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View Diary: A closer look at DGU numbers (117 comments)

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  •  2,500,000 DGU/year? That is absurd. (27+ / 0-)

    The US population is a bit over 300,000,000. That would imply that over 1% of the population is on one side or another of a DGU annually.

    I am 60 years old. My network of acquaintances has been around 1000 for most of my life. So I would have 60,000 person-years of acquaintanences. That would say that during the time that I knew them, there would have been around 500 incidents in which someone I knew was involved in a DGU. Probably I wouldn't have heard about all of them, but this would be a juicy piece of gossip that would get shared widely.

    Here is the list of DGUs that I can remember involving people I know:

    Off the top of my head, I think that is statistically significantly different from 500.

    Granted that DGUs are probably a very skewed distribution, with gangbangers and drug dealers running up higher numbers. But it is still silly.

    •  As ridiculous as it seems (27+ / 0-)

      that 2.5 million DGU number from the Kleck study was referred to specifically in the Supreme Court majority decision in Columbia vs. Heller:

      Gives you a hint regarding the analytic rigor of that particular majority.

      •  Maybe the typical Supreme Court justice has a (13+ / 0-)

        different class of acquaintenances than I do.

      •  And the Think Tank payola (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coquiero, tgrshark13, bontemps2012

        that generated the Kleck propaganda piece paid off big time.

        •  Ideologically driven ignorance and lies, (4+ / 0-)

          as usual.

          Whatever the merits in the ongoing debate over the statistical analysis of defensive gun use (DGU), Dr. Kleck is a highly respected academic criminologist, trained at the University of Illinois (Urbana), a Fellow of the American Society of Criminology and currently on the faculty at Florida State University, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice, and a joint appointment with the College of Law.

          •  He didn't add to the level of respect (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coquiero, tgrshark13, Sandino

            with those numbers, whatever his record.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:20:45 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Absolutely wrong, Twigg -- a little bit of (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              fuzzyguy, bontemps2012

              knowledge on the subject will take you, the diarist and your click fans a long way.

              Dr. Marvin Wolfgang, was someone who described himself as a passionate gun loather.  When he died of leukemia in 1998, he was a professor of criminology at Penn and the president of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

              So why is this relevant, you might ask.  OK, bear with me; his New York Times obituary noted:

              Professor Wolfgang, a Philadelphia resident, was acknowledged in 1994 by the British Journal of Criminology as ''the most influential criminologist in the English-speaking world.''
              and, significantly ...
              He expanded the field of criminology by introducing and perfecting a methodology in which great masses of data like arrest records are analyzed over years to discern patterns of violence and crime.
              So ... he was an extraordinarily brilliant criminologist and a seminal expert in the field of statistical analysis of crime data.  But again, so what, you might ask.. But let me go on.  

              Here are selected excerpts from Dr. Wolfgang's thoughts on Dr. Kleck's work published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology entitled A Tribute to View I Have Opposed:

              I am as strong a gun-control advocate as can be found among the criminologists in this country. If I were Mustapha Mond of Brave New World, I would eliminate all guns from the civilian population and maybe even from the police. I hate guns--ugly, nasty instruments designed to kill people.
              What troubles me is the article by Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz. The reason I am troubled is that they have provided an almost clear-cut case of methodologically sound research in support of something I have theoretically opposed for years, namely, the use of a gun in defense against a criminal perpetrator. Maybe Franklin Zimring and Philip Cook can help me find fault with the Kleck and Gertz research, but for now, I have to admit my admiration for the care and caution expressed in this article and this research.
              Nonetheless, the methodological soundness of the current Kleck and Gertz study is clear. I cannot further debate it.
              The Kleck and Gertz study impresses me for the caution the authors exercise and the elaborate nuances they examine methodologically. I do not like their conclusions that having a gun can be useful, but I cannot fault their methodology. They have tried earnestly to meet all objections in advance and have done exceedingly well.

