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Schoot shootings: what is the proximate cause?

 
unsmoked
 
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unsmoked
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23 May 2019 19:43
 

https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teen-depression-study/

quote from this article:

An Epidemic of Teen Depression

The report found that diagnoses of major depression are rising fastest among those under age 35. As a result, diagnoses have gone up 47 percent since 2013 among millennials (ages 18–34).

Plus, the rate for adolescents (ages 12–17) has risen 63 percent since 2013—47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls. Therefore, teen depression rates are increasing.

According to the report, “these quickly rising rates of diagnosed major depression in younger age groups can have broader implications on future healthcare needs as they grow into later adulthood.” Therefore, as the report states, effective diagnosis and management of major depression is crucial in these early years. Furthermore, treatment is the most important influence on an adolescent’s future health and wellness.

So, kids today practice hiding under their desks while the teacher locks the door.  Their parents hid under their desks when the siren sounded, to practice for a nuclear holocaust.  In my class we practiced going quickly outside to cram into a brick bomb shelter, and at home at 2 A.M. we crammed into another bomb shelter as 300 German Bombers flew over us heading for the shipyards 5 miles north at Clydebank.

However, we never thought about some depressed bigger kid coming through the door with a machine gun and spraying it at us.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTcbsBET7gc

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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23 May 2019 21:09
 

A factor might have to do with kids being raised with feelings entitlement and then having to interact in school with lots of other entitled kids.

 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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24 May 2019 03:25
 

no_profundia

The mass shooting data in the first paragraph refers to the indiscriminate killing of four or more people not in a gang related, domestic violence, or robbery context.  So Las Vegas, Charleston, Newton—those were “mass shootings” in that the primary—if not sole—purpose was to kill as many people as possible.  Shooting up one’s place of work would be too.  But not an incident like a husband killing his wife and three kids, then himself.  Nor a gang member shooting up five rivals in a revenge killing or a territory dispute. The divisions are somewhat arbitrary, and depending on one’s political agenda (or not), the inclusions tend to vary in various data sets.

I agree entirely that gang shootings—and domestic violence or robbery shootings—differ from rampage shootings, what the data refers to as “indiscriminate,” as well as from school shootings.  Gang-related school shootings would only belong in the category of “school” (that is how the data comes) because they are committed by minors in a school and not at large, but clearly there might be more in common with the later by adults than school shootings involving anger and escalation.  So the causal account would vary accordingly—yes.  And yes, stricter gun control laws will almost certainly impact these gang, domestic violence, and robbery shootings etc.  Although Germany has never suffered from mass shootings like here, it did have a serious gun violence problem re murder, domestic violence, robbery, etc., and stricter and stricter laws—including psychological evaluations in some cases—reduced gun homicides from ~57% to ~8% of homicides over a few decades (the overall homicide rate dropped by almost as much).  Non-lethal gun violence dropped in sync, as did, to some extent, violent crime in general.  As I see it, regulating the gun shows and private sales would be the first step toward this, as I think it’s widely understood that these sales are primarily how guns get into the hands of criminals. I’m even for eliminating them altogether.  Beyond these comments, I think I agree with your analysis re collective action, as well as your conclusions generally.

Regarding self-regulation and Vikings, self-regulation in that case would involve learning to rape and pillage others but presumably include not doing those things in one’s own community, absent being compelled by others not to.  And so for other norms within that community toward one another.  Although illuminating as an example, just what the norms of the community are don’t matter much, so long as the child learns to conform to them for him or herself absent explicit direction or compulsion or otherwise instruction from others.  These norms could be just about any kind of behavior.  Whatever they are, one would be expected to regulate one’s own motivation and emotional propensities toward them, coordinating their own needs with society’s, as it were, absent being told how to do so by others.

I am not sure how one would adopt an alternative normative framework for a society to see if it is sick.  For sure, a society concerned with problems within itself could be considered sick, in so far as it has disruptions it doesn’t like.  But using one set of societal norms as a yardstick by which to measure another one “sick” would involve a different kind of judgment.  If, say, Vikings tolerated an occasional rape of their own by aggressive young males as the cost of learning to rape and pillage others, we might consider them sick but they themselves would not per se. And so forth. My concern here would be to distinguish a functional, pragmatic notion of “sick” from a normative one.

Your Augustine example of a social pathology is an interesting take.  It points to, I think, the limits of trying to derive group behavior from individuals’, absent acknowledging that individual behavior is in part determined by being in a group.  This is in fact my principle criticism of methodological individualism, though I admit I have not worked out in any detail how that critical hunch might play out. 

