more about “On Killing” and “The Bulletproof Mind”

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I have previously posted a few reviews of Col. Dave Grossman‘s presentations and books. I attended his “Bulletproof Mind” seminar last year and posted a review shortly thereafter.

Personally…I have nothing too “bad” to say about the Colonel’s works or theories. As a matter of fact I think that he is spot on in much that he says; but there is some stuff I think he is drawing erroneous conclusions from and I also think that he attempts to “cover too much with too little”.

I just read a critique of Grossman’s work over at the Police Policy Studies Council that dates back to 2001 and takes his stuff to task pretty handily:

He is very popular with police and military audiences.
He is a very likeable guy.
But, are there problems with his reasoning?
And, are some of his stated opinions actually detrimental to the law enforcement community?


The writer raises some good points and I believe that they worth some consideration if you are interested in the topic or are involved in MIL/LE training.


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7 thoughts on “more about “On Killing” and “The Bulletproof Mind””

  1. Dear Tgace,
    I have also read his book on the basis of a police officer’s recommendation. I found it was three small papers tenuously linked.

    I thought his information on killing rates/more efficient weaponry was very interesting and perhaps the most scholarly–basically a literary review. As a literary review,it is derived from other sources. I think also it didn’t include enough information about other conditions of war that make the difference in the history of combat with reference to killing rates.

    His original research suffered from a freely-admitted dearth of anecdotal sources. These were not supplemented by enough actual interviews or follow-ups. The rigor of the language and thought began to break down.

    The third part was the link between violence and media. This linkage to the previous section seemed severely off-topic. In fact, it was an entirely separate book. The thesis of this part was not subordinated to his discussion of soldiers, kill rates, deflected or mis-aimed fire, and so forth.

    Sometimes the pioneer in a field is not its best exponent. I wish somebody would amend and build upon Grossman’s work. It obviously fills a need.

    Ann T.

  2. I have my doubts about the link between media/violence based on my own research and study. I’ve only read “On Killing” and there are a lot of factors missing, I agree Ann T. The bulk of his research is narrowly based on summations of interviews and sessions while counseling combat veterans. It would be interesting if he were to actually make more case studies of how specific Vets (names changed or what have you) over a broad time period to see the impact.

    1. Dear Tgace (and Paul),
      The sad thing is that if the source data is flawed, and the analysis faulty, then I don’t think anyone can cite the conclusions either–at least not with Grossman’s name in the same paragraph. It’s where I was going with my initial comments–not good enough to cite, though it may agree with the new writer’s opinion. Yet without credit, it looks like plagiarism.

      I hate it when this happens. One bogus citation and paragraphs of explanation ruling him out.

      The real claim to fame for this book is the sheepdog analogy. Which is a quote from someone else, not even credited by name (if memory serves).

      Reductio ad anthology,
      Ann T.

      1. Good points Ann T. So, what it boils down to is that Grossman makes some easily acceptable generalizations that are pretty close to some social assumptions already in the works in Grossman’s target audience. He’s based them on some ‘okay at best’ narrow range of resources (or resource) BUT he has done yeoman’s work promoting his ideas to the right audience….

        I agree, in general with SOME of what he says, but the holes in the foundation he’s build force me to look other places to fill in the gaps for myself.

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