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My cousin, who is an avid watcher of Fox News, posts all sorts of tidbits on his Facebook page.  He's a likeable enough sort, but sometimes his posts fall over the boundaries and I sometimes comment on them.  He apparently watches someone on Facebook called "Liberal Lunacy" who did some searching on statistics for guns, and came up with an attention grabbing graphic that says Chicago (with sever gun control) had 506 homicides in 2012 while Austin (with less gun control) had 35.

(see the graphic here: )

All together now.... "When you compare the homicide rates you have to use cities the same size."

As it happens, Waukegan had 2 homicides compared to Austin's 35

However, I don't think Liberal Lunacy's going to make a graphic about those differences.

The problem is that bad factoids like that just fuel up both sides into blockading themselves behind their own walls of "rightness" and keep any useful dialogue from occurring.  The "homicide rate" for Chicago actually is all homicides, not just guns.  Ditto Austin.  And Waukegan.

While we can decry these statistics, maybe a better tactic is to gently ask the person "can you tell me how many of those are GUNS only?" or "What are the statistics in a different city that is exactly the same size?  How many are guns only and how many are other sources?"

I don't think that either method will win anyone over, but it might be that a well-placed (and kindly sounding) question could do a lot more good than a "YOU IDIOT" response.... which, (let's face it) is my knee-jerk reaction to a lot of picture factoids.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ok, compare the rates. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Austin. 820K people. 35 homicides.
    Chicago. 2.7M people. 506 homicides.

    Austin rate 4.27 per 100K people.
    Chicago rate 18.74 per 100K people.

    A deflection into the gun segments of homicides does nothing to help you, because there is no way that the chicago rate is 14.4 per 100K of knives / clubs.

    You would need the chicago non-gun rate be more than 14.4 per 100K so that the gun rate would be less than austin's 4.27 total rate, AND you would need ALL of austin's 4.27 to be due to guns.

    Only then would you be able to claim that austin has a higher rate of gun violence than chicago.

    And that is avoiding the further uncomfortable questions that would be put to you about those numbers... About how many of those gun homicides were due to suicide or cops. Because obviously deaths from a cop shouldn't be counted in with deaths from criminal gun use, and because obviously the suicides are not a violent crime.

    So you really should back away from sending a snarky note to your facebook friend about rates of violent gun crime and correcting for per capital population.


    It's safe to trust a sane person with the keys to nuclear weapons, but it's not safe to trust an insane person with the cleaners under the kitchen sink. The answer is not more gun control, it's people care.

    by JayFromPA on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 03:53:29 PM PST

  •  Why are we comparing Austin and Chicago? (0+ / 0-)

    Probably because someone grabbed a list of crime statistics and cherry picked those two.

    Let's compare, oh,

    New York City (6.3/100K) vs Dallas (10.9) or Houston (9.2)

    Boston (10.1) seems to be between Dallas and Houston.

    San Diego, CA, has a rate of only 2.9. Oakland, CA, has 26.3. Both in California.

    “If you misspell some words, it’s not plagiarism.” – Some Writer

    by Dbug on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:46:39 PM PST

  •  (sigh) (0+ / 0-)

    Either I need to work on my writing or I need to post at a different time of day.

    Or never write about my political observations.

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