Putting all rampage attacks together sounds right to me because my guess is gun control laws that keep guns out of the hands of mass shooters will re-direct these killers to alternative means, just like suicides in countries without widespread guns get redirected to pesticides.  I suspect the frequency of these killings would still decrease simply because the alternative means are more demanding and less effective, but I don’t think they would disappear altogether.  For like school shootings, the causes seem to subtend the availability of guns. 

[ Edited: 24 May 2019 04:57 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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24 May 2019 03:32
 
burt - 23 May 2019 09:09 PM

A factor might have to do with kids being raised with feelings entitlement and then having to interact in school with lots of other entitled kids.

It would be interesting to see demographic data that discriminates class/social status of shooters and victims.  On a related point, status resentment could be a factor too (I think something like that was a factor at Columbine; didn’t they rage against the ‘popular’ kids?)  I think these factors, however, would subsume under catastrophic failure of self-regulation as the underlying factor…

[ Edited: 24 May 2019 04:11 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher
 
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24 May 2019 03:54
 
unsmoked - 23 May 2019 07:43 PM

https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teen-depression-study/

quote from this article:

An Epidemic of Teen Depression

The report found that diagnoses of major depression are rising fastest among those under age 35. As a result, diagnoses have gone up 47 percent since 2013 among millennials (ages 18–34).

Plus, the rate for adolescents (ages 12–17) has risen 63 percent since 2013—47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls. Therefore, teen depression rates are increasing.

According to the report, “these quickly rising rates of diagnosed major depression in younger age groups can have broader implications on future healthcare needs as they grow into later adulthood.” Therefore, as the report states, effective diagnosis and management of major depression is crucial in these early years. Furthermore, treatment is the most important influence on an adolescent’s future health and wellness.

So, kids today practice hiding under their desks while the teacher locks the door.  Their parents hid under their desks when the siren sounded, to practice for a nuclear holocaust.  In my class we practiced going quickly outside to cram into a brick bomb shelter, and at home at 2 A.M. we crammed into another bomb shelter as 300 German Bombers flew over us heading for the shipyards 5 miles north at Clydebank.

However, we never thought about some depressed bigger kid coming through the door with a machine gun and spraying it at us.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTcbsBET7gc

Causal links in the media between depression and violence are, in my experience, overwrought, if not outright misstated.  Although meta-analyses show varying proportions of violent offenders (usually murder-suicides) suffer from depression, the number of depressed who are violent is quite small, which suggests that mitigating factors besides the depression are causal.  Similarly, the depressed as a proportion of total violent offenses is vanishingly small, indicating from the other direction its unlikeliness as a cause of violence.  And anecdotally this makes perfect sense, for a hallmark symptom of depression is—like the name suggests—a disinclination to activity in general, much less any activity requiring a considerable effort or commitment (like violence against others).  Colloquially put, the truly depressed struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, or performing common daily tasks, so the initiative required to go on a killing spree is rarely on the horizon. 

This is an interesting study on the association of depression and violence.

[ Edited: 24 May 2019 04:12 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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24 May 2019 07:39
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 24 May 2019 03:54 AM
unsmoked - 23 May 2019 07:43 PM

https://www.newportacademy.com/resources/mental-health/teen-depression-study/

quote from this article:

An Epidemic of Teen Depression

The report found that diagnoses of major depression are rising fastest among those under age 35. As a result, diagnoses have gone up 47 percent since 2013 among millennials (ages 18–34).

Plus, the rate for adolescents (ages 12–17) has risen 63 percent since 2013—47 percent for boys and 65 percent for girls. Therefore, teen depression rates are increasing.

According to the report, “these quickly rising rates of diagnosed major depression in younger age groups can have broader implications on future healthcare needs as they grow into later adulthood.” Therefore, as the report states, effective diagnosis and management of major depression is crucial in these early years. Furthermore, treatment is the most important influence on an adolescent’s future health and wellness.

So, kids today practice hiding under their desks while the teacher locks the door.  Their parents hid under their desks when the siren sounded, to practice for a nuclear holocaust.  In my class we practiced going quickly outside to cram into a brick bomb shelter, and at home at 2 A.M. we crammed into another bomb shelter as 300 German Bombers flew over us heading for the shipyards 5 miles north at Clydebank.

