13 thoughts on “A Point Worth Pondering

  1. bob carey August 27, 2015 / 4:58 pm

    Very true Brooks a point worth pondering.

  2. Bob Nelson August 27, 2015 / 5:57 pm

    That is, without a doubt, one of the scariest American statistics I have ever read. Shocking. Absolutely shocking.

    • Mark August 27, 2015 / 9:05 pm

      Well Bob, we’ve learned that you’re uninformed. Why don’t you tell us why you just learned this now, why you’re shocked, what you think the significance is, or whatever else you feel the need to share right now. The comments on this blog have been boring lately. Save us.

      • John Foskett August 28, 2015 / 7:24 am

        “The comments on this blog have been boring lately.”

        Exhibit A.

        • Mark August 28, 2015 / 12:29 pm

          Well John, exhibit B is the missing of sarcasm.

          The statement “That is, without a doubt, one of the scariest American statistics I have ever read. Shocking. Absolutely shocking.” is about the most over the top attempt to inject excitement into a bland and ambiguous statement that I can think of. Bob delivered, right on queue. He didn’t even need to ponder before doing it.

  3. Mark August 27, 2015 / 6:30 pm

    There is no reason to be surprised by this. Because of the terrible nature of war, people are led to believe it must be terrible in all ways. In an absolutist sense if you will. So comparing things to war has an emotional effect on people that isn’t fully rational.

    It has long been known that a few writers and poets had a massively outsized influence on the memories in England of WWI. Yet it is a statistical fact that the deaths were not demographically significant, whatever the personal and social costs may have been.

    So when I hear the gun death to war comparison, it only reminds me how unrealistic our rhetoric on war has become. Though the article notes that 63% of the gun deaths were suicides, and only 1% accidental, it wouldn’t sound very dramatic to compare gun deaths to accidental deaths, which are far higher. Motor vehicles deaths are roughly 40,000 a year (which hasn’t significantly decreased even after billions of safety measures over decades), poisoning about 40,000, falls about 25,000, and fires and choking about 2,500 each per year.

    A quick glance at wikipedia yearly automobile deaths tells me that at least 2,000,000 people have died in car accident since 1968. Add in the other forms of death and the numbers might seem staggering for those who forget what life is really like when they hear statistics and that we’re now a nation of 320,000,000. So statement that more Americans have been killed by gunfire since 1968 than have died in all of the wars of the United States combined really might as well be a Rorschach test.

  4. Derek August 27, 2015 / 10:02 pm

    According to the FBI, less than 1% of fatal, intentional, shootings are defensive or otherwise justifiable legally.

    • Mark August 28, 2015 / 8:52 am

      More contextless data, which makes it BS. Folks, never trust any data you didn’t manipulate yourself. 😉

      Look Derek, the FBI gathers data on gun crime from local police departments, but most departments are highly selective in their tracking. Such stats can’t be used for political purposes without distortion. Shootings are counted mainly as part of the broader category of “aggravated assault”.

      So even if the stat you’re citing is accurate, the context is very likely that they are mainly counting as a part of aggravated assaults and suicides (notice those would fall under the category you supplied), then very few would be defensive or legal. Even where suicides aren’t declared illegal anymore (there has been a shift from the past), suicides wouldn’t be legally “justified”.

      Look, the FBI has been using crimes, and especially sensational media driven ones, as justification since the 30’s when Hoover was looking for John Dillinger, at least when he wasn’t cross-dressing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ahem.

  5. Matt McKeon August 28, 2015 / 1:48 pm

    “There are many, many dead bodies here. Thousands upon thousands of people shooting themselves or somebody else with state of the art weaponry every year. It seems like a lot of dead people. But its OK. Stop talking about it. Its all good. Tragic, but unavoidable, War isn’t so bad, either. Stop talking about it. Tragic of course, like being hit by lightning, Its those damn video games. And heck, you could shoot ten thousand 1st graders a year, and it wouldn’t have any ‘demographic’ significance’ Stop talking about it.

    • Mark August 28, 2015 / 4:07 pm

      >> Its those damn video games.

      I hope you’re not serious about this romantic trope. There is no evidence for it whatsoever.

      I mentioned the “demographic significance” of WWI deaths only because the lethality and social effects are are frequently greatly exaggerated. I’m not going to insult your intelligence by thinking you’re dull enough to think I was implying that only deaths that sum up to a demographic significance would be significant. I think you know better. It is quite lazy to do such things however.

  6. Matt McKeon August 29, 2015 / 4:47 am

    Mark, I understand you’re trying to deflect the discussion by being insulting. Its rhetoric 101. I’m sympathetic. I would too, if I was tasked with slapping the lipstick on this particular pig. Its OK, son, I don’t take it personal.

    And I am also comforted that tens of thousands of dead Americans are nothing to be concerned about, since they lack “demographic significance.” I’m trying to think of a context I could use it in. Maybe “Cancer, smancer. Those deaths lack demographic significance.”

    • Mark August 30, 2015 / 7:45 pm

      Oh cut the crap John. You’re just repeating an assertion I’ve already denied making without any argument for why a moral equivalence between your substitute statement and mine should be considered valid. That is well below the standard of rhetoric 101. I’m pretty sure you know that’s insulting. I could debate you on this. You can’t or won’t. Party on.

  7. Matt McKeon August 29, 2015 / 6:01 am

    Just thought of another: “Dr. Salk, will you shut up already about your supposed “vaccine.” Those polio related deaths lack demographic significance.”

    “I lot of people gave me grief when I took out the seatbelts and installed my dashboard hibachi. But the number of ensuing deaths lacked all demographic significance, so I’m at a utter loss to understand what people are going on about.”

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