Can Mental Screening Predict Mass Murder?

A “Minority Report” technology to predict murder remains wishful science fiction thinking. But a mass shooting that killed at least 20 children and 8 adults at a school in Newton, Conn. once again raises the question of what technological tools, if any, can help predict or prevent such tragedies by identifying troubled individuals.

Psychologists say that predicting the intent among individuals to commit mass murder remains incredibly difficult, if not impossible — especially with mass killings having many different patterns and representing rare events. TechNewsDaily previously spoke with an expert on psychopaths who explained the challenges despite his optimism in using psychological screening.

“If you study 100,000 people, three might go out and kill someone else,” said Kent Kiehl, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of New Mexico. “There’s really not a good way to predict that single individual.”

Kiehl previously spoke regarding a U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency effort to predict a person’s state of mind related to suicide and murder. The DARPA project focused on preventing suicides among U.S. military members, but it also considered the idea of predicting the intent to murder.

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