Is D&D To Blame For A Multiple Murder?


A South Jersey man is being held without bail on charges that he stabbed three people to death. District Attorney Bruce Casto is investigating a possible connection to Dungeons & Dragons: "I mean, you have many, many stab wounds and those Dungeons and Dragons fantasy games involve swords and knives and daggers and things of that nature. There may be a connection but I can't say for sure."

John Eichinger is being held in Montgomery County, PA on first-degree murder charges in the stabbing deaths of three people -- Lisa Greaves, Heather Greaves, and Heather's three-year-old daughter. The motive appears to be jealousy. But the DA isn't discarding any theories, no matter how wacky.

Says District Attorney Bruce Castor: "I mean, you have many, many stab wounds and those Dungeons and Dragons fantasy games involve swords and knives and daggers and things of that nature. There may be a connection but I can't say for sure."

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I was thinking, "wow, they must really have some interesting evidence."

But they don't. That quote is apparently the extent of it.

So now I'm like: wait, what?

This drivel doesn't even warrant a response. Such theories make me ill.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

For those of you with rusty Latin, that means "Before this, therefore because of this." Its a common fallacy, basically claiming that because X happened before Y, then X must be responsible for Y.

Example One: My computer is working perfectly, for weeks. Monday I plug in a new printer. It won't boot up on Tuesday. Therefore the new printer is at fault.

Example Two: I keep rolling very high with my red D20. Then my friend Bill used it for a skill check. I keep rolling low with it now. Therefore Bill "broke" my dice.

Clearly, one of the above is more feasible than the other. But without supporting evidence each is an example of committing the same fallacy.

With no doubt the death of a child under any circumstances is a terrible thing. In one recent "Blame Games!" case, the child had been playing with his Yu-Gi-Oh toys and cards an awful lot. Then he committed suicide. "Post hoc ergo propter hoc!" screams the mother, the media, and the usual slew of anti-gaming talking heads. He had been playing Yu-Gi-Oh, then he died. First Yu-Gi-Oh, therefore because of Yu-Gi-Oh.

In this case, it appears that someone had played a few rounds of D&D before they commited a homicide. The ADA prosecuting the case must had himself a quick flip through the Arms & Equipment Guide, and put two and two together. He got 5. "Post hoc ergo propter hoc!" he shouted, "D&D has daggers!"

A young man somewhere in America murders someone. That afternoon he had watched the movie Kalifornia. "Post hoc ergo propter hoc!" screams the victim's family, the media, and the usual slew of anti-violent movie talking heads. He had been watching a movie, then he committed homicide. First Kalifornia, therefore because of Kalifornia.

On Monday morning, I was given a major raise in my pay by my manager. I had spent the entire weekend prior playing through White Plume Mountain, in a marathon session with my Sunday night gaming group. "Post hoc ergo propter hoc!" I shout, and try to get the guys to run another All-Nighter so I can get even more money on my next check. First the gaming, therefore because of the gaming.

Today's culture is one of instant news, instant information, and on-demand theorizing from talking heads on the 24 different 24-hour talking head channels. Anyone with a balding pate, a power tie, and a bit of air-time can become an "Expert" to be interviewed by these media conglomerates. They have to feed us this stuff, because we keep demanding that they do. Sometimes its a good and useful thing, look what good the "instant information" society has done of late. Exposed corruption, uncovered ringers in the White House press corps, and even given birth to the Amber Alert system.

But, it has its downsides too. Americans are no longer taught to think critically, or even to attempt to analyze what they're being told. If an "Expert" on Fox News tells them that violent games and D&D are to blame for a murder, they buy it. Harris and Keibold played Doom before the Columbine shooting. Post hoc ergo propter hoc. First the violent video game, therefore because of the violent video game. (Michael Moore illustrates the absurdity of this claim by pointing out they also went bowling. First bowling, therefore because of bowling?)

I have no doubt that in the wake of the tragic shooting that occurred just recently that we will soon see talking heads on TV blaming one (or more) of the following. No doubt, they will resort to the "Post hoc" argument to explain how ________ is responsible for the tragedy. So, what could be at fault... My money is on (some one blaming) the following:

- Video Games
- Role-playing Games
- Music
- Graphic Novels/Comic Books
- Literature
- Religion (So long as it is not a mainstream Protestant -ism)

Now, its is a simple and cold fact that one or more of the following could very well be the cause. I don't see it as likely, but it is possible. It is also possible that the recent release of Martha Stewart from prison, caused the boy to flip. "Hmm. First Martha got free, then the shooting... Ah-ha!"

The trouble is that these hobbies will get blamed. No one will look for a conclusive connection between the event and the hobby. They will ignore all contrary evidence, and will not produce any supporting evidence of their own. My advice to you, whenever someone comes after you for your hobby, your taste in music, or even your religion... Foaming at the mouth, and screaming about how that Expert on TV said all Metal-Head Gamer Wicca Bibliophiles are ticking time bombs of rage... Heh, heh. My advice?

Look them dead in the eye, and say very softly, "Post hoc ergo propter hoc." They'll probably think you just cast a spell on them, and hopefully they'll just run away. If they don't then you have a much more difficult job...

You need to explain to them why they are mistaken. Tell them the good, positive, and fun things about your hobby. Invite them to play a game, read a comic book, listen to your music, or talk to them about your faith. Be nice. Remember, whatever it is your into, that you are not alone in your interest, although it can feel that way sometimes. If your the only Goth dressin', Hip-Hop listenin', Chess playin', Comic Book Geek in your small Iowa town, you'll likely be happier if you can get a few others to take an interest. If you happen to be part of a small cadre of role-players on your campus, wouldn't one more player help you get through the dungeon that much faster?

Yeah, we're getting attacked for our hobby again. But we're smarter than they are... and we speak Latin.

But we're smarter than they are... and we speak Latin.

Semper simus in excretum, sed sole profundum variat.

Um.. someone in my family was close to lisa greaves and knew her niece.. i seriously think youre way off on this.

I don't know whom you're addressing, but I'm just a guy who read an article.

Care to expand on your opinion?

In a related story, cooking sometimes involves knives, or heating things. Possible link to Al Quaeda suspected.

It's BADD all over again. People never look to themselves for the root cause of these tragedies and instead blame something out of the mainstream that makes for a sore thumb sticking out and thus a convenient scapegoat. And on the mildest side D&D is still lambasted in mainstream media and culture as the game of nerds and losers even today.