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Some sound governance
Posted: 30 July 2009 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]  
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eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

Maybe it’s a slow new’s day, but I note that some number of folks continue to monitor our debate. I’ll persist if for no other reason. It is a new topic for me, and I am arguing not from some emotional perspective as you insist, but far more dispassionately.

Dispassionately ... right. So you’ve dispassionately determined that those who carry guns for self-defense are insane, and I gather you also meant “Screw you!” in the dispassionate sense when you used it early in this discussion—before you were aware I’ve done my homework and that I’m not easily provoked, to put it rather mildly.

eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

It’s not difficult to catch up on the “research” that you have done.

Really? Damnit! It took me several weeks to do the bulk of it too, and it was on-going for at least a few years after as a focus of my attention (regularly checking up on commentary, news headlines, blogs, looking into occasional articles that would pop up and such), not to mention the time I put into studying anthropology in college (understanding study design and methodology is critical to analyzing social science in general—more so in contentious, politicized fields). You seem to be making some rather casual presumptions again. You also don’t show any evidence of having much of a sense at all of what little of my position I’ve actually posted (in fact it seems you’ve pretty much ignored such details). Instead you seem fixated on concealed carry (that’s understandable though) and quite enamored with demonizing me for whatever random “insanities” you decide to saddle me with.

You’re absolutely right on the one hand though. It’s not difficult to find or to read the same base material I have—I’ve simply read a handful of books about guns and violence and the gun market, most of which are anti-gun to one degree or another, taking the time to do the fact/reference-checking. That’s a bit more work and you do need access to a lot of social science journals, but that’s still not too tough. My level of “expertise” in study design and methodology isn’t hard to develop either (though as I said, it’s pretty critical for these kinds of topics). The difficult part for most people is in applying the intellectual discipline to deal with the issue separate from how they feel about it. Targeting Guns and Under the Gun passed the scrutiny of their source material with flying colors, though I have some criticism of a couple of Kleck’s key points (in spite of him being my guru and all). I disagree with Wright, Rossi and Daly’s bent (they’re admittedly anti-gun and come to most of their conclusions reluctantly), but I think they’ve done as good a job—better, actually, because Kleck’s definitions of “violent assault” (as in, about 80% of us will experience at least one during our life time), and his criteria for what constitutes a defensive gun use (DGU) both bias his research in favor of concealed carry. I’d prefer to post clips from Under the Gun, but the publisher never got back with me when I made the request (I’m glad you reminded me of Google Books). Don Kates is another analyst I think is very good, but he’s a lawyer so I don’t cite him—good analyses from what I’ve read, wrong field of expertise (like public health and medicine, fields notorious for low standards of rigor compared to most, due to obvious reasons, and then there’s economics, just as notorious but with much less of an excuse—the appropriate experts regarding guns and violence are criminologists, and also other sociologists ... something important to keep in mind for a rigorous, honest researcher). Self-discipline, intellectual integrity and rigor. I highly recommend the Using Speculation to Rebut Empirical Evidence section in the second chapter of Targeting Guns to you, by the way (pg 37-38).

eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

I see now that Dr. Kleck himself defined box that you are putting me in…..I see that you are a rare kind of believer…what is your number, how many are you?....is this in Kleck’s writings?

I’m not even certain you and I disagree all that much beyond the psychological status (and nature) of those who carry concealed handguns, an issue upon which you seem quite fixated, but you’ve somehow got me pegged as some kind of Kleckian Dittohead. Interesting, particularly considering the collective character of each of our sets of posts in here thus far.

Are you arguing that because Kleck and I both note the histrionic nature of the debate that indicates some sort of common dogma that he defined? That’s just bizarre. How have you determined that Kleck and I haven’t just both independently observed this patently obvious fact that many, many others also note (which is pretty patently obvious even if you’ve only paid attention to the media releases)? That sounds like quite a stretch, to put it rather mildly—raises the question of what might motivate you to judge me in such a way based upon so little (you’re establishing a pretty strong pattern).

eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

Here’s a photo of Dr. Kleck on his wikipedia page, and another from his current page at the University of Florida.