However, we never thought about some depressed bigger kid coming through the door with a machine gun and spraying it at us.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTcbsBET7gc

Causal links in the media between depression and violence are, in my experience, overwrought, if not outright misstated.  Although meta-analyses show varying proportions of violent offenders (usually murder-suicides) suffer from depression, the number of depressed who are violent is quite small, which suggests that mitigating factors besides the depression are causal.  Similarly, the depressed as a proportion of total violent offenses is vanishingly small, indicating from the other direction its unlikeliness as a cause of violence.  And anecdotally this makes perfect sense, for a hallmark symptom of depression is—like the name suggests—a disinclination to activity in general, much less any activity requiring a considerable effort or commitment (like violence against others).  Colloquially put, the truly depressed struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, or performing common daily tasks, so the initiative required to go on a killing spree is rarely on the horizon. 

This is an interesting study on the association of depression and violence.

Would you say it’s similar with schizophrenia, as far as being an overwrought reaction to problems that are mostly imagined?

 
 
Nhoj Morley
 
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24 May 2019 08:00
 

I don’t think we can blame the technology for this. Why would anyone in this day and age, who is intent on murder, not choose a gun?

The Royal Oak Post Office shooter was into archery and practiced in his backyard. If no guns were available, would a bow and arrow rampage be as emotionally satisfying for him? Some lads plotted to attack their school with explosives. If we took all the guns away, would those gun-based plots turn to poison or some other mayhem?

The handgun is the greatest invention the macho-fantasy-world could ever hope for. Domination by a powerful hand-induced ejaculation. It is a perfect pandering to our patriarchal primate proclivities. We learned of a higher truth in Sunday school but the natural truth was found in any Matt Helm movie.

Changes in gun restrictions could possibly impact the statistics but that would not explain anything.
There is no way to factor in all the lads who compose and orchestrate a school attack that never happens. A detailed fantasy is made in advance and given a meaningful calendar date. This contrast with Going Postal or a sudden improvised rampage.

I think you lads are spot on, if a bit vague, by landing on self-regulation. I suggest that what is being regulated is our capacity to compose and orchestrate. On the one hand we have young lads whose capacity to compose and orchestrate is untapped and overlooked by parents, school or society in general. Sci-fi and fantasy shows do a better job of living up to what they think the world should look like. It needs to be more complex. They self-regulate this excess ability and are vulnerable to market-driven mentors or worse. On the other hand, we have lads whose capacity to compose and orchestrate is weak, traumatized or badly trained. Reality and the needs of their lives have too much complexity and they perform poorly until they feel cornered. Fox News does a better job of living up to what they think the world should look like. It needs to be simple. They self-regulate by hiding this weakness and are vulnerable to market-driven mentors or worse.

The statistically white male thing should be easy. We were the ones who were told that we will have a future. We will be responsible for it ourselves and expected to compose and orchestrate a course from schooling to pre-paid plot. We were trained for the long term. Others were told to expect a struggle and an uncertain future that will depend on how graciously and quickly society will address its newly perceived ingrained injustices of the past. Long views are foolish fantasies. I expect that race will slowly fade from the statistics while they still track this mystery parameter.

 
 
GAD
 
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24 May 2019 08:59
 

Not sure self-regulation is relevant here. This is not get mad and do something stupid and impulsive, these are typically planned out over weeks and months after being an idea for a longer time.

 
 
burt
 
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24 May 2019 09:18
 
TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher - 24 May 2019 03:32 AM
burt - 23 May 2019 09:09 PM

A factor might have to do with kids being raised with feelings entitlement and then having to interact in school with lots of other entitled kids.

It would be interesting to see demographic data that discriminates class/social status of shooters and victims.  On a related point, status resentment could be a factor too (I think something like that was a factor at Columbine; didn’t they rage against the ‘popular’ kids?)  I think these factors, however, would subsume under catastrophic failure of self-regulation as the underlying factor…

It would be interesting to see psychological studies of shooters, too, although not too many survive to be studied. The Tomasello book has extensive remarks on self-regulation (he calls it executive regulation). Unfortunately he doesn’t say much about how it develops other than to say that it’s through social interaction beginning around three. Something else is that there could be a diachronic factor involved with a copycat aspect where later shooters have a wider variety of motives that get bundled under the shooter outlet.

 
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24 May 2019 09:24
 
Nhoj Morley - 24 May 2019 08:00 AM

I don’t think we can blame the technology for this. Why would anyone in this day and age, who is intent on murder, not choose a gun?

The Royal Oak Post Office shooter was into archery and practiced in his backyard. If no guns were available, would a bow and arrow rampage be as emotionally satisfying for him? Some lads plotted to attack their school with explosives. If we took all the guns away, would those gun-based plots turn to poison or some other mayhem?

The handgun is the greatest invention the macho-fantasy-world could ever hope for. Domination by a powerful hand-induced ejaculation. It is a perfect pandering to our patriarchal primate proclivities. We learned of a higher truth in Sunday school but the natural truth was found in any Matt Helm movie.

