Tuesday, April 07, 2009

There really isn't need for bloodshed, You just do it with a little more finesse


We've all heard the saying "lies, damn lies, and statistics." (I prefer my brother's term "liars, outliers, and out and out liars.")

Which brings me to today's post. Oliver Willis, and many in blogtopia, have noted the deaths of 3 police officers, the membership rise in militias, shooting sprees & arms purchases have coincided with the wrongwingers constant drumbeat of Obama is a 'facist', 'communist', 'socialist', is going to 'take our guns away', & and is a 'secret muslim' rhetoric ever since Obama was running, won the nomination, and exponentially since he was elected by a landslide.

These voices are not just wackjobs, but against all facts they are in the houses of congress and in the MSM.

Which brings me to today's lesson on math, and people who should know better.

e.g. Professor James Lindgren of the law school at Northwestern University wrote on Eugene Volokh's blog that:
Oliver Willis on Republicans Encouraging Cop-killers.

It is highly odd that Oliver Willis would attribute murdering cops to those who hold Republican views.

[...]
That is consistent with General Social Survey data showing that the odds of a Democrat or Independent reporting having been arrested or charged with a crime are 122% higher than the odds of a Republican reporting being arrested or charged with a crime. Among those who report having been arrested or charged, only 12% are Republicans. The others are 9% Independent, leaning Republican; 18% Independent (no leans); 18% Independent, leaning Democratic; 40% Democrats.
Now I'm just going to ignore the fact that Oliver Willis said no such thing about republicans, or how the perfesser misnamed the GSS category or the many other straw men in Prof Lindgren's post.

I'm just gonna do the math. While the ole perfesser didn't actually link to any stats to back up his allegations, he did give a couple of clues as to where he found them.

So I looked up the GSS data and lo and behold, I found this
Ever picked up or charged?
Republicans: Yes-178 No-2145 = 8.3%
Democrats: Yes-456 No-3949 = 11.5%

A couple of things to note:
1) Minorities and/or poor people are more likely to be Democrats and also more likely to have interactions with the police. (DWB anyone? ... OR ... when was the last time you saw a new Cadillac stopped by a cop for a taillight out?)
2) The survey is self-reported, one could just as equally come to the conclusion that republicans are less honest, (the last 8 years certainly bear that out.)

So is Professor Lindgren a liar or just ignorant of simple math? (Not that the two are mutually exclusive.)

p.s. I'm waiting on Prof. Lindgren's response to my email sent 6 hours ago.
p.p.s. I'm not holding my breath.



Cross posted at VidiotSpeak