Very interesting, particularly that picture. I recall reading, probably in Targeting Guns, that Kleck doesn’t own a gun and he makes a point of keeping himself clear of even the appearance bias, so I’m curious what he thinks of that photo. He was obviously a good deal younger when it was taken. As it says in the caption that’s a Florida Department of Law Enforcement display he’s pictured with. Thanks for posting these pics of my guru, by the way—I’d never seen any before (when I read Targeting Guns I checked him out, but that was actually before Google I think, or at least before we all knew about it, and there was no picture on his FSU page).

eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

I think we would all agree that Dr. Kleck could benefit from updating his wiki photograph. wink Also, here is a link to Dr. Hemenway’s page at Harvard School of Public Health. The website wouldn’t let me copy the photo. Dr Hemenway authored the quotes that Byron has failed to respond to.

Pointing out the “failure” to address points and arguments and such in this topic isn’t exactly a place you should want to go! In fact last night I’d decided I should post a brief explanation as to why I haven’t yet addressed the research material you’ve posted. The thing is, if I want to analyze the material sufficiently to form any kind of valid or credible opinion it’s going to take some time and effort. I’m not prone toward forming hasty (nor emotional) opinions, and I’m not interested in just finding some excuse to dismiss research you present, nor do I want to apply hyperskepticism to anything you present while giving my gurus more or less a free pass.

We could completely waste our time playing dueling experts through data mining and tallying up column inches of research and criticism for our side (especially criticism—I’d easily kick your ass just due to the shear volume of rabid pro-gun research criticism), but I know better and I’d hope you do too, but quite frankly I’m not so sure. That’s how the overall public discussion usually goes (just as it does with the alleged Christian foundation of the US), and that’s precisely how I didn’t come to my current positions besides probably not being anywhere near as pro-gun as it’s obvious you presume simply because I tend to know when your viewpoint is empirically and epistemically baseless.

So, I’ll be giving the actual research you’ve posted its due, and that takes a little time and effort. I can (relatively) quickly and easily address your philosophical arguments and your analyses of my arguments and citations, but I’m not going to form any premature or hasty conclusions about the research you cite. I’ll likely agree with a lot of it anyway (not that that’s a consideration), and I’d be very happy to find better research than has been available thus far on this issue. Sound skepticism and intellectual integrity and scientific rigor are far more my thing than any particular topic, it’s just that a few topics separate the True Skeptics[sup]tm[/sup] from the pretenders (and the novices), and this is one of them.

eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

Dr. Hemenway’s thoughts seem to run more parallel to mine, and he specifically contradicts Dr. Kleck on several topics. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/faculty/david-hemenway/
Good previews of his book as well as Klecks book, (including what Byron posted of Kleck) found here…
http://books.google.com/books?id=iANw1pb4fPAC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ViewAPI&hl=en

I don’t doubt at all that Hemenway contradicts Kleck, but I’m very suspect of your claim that his thoughts run parallel to yours. (Does that mean he’s your guru then? ... eh?) In any case I’ll be looking over the material and giving it due consideration as soon as I can manage it. I still have other material from one of your posts to address besides.

Byron

[ Edited: 31 July 2009 10:58 AM by SkepticX]
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Posted: 31 July 2009 10:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]  
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Don Kates is another analyst I think is probably very good, but he’s a lawyer so I don’t cite him—good analyses from what I’ve read, wrong field of expertise (like public health and medicine, fields notorious for low standards of rigor compared to most, due to obvious reasons, and then there’s economics, just as notorious but with much less of an excuse—the appropriate experts regarding guns and violence are criminologists, and also other sociologists ... something important to keep in mind for a rigorous, honest researcher).

I don’t have time to write but I’m curious, where do you come by these opinions? Why should we take your word for the idea intellectual rigor etc. (ad nauseum), is practiced by only particular branches of these soft sciences? Isn’t it just that these people disagree with you that makes “notorious” in your mind?  What I hear you saying here is that only the perspective of a “criminologist”, is proper perspective, so if I want to be “rigorous” and “honest”, I should weight their opinions heavily. Sounds like you are advocating prejudiced investigation.

