Jack the Ripper is still famous. That’s a clue!

Once you Ripperologists start thinking clearly about some of the clues it becomes obvious who this very unusual person had to be. Here it is more than one hundred and twenty years after his murders and yet, Jack the Ripper is still famous. That simple fact is very informative. The simple fact is, he probably more famous now than many other killers who had vastly more impact with their homicides. For example, Gabriel Princip. I asked several college age people who that person was and only the graduate student in history knew that Princip assassinated Arch Duke Ferdinand and triggered the First World War. The history student hadn’t heard of Mary Kelley, however. Very few people, outside of the Ripperologist community, would know that name and yet she was the most famous of the Ripper murders and widely known to the public at the time.

Let’s get some perspective. Homicide isn’t all that uncommon if you include war causalities. It has been estimated that approximately five percent of humans have been killed by other humans. I have no idea if that is accurate but if we assume, for the moment, that it is approximately correct and assume that there have been about 30 billion people who have lived so far that would mean that about one and a half billion people have been killed by other people. If we accept a fudge factor of fifty percent on both of those figures, the population estimate and the rate of homicide estimate, that would give us an outside range of 60 billion people who lived times 10 percent homicides or six billion killed; Or going the other way towards a possible minimum number of killings, 15 billion people have lived and  “only” 2 percent being killed it would still give a figure of approximately 300 million. That is a very large number of intentional homicides! But, how many of these killers can you name?

An interesting experiment you can perform is to ask your friends to name a few people who have committed homicide. Some famous assassins like Lee Harvey Oswald and John Wilkes Booth and your favorite political villains like Adolph Hitler will probably be mentioned by name. But after those few most people will struggle with that little thought experiment. Most people will have trouble getting past ten or so even if you prompt them with the name of their victim but yet without prompting they will likely as not mention Jack the Ripper.

That memorability is what is so interesting!

There has been a minimum of 300 million homicides each of which had a killer and every killer had a name. People can remember only a few of those killers names but they still remember Jack the Ripper more than a century later.

WHY ? ? ?


I saw in the news last night that the TV show House was currently rated as the number one series in total viewers.

WHY ? ? ? Because it is interesting.

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