Comments about ‘Letters: Statistics don't lie’

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Published: Thursday, Jan. 24 2013 12:00 a.m. MST

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Salt Lake City, UT

Rape is the reason people should have guns?

And yet, today people talk about banning abortion and birth control.

Ogden, UT

"Gun bans take guns out of the hands of law-abiding citizens and therefore embolden criminals"

Bummer, you were doing so well until you stopped citing statistics and started running wide with your own interpretation of them. You don't know that Australia's gun ban led to an increase in these incidents, that is just as much of an assumption as the one you wrote in to complain about. So no, statistics don't lie, but you've shown us how to lie with statistics.

Mike in Cedar City
Cedar City, Utah

The trouble with "statistics" is that you can find them to support just about any position you want to take. perhaps the writter will tell us where he got his "statistics" so that his comment may be properly evaluated.

Salt Lake City, UT

It took me about two minutes with Google to discover that the "statistics" used in this letter don't tell the whole story about U.S. vs. Australian violent crime rates. Trends in violent crime, how they are reported and how the statistics are compiles vary greatly around the world. This is a highly complex subject.

There's no shortage of right wing web sites pumping this "Australian rape rates went up after their gun ban" meme, but none of them address long term trends or differences in how these crimes are reported through the years.

The only honest thing you can say based on a comparison of violent crime statistics between nations is that it is unclear what effect gun control legislation has had in Australia, and it is equally unclear how similar legislation, if adopted here, might effect the U.S.

Far East USA, SC

Well, if Stats dont lie, here is some more

From the Drudge report

And today, there is a wide consensus that our 1996 reforms not only reduced the gun-related homicide rate, but also the suicide rate.
The Australian Institute of Criminology found that gun-related murders and suicides fell sharply after 1996.
The American Journal of Law and Economics found that our gun buyback scheme cut firearm suicides by 74 percent.
In the 18 years before the 1996 reforms, Australia suffered 13 gun massacres -- each with more than four victims -- causing a total of 102 deaths.
There has not been a single massacre in that category since 1996.

Few Australians would deny that their country is safer today as a consequence of gun control.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Nobody in power is talking about banning guns They only want to ban the sale of certain types of guns, which is entirely different.

liberal larry
salt lake City, utah

Could ypu give a reference for your statistics? The U N rape numbers on Wikipedia tell a different story about rape. It lists the United States as having a rape rate of 27.3 per 100,000 women, while Australia has a rate of 8.1 per 100,000 women.

Gun controlled Canada has a minisule rape rate of 1.7 per 100,000.

(All stats are from 2010 numbers.)

salt lake city, utah

"Statistics don't lie" is truly one of the most uninformed and uneducated statements "ever" made on this thread. Statistics do lie. In fact they lie more than they tell the truth. This happens for many reasons and the complexity of real life situations is one of the prime reasons they lie. They don't measure what they say they are measuring. If you want a good primer of statistics and the value and problems of statistics read Nate Silvers new book.

Statistics have value and can be valuable, even in cases predictive. However, there use is very tricky and the blanket statement that statistics don't lie is about as far from the truth as one could get.

Durham, NC

""Statistics don't lie"

But sometimes they don't tell the whole truth either. I was forwarded a note from an aunt of mine which made similar clames... problem is when you look at the charts provided, one quickly notices the r2 numbers. These numbers denote the confidence level in multi-varient analysis. The numbers were increadably low for the corrilations - meaning the level of confidence in those numberes or direct causal impact was really loose.

In our work, .8-.9 is a minimum to make a decicsion on. The one number, deaths by knife or other sharp object had a rating of .11. In a statistical realm, that is a garbage number.

The other thing with these numbers listed is none were crimes per 1,000, but just raw data, which had no growth in population factored in. They are very misleading.

So yes, sometimes numbers don't lie, but they don't tell the whole truth either.


"Have murders increased since the gun law change, as claimed? Actually, Australian crime statistics show a marked decrease in homicides since the gun law change. According to the Australian Institute of Criminology, a government agency, the number of homicides in Australia did increase slightly in 1997 and peaked in 1999, but has since declined to the lowest number on record in 2007, the most recent year for which official figures are available.

Furthermore, murders using firearms have declined even more sharply than murders in general since the 1996 gun law. In the seven years prior to 1997, firearms were used in 24 percent of all Australian homicides. But most recently, firearms were used in only 11 percent of Australian homicides, according to figures for the 12 months ending July 1, 2007. That’s a decline of more than half since enactment of the gun law..."


