12 months ago
From The Daily Beast:
David Hemenway, the author of this debunking, traces the overstatement of defensive gun uses to an inherent statistical problem: with very rare events (like defensive gun use), seemingly small sampling errors can lead to very large overstatements of incidence.
Say that survey findings are a 1% overestimate of the true incidence. If the true incidence were 40%, estimating it at 41% might not be a problem. But if the true incidence were .2%, measuring it as 1.2% would be six times higher than the true rate, and if the true incidence were .1%, measuring it at 1.1% would be a teen fold overestimate.
How might this work in practice? Hemenway offers a funny example.
In May 1994, ABC News and The Washington Post conducted a national random-digit-dial telephone survey of over 1,500 adults. One question asked: “Have you yourself ever seen anything that you believe was a spacecraft from another planet?” Ten percent of respondents answered in the affirmative. These 150 individuals were then asked, “Have you personally ever been in contact with aliens from another planet or not?” and 6% answered “Yes.”
Extrapolating to the U.S. population as a whole, we might conclude that 20 million Americans have seen an alien spacecraft, and 1.2 million have been in actual contact with beings from other planets.
Frum then goes on to undercut his case. He says “I wouldn’t want to suggest that defensive gun use against real dangers (i.e, not carrying a shotgun to investigate raccoons rooting through the trash) is quite so rare as contact with extra-terrestrials. But it’s rare enough that conscientious people should think very hard about exposing themselves, their children, and their loved ones to the large and amply documented dangers of a weapon in the house.”
“Real dangers,” he says. A Raccoon isn’t the animal that would have immediately come to mind. Frum lives a sheltered life. I have chased many of them away myself, and although I have multiple guns, I live in an area where discharging firearms into the yard is illegal. I just went for a baseball bat. Some other animals might be bears, wolves, hogs (and more hogs), mountain lions, or maybe gangsters in the inner cities of Detroit, Chicago or L.A. My own son was hired to kill coyotes by a church in Anderson, S.C., because the animals were so aggressive that the congregants couldn’t even get into the building to attend worship. He used … here it is … guns.
Frum also behaves as if guns are dangerous even to the trained person. It’s as if he should be opposed to the use of cars because people cannot be taught to drive.
Over-sampling statistically insignificant data is the problem according to Frum. Here’s what I think. We’ve oversampled Frum’s brain and we’ve reached the very end of its usefulness a long time ago. His experiment into progressive ideology has caused him to be even more puerile than he was before.