Both my brother and I were great Matt Helm fans back in the day (not the movies, the books). About 20 years ago, driving from Edmonton to spend the winter in Tucson, I stopped in every used book store along the way and bought almost the entire Matt Helm corpus. Reread it, then gave it to my brother for Christmas.

 
burt
 
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24 May 2019 09:27
 
GAD - 24 May 2019 08:59 AM

Not sure self-regulation is relevant here. This is not get mad and do something stupid and impulsive, these are typically planned out over weeks and months after being an idea for a longer time.

I had the same thought, but here self-regulation seems more to do with integration of self into the social mileau which has (or had) a norm that one doesn’t shoot one’s classmates. The self-regulation involved in planning a shooting spree is at the intellectual level, the former is at the moral level. Maybe that’s significant.

 
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24 May 2019 10:37
 

https://abcnews.go.com/US/disturbing-things-learned-today-sandy-hook-shooter-adam/story?id=27087140

Even though every case is different, there are probably some things that most shooters have in common.  Do they have the ability to duck into a closet as a nerd or loser, a nonentity, and emerge with superhuman power?

nonentity  1.  a person or thing with no special or interesting qualities; an unimportant person or thing.

synonyms: unimportant person, person of no importance, person of no account, nobody, cipher, nonperson, man of straw, nothing, small fry, lightweight

 
 
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24 May 2019 12:51
 

nonverbal

I was a little more specific than “overwrought reaction to problems.”  I referred to “causal links in the media” being overwrought, which is somewhat different.  In any case, I won’t comment on schizophrenia and violence in the media because off hand I don’t recall any references.  If there were, I would point out that the schizophrenia data is much like the depression data, except that people with schizophrenia as a proportion of violent offenders is even more vanishingly small than those with depression, mainly because schizophrenia is so much more rare.  Also, schizophrenia is more associated with interpersonal aggression (toward care givers, housing staff, clinicians, etc.) than with what would be called criminal violence per se.

GAD

If you are referring to incidents like Columbine, then yes, that’s not an issue of self-regulation; Klebold and Harris were probably violent sociopaths who got an early start in their career.  I doubt anything we do is going to prevent outliers like that.  But Columbine is an outlier in school shootings, not the norm.  I wish there were data on how ‘spontaneous’ versus ‘planned’ these shootings are, but I can’t find it.  It would go to the point you raise.  That said, given the prominence of anger and escalation as the context for the majority of shootings, I think self-regulation is a good (albeit somewhat vague) place to start.

burt

Yes, I think the copycat aspect must be considered.  In a horrific way, Klebold and Harris were pioneers who put school shootings on the Zeitgeist map.  They have a prestige, as it were, to the so inclined, and prestige is a significant motivator in behavior.  To some deranged angry adolescent the fact the Kelbold and Harris went out in a—sick—“blaze of glory” may be an incentive to do the same.  To this point, ~13% of incidents ended in a suicide attempt/success. 

unsmoked

Interesting article.  From what I’ve read about him, had he been brought to us when I worked for a community services board that evaluated people for threat-to-self and others (TDO’s), he would have been a slam dunk for a hold.  In my experience I only held one for evaluation of threat to others, and Lanza reminds me of him.

But note: the Sandy Hook shooting is more a mass shooting than a school shooting in the sense used in this thread.  Lanza was a 20 year-old non-student who massacred students in a school, not a student who killed fellow classmates.  My intuition is the psychology, conditions, and causes of these two types of murder are different (though there is sure to be some overlap).

Nhoj

I agree re the psychology of using a gun versus another weapon.  Setting aside the incentive factor of ease (guns are an easier means), there has to be something intrinsically satisfying to “domination by hand-induced ejaculation.”  I’d be interested to see school violence by other weapon compared to gun violence, say knives, which are far far far more available to school age kids than handguns.  For those who are overwhelmed by conflict and lashing out to dominate, the feeling of power that comes with using a gun has to be, I think, part of the cause.

I am not sure what you mean by “compose and orchestrate,” but I think I agree that shooters “self-regulate by hiding this weakness and are vulnerable to market-driven mentors or worse” (though I’m not sure what “market driven mentors” are).

[ Edited: 24 May 2019 12:55 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
no_profundia
 
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24 May 2019 19:53
 

I was doing a little research on this topic this evening. I did not find a ton that seemed of much interest though I found a couple of books on the topic that looked good. It was a little shocking to me that I did not find more. I thought there would be a whole industry devoted to studying this problem in depth and proposing all sorts of theories but most of the theories I found did not seem to go much beyond what we have been able to come up with on this thread by simply brainstorming.

