideologies that are at odds with reality (e.g., "Cognitive Dissonance") are warning signs of the potential for violence for whatever fringe reason the perpetrator may imagine.

This brings us to some behaviors that most likely indicate an immediate or potential threat. Some may be obvious, others not so much.

Aggression, Intimidation, or Imposition: Whether by action, expression, posture, or speech, any obvious sign of aggression or attempt at intimidation that is directed at a person within view is a sure sign that someone is willing to do harm to that person. Provocative words and gestures, insults, and expressed threats are among these obvious signs. Interfering with a person's their movements, or standing in someone's way to block their passage are other obvious sign.

Anger-filled & Hate-Filled Outbursts: A sudden explosion of verbal abuse is another 'obvious' sign of a threat, especially if it is out of proportion to the event that triggered it.

Disproportionate Reactions: An example would be a person going into an enraged diatribe against someone for mispronouncing a common word or because someone pointed out an error in that person's knowledge or reasoning. Another might be a bout of uncontrolled weeping at the news of a stranger's cat stuck in a tree.

Disruptive and Inappropriate Behavior: Laughing during funerals, singing during a university examination, performing pirouettes along an assembly line, quoting religious texts during cross-examination, 'derailing' a conversation into an unrelated topic, or making unwanted physical contact with another person.

Interest in Violence, Tools of Violence, Violent Cultures: While some may enjoy boxing matches or karate exhibitions, participation in unsanctioned acts of violence, owning tools of violence (i.e., illegal weapons), and emulation of violent cultures (gangsters, Nazis, et cetera) is a sure sign of a potential for harm. It's one thing to admire a heavyweight boxing champion for his strength, speed and skill, but it's quite another to pick random fights.

Violent Imagery: Some people make their fortunes writing about wars, murder mysteries, horrific monsters, and physical conflict. Such stories often make the various best-seller lists, and are considered 'normal'. When a person's public dialogs (in speech or writing) seem to habitually focus on fantasies involving acts of violent nature (beating, murder, rape, revenge, suicide, terrorism, torture, et cetera), that a person should be considered a threat.

Spying, Stalking, & Voyeurism: Passively-acquired knowledge about a person's private life does not seem to indicate a potential threat (i.e., someone overhears someone else's supposedly 'private' conversation in a public place). It's when the information is actively "dug up" outside the authority of law-enforcement agencies, credit bureaux, or potential employers that a potential threat exists. Tracking the movements and knowing the habits of a potential victim are some of the methods that criminals may employ to determine when their victims are the most vulnerable to attack.

DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical- or mental-health professional, and I have no idea if all or any of these "Warning Signs" are valid in the real world. But they seem to express the idea that "If a person seems to pose a threat to you, to others, or to him- or her-self, then they are likely to actually be a threat".

“I must acknowledge, once and for all, that the
purpose of diplomacy is to prolong a crisis.”

— Leonard Nimoy as Mr. Spock, in the Star Trek
episode "The Mark of Gideon" (ep. 3-16, 1969)


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Joined: 12 Oct 2013
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Posts: 6,127
Location: USA

15 Jun 2018, 8:55 pm

Sudden angry, and impatient verbal outburst:

Buffalo Bill: "It rubs the lotion on its skin or it gets the hose again".

(suddenly angry & impatient) "Put da fawking loeashin in the basket".

After a failure, the easiest thing to do is to blame someone else.


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Joined: 6 Feb 2005
Age: 40
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Location: The 27th Path of Peh.

15 Jun 2018, 9:43 pm

On the first half:

I see where a lot of social groups and work places, when it comes to the formalities being out of the way, seem to sort of demand most people in them to be conversant in particular currencies - ie. whatever TV shows the group is generally watching, whatever interests they have - maybe cars and guns for guys, and the expectation is that anyone joining the group at least somewhat watches the same TV shows, has some interest in the cars and guns, and what I think is more interesting - the new person also should thing the same things are odd, weird, or creepy that they do, the new person also shouldn't 'know things' that are outside the role that their fitting into (a depth of knowledge in 18th or 19th century philosophy would fit that).

I can't always tell how much the above is their attempt to take their comfort zone everywhere, how much of it is sincere fear of the unknown, or how much of it is attention to signaled queues of perceived vs weakness, and then just how much of it on top of that is simply a desire to control and know that one can control and shape others. What I do know is that a person whose truly different, for their own sake, has to buck conformity quite often because they don't have a choice, and they do have to be alone often because its more often than not the only place they can safely be themselves. Their internal gears would come apart if they spent significant amounts of time trying to be someone else, as much as the average stereotypical NASCAR enthusiast would feel ill at ease spending all day in art galleries, Parisian coffee shops, and reading Foucault all day.

Assessing real threats of violence is a little trickier. I've had college classes where students were asked to do a show and tell of some kind and at least a few girls I remember had serial killer fascinations. Some of them were tangential enough to my circles that I would have known if they'd gone to jail for assault or anything of that sort. I've known guys who'd fight at the drop of a hat but they were pretty predicable as well in the classical sense that if you weren't bothering them, stealing from them, or trying to pick up their girlfriend, you didn't get mixed up in that and even if you were a really abrasive nerd/geek they'd probably either peacefully part presence or find the conversation interesting because they were talking to a kind of person they didn't meet often.

If someone's in a dark alley or in a place where they're likely to be mugged for heroin - that sort of speaks for itself. I think if I've noticed anything that really gives me red flags is when someone tries to shove a kind of reality toward me arbitrarily, ie. trying to get me to wear a role of their making a bit like they might want to walk me off with it (that's something women might try a bit more often than men). I also am familiar with the concept of the 'victim interview', there's a book that a martial arts buddy of mine whose a competition shooter from a Caribbean country told me to check out and that he thought highly of called the Little Black Book of Violence and so much of what was in that book dealt with situational awareness. The victim interview often starts with a particular form of narcissist or sociopath giving you a gullibility test. If you pass - congratulations, you're now their next mark.

I had a particular incident I still remember, not a violence related one but a con-artistry related one, where I went to a local drive-thru garage to get my oil changed on my lunch break. The first thing the guy told me to do was pull my keys out and put them on the dash. I didn't think about it, until he went down the whole list of things he could possibly sell me and told me I needed all of them. That's about were I realized what he thought me putting my keys on my dash meant about my intelligence, and even if I needed anything more than an oil change it wouldn't have mattered - I shot down everything. The keys on the dash thing might be a little kitsch and I don't always think that someone whose sizing you up for a robbery, or whatever else, would be so overt. I think the point is you'll catch an angle coming in, and that angle won't seem normal. It could seem like undue or strange attention, if there's any interaction with you at all it'll be an attempt to put you in a kind of box that you're not used to being put in.

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard business. If you try it, you'll be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privelege of owning yourself" - Rudyard Kipling