Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Other Side of '43'

Reviewing my Blog statistics, I see that I've received some traffic from 'Mausers, Medicine and Motorcycles' (specifically, this March 10, 2008, post).

The reference is embedded in this comment:

It turns out that there are statistics to back up my surmise. Guns kept in the home for self-protection are 43 times more likely to kill a family member, friend or acquaintance than to kill an intruder, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. As for what’s happening on the streets, Foer quotes the FBI: "For every justifiable handgun homicide, there are more than 50 handgun murders. The expanding right to carry concealed guns make us even less safe."

See Cogito Ergo Geek for the answer to the "43 times" fallacy. And consider this: how many times have handguns dissuaded a violent act without resulting in the death of the potential attacker? Somehow I don't see you being happier if the ratio where 1:1.
I attempted to reply to MM&M in the COMMENTS section, but apparently the comments section was closed (without warning), and so my attempt to expand on the topic were foiled.

I'm a blogger; I am never foiled on the Internet, so I include my response here:
As the author of Cogito Ergo Geek, I appreciate your reference to my research.

Actually, the results of 'my research' are that the original article in the "New England Journal of Medicine" (NEJM) is no longer available.

That is to say, Kellerman's original article is no longer available on the NEJM website, and so those who quote him ... no matter how peripherally ... aren't really quoting him because they are unable to cite the source.

I've made the attempt many times, and I always end up frustrated because the NEJM has removed that article from their archive.

However, several referential articles remain, and these are the sources I've cited.

Generally, these are secondary sources. That is, they 'quote' studies who in turn 'quote' Kellerman ... or paraphrase him.

At this point, we are reduced to citing tertiary sources, which unanimously (as of this date) debunk Kellerman for his shoddy sampling techniques.

Playing the Devil's Advocate, I've attempted to establish the veracity of the original Kellerman study. Nobody seems willing to justify these statistics; rather, the citations are entirely critical of Kellerman and his '43 times more likely' assertions.

If the '43 times' theory was at all justifiable, given the attacks on the study over the past decade, one might reasonably expect the "anti-gun" proponents to replicate the study under conditions which were less vulnerable to constructive criticism.

That this study has not occurred (or that it HAS, but the results were so nonsupporting of the Liberal agenda that the results were never published) speaks volumes of the original 'study'.

If Kellerman's many supporters are unable to definitively defend his assertion, we can only conclude that it is indefensible.

Which is what I (and you) have already proposed.

The next time and every time you see the number '43' in some gun-control context, be secure in your confidence that the author is lying.

That's what they do, and will do, until someone confronts them.

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