              So ... dear Twig, please us all again exactly how Dr. Kleck's work has in any respect diminished the level of respect of others because of his methodology, analysis and conclusions within this highly specialized field of study ... however much you, the diarist and other regulatory polemicists dislike the what he found.  

              •  Wolfgang did not know that K&G included (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                multiple responses from the habitual 911 callers, or that they included "responses" to animals.

                That did not come out until they were forced to open up with the raw data.

                "Have you left no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" Army Attorney to Sen. McCarthy, 1954. "We have done nothing to be ashamed of. We have nothing to apologize for." NRA 12/14/2012.

                by bontemps2012 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:09:27 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

          •  Two words (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            coquiero, gramofsam1, Sandino, vcmvo2

            Confirmation Bias

            Btw, his sample size was quite low.  I question how well he understands statistics.

            "If you tell the truth, you'll eventually be found out." Mark Twain

            by Steven D on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:23:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Two Words. (0+ / 0-)

              Study Up.

              Try here to start: and

              And, Dr. Hemenway's research, often cited as refutation of Dr. Kleck's work, suffers from an arguably fatal number of methodology problems arising from the Census procedures he relies upon ... if you care investigate the issue.  And in any event, Dr. Hemenway whose estimates constitute the lowest point of DGU statistical conclusions, puts the number over 100,000 -- with the greater estimated frequency of other researchers ranging from some 300,000 to 800,000 or more.

              All of these DGU figures by credible researchers in the field dwarf the annual firearm related fatality rates.  Surely you can see and admit that.

              •  The comparison has never been (0+ / 0-)

                between all DGU uses and firearm homicide rates. It's been between DGU uses and violent crime statistics which DGU claims to prevent.

                DGU numbers probably are higher than the 10k of firearm deaths a year. However, the are probably not higher than the number of violent crimes, and also possibly not higher than the annual number of non-fatal gunshot victims.

                We are trying to assess the positive social utility of DGU, therefore it makes no sense to include criminal DGU uses, illegal DGU uses, or DGU uses when no threat was offered. In fact, those particular DGU uses could count as a negative.

                •  One can make any number of relevant (0+ / 0-)

                  comparisons between co-related data sets.  You are in obvious error to dismiss one that you simply do not care to make.

                  IIRC, all reported violent crimes are around 1.5 million or so (I am open to correction on that point, though I believe the order of magnitude is in range).  

                  If so, whatever the quibbles and arguments over DGU sampling and analysis (some phony, some valid and some ... we don't know yet and need more data) a very certain conclusion we can draw is that DGU is a statistically significant quantum and as a policy matter certainly justifies a 2A constitutional argument for the right to keep and bear arms -- self-defense.

                  Many of the misplaced critiques of Dr. Kleck's data, as presented in this diary for example, are polemical in nature.  One of the better basic rules I ever learned in science was "fall in love with your data, not your hypothesis."

                  •  If you wish to maintain (0+ / 0-)

                    that comparison to gun homicides is the relevant metric, feel free to support it. The reasoning behind my comparison is that I want to find out how much benefit guns provide to society compared to how much harm they do. DGU is a potential source of benefit.

                    However, the harm is more than just deaths. Wounding, and the enabling of violent crime are also a large negative societal factors that can be attributed to guns. Increased suicide rates are also a negative social factor.

                    I hope you see the irony in calling the critiques 'misplaced' without offering any specific countering arguments (other than a appeal to authority later shown to be misplaced), and then following that with 'polemical' and a quote about data driven science.

                    There are ample threads for you to start injecting any actual data you might feel is missing from the discussion. Until you do, you're just the pot calling the kettle.

          •  Not here he's not. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ozy, milkbone

            He's a sell-out scumbag.

            Kleck and Gertz pointedly ignored standard database cleaning techniques from criminology.

            And Florida State has billionaire financed departments including their Economics shillery.