Oakley, UT

Figures don't lie, but liars can figure! Any ban on the ability of the citizen to defend themselves will lead to governmental abuse. Ask the Jews in Germany (those still alive) what they might have done had Hitler not banned private firearms.. Ask the dissenters in China what they might have done had Mao not banned private firearms.. Ask the ones banished to the Gulag in Russia what they might have done had Stalin not banned private ownership of guns. And no, I don't condone mass murder in the schools or malls, suicides, or any other non-security or hunting use of firearms. I merely point out that the purpose of the 2nd amendment was to ensure that a corrupt government could not enslave its citizens.

Salt Lake City, UT

One of the first and fundamental things I learned in my statistics class is that CORRELATION DOES NOT PROVE CAUSATION. Unfortunately, most people who cite statistics to "prove" their point forget this basic principle.



The Jews could've held off the Germany army, when many other countries couldn't?

The facts:

As World War I drew to a close, the new Weimar Republic government banned nearly all private gun ownership to comply with the Treaty of Versailles and mandated that all guns and ammunition "be surrendered immediately." The law was loosened in 1928, and gun permits were granted to citizens "of undoubted reliability" (in the law's words) but not "persons who are itinerant like Gypsies." In 1938, under Nazi rule, gun laws became significantly more relaxed. Rifle and shotgun possession were deregulated, and gun access for hunters, Nazi Party members, and government officials was expanded. The legal age to own a gun was lowered. Jews, however, were prohibited from owning firearms and other dangerous weapons.

American Fork, UT

I've said it before; stats are almost useless in this argument because everyone has some that support their position.Instead of changing numbers, I think we have to change attitudes first, and the way to do that may be to make a legislated statement that says there is a limit to how far the secocnd amendment can be pushed.

North Salt Lake, UT

It the words of the great Mike Ditka "Statistics are for idiots".

Castle Valley, Utah


Sorry, but arguments such as yours, commonly made, only illustrate that paranoia and emotion are what drive them - not rational and reasonable thinking.

We do not live in a dictatorship, as we are painfully reminded everyday by gridlock in Washington.

Should a tyrranical government suddenly arise here in the US, and turn against the good people, our guns will do little to protect us from their air force. So in the spirit of the Second Amendment, I suppose the good and righteous potential defenders among us should be acquiring anti-aircraft rockets?

Eric Samuelsen
Provo, UT

Australia uses a very different system for gathering crime statistics than that one used in the US. In the US, rape statistics are based on police reports. In Australia, even calling in a threat counts as 'rape.' The correlation described here is based on false assumptions.

UT Brit
London, England


"I merely point out that the purpose of the 2nd amendment was to ensure that a corrupt government could not enslave its citizens."

That arms race was lost a century ago. I have yet to see small arms fire bring down drones, destroy nerve gas or protect against being heated to the same temperature as the surface of the sun for a small amount of time.

If you think an AR-15 is going to help you against the weapons your government can wield prepare to be very briefly disappointed should you want to stand against it.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Austraila rate #43
America rated #57

Israeli rape rate (#6) is far FAR higher than Autraila -- and have guns.

BTW - Islamic contries have the lowest Rape rate in the world.


Blue Ribbon comment of the day goes to:

North Salt Lake, UT

It the words of the great Mike Ditka "Statistics are for idiots".

9:41 a.m. Jan. 24, 2013

West Jordan, UT

It is amazing to me how many posters become statisticians when the numbers do not support their narrative. Yet many of these same posters often cite headlines and anecdotal information to support their beliefs. They quote polls, and very selective stats to promote their worldview all the time. Then they condemn the writer for drawing a conclusion. One poster even sited some dreaded statistics to draw a totally opposite conclusion. My favorite is the misdirection of talking about "suicide rates" or "Gun Violence". These sneaky little terms that make what they say somewhat true but not applicable to the argument at hand.

I suspect that the resultant "truths" lies not only in the statistics but also in the questions being asked, the language we use, and the conclusions we want.

I support keeping arms from those who are a danger to society. I support the idea of securing our firearms against theft and the subsequent misuse. In my opinion, misguided gun advocates making showboat displays of their rights do more damage to our cause than any anti-gun advocate does.

I believe that the strongest argument for our 2nd amendment rights is the original stated purpose...to prevent government tyranny.

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