“The purpose of my government is never to do good, but to refrain from doing evil. This sounds simple... but is not.”
by Robert Heinlein




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lies, damned lies, and statistics

Regular readers will know that I am fond of dorking around with numbers and seeing what presenting them in different ways can show us.  Invariably, this graphic came to my attention (specifically when FarmDad posted a link in Gunblogger Conspiracy to a Facebook post about it): 


A few things bugged me about that graphic right off.  First, where did the numbers come from?  I did not know the FBI published information on a county-by-county basis, and I would love to see it myself.  Second, what is “high” and what is “low”?  Third, are we talking about rates, or raw numbers?  Fourth, how does north bumfrak Maine have anywhere near the same numbers – rate or raw – as Chicago? 

Then Awelowynt hit on the answer; look at this map: 

2004 county election map

And then look at the left map in the first image. 

They are functionally identical. 

So what is that second image?  Only the 2004 election results on a county-by-county basis.  Unsurprisingly, counties who voted Democrat in 2004 also voted Democrat in 2012.  Shocker, I know. 

Gos-se like this really pisses me off.  In the end, it does not matter, because human rights are not subject to statistical approval, but the numbers already support our side; we do not have to go out of our way to make up complete nonsense, pass it off as fact, and then have it cut out from underneath us once people start paying attention.  Doing so only undermines your credibility, and gives “gun control” extremists even more dirt with which to besmirch the average firearm owner. 

Stop it.  Fabricating nonsense out of whole cloth is the bailiwick of the anti-rights cultists; given that we are defending human rights, it is incumbent upon us to stick to the facts, and raise ourselves above such ultimately useless endeavors. 

12 comments to lies, damned lies, and statistics

  • Matt in FL

    I completely agree. I call people on this whenever I find it (and it usually angers them a bit) but seriously… why would you make stuff up (especially easily disprovable stuff, you nitwits) when the numbers are already on our side?

  • Exactly. Leave “making crap up” to the other side; let us stick to reality, like we always have.

  • […] Update: that chart is fabricated […]

  • Thanks for getting to the bottom of this, man!

    As a Mainer I was scratching my head at the Maine numbers. Yeah people in Waldo and Somerset County Maine are crazy dependent on welfare and other public assistance, and therefore love to vote for the people who pay them…but its not like there’s a ton of violent crime there.

    It didn’t smell right to me at all

  • Brad

    Absolutely right! It is the enemy who must rely on lies to persuade the public, because the facts support our side not theirs.

    It is a shame though that whoever created that graphic took such a cheap and phony way to make that point. Because I believe the facts actually support (to put it in crudest terms): Guns don’t kill people – Democrats kill people.

    One of the most frequently repeated distortions of the anti-gun crowd is using statewide comparisons to claim that higher rates of gun ownership cause higher rates of murder. This is a distortion which goes all the way back to the 1960’s and that anti-gun hack Zimring and his ‘research’. When he compared gun ownership rates of various states to the same states murder rates. Of course the bogus conclusion Zimring reached can’t answer why rural areas or rich people which have higher rates of gun ownership have lower rates of murder compared to rural areas or poor people.

    I believe if you broke down violent gun crime rates (murder, attempted murder, shootings, assault with deadly weapon, armed robbery) by either congressional district (difficult but probably possible) or by party registration of the perps you would find the crime problem is closely correlated to high rates of Democrats rather than high rates of gun ownership.

  • @ Weer’d Beard: This definitely falls under the heading of “check before you spread” – that Maine / Chicago oddity should have been enough to catch people’s attentions, let alone everything else.

    @ Brad: As I was telling my father over the phone, it is less a matter of Democrats and more a problem of population density. That said, violent crime correlates to population density, and population density correlates to Democrat voting habits, so, arguably, there could be some correlation between violent crime and Democrats. But I would also argue it is a second-hand correlation, and you would have to find some way to control for that density, relative income levels, and so forth.

  • Damn.

    And I used in to support a statement in a Huffington blog fight.

    Oh well. If I’m called on, I’ll just say that I was misinformed. I can’t remember where I used it…Huffington is such a target rich environment.

  • Kevin

    The State Police of most states routinely publish crime data, specifically, gun crime data, by counties. The FBI could certainly use that data to publish heat maps of crime across the country. Looking at the data for the state in which I live shows it to be exactly what the map on the left reports. High population areas have higher gun crime rates. Saying the FBI doesn’t have crime data by counties is in fact, not true.
    You might not like the graphic used, but the backing data supports it in most cases.

  • @ Cargosquid: Nothing wrong with apologizing, and this thing got spread way too wide and way too fast for people to not at least see it in passing.

    @ Kevin: Sorry, can you point out exactly where I said that the FBI does not have crime data on a county-by-county basis?

    Oh, wait, I did not say that. What I did say is:

    I did not know the FBI published information on a county-by-county basis, and I would love to see it myself.

    So if you have a link to where they published said data, put it up, or kindly shut up.

    Secondly, looking at a purported map of Tennessee’s crime rate (sadly, the TBI does not publish a map, only pages and pages of charts), it looks absolutely nothing like the above map. Now, I know you probably failed any class involving basic logic, but if a hypothesis (in this case, the hypothesis that the above map is accurate in terms of “gun crime”) is proven false once, the hypothesis, as a whole, is false.

    So much for that.

  • That map comparison struck me as sketchy from the start, but I didn’t have time at the time to look at it closely. I’m glad you caught it.

  • I had a lot of help along the way :). After a fashion, I am glad it is us who caught this, rather than the alternative.

  • vote4seth

    Yeah what caught me was vt… lowest gun violence yet all blue