. . . There will always be the next rare event to fuel a cycle of knee-jerk response, ostensibly aimed at protecting us from every remote contingency.
Hindsight bias is a powerful heuristic that obscures an unfortunate truth: It is very hard to accurately predict — much less prevent — individual-level violence. Many people — and especially many adolescent and young adult men — are troubled. Many are severely depressed. Many express disturbing, violent fantasies. Fortunately, only a tiny fraction commit lethal acts against others. And unfortunately, those who do often do not stand out ahead of time.
This is what forensic psychologist Robert Fein found when he conducted a Secret Service study of all political assassins and would-be assassins in the United States over the past 60 years. Contrary to popular mythology, the assassins fit no singular “profile.” They were neither monsters nor martyrs.