You apparently follow your own advice wrt to exposing the rest of us to what you know about the subject. Until I brought it up, all you espoused to us was the gospel of Kleck. If we take issue with your or his “findings”, then we are histrionic and incapable of rational thought. I said “screw you” because of your unyielding fundamentalist perspective, not because I’m overly passionate about guns, sociology or whatever trip you’re on.

[ Edited: 31 July 2009 10:59 AM by eucaryote]
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Posted: 31 July 2009 11:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]  
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SkepticX - 30 July 2009 01:53 PM

We could completely waste our time playing dueling experts through data mining and tallying up column inches of research and criticism for our side (especially criticism—I’d easily kick your ass just due to the shear volume of rabid pro-gun research criticism),

Duels?  Ass kicking?  My god, let’s lock up the guns until these guys are done arguing!

SkepticX - 30 July 2009 01:53 PM

Don Kates is another analyst I think is very good, but he’s a lawyer so I don’t cite him—good analyses from what I’ve read, wrong field of expertise (like public health and medicine, fields notorious for low standards of rigor compared to most, due to obvious reasons, and then there’s economics, just as notorious but with much less of an excuse—the appropriate experts regarding guns and violence are criminologists, and also other sociologists ... something important to keep in mind for a rigorous, honest researcher). Self-discipline, intellectual integrity and rigor. I highly recommend the Using Speculation to Rebut Empirical Evidence section in the second chapter of Targeting Guns to you, by the way (pg 37-38).

OK, I was going to argue with you about lawyers and intellectual integrity and rigor, but I just reread Bybee’s torture memo.  On the other hand, judging lawyers by Bybee and Scalia is a little like dismissing biology because of the Discovey Institute. 

Ouch!  Someone just shot me in the flagellum!

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Posted: 31 July 2009 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]  
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teuchter - 31 July 2009 03:20 PM
SkepticX - 30 July 2009 01:53 PM

We could completely waste our time playing dueling experts through data mining and tallying up column inches of research and criticism for our side (especially criticism—I’d easily kick your ass just due to the shear volume of rabid pro-gun research criticism),

Duels?  Ass kicking?  My god, let’s lock up the guns until these guys are done arguing!


No kidding ... that’s the way it’s seemed to me in here a lot of the time, so I pointed it out (“I’m not even certain you and I disagree ...” / “Are you arguing that because Kleck and I both note the histrionic nature of the debate ...”) and went with it just a bit, but in a lighthearted way.

SkepticX - 30 July 2009 01:53 PM

OK, I was going to argue with you about lawyers and intellectual integrity and rigor, but I just reread Bybee’s torture memo.  On the other hand, judging lawyers by Bybee and Scalia is a little like dismissing biology because of the Discovey Institute.

Ouch!  Someone just shot me in the flagellum!


Not really, it would be more like being skeptical of research on defendant behaviors and psychology done by lawyers. They may certainly make some valid observations and collect valuable data, and they do have some purview on the periphery, but the specifically sociological and psychological analyses and interpretation would be far better served in the hands of sociologists and psychologists.

Guns aren’t disease vectors or viruses (again, that constitutes a joke, if a bad one—high velocity lead poisoning—not a viable or even rational position), and people using guns, whether violent criminals or armed citizens, aren’t people spreading diseases or even behavior that puts people at higher risk of contracting diseases. If they were then they’d squarely fall under the purview of epidemiologists and other medical researchers, but they’re not. They’re people engaging in social behavior, and specifically at issue is the criminal behavior and the responses it provokes. Those are issues that fall under criminology and sociology, and I guess psychology as well, though I don’t hold a lot of stock in psychological research in general.

Byron

[ Edited: 31 July 2009 02:39 PM by SkepticX]
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Posted: 31 July 2009 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]  
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eucaryote - 31 July 2009 02:57 PM

I don’t have time to write but I’m curious, where do you come by these opinions?

You really don’t know where I get my opinions about what falls under given fields of science?

I’m not quite sure what to make of that question, quite frankly.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 02:57 PM

Why should we take your word for the idea intellectual rigor etc. (ad nauseum), is practiced by only particular branches of these soft sciences?

That’s not what I wrote, and you shouldn’t.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 02:57 PM

Isn’t it just that these people disagree with you that makes “notorious” in your mind?

