A naysayer has issued a call for “Criminal Minds” to be canceled, because she felt the recent episode, “The Internet Is Forever” taught psychopaths how to kill. It begs the question, “Are we training people to kill? Are we, as thriller and crime authors, schooling the public in the art of murder?

The scary answer is yes. One bit of evidence is known as the “CSI Effect,” a concept I learned a great deal about while interviewing police officers for my true crime book. At the show’s inception, most killers got caught when they didn’t properly clean up their crime scenes. “CSI” taught criminals about the value of bleach. It also showed, in one episode, how to dispose of a body (a hog pit is profoundly efficient). As crime shows have gained popularity, even the dumbest criminals now know to wear gloves.

However, we don’t incite killers to kill. We, instead, may lead them to think before they act. How many people killed freely in the Old West, knowing there was little consequence for it? In that era, killing a ‘bad guy’ had a different connotation. But now, as we’ve progressed, most of us know right from wrong, even if shows like “Dexter” blur that line. So as writers, in this modern era, how many have we led not to kill for fear of being caught?

I choose to think that I’ve scared people straight. It’s all in your perspective. But perhaps you shouldn’t trust me…I kill for profit.

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