I am by no means an expert on statistical analysis, but I’ve probably had more training in it than most people, and this looks like a crock of horse shit to me so far. I’m not sure what the graphs they are publishing here even mean, or even how they were arrived at. At best I can tell it’s boiling down self-defense situations to something extremely simplistic by people who are not subject matter experts in that field. Self-defense can’t be boiled down to a probability calculation. Because it involves people, it’s not something you can model mathematically.
I also don’t understand how you can treat gun violence as an epidemiological issue when it’s not a disease. I think you are already making an awful lot of assumptions if you’re starting out with that approach. I see no good coming from this, which is why we need to continue to fight funding to this garbage.
UPDATE: The paper is here. This is the sentence which can clue you off that it’s junk science:
This debate cannot be settled satisfactorily by verbal arguments alone, since these are often driven by opinion, and lack a solid scientific backing. What is under debate is essentially an epidemiological problem: how do different gun control strategies affect the rate at which people become killed by attackers, and how can this rate be minimized? This question can be addressed with mathematical models that describe the interaction between a criminal shooter and one or more people that are the target of the shooter.
Emphasis mine. That sentence right there ought to raise alarm bells. If complex human behavior and interactions could be mathematically modeled, we’d be quite comfortable with the idea of armed robot police. We’d have pretty good artificial intelligence. Even for relatively predictive human activities that can be done relatively well by computers, like driving and flying, we’re still not at the point where we’re comfortable turning everything over to machines.
The results then clearly depend on the assumptions underlying the model, and this is very important to keep in mind when reading this paper, or any paper that deals with mathematical models in biological and behavioral sciences.
Yes, certainly, but you can bet that the media and policymakers will completely ignore these caveats and dive straight into the conclusion, in order to give their own preconceived notions the air of science, and only some stupid gun owning neanderthal with barely any education would argue with science.
UPDATE: One other severe criticism I have with their model is that it only considers homicide. Do we not care if someone, I don’t know, gets their head beaten against a sidewalk and suffers permanent brain damage? Do we not care about whether someone can avoid a lengthy hospitalization and recovery from, say, multiple stab wounds? Do we not care about rape? (Why do they so hate women?) Do we not concern ourselves with how often these kinds of horrors can be avoided by merely drawing the weapon on the attacker? You can’t just boil down human violence to homicides. That’s highly simplistic and completely invalid.
UPDATE: Joe Huffman has more to say in regards to this. I’m still getting caught up with everyone, having effectively taken Wednesday through Friday off blogwise, so I’m running a bit behind on what folks are talking about out there in the gun blogosphere.