More Guns, More Crime?

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 6 months ago

Washington Post:

Stanford law professor John Donohue and his colleagues have added another full decade to the analysis, extending it through 2010, and have concluded that the opposite of Lott and Mustard’s original conclusion is true: more guns equal more crime.

“The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape and murder, Donohue said in an interview with the Stanford Report. The evidence suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated with an 8 percent increase in the incidence of aggravated assault, according to Donohue. He says this number is likely a floor, and that some statistical methods show an increase of 33 percent in aggravated assaults involving a firearm after the passage of right-to-carry laws.

These findings build on and strengthen the conclusions of Donohue’s earlier research, which only used data through 2006. In addition to having nearly two decades’ worth of additional data to work with, Donohue’s findings also improve upon Lott and Mustard’s research by using a variety of different statistical models, as well as controlling for a number of confounding factors, like the crack epidemic of the early 1990s.

These new findings are strong. But there’s rarely such a thing as a slam-dunk in social science research. Donohue notes that “different statistical models can yield different estimated effects, and our ability to ascertain the best model is imperfect.” Teasing out cause from effect in social science research is often a fraught proposition.

But for this very reason it’s important for policymakers on both sides of the gun control debate to exercise caution in interpreting the findings of any one study. Gun rights advocates have undoubtedly placed too much stock in Lott and Mustard’s original study, which is now going on 20 years old. The best policy is often informed by good research. And as researchers revisit their data and assumptions, it makes sense for policymakers to do the same.

Occasionally something comes along on which I’m uniquely qualified to comment.  I’ve explained before that I don’t like John Lott’s approach (here and in Holding Human Rights Hostage To Favorable Statistical Outcomes).  See also Kurt Hofmann on this same subject.

But it’s important to be able to discern science from pseudo- or non-science or bad science.  I work in science and engineering every day.  I have for 33 years of my career.  I am a registered professional engineer.  An example of bad science might be AGW (anthropogenic global warming).  The notion that a “researcher” can prove anything about trends by claiming 1 degree C change over a half a millennia is ludicrous on its face.  Furthermore, trusting tree ring data is only valuable if your thesis doesn’t suffer from falsification of data (i.e., the “hockey stick” lie).  But even if tree rings could be a trusted source of information when we have no recorded data, the information is statistically insignificant.  No one with whom I work, engineer or scientist, not one of the hundreds I know, would actually put his or her name on such a calculation or thesis, especially if it involved affixing a PE seal to the work.  AGW is bad science.

Now to what is actual science.  If I use a computer model of a system (which involves physical and engineering calculations) and generate a curve of results from input that has been perturbed, or in other words, a sensitivity study, and I generate a curve fit with TableCurve-2D, and then put that polynomial into MathCad and integrate to a solution (because for some reason I wanted the results from integration), that is science and engineering.

Or say that I use the Bernoulli equation and information on pipes from the Crane Flow of Fluids Technical Paper No. 410, or Cameron Hydraulic Data, to build a piping network, that is science and engineering.  Or say I want to evaluate the performance of a projectile and I use Newtonian physics and ignore aerodynamic drag for simplicity, or say that I do not ignore drag and I account for it, that is science and engineering.  Or finally, let’s say that I use Henry’s law to ascertain how much of a gas is dissolved in the liquid in a system, that is science and engineering.

The grand mistake in the article above is that it uses the phrase “social science.”  There is no such thing.  That’s a myth perpetrated by the sociologists and psychologists.  When you are dealing with humans who have choice and volition, there is no mathematical or physical model you can invoke in order to make it science.

I know what sociologists and psychologists are thinking right about now.  You are all behaviorists; man’s actions and choices are the outcome of syntactical impulses, chemical reactions, his history, or something of the sort.  And you so want it to be that you are scientists, and you so badly want for what you do be to considered science.  But you are not, and it is not.

The right reaction to articles such as this is to assert, and rightly so, that if I have a weapon and handle it with care and concern, train with it, am diligent to observe all the rules of safety and self defense, it is more likely that I will be able to defend myself and my family.  I am not a statistic.  I am not subject to the application of mean and standard deviation.  I am not part of the collective, and so it doesn’t matter what the collectivists want me to think about myself.

And don’t ever listen to someone who begins by telling you he is a “social scientist.”

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Comments

  1. On November 17, 2014 at 8:07 am, John Richardson said:

    “Linoge” at Walls of the City blog has been plotting the data for the last five years. He has been finding negative correlations between more guns=more crime. In other words, it ain’t happening.

    http://www.wallsofthecity.net/2014/10/graphics-matter-year-the-fifth.html

    http://www.wallsofthecity.net/2014/10/graphics-matter-year-the-fifth-part-two.html

    “Linoge” is an engineer by training and profession. I think he, like you, knows a bit about numbers and cipherin’ unlike a law professor from Stanford.