However, I did come across one interesting data point that I wanted to add to the mix: the great majority of rampage shootings take place in small towns or suburban environments. They rarely take place in large cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.). I am not sure what this means but I think it is very intersting and probably a clue of some kind.

I am not sure how one would adopt an alternative normative framework for a society to see if it is sick.  For sure, a society concerned with problems within itself could be considered sick, in so far as it has disruptions it doesn’t like.

Yes, this is a difficult problem and this is one place where I find Harris’s moral theory attractive. It would be nice if “well-being” were an innate norm, we could simply measure the amount of “well-being” in particular brain states, and use that as an ultimate arbiter to judge alternative normative frameworks.

Absent that, I think the heterogeneity of society provides resources for critiquing the normative frameworks operating within specific cultures or sub-cultures. Because society is composed of lots of cultures and sub-cultures we can adopt an external perspective on a particular sub-culture - high schools, for example - and critique it if we think it is unhealthy.

As you say, this would be an example of a society recognizing a problem within itself - school shootings, for example - deciding that the problem has something to do with norms operative either in a particular sub-culture (high school) or society at large, and deciding to alter those norms.

I also think there are always creative individuals proposing new normative frameworks: Socrates, Jesus, Confucius, Buddha. If a new creative individual comes along and proposes a new normative framework, and a large segment of the population agrees with it, they can use the new framework as a basis to critique the old. 

My concern here would be to distinguish a functional, pragmatic notion of “sick” from a normative one.

I am not sure I understand the distinction?

I do not want to get too hung up on the use of the term “sick.” Here is what I am really trying to get at: I think we sometimes misuse terms like “mentally ill” or “mal-adapted” as if they were predicates of individuals when I think, in a lot of cases, they are predicates that belong to an individual/environmental system as a whole.

This is sort of obvious with the term “mal-adapted” since it is a relational predicate that expresses a relationship between an individual and an environment. An individual that is “mal-adapted” in one environment might be well-adapted in another and an individual who is considered “mentally ill” in one environment might be considered a fully functioning (even flourishing) individual in another. This is what my Viking example was meant to hint towards.

So, given that these predicates (often) express a relationship between an individual and an environment we can always ask whether we want to help the individual adapt to the given environment or change the environment (or both). So, my notion of “sickness” I think is purely normative, it simply expresses that we have somehow made the judgment that there is something wrong in a given culture or environment that should be changed.

 
 
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25 May 2019 05:49
 

no_profundia

The distinction only refers to members of one society judging another society “sick” by norms not specific to the sick society.  I’m not asserting that this can’t be done, only that one should be aware when one is doing it.  “Functional” would refer to how the judged behavior functions in the society one finds it, as opposed to how it would sit in one’s own, should it appear there.  “Normative” would be judging it according to how it would sit in one’s own, if there.

I see what you are driving at with “maladaptive” and the “individual/environment system as a whole.”  I think that notion subtends the idea of proximate cause as used in this thread, because clearly this behavior isn’t occurring in isolation; it is precipitated in some sense by environmental factors that transcend any given individual (thus we’re not talking solely about individual psychology here).  My point throughout has been that one of those precipitating environmental factors isn’t the availability of guns (except in the trivially obvious sense that they have to be available).  What I think has happened in this debate nationwide—at least on the Democrat side—is too look at the environment side as the principle—if not sole—causal factor (lack of gun control laws) but not at the individual side at all (the shooter himself).  And much less do they look at the nexus of the two sides. The brainstorming here is an antidote to that, I think.

I am not surprised there is little research out there.  Since the Federal government won’t fund it, people aren’t even applying for grants, and absent grants from someone, the research isn’t going to get done.

So, given that these predicates (often) express a relationship between an individual and an environment we can always ask whether we want to help the individual adapt to the given environment or change the environment (or both). So, my notion of “sickness” I think is purely normative, it simply expresses that we have somehow made the judgment that there is something wrong in a given culture or environment that should be changed.

Yes, and to this change, as burt suggested: is their a main thread we can pull that will unravel this mess, despite the many threads going into it, i.e. is there a factor that will solve this ‘fit’ problem, whether with respect to the individual or the environment (and isn’t the only way we can reach the prospective individual though the environment)?  I would assume there is no panacea thread that will end all school shootings—nothing so grandiose; but maybe one factor that will reduce them dramatically.  In any case, there is clearly something maladaptive with these shooters in any environment, and everyone, I think, agrees on that.  In my opinion this thread has been an interesting attempt to come to terms with how to approach that problem.

 

[ Edited: 25 May 2019 05:59 by TheAnal_lyticPhilosopher]
 
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