Friday, April 20, 2007

Gun Control works? Show me the data!

In gun control debates such as those here and here, I have seen way too much pompousity from the gun control advocates, who act as though the evidence is crystal clear that gun control works, and that anyone whose view differs is some sort of sociopathic macho redneck. Well I'm sorry,
this isn't global warming, much less evolution, where the evidence is solidly, if not entirely, on one side of the argument. This is an issue where data that can withstand the slightest statistical scrutiny is rare, at least what I've seen in the popular media.

I have no love whatever for guns. The only one I own was a gift and I haven't shot it in years. Here in Texas, that practically makes me a Commie. I got interested in the subject for two reasons: First was my anecdotal experience of being frequently in the presence of arsenals of friends and family that would make your stereotypical Frenchman pee his pants, and yet no one I've ever known has ever been involved in a shooting of any kind. Secondly, I consistently saw completely tortured logic and abuse of statistics from the gun control people. For sure the pro-gun guys have their share of goofy arguments, but they are usually philosophical (radical libertarianism, rigid contructionism). The idiotic statistical arguments always seemed to come from the left, such as a gun in the home being 43 times as likely to kill a family member as a criminal, or England having a lower gun homicide rate than the U.S., and other such twaddle.

I'm an actuary. I like data and I know what to do with it. So give me some that takes into account the sociological and other critical variables necessary to draw a solid conclusion. Don't tell me gun control works because England has a lower gun homicide rate than the U.S. That sort of analysis would earn one an F in introductory statistics. Give me some data where the people actually know WTF they are doing. Do it, and you will get a very loud statistically informed ally in your cause. I've never seen any that warranted the smug dismissal of the alternate view that I see so often in these discussions, but I can be persuaded. Show me.


Tom Church said...

I'm a relatively new reader of your blog, and I saw this in your latest post: "this isn't global warming, much less evolution, where the evidence is solidly, if not entirely, on one side of the argument."

I'm not familiar with anything you've written on global warming. Can you summarize for me? Thanks.

ScienceAvenger said...


I have not written on global warming, as it is not an area I have much knowledge of. The comment you quoted from me refers to the growing consensus among scientists that man-made global warming is real.

Tim Lambert over at Deltoid posts a lot of good information. Here is an article with one of the best graphs I've seen on the various models and how they match to actual temperature data.

You might also check out Real Climate, which has a lot of good information.

Anonymous said...

why do you hate real science?

ScienceAvenger said...

I don't hate real science, I love science. The scientific community overwhelmingly rejects the arguments like those linked to by you. Here is a nice site that addresses those arguments.

I personally don't know much about climateology, but I do understand how science works. Individual scientists can certainly make mistakes, but the idea of either 1) a vast conspiracy by the scientific community to supress The Truth (tm) or 2) The entirety of the scientific community overlooking some simple basic objection to what they are saying, are both preposterous in the extreme, and that is basically what climate deniers, just like the evolution deniers expect us to believe.