            Justifiable homicide figures put the lie to their conclusions. It's not physically possible report 207,000 shootings and have fewer than 300 fatalities. Not and be doing an honest study.

            "Have you left no sense of decency, sir, at long last?" Army Attorney to Sen. McCarthy, 1954. "We have done nothing to be ashamed of. We have nothing to apologize for." NRA 12/14/2012.

            by bontemps2012 on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 01:06:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  One of the major problems we face in law is that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bigjacbigjacbigjac, bontemps2012

        we can't be masters of all realms of knowledge.  I mean, not to defend that particular quote, that number smells pretty screwy to me.  But in general, it's a huge issue that we're called, every day, to argue and, even scarier, make judgments about things with which we do not truly understand.

        I don't envy trial judges.  They get presented with complex science and all sorts of other stuff and, in general, they really can't look shit up - our system places the burden entirely on the parties.  If the state forgets to describe how a certain kind of DNA test works, the judge may be able to ask for clarification during a bench trial, but once the evidentiary phase is closed or if there's a jury involved, tough luck.

        So if a case is poorly argued, that judge may have absolutely no fucking idea what they're doing.  I have a friend doing a judicial clerkship in another state doing primarily work in disciplines where bad lawyering is alarmingly common and the kind of stuff they have to deal with is just astonishing both for how bad it is and also how bad of a position the judges are in.

        "The first drawback of anger is that it destroys your inner peace; the second is that it distorts your view of reality. If you come to understand that anger is really unhelpful, you can begin to distance yourself from anger." - The Dalai Lama

        by auron renouille on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:45:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  That is true (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          The opposing council and/or other interested parties should have presented information or filed briefs properly critiquing Kleck's data and conclusions. Of course, it is also possible that a critique of Kleck's data was presented and subsequently ignored.

          I don't know enough about the case to determine what information the judges had access to, and only saw Kleck's number mentioned in the majority opinion. If it was truly presented to the Court uncontested, then it was a major failure on the side of the gun control advocates.

          •  You have no idea what range of data was actually (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ER Doc, fuzzyguy

            presented to the Court and yet you firmly conclude that the process and data followed by the majority was flawed.

            Does your argument strike you now at all ironic?

            •  The number ended up (4+ / 0-)

              in the opinion ... and the number is deeply flawed.

              So it is reasonable to conclude that something went wrong there.

              I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
              but I fear we will remain Democrats.

              Who is twigg?

              by twigg on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:22:46 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  So you say ... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                but brilliant researchers in the field disagree. For example:

                Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Fall, 1995 Guns and Violence Symposium, Page 188

                Who am I to believe?  Hmmmm?

                •  Sounds like he should have waited few years (0+ / 0-)

                  and responded after Kleck was disputed by other researchers. Nothing in your link does anything to refute the critique of Kleck's numbers.

                  Your whole argument boils down to: "This guy said Kleck did a good job, and he can't be wrong because he doesn't like guns."

                  Also, and I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here, all you have to do is a little more digging to find a follow-up:


                  The usual criticisms of survey research, such as that done by Kleck and Gertz, also apply to their research. The problems of small numbers and  extrapolating from relatively small samples to the universe are common criticisms of all survey research, including theirs. I did not mention this specifically in my printed comments because I thought that this was obvious; within the specific limitations of their research is what I meant by a lack of criticism methodologically.
                  (J of Criminal Law and Criminology 86:2 p617-8)
                  Does that change your mind at all?
                  •  Yea ... shame on (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    him for dying of leukemia and not waiting for more research.

                    Fuck.  For realz?

                    •  you missed his reported followup (0+ / 0-)


                      Are you really discussing in good faith here? Ignoring the whole second half of the response that shows your link to be essentially useless regarding the validity of Kleck's results?

                      Feeling a bit polemical are you?

                      •  Oh please ... now you're in (0+ / 0-)

                        the Land of Oz.  

                        I'm not discussing in good faith?

                        That is well-deserving of a fuck you too.

