Randall Parker at Parapundit quotes a criminologist on the reasons why people join gangs:
Randall wonders whether this is evidence of innumeracy of gang members:
EAST LANSING, Mich. — Children who join gangs feel safer despite a greater risk of being assaulted or killed,
I'm reminded of a recent post where Razib brought up the term "alief" as distinct from "belief" and a discussion of aliefs. Is this feeling of safety a demonstration of an alief?
I think that people who join gangs are typically innumerate. But I think that people who are good with numbers will also want to join gangs if the circumstances encourage it.
Are gangbangers innumerate?
Being numerate will not stop people from joining gangs.
People who live in a violent neighbourhood feel frightened and not in control. By joining a gang and using group violence against others increases one´s perceived control. Join the doers, rather than being a lone object. The perceived control trumps any understanding of the risks of joining a violent gang. Control is rewarding in itself. So is being part of a group.
Masculine values encourage gang membership
Add that in many communities the ability to use violence is a positive value, connected to masculinity. This value may trump selfpreservation.
Add that wherever there are many young males, there will be competition through violence. It is only a bad thing when society is so out of control, that violence is used to take something that does not rightfully belong to the taker. Not to mention that it is nothing out of the ordinary to bring knives and guns to this violence.
So even if people understand that they are choosing a `deathstyle` the immediate reward of joining a gang is enough to compel people to do it.
Positive sides of forming gangs
Forming a gang may be the first step to forming a lawful militia, defending the interests of the community. Provided a given community has adherence to the law rather than anarchy in its patrimony.
The formation of youngsters into gangs is caused by ethnic diversity and insecurity caused by high incidence of violent crime. Rather than the innumeracy of prospective gang members.