Masha Gessen on explaining mass shootings and other attacks.

The Unsatisfying Answer to Questions About Mass Shooters

The Unsatisfying Answer to Questions About Mass Shooters

A daily news and culture podcast with Mike Pesca.
Oct. 2 2017 7:33 PM

The Rage Was Already There

Author Masha Gessen on what we get wrong when we try to explain the psychology of mass shooters.

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People carry a person at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gunfire was heard on Sunday in Las Vegas.

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Listen to Episode 840 of Slate’s The Gist:


On The Gist, we’re thinking about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and the errors we make when we attempt to explain the motives of an attacker. Author Masha Gessen says it’s all part of our desire to reassure ourselves that we won’t fall victim to a bomb blast or a spray of bullets. “As soon as we find an explanation, we set it aside and we’re reassured that it’s not going to happen to us.” Gessen went in search of an explanation for the Boston Marathon bombing in her book, The Brothers. She’ll be back soon to talk about her latest book, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia.

In the Spiel, Mike found the perfect metaphor for our familiar reaction to a mass shooting.

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Mike Pesca is the host of the Slate daily podcast The Gist. He also contributes reports and commentary to NPR.