Since I just pointed out two sources I didn’t post that both agree with my position (at least the small portion of it at issue here—the data concerning concealed carry), I’d say that’s not a very astute analysis. In fact I’d suggest you take your own criticism to heart. It’s starting to look more and more like you’re projecting.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 02:57 PM

What I hear you saying here is that only the perspective of a “criminologist”, is proper perspective, so if I want to be “rigorous” and “honest”, I should weight their opinions heavily. Sounds like you are advocating prejudiced investigation.

I know you’re well aware that there are various fields and specialties in science. Do you really want me to explain this to you? Because I don’t thik I can without being very patronizing, and I’d really rather not go there.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 02:57 PM

You apparently follow your own advice wrt to exposing the rest of us to what you know about the subject. Until I brought it up, all you espoused to us was the gospel of Kleck.

“Gospel of Kleck” ... right. More dispassionate word choices?

Byron

[ Edited: 31 July 2009 02:36 PM by SkepticX]
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Posted: 31 July 2009 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]  
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Nice long winded evasion. Byron you specifically said,

but he’s a lawyer….....wrong field of expertise (like public health and medicine, fields notorious for low standards of rigor compared to most, due to obvious reasons, and then there’s economics, just as notorious but with much less of an excuse—

I just asked you how you came by this opinion.

You said that the fields of public health and medicine have “low standard of rigor”, as does economics, (though for some reason it’s not excusable in the case of economics). I just asked you how you came by this information? Why should we accept that as necessarily true? Criminologists and sociologists have high “standards of rigor”?
What I see you doing is with your comment about the rigor practiced in these fields is slurring them to justify a narrow minded approach.

As to what the appropriate “science” might be most relevant to address a particular issue. Even hard sciences like biology and engineering are made up of perspectives of other hard sciences like physics and chemistry. I don’t see why it is so necessary to you to ignore the perspectives lent to this issue by fields like medicine and public health?

That’s why I used the word gospel. You presented us with a narrow view as representative of the truth. And that narrow view is made up of what appear to be extraordinarily “unintuitive” statistics.

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Posted: 31 July 2009 10:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]  
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eucaryote - 31 July 2009 09:48 PM

Byron you specifically said,

but he’s a lawyer….....wrong field of expertise (like public health and medicine, fields notorious for low standards of rigor compared to most, due to obvious reasons, and then there’s economics, just as notorious but with much less of an excuse—

I just asked you how you came by this opinion. You said that the fields of public health and medicine have “low standard of rigor”, as does economics, (though for some reason it’s not excusable in the case of economics). I just asked you how you came by this information?

Fair enough. I missed the context of the question, but the opinions in question certainly aren’t uniquely mine, by any means. The important thing here is what fields of social science are appropriate for researching guns and violence (a violent crime issue). Medical research is rather rushed as compared to most sciences because it has a direct bearing on public health. It’s also disseminated widely to the public, which is pretty unusual, and which gives a largely unprepared public a whole lot of data to try and parse that isn’t terribly consistent. We don’t generally hear about the latest work in polymer chemistry or mass spectrometry on the news, for example, but news on current medical research is routine (most newspapers have a section for science in general, and a separate one specifically for medical science). With economics it’s more about some economists thinking they have very few limits and applying their expertise to all sorts of sociopolitical questions, often trampling the toes of the appropriate scientists (More Guns, Less Crime is a good example, though Lott and Mustard did collect a huge amount of good data for criminologists and sociologists to work with).

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 09:48 PM

Why should we accept that as necessarily true?

I have no idea why you would without doing your own homework ... or really why you would ask that question.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 09:48 PM

Criminologists and sociologists have high “standards of rigor”?

Relative to medical research and economics, yes. Social sciences are inherently soft, though, so that’s a whole different ballgame than with the physical sciences. But again, the main issue here is that criminologists and other sociologists are the appropriate scientists to be doing most of the work on criminal behavior, which encompasses issues of guns and violence.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 09:48 PM

What I see you doing is with your comment about the rigor practiced in these fields is slurring them to justify a narrow minded approach.