  2. On November 17, 2014 at 9:17 am, B.Rubin said:

    Peter Theil said something very similar on Glenn Beck a couple weeks ago. Be wary of anyone that adds “scientist” behind their craft and specifically mentioned climate scientists and social scientists. More liberals using language to confuse while crying out for acceptance.

  3. On November 17, 2014 at 7:27 pm, Chris Carson said:

    “The totality of the evidence based on educated judgments about the best
    statistical models suggests that right-to-carry laws are associated
    with substantially higher rates” of aggravated assault, robbery, rape
    and murder”

    Interpreting statistics is essential. This seems reasonable.

    Guns are for backward society’s. Like your own. Deadly force is stupid, as it is what causes most of the deadly problems.

    A gun is a cowards weapon. I am out in the bush a great deal and have been for most of my 68 years, I love the wilderness, my photos of it:

    http://carnagepro.com/

    I run into Bears, Elk, Cougars and of course many Deer. I have been charged by a Bear and have had to deal with upset Elk. I do OK, I can make a deal. You chickenshits would just kill stuff, very lame and somehow, ultimately pitiful.

  4. On November 17, 2014 at 7:59 pm, Frank_in_Spokane said:

    All well and good. But what has any of that to do with intended victims of criminal violence being able to bring force to bear against a human attacker when necessary?

    “A gun is a coward’s weapon.” Well, kudos to you for not stooping to genitalia jokes, at least.

  5. On November 17, 2014 at 8:16 pm, Chris Carson said:

    Hey I do not doubt in areas where violence is very common that you need to be at a level that is competitive. The problem is that it’s a viscous cycle. Mo guns mo violent crime, not rocket science.

    Where I live long guns are common but hand guns very rare. Gun violence is very rare here as well..

  6. On November 17, 2014 at 9:14 pm, Miles said:

    Oh Look! It’s the brother by another mother of Timothy Treadwell.

    And, starting out calling everyone here ‘Chickenshit’ is assuredly THE way for everyone here to turn your tree hugging, misanthropic bullshit trolling message off. Looser.

    Mister, you’ll make your “deals” with bears and cougars right up to the point one of them decides you’re on the menu and won’t take ‘No’ for an answer. Of course, I’d bet from you apparent philosophy, you’d sing high praises to Gaia because your molecules would be returning to the ground in a most natural way.
    Leah close enough to you that you’d care if some feral youth or two or three, came around one day and decided she had what they wanted? What if they wanted to take her along for a ride? Maybe take you along as well for a shorter ride?
    I’d bet your hypocrisy would show through inside ten seconds and you’d try and bash their brains out.
    Last point: You carry weapons to win not be ‘competitive’.
    Criminal wants to dance? Criminal finds out the price the piper wants just may be more than he figured on (his life). With me, it won’t be a fair outcome for the dirtbag.

  7. On November 17, 2014 at 9:37 pm, Chris Carson said:

    Ain’t you a bundle of joy? Somewhat incomprehensible but I’ll try.

    I actually plan to seek out a Cougar when I’m done. I’ve told a few people they won’t find me. But at 68 I am rocking and rolling and a 160 lb Cougar might lose a fight with me straight up. I do have a knife. When my 90s roll around, as they may, good genes, I plan to go seek one without any plan to return.

    Who is Leah? I know an ex stripper called that, lovely woman. Our socialistic society does not produce many feral children, we value our young above many other things. Yours does not appear to.

    I doubt any of the local heavies would screw with me, I am fairly well known.

    We don’t have the black/white, good/evil thing going on in my country to any large extent. That really does please me. Two dimensional approaches may be easier for many, especially where you live, but I prefer other ways.

  8. On November 17, 2014 at 10:18 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    You’re a loser Carson.

    You speak of things about which you know nothing. You call folks cowards who intend on defending and protecting their loved ones. That means that you either have never, ever been responsible for taking care of anyone in your life, in which case you’re a liar, or you would willingly sit back and watch your wife of mother raped and beaten by armed thugs and be able to do nothing about it because you weren’t armed.

    In the first case you’re a liar, in the last case you’re a worm. In both cases you’re a loser.

    Nice try. Thanks for playing. Come back and play again when you actually have something. In the mean time, folks, readers current and future, Carson won’t make any more stupid comments because it wastes your time.

    But pay attention. The example he has given you is the perfect example of how NOT to argue for or against anything.

  9. On November 18, 2014 at 10:26 am, Linoge said:

    “Mo guns mo violent crime, not rocket science.”

    Someone already kindly pointed you to the facts that show this statement to be nothing but ignorant bullshit, but I will go ahead and repost the link here, just in case: http://www.wallsofthecity.net/2014/10/graphics-matter-year-the-fifth-part-two.html

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This article is filed under the category(s) Firearms,Guns and was published November 17th, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

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