Thursday, February 02, 2006

Statisticians more likely to come up with bogus results to prove their bias

UPDATE: John Lott has some comments, and links to some other commentors. He mentions details which were not stated in the news report I read. What immediately leaped out at me was this: "and whether they have had a gun in their car at least one time over the last year." Yes, at least one time in the past year. This is utterly meaningless. They may as well have asked if they'd had a passenger in their car at least one time in the past year, or if they had driven with their windows down at least one time in the past year. Mr. Lott also makes another interesting statement: "The paper also has some funny results. For example, Liberals are apparently much more likely to engage in road rage than conservatives and the difference is larger than the difference between those who did and did not have a gun at least one time in their car over the last year. This variable is apparently never investigated, but presumably they are also concerned about liberals being allowed to drive cars."

UPDATE 2: Nicki at The Liberty Zone has torn them a new one. (tnx to The War On Guns).

I'll just quote the whole thing:
PARIS, Feb 1, 2006 (AFP) - Americans who pack a gun in their car are likelier to get aggressive than unarmed drivers, according to a study reported in next Saturday's New Scientist.

A survey of 2,400 drivers carried out by the Harvard School of Public Health found that some 23 percent of drivers with a gun in their car admitted to making aggressive gestures to other road users, compared with 16 percent of those who did not have a weapon.

They were also likelier to tailgate the car in front, the study found.

'Riding with a firearm in the vehicle was a marker for aggressive and dangerous driver behaviour,' it said.

The researchers said the findings shed worrying light on an aspect of gun ownership in the United States. Over the past two decades, many US states have eased restrictions on carrying weapons and police no longer have the right to ban someone they consider unsuitable from owning a gun, they noted.

'Our findings indicate that the people driving around with guns in their cars are not among the most responsible and best-behaved people on the road,' researcher Mary Vriniotis told the British weekly.

'In the interests of injury and violence prevention, it probably makes more sense to tighten rather than relax restrictions on gun carrying in motor vehicles.'

The study is published in a specialist journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention.

This survey proves that people who claim to carry a gun in their car also claim to make "gestures." (That is, some people just like to look tough).

If asked, I would have provided no useful information.