I also narrow the parameters of the research I accept as applicable to exclude research that would benefit the position you presume I hold. I’ve made that pretty clear. You’re actually being selective in the very way you accuse me of being.

Frankly I think you’re just being defensive, and that you’re invested in your viewpoints in spite of having very little information upon which base them (and frankly I think I’m putting that rather diplomatically). My opinions here aren’t unique or arbitrary, to put it rather mildly, and I hold them tentatively—they’re amendable according to what new evidence may indicate. You’re completely unaware of these facts because you haven’t yet done your homework, which is fine, except for the fact that hasn’t deterred you in the slightest from forming a harshly judgmental opinion of me and of many others (you should probably think about that tendency, as I’ve said it’s the same basic attitude that makes fundamentalists so ... fun). I don’t really care about your opinion of me, but these tendencies are a real problem for having a genuine and reasonable discussion.

By all means, do your homework. Just apply the proper rigor and self-discipline (which begins with refraining from forming opinions, much less strong ones, until/unless you’re sufficiently compelled to do so based upon the evidence, and then those opinions generally need to be held tentatively). Anyone can mine data on controversial and politicized issues, and most do. Rigorous, honest skeptics stand out. Ask around with whatever scientists, science savvy laymen, even cops and a range of ideological advocates you can find. See if there’s any corroboration for my notions regarding medical and economic research. The Skeptic’s Society and the agency previously known as CSICOP are probably good places to go, but the ideal source would probably be a college critical thinking text or two. The “sound and rigorous criticism” ideas I’ve been presenting in here are actually pretty basic—Critical Thinking 101 type stuff.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 09:48 PM

As to what the appropriate “science” might be most relevant to address a particular issue. Even hard sciences like biology and engineering are made up of perspectives of other hard sciences like physics and chemistry. I don’t see why it is so necessary to you to ignore the perspectives lent to this issue by fields like medicine and public health?

I specifically stated that they have a peripheral stake in the matter. I also specifically stated that the research has to be considered on its own merits. I also pointed out that even when given researchers overstep their proper boundaries they can be productive. Even if they completely botch their analysis and interpretation, their data can be very useful to the right analysts and interpreters. I haven’t given you any indication what-so-ever that I advocate ignoring that material, and in fact I’ve given you significant indication to the contrary.

eucaryote - 31 July 2009 09:48 PM

That’s why I used the word gospel. You presented us with a narrow view as representative of the truth. And that narrow view is made up of what appear to be extraordinarily “unintuitive” statistics.

What we have here, is a failure to communicate.

I presented you with 30 pages worth of references, two good books, neither by pro-gunner types or authors who are particularly favored by the NRA or the Brady Campaign/Violence Policy Center, about the character and quality of the available research, and both with extensive references—hardly a narrow view. The problem here is that you don’t seem to have much of a sense of the issues or the range of perspectives on them. I’ve posted some dramatically anti-NRA and pro-control comments. I’m hardly the radical “gun nut” you seem to think, apparently merely because I don’t agree with demonizing those who carry concealed weapons and because I think it’s an important right, mostly to afford the less formidable and more popularly preyed upon a viable means of self-defense ... and because I’ve done my homework.

[ Edited: 01 August 2009 03:10 PM by SkepticX]
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Posted: 02 August 2009 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]  
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eucaryote - 30 July 2009 01:50 AM

Also, here is a link to Dr. Hemenway’s page at Harvard School of Public Health. The website wouldn’t let me copy the photo. Dr Hemenway authored the quotes that Byron has failed to respond to. Dr. Hemenway’s thoughts seem to run more parallel to mine, and he specifically contradicts Dr. Kleck on several topics.


Frankly I strongly suspect you have far too little idea of Kleck’s actual positions (or Hemmenway’s for that matter) to credibly make that statement, but Dr. Hemmenway certainly indicates no inclination to presume gun carriers are insane. I doubt you’re as squarely in one camp vs. the other as you think, because I also doubt these particular camps are anywhere near as far removed from each other as you think.

