NYT shows how NOT to analyze mass-shooting data

NYT shows how NOT to analyze mass-shooting data

[Ed. – The only question left to an alert reader to ask himself is whether this is pure ignorance or a deliberate attempt to skew the data to conform to a desired narrative. Either option impeaches the source.]

Some colleagues sent me the New York Times article “What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer” today. My jaw just about hit the floor when I saw the chart that appears at the top of the piece, above everything else except the title and byline:

Uh, notice a problem there, guys? You can’t compare across countries without adjusting for population. A country with more people, all else equal, will have both more guns and more mass shootings, driving a false correlation between the two.

They get to the adjusted data about halfway through the piece. It’s true that the U.S. and Yemen are the countries with the most guns and the most shooters — and that is something that could, plausibly, suggest that easy access to guns increases mass shootings. But also worth noting is that there’s no pattern visible for the entire rest of the data set. Gun ownership varies from basically nonexistent to above 30 guns per 100 people, yet these variations don’t obviously correspond to variations in mass shootings.

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