By Chris Ingram
The Tampa Tribune
Published Tuesday, February 27, 2013
Most anyone who has taken a statistics class has heard the example of the incidence of rape rising when sales of ice cream increase. Does that mean rape is more likely to occur as ice cream sales rise? The evidence says yes.
But would banning ice cream sales result in a reduction in the number of rapes? Almost certainly not. Why? Because the correlation does not demonstrate the causation. Looked at another way, they have a shared cause, but there is no correlation. The cause in both cases is hotter temperatures. That is, rape is more likely to occur in warmer months, just as ice cream sales shoot up during the hot summer season. Banning the sale of ice cream to reduce rape makes about as much sense as banning guns to reduce violence.
We get bombarded with stats, figures and polling data every day. Much of this, particularly the polling data, is next to useless. But it doesn’t stop the media from fixating on often-times meaningless numbers to tell a story. Real facts and figures are harder to explain, thus the preferred use of polling numbers.
But hard facts don’t lie. According to the FBI, in 2011 there were 8,583 firearm-related Continue reading “Addressing gun violence one bumper-sticker solution at a time”