We have Private Guns, Public Health in our collection at the UGA Science Library, so I’ll be checking it out tomorrow. It does look promising. Hemmenway indicates personal bias immediately after the preface (goes right into cross-cultural comparisons, children, and suicides, and consistently offers a one-sided presentation of issues—leaves out facts and questions contrary to his points), but there’s nothing necessarily wrong with presenting a bit of agenda as long as the research is solid, and in the preface the indication is that he exercises the self-discipline to avoid letting it become a problem. He started out in economics and is now in public health, which is both a concern and possibly a benefit—depends entirely on Hemmenway himself. He could be convinced he can speak authoritatively on virtually anything sociopolitical, or, if he’s a good scientist as I said seems likely, he could have a good cross section of peripheral expertise which could very well translate in practice into some keen insights (akin to the tactical benefits of setting up good fields of crossfire). At any rate, it’s certainly worth checking out. I’m optimistic about this one.

The Harvard Injury Research Control Center (which Hemmenway directs) is partially funded by the CDC. That’s not particularly noteworthy itself, but in regard to my previous comments about the medical research, a great deal of which is has been put out by the CDC (Arthur Kellermann was the director when he cranked out much of his notorious work), it is noteworthy that Hemmenway felt the need (appropriately) to disclose that in order to accept the CDC’s grant the HIRCC had to accept the stipulation that “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control may be used to advocate or promote gun control”. (The CDC is trying to repair its reputation in the social science community—has been over most of the last decade. OTOH it could be argued that the grant was awarded during the W Admin, and we all know their reputation re: manipulating science), and that Hemmenway makes it clear that in order to comply with that grant, no CDC funds were used to for Private Guns, Public Health (bottom of page xiii). I still think the book looks promising though.

A book that looks really promising is Firearms and Violence by the U.S. National Research Council, Committee to Improve Research Information and Data on Firearms, Committee on Law and Justice, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. This is an updated critical review of the available research. Unfortunately it looks like there hasn’t been a great deal of improvement since I last got into this issue in depth. I’ve requested the book from another library in the UGA system (we don’t have it). If it pans out I may buy a copy, but it’s one of those small market/high priced academic books, so it’ll have to be pretty good.

Some other titles that show up through surfing the links in Google Books and at Amazon look like they have some potential. I’m ordering some from other libraries, and the Main Library here at UGA has a couple I should be able to access fairly soon. I’ll have to mix this material in with my emergency medicine reading time, but it looks like there are some good, updated research reviews. All of them I perused commented on the overall poor quality of the available research, and most stated or strongly implied it’s got a lot to do with the highly politicized nature of the discourse or that it won’t improve without sound science to help resolve many of the issues (as with a few other examples, that’s why your response to that position was one of those indications/admissions that you know very little about this subject, and that you have very little if any credible basis for the strong opinions you’ve presented and attempted to defend).

I still recommend Under the Gun and Targeting Guns, and hopefully I’ll be able to add a title or so to my list soon. As much as I dislike “discussions” of this issue, I do like to be well armed for them. More than that, though, I like to base my own understanding and behaviors on sound epistemic ground, and that’s been a singular problem with this issue. I’d very much like to see more sound research from appropriate sources, but I’ll take sound research from peripheral sources since the “right people” are failing miserably as a group—if they were doing their jobs better there wouldn’t be such a void for the secondary scientific market to fill.

—-

So it’s all in one place:
Under the Gun: Crime, Weapons and Violence in America (Google Books)

Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control (Google Books)

Targeting Guns: Contents/Preface/Chapter 1
Targeting Guns: Chapter 2
Targeting Guns: References
Password: skeptic (with permission)

Firearms and Violence (Google Books)

Private Guns, Public Health (Google Books)

A bit about the medical research

Of peripheral interest:
The Crime Drop in America

Knock yourselves out (and check references if you can)!


Here are some disconcerting Amazon reviews of Private Guns, Public Health:

Very disappointing, here’s an example, August 21, 2008
By Maximilian E. Butler (Waterloo, ON Canada) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)

I got this hoping for a dispassionate, empirical review of the literature on guns and violence from a pro-control perspective. After reading this, it is evident that the positive reviewers who praised the book as thus were accepting its flimsy reasoning uncritically.

