[Seeing what response if any this gets; originally posted here [edit: if this belongs in the "Law and Justice" forum please move it there, can't delete thread] This topic has been mentioned before on this site. However, that explanation is insufficient to explain that kind of attack in the United States, which is often regarded as one of the most independent or 'selfish' cultures among the so-called developed countries. One description of the shooting says that James Holmes (24) "methodically stalked the aisles of the theater, shooting people at random, as panicked movie-watchers in the packed auditorium tried to escape". The best explanation is that he was trying to determine if the problems in U.S. culture are the result of maliciousness, or just stupidity. It seems that if he was trying to kill as many people as possible, there would have been more casualties. And yet it probably would have been easy for one or two determined people to, for example, attack him from behind and prevent any further injuries or deaths to other people in the theater. The fact that no one did is significant, as is the lack of discussion of this aspect of the situation. There have been questions about whether "one person with a concealed weapon could have ended the attack", but James Holmes was wearing full body armor so it is questionable whether such retaliation would have been more effective than simple hand-to-hand combat. What James Holmes and anyone who reads the account of the event should have concluded is that if the United States is a nation of 'selfish' people, who place priority on their own goals (survival) instead of the reasonable goals of other people (survival), the people using this strategy are not competent enough to prevent unwanted and unexpected alteration of their physical condition by other people. Conversely, if the United States is a nation of selfless people who are only pretending to be selfish, no one had enough confidence in their abilities to attack the shooter and prevent further injuries or deaths. The conclusion is that when it comes to important things, people really are 'sheep' and it is necessary for people with authority to use that influence to accomplish goals that benefit society, even if there appears to be opposition or a lack of popular support for a specific policy. The motivations in the 'selfless people' case might be a little more complicated; people in the theater might have wanted to avoid propagating the idea that attacking the shooter was the 'morally correct' thing to do, since it would have meant that anyone who didn't was unethical... but the implication is that 'appearing to act ethically' for one person is more important than 'staying alive' for another person. That leads to situations like someone destroying their house and killing themselves rather than be evicted and their home taken by Freddie Mac, because of other people who don't want to 'unethically' support higher government spending and taxation to create jobs. Another good example of the phenomenon is the apparent support for 'honor killings' by other women in the countries where that practice is used. A study showed that people with ambivalent feelings about a policy are often the strongest supporters of it in public to prove their 'sincerity'... but as James Holmes showed, this is one way to get yourself or other people killed. If the above is true, that people feel that upholding the appearance of correct action for one or more people around them than ensuring the survival of one or more other people, the only logical explanation for how people would feel this is justified is that the people in the first group are seen to be selfish, and would prefer being seen as ethical over other people remaining alive. This perception would explain many things, and it has already been shown how this conclusion might be reached from nothing more than mistakes arising from misjudgements in valuewhich in turn happens because of people who not aware of inaccuracies in the 'system' formed by common social standards of judgement. Of course, as was remarked in a blog that was eventually lost from the Internetseven archive.org!thinking is only useful to the extent that it leads to a useful result. If most people are sheep, or 'granite rocks on a mountainside', it means that few people have the confidence to redefine reality to the benefit of themselves and other people who are intelligent enough to express a consistent preference.