                        •  What else am I supposed to think (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:

                          when you ignore the meat of a response when you reply? Especially when you've been so aggressive yourself about calling out perceived bias, and so-called polemics?

                          We got it, this one guy, respected in his field, said some nice words about the Kleck study. Yes, he later clarified that it suffers the obvious extrapolation issue which is one of the two critiques under discussion but sure, Kleck did a good job with his survey methodology.

                          Do you have anything else to add to the discussion?

                          •  Yea ... (0+ / 0-)

                            keep shooting at phantoms ... I get your agenda. Never have I suggested Dr. Kleck's results are without error ... but you keep arguing that strawman to the point of nauseating annoyance.

                            And as far as your dedicated scruple to statistical integrity ...
                            explain why the fuck have you been silent as a timid church mouse to this serial polluter of your diary and cause:


                            But, it's your diary and I give you now the last word.

                  •  My whole argument (0+ / 0-)

                    boils down to nothing that you suggest.

                    This diary and ensuing comments have no interest in making a balanced assessment of Dr. Kleck's work, preferring instead to assault him with all sorts of ignorant innuendo and polemical diatribes.

                    To counter that -- and not his data or conclusions per se -- I provided the contemporaneous commentary of the most brilliant statistical criminologist at that time ... and someone who was a self-avowed anti-gun nutter (now sadly deceased).

                    The work obviously continues, but to suggest that there is no merit or validity or scruple in the methodology followed by Dr. Kleck is to deny the exact opposite conclusion of someone who knew infinitely more about the subject than most of us every can or will.

                    •  once again (0+ / 0-)

                      ignoring that your contemporaneous commentator refutes your own claims by noting that the standard issue with extrapolating from small numbers to large populations is so obvious he thought it not worth mentioning.

                      I'm not saying he methodology was entirely flawed, I'm saying that his lack of consideration of false positives for no other reason than he didn't measure them combined with the extremely low positive responses makes his extrapolation worthless. Essentially, the error bars make any number of his meaningless.

                      Additionally, external validation against other crime states and gun death rates also dramatically refute a 2.5 million number. But again, jump into one of those threads with alternate data if you have any.

                      Why do you insist only giving weight to the first part of Wolfgang's words, and not his followup? Is it because only the first part suits your agenda? Seriously, you've ignored it like 5 or 6 times now.

                      •  Jesus H Fucking Christ (0+ / 0-)

                        Do not accuse me of pursuing an agenda when we are discussing data and analysis in a diary and ensuing comments that has sought to savage Dr. Kleck's work when an eminent and contemporaneous opponent of his conclusions would not do so.  

                        Under-sampling is a methodological issue -- admittedly.  So now please share with us your same scruple of academic criticism of Dr. Hemenway's methodological deficiencies.

                        And in any case, current credible researchers (Kleck and Hemenway included) put the range of annual DGU between 100,000 + and some 2.5 million, with the more broadly accepted range of some 300,000 to 800,000.  

                        These are statistically significant numbers -- compared to any criminal violence metric you prefer to use. Your apparent preference to quibble completely misses the forest for the trees -- both as a matter of science and policy.

                        •  it's not quibbling (0+ / 0-)

                          it's using external validation to provide a better estimate.

                          ~300-400 justifiable homicides annually is a well established, non-survey based statistic.

                          20% mortality rate from gunshot wounds is also a fairly well-established statistic based on hospital records and national crime statistics.

                          This implies 1500-2000 justifiable shootings.

                          According to Keck's own statistics, DGU use involved wounding/killing the attacker ~8% of the time.

                          This implies 19k-25k total DGU (1500-2000 / 0.08).

                          The only questionable stat here is really Keck's, because it is based on the same problem with small numbers. However, instead of using the small numbers to extrapolate, we are using the percentages of self-reported wounding in conjunction with statistics that are vetted much more thoroughly.

                          If you want to throw out Keck entirely, you can. Otherwise, you have to argue against the real data that we do have.