As an example, Hemenway argues that Gary Kleck’s estimate of 2.5 million defensive gun uses (DGUs) per year is wrong. He spends one sentence describing Kleck’s methodology, then tries to show that his estimate of DGUs against burglars, 845000, was impossibly high. He calculates a “more reasonable” estimate of 20000, by taking the number of anti-burglary DGUs reported to police for a single, non-randomly selected city over a single four-month period. In a giant leap of faith, he then multiplies this number by 3 (to get an annual rate) and scales it to the entire population of the US, to get his final estimate. He does not consider whether his sample is representative, or that some DGUs might go unreported to the police and not be captured by his estimate (although he seems to accept that most involve no shots being fired.) In fact, he implicitly assumes that all DGUs are reported to the National Crime Victim Survey and the police, and uses this assumption to force the contradictions he needs. Based on this discrepancy between Kleck’s numbers and his own, and a few more equally fallacious comparisons, Hemenway triumphantly dismisses Kleck’s work as “not plausible,” “a vast overestimate,” “grossly exaggerated,” and “the most outrageous number mentioned in a policy discussion by an elected official.” Hemenway also makes no mention of the 15 other surveys with similar DGU estimates cited by Kleck, yet still asserts that “all attempts at external validation [of Kleck’s estimate] reveal it to be a huge overestimate.”

This kind of sloppy deduction from unstated (and doubtful) assumptions completely destroyed the author’s credibility in my mind. This example is typical of his logic throughout the book.

A note about the positive reviews: all but one appear to have been written by markkarlin, as after he wrote the first five-star review, there were three more five-star reviews the same day, two the next day and another several days later, all written anonymously.

Solid points if the attributions aren’t deceptive or misunderstood (they seem pretty straightforward though), and it sounds like a major potential problem with Hemmenway’s credibility.

Flawed statistics, poor reasoning and a waste of time., April 19, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: Private Guns, Public Health (Hardcover)
as an example, the author defines children as people under 40 (FORTY!) years of age.

This is a common ploy with the more extreme anti-gun advocates, though I’ve never seen data on ages up to 40 (31, in Brady Campaign literature on “Guns and Children” was the previous record). Usually they include data on ages up to 19 or 21, and teens are well known to find all sorts of ways to kill and be killed in far greater numbers than any other age demographic.

The other 1 star reviews weren’t terribly credible, and all of the 5 star reviews were mostly just as bad and/or praised Hemmenway for reasons that indicate he’s more of a policy advocate than a social scientist. There were no 2, 3, or 4 star reviews, which is a telling comment on the nature of the discourse. This information gives me much more pause than the disclosure about the HIRCC grant money from the CDC had. I’m not nearly as optimistic about Private Guns, Public Health as I was an hour ago. Still, it’s free to borrow from the library, and it certainly won’t be a hassle to cruise upstairs and grab it from our own collection.

[ Edited: 02 August 2009 05:15 PM by SkepticX]
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Posted: 03 August 2009 10:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]  
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Byron,

I didn’t mean to drop this thread. I’ve been more than busy. I haven’t readdressed any of the points you failed to take for lack of time. But, if nothing else, I’d like to write as succinct as possible concluding statement that at least clarifies our differences. I’d like to use this post to suggest that my bark is worse than my bite and that I do appreciate your research and willingness to research. As a physical scientist, (owned and operated mechanical engineering firm for 30 years), it’s very difficult to know what to make of soft sciences like sociology. The hypotheses are unclear and investigators seem to use the ambiguity of statistical manipulation to make whatever case they want to make. As you have stated, none of these metrics could be used to predict the outcome of any particular case, no matter how telling they may be. Science really requires that theory be used to accurately predict experimental results.

Also, the picture presented, no matter how objective or “accurate”, is just a particular researchers snapshot into a moment in time for some select population. Select a population in Japan or Singapore and you will find different attitudes. Is there something about Americans that really make so fundamentally different, something a physical or biological scientist might pickup? Isn’t it just like religion? Isn’t a epidemiological approach appropriate? Why should we accept obvious deficits in our social cognition as they way we are, in some unalterable sense. Why not take the public health approach and see the focus on violent solutions to problems as the problem. This just creates an arms race.

