HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » On guns, and the way the ...

Mon Dec 31, 2012, 08:53 AM

On guns, and the way the discussions are conducted. [View all]

I don't want to go into the pros and cons of gun control. I just have some points to make about the proper way of using statistics. I am frustrated with the way math is being abused and misinterpreted. Please consider respecting the following rules (which should be no-brainers but apparently are not) when quoting statistics:

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Never quote absolute numbers. Always divide by population.

Worst offender: Michael Moore.

The fact that over ten thousand people die from guns each year contains zero usable information. Please give me per capita figures. In a hypothetical country consisting of one hundred billion people, 10k gun deaths are almost none. In a country consisting of 10k people it means everybody.

2. When discussing correlations, consider the base line.

This one is more tricky. I have seen figures thrown around that claim to show positive correlations between "gun possession" and "murders via gun". Also positive correlations between "suicide via gun" and "gun possession". These figures are misleading, because they ignore the baseline.

What one should do instead is investigate correlations between "murder rate" and "gun possession" or "suicide rate" and "gun possession". The fact that the availability of a tool to achieve a certain goal lead to this tool being used more often to achieve this goal is again a statement that is of little relevance to the debate. If one cannot show that the mere presence of the tool leads to a higher rate of the incident one wants to prevent, then one doesn't have an argument. Americans choose guns for suicide. Due to the availability of trains in Germany, Germans choose trains for suicide. One could find a positive correlation between "availability of trains" and "suicide by train", but it would be a fallacy to derive from this observation that there is a "train problem". What one would have to do instead in order to make such a point would be to show that "availability of trains" leads to "more suicides".

3. Please don't quote sums in a misleading way.

"30.000 shooting each year in America". This tells me nothing. How many of these were police operations? How many were suicides? How many were self-defense? How many were murders? How many were criminals killing each other over issues that were connected with other crimes they were committing? I want to know. Please consider being more specific.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

That would be a start I guess. I'm sure someone can come up with more rules.

A few personal notes: I am not a gun owner. Nor am I afraid of guns or their owners per se. I am more afraid of traffic than of guns, and I think I have every reason to. Also my personal gut feeling is that ending the drug war would do more to reduce "gun deaths" than any gun control measure, but that is just my un-informed intuition which I cannot currently back up with data.

69 replies, 5658 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 69 replies Author Time Post
Reply On guns, and the way the discussions are conducted. [View all]
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 OP
billh58 Dec 2012 #1
pipoman Dec 2012 #2
Scuba Jan 2013 #46
pipoman Jan 2013 #61
Lizzie Poppet Dec 2012 #28
Robb Dec 2012 #3
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #4
farminator3000 Jan 2013 #57
Iggo Dec 2012 #5
Hoyt Dec 2012 #11
Fumesucker Dec 2012 #6
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #8
Fumesucker Dec 2012 #12
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #16
Fumesucker Dec 2012 #17
billh58 Dec 2012 #20
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #21
LP2K12 Dec 2012 #7
99Forever Dec 2012 #9
jmg257 Dec 2012 #10
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #13
jmg257 Dec 2012 #14
Recursion Dec 2012 #19
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #55
AldoLeopold Dec 2012 #29
Recursion Jan 2013 #58
ileus Dec 2012 #15
Robyn66 Dec 2012 #43
ileus Dec 2012 #44
Robyn66 Jan 2013 #47
DanTex Dec 2012 #18
billh58 Dec 2012 #22
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #23
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #24
billh58 Dec 2012 #30
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #38
DanTex Dec 2012 #32
Chorophyll Dec 2012 #34
farminator3000 Jan 2013 #50
Robyn66 Dec 2012 #25
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #26
Robyn66 Dec 2012 #33
billh58 Dec 2012 #35
redgreenandblue Dec 2012 #39
billh58 Dec 2012 #42
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #52
billh58 Jan 2013 #56
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #54
Robyn66 Jan 2013 #60
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #64
Robyn66 Jan 2013 #68
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #69
DirkGently Dec 2012 #27
billh58 Dec 2012 #31
Chorophyll Dec 2012 #36
billh58 Dec 2012 #40
dsc Dec 2012 #37
L0oniX Dec 2012 #41
Scuba Jan 2013 #45
Robyn66 Jan 2013 #49
pipoman Jan 2013 #62
spanone Jan 2013 #48
Buzz Clik Jan 2013 #51
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #53
Buzz Clik Jan 2013 #59
billh58 Jan 2013 #63
ehrenfeucht games Jan 2013 #65
redgreenandblue Jan 2013 #66
ehrenfeucht games Jan 2013 #67