                          This is how you do data-driven critique.

                          Your turn.

                  •  There are oodles of follow-up (0+ / 0-)

                    ... and that is not remotely my point.

                    The rejoinder that you provide is equally off-point.

                    The assertion is that Dr. Wolfgang found Dr. Kleck's methodology perfect and wholeheartedly endorsed his conclusion.  This is what is known as a strawman.

                    In response, Dr. Wolfgang suggested that all statistical analysis of large quantities of data have inherent methodological difficulties, specifically including under-sampling, that are simply part and parcel of the "usual criticisms" and this proposition is so self-evident as not worth mentioning.

                    Dr. Wolfgang, however, found Dr. Kleck's methodologies to be sound and careful (not perfect), with resulting conclusions that were reasoned and meritious (not absolute and immutable).

                    As with Dr. Wolfgang, if you are experienced in science and statistical analysis, why are we having to argue these points.  They should be, as he says, self-evident (at least to those who might be trained, however modestly).

                    •  Because apparently (0+ / 0-)

                      I need to explain the problem to people like you.

                      Small positive sample size + false positive rate + extrapolation to large numbers ==  worthless result

                      I'm not sure why you think Wolfgang's comments are the be all and end all, especially since he's not saying what you think he's saying.

                      The criticisms by Cook and Hemenway are valid and relevant to this particular statistical issue, and I'm not sure why you think you get to dismiss them just because you have someone else who you think says something differently (even though he actually isn't).

                      •  Ok ... you keep (0+ / 0-)

                        putting up absurd and wholly unsupported assertions -- Wolfgang's comments are not the be all and end-all.

                        But, keep studying the concept of strawman arguments.

                        Most peer criticisms of all researchers in the field of statistical analysis have validity -- Dr. Wolfgang's precise point.

                        The criticisms of methodology and extrapolation against Cook and Hemenway are equally valid -- unless you wish cherry pick with your academic scruple.

                        •  still waiting (0+ / 0-)

                          for you to contribute the data.

                          If you want to critique the critiques, feel free.

                          Find a thread regarding false positives and extrapolation or if you wish, tackle the external validation critique.

                          Or, conversely, just repeat yourself over and over. Your choice.

            •  I suggest you reread what I posted (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              gramofsam1, Sandino

              The only number I saw quoted in the majority opinion was the 2.5 million from Kleck.

              The post you responded to said quite clearly that if no other data was presented, then the opposing council dropped the ball.

              But if the opposing data was presented, but not at all mentioned in the majority opinion, then clearly the judges didn't do a very good job of analysis.

              Trying critiquing what I write instead of what you think I wrote.

              •  Yes, I believe I understand your (0+ / 0-)

                argument and argument structure to which I responded:

                If this, this, this and possibly this, then the Justices sucked.

                And my other principal take-away from your comment was

                I don't know enough about the case ... and only saw Kleck's number mentioned in the majority opinion.
                So I'll stand by my irony assessment about your own methodology... thanks though.

                Dr. Kleck's methodologies, in contrast, have been remarked upon with glowing esteem, by the way. Even from a leading and now deceased criminologist who even effectively called himself an anti-gun nutter.

                •  see above (0+ / 0-)

                  not so glowing after all.

                  And you continue to misstate my argument regarding the Supreme Court opinion.

                  I'll try to be a bit more clear:

                  Court heard Kleck's study and either:

                  1) opposing council did not refute Kleck's study with Cook and/or Hemenway, 2.5 million ends up in majority opinion.

                  Conclusion for 1) opposing council sucked

                  2) opposing council did refute Kleck's study with Cook, Hemenway, or just a plan ol' logic check using external validation similar to what's been done in this thread, 2.5 million ends up in majority opinion anyways.

                  Conclusion for 2) majority judges have problems with their analytic skills

                  If you wish to dispute the validity of 2, have at it. Find a thread where the external validity is under discussion and jump in with any data you have.

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