A few weeks ago Mother Jones, having not learned the lesson of their absurd article claiming mass shootings are on the rise, published a list of 10 Myths about guns and gun control from Dave Gilson. And I’m going to debunk their debunking again because the article represents what I believe is one of the worst sins in the field of Mathematical Malpractice: cherry-picking. As I went through this, it became obvious that MJ was not interested in the facts, really. What was motivating them was the argument. And so they picked any study — no matter how small, how biased or how old — to support their point. They frequently ignore obvious objections and biases. And they sometimes ignore larger more detailed studies in favor of the smaller ones if it will support their contention.
We see this a lot in the punditocracy, unfortunately. As Bill James said, most people use studies the way a drunk uses a lamppost — for support, not illumination. In any sufficiently advanced but difficult field of study, you will find multiple studies examining an issue. Let’s say it’s a supposed connection between watching Glee and having a heart attack. If there is, in reality, no connection between the two, you might find eight studies that show no connection, one that shows an anti-correlation and one that shows a correlation. This is fine. This is science. There are always outlier studies even if all the researchers are completely ethical and honest. The outliers fall away when your interest is the question and you look at all the evidence. But the outliers dominate the discussion from those who have an agenda.
This happens a lot in the gun debate. On both sides, really. But Mother Jones’ article is a particularly putrid example of this because that’s basically all it does: collect the cherry-picked nonsensical studies that support their anti-gun agenda. It’s quite remarkable actually; almost a clinic in how not to do research.
But here’s the one thing that really tips you off. There is one myth that Mother Jones does not debunk. It’s a myth that’s really independent of what you think of gun ownership … unless you’ve already staked part of your reputation and agenda on the myth that gun violence is increasing. In fact, all forms of violent crime have been falling for twenty years. This is, in my mind, the single most important fact in debates over crime and violence and the single most important myth to debunk.
MJ does not address this myth. They don’t even talk about it. That is a huge tell.
Continue reading Mother Jones Hacks Again →
This week so the Supreme Court deliver a stunning victory for Second Amendment liberty by extending the Heller doctrine — that the Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms — to the states. This has been a long time coming. But it’s gotten to the point where even gun control advocates can longer defend the Miller philosophy that the Second Amendment protects “militias”. Even Elena Kagan is acknowledging Heller. It may be some time before the Second amendment is seriously threatened again (although the liberal wing still refuses to recognize the Amendment).
Still, there’s a lot of interesting stuff out there about this decision:
Clarence Thomas roars to life in his opinion. Thomas is criminally underestimate by his critics. There have been a number of wonderful opinions he’s written and he’s interesting even when I disagree with him. He’s no puppet of Scalia.
Chicago hasn’t learned its lesson. I think SCOTUS understand the needs of cities better than the gun-grabbing Aldermen.
Meanwhile, Jacob Sullum eviscerates the liberal wing of the Court. What’s the point of having a Constitution if the “will of the people” is allowed to over-ride it? Liberties are not liberties if they are subject to a vote. I doubt the liberal wing would stand by if the “will of the people” was to return to segregation.
Glenn Reynolds reflects on how much the political landscape has changed. Two decades ago, strict gun control was supported by all right-thinking people. Now, it’s a minority view. It is possible to change the debate.
Gun licensing is nothing to worry about.
No, Sarah Palin isn’t like Ronald Reagan.
What’s this? A terrorist tried and convicted in civilian court? And the world didn’t end?
Glenn Greenwald calls out the Right Wing Echosphere on their utter hypocrisy. In the end, it boils down to declaring terrorism suspects to be unpersons.
It’s hilarious that Climate Bad Skeptics are harping on the IPCC for having some unsourced or poorly sourced claims when their own claims would not withstand scrutiny.
Speaking of which, the Daily Mail misquotes Phil Jones claiming global warming is bunk. He clearly didn’t. That doesn’t stop the Echosphere from quote-mining and trumpeting that global warming is now disproved.
I don’t think you’ll find a more perfect series of links to show why I left the “Right”, even though my political philosophy was and remains staunchly conservative/libertarian. All five deal with false memes — lies — that the Right is using to promote an agenda of anti-intellectualism, torture and bad climate skepticism that is anathema to everything I believe in.
Sarah Palin isn’t just ignorant; she’s proud of being ignorant. Her cluelessness is seen as proof of how much of an “outsider” she is and how good she would be as the conservative leader or, God forbid, President.
But that’s just nonsense. Guys like Reagan and Goldwater were outsiders, they were not ignorant. Reagan was intensely intellectually curious. Goldwater was so forthright about issues, he got massacred in the election. Even Gingrich, when he first came about, was all about ideas. Palin is none of that. She is pure resentment against a perceived “other”.
Then you have the pants-shitting terror — or pretense thereof for political purposes — that leads people to declare terror suspects to be unpersons. No conservative should believe any human being to be an unperson, to have no rights. Rights may be restricted or conditional, but they always exist. Abducting people, imprisoning them without trial and torturing them is against everything conservatives supposedly believe in — specifically the universality of our divinely given rights and the need to restrain government. How can you possibly say you triumph the individual over the state when you embrace the greatest subjugation to which a state can subject the individual — imprisonment and torture with trial?
And finally, I can understand — I support — skepticism about hysterical environmental claims. I especially support opposition to collectivist solutions to them. But that has now morphed from Good Climate Skepticism to Bad Climate Skepticism — a mix of conspiracy mongering, anti-science, witch-hunting and quote-mining. A conservative approach would say, “Maybe AGW isn’t real. But if it is … we need to do something about it.” A conservative would do what I do every time a Right Wing blog links up to some article that “disproves” global warming — look into it and see what it actually says.
Until these things are purged from the Right Wing, I will remain outside. This is simply not what I signed on for.