It would seem that the most salient thing to take from such statistics is that they are subject to change and, as they say, your mileage may vary. wink We may want to think twice before we carry handguns as casually as a Swiss Army knife. In any event, I think that you’ll agree that no one should take your statistics or anyone else’s analysis to choose a particular course of action for oneself, or to evaluate one’s own odds. You do not want to be substituting the map for the territory, right?

I don’t see where any amount of analysis of how some people seem to behave or not, violate any of the simple observations I have made, some of which, are based on simple thermodynamics, which, properly understood, is entirely a matter of probability. 
eg. for me, a non gun carrier, it is most economical to not trust anyone who I learn carries a gun, even if research shows that they are the most wonderful people in the world. I don’t know how many people reading this would be comfortable having their friend Casper Milquetoast with his shoulder holster over for a beer. I know that research shows the the likely-hood is that Casper is ok, but we think he’s a little weird.

I’ve never had this discussion with anyone else. I have a vague idea of conservative and liberal views on the topic but otherwise have had no opinion on “defensive gun use”. I support gun rights, but more from a political standpoint. I hunt with a camera now but I still have my rifles int he event that we get invaded by the “rooskies”.  In this thread, I feel like my doorbell rang and I found this intelligent and extremely well spoken young man holding several books. He tells me things that are unintuitive and unbelievable. He tells me that the proof of these things lie in these books. He tells me that this information, even though it is more divergent than otherwise, can be carefully studied to determine the actual truth of one’s reality, regardless of one’s perception of it. I don’t know that failing to believe something that may be true is as egregious as believing something that’s clearly not. I’ve never read the bible or any of the book of the religions but I don’t think that my ignorance of their contents is a reason to withhold judgment. Fortunately, I never endorsed belief or felt compelled believe in order to go forward. I’ve taken the information you’ve shared here as something that does not correspond to my experience but not necessarily untrue, at least not in all respects. Hard to know what to think.

[ Edited: 04 August 2009 11:53 AM by eucaryote]
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Posted: 12 August 2009 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]  
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A pertinent current nuze event.

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 13 August 2009 07:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]  
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Speaking of tactics ... this is Da Man.

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“We say, ‘Love your brother…’ We don’t say it really, but… Well we don’t literally say it. We don’t really, literally mean it. No, we don’t believe it either, but… But that message should be clear.”—David St. Hubbins

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Posted: 16 August 2009 03:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]  
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You are sitting in your favorite watering hole in your hometown of Dickfungus, Tennessee, nursing your ninth Jack and Coke when in prances a faggotty-assed looking foreigner dressed up like one of those big-city types.  He orders some sort of woman’s drink in an effeminate little glass with a mara—, marcha—, red cherry.  You can hardly believe your eyes.  You’ve heard about people like this, but you’ve never actually seen one and up until now you thought they were another of those old wives’ tales, like the one about putting aspirin in your dead car battery to restore it. 

To your great consternation, you notice this son-of-a-bitch is making eyes at Ellie May, the girl you’ve had your sights on ever since before your ex-girlfriend threw you out of her trailer.  Ellie May is looking especially hot tonight in her Monster Truck halter top, the one that matches the tattoo of Jesus on her arm.  You’ve already decided tonight’s the night you won’t take no for an answer when you ask her to go for a ride in your faithful old pickup truck after her shift (provided, of course, someone gives you a jump).  And now this cock-sucker in the fancy suit and shiny slippers is moving in on her!

You toss back your drink and shove a handful of chewing tobacco into your mouth in preparation for the inevitable confrontation.  Just then he turns to you.  He’s obviously taken aback to see you glaring at him.  In your most menacing Clint Eastwood voice you growl, “Homo foreigner!”  It occurs to you that if he’s putting the moves on Ellie May he might not actually be a homo, but that’s beside the point.  You punctuate your epithet with a stream of tobacco juice that just misses his foot. 

Normally you would retrieve the crowbar from your pickup and beat this snooty bastard senseless in a situation such as this one, but unfortunately the wise and benevolent leaders of the great state of Tennessee have now made it legal for people to carry a loaded firearm into a bar or restaurant.  In short, this pathetic piece of shit may be armed!  So you settle for a tenth Jack and Coke, instead, and wake up later on the men’s room floor.

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