Bovine Excrement

So, I read an article here in which

Leah Gunn Barrett, executive director of NYAGV [said] “Our strong gun-safety laws are the reason why New York has the fourth lowest gun death rate in the nation.”

I thought that sounded funny, so I fact-checked it. Here’s what I found: three sources, three different data sets, three different conclusions.


The Kaiser Family Foundation

CBS News

How can this be? Well, it’s simple. Just as with polls, the outcome favors the opinion of the organization which paid for it. I picked these three semi-deliberately, as each might be said to have slightly different views of ground truth. And sure enough, their ‘results’ are widely disparate.

[The lists are interactive, so I did not present or compare conclusions; carve away on your own for deeper insights. I leave it to you, gentle reader, to separate the wheat from the chaff.]

Now had I gone to Bloomberg or the NRA, I’m sure my experience would have been similarly contradictory. And even if you examine peer-reviewed studies, you still have to examine and consider possible bias on the part of the funding agency.

One final note: the Wikipedia article drew their data from FBI reports and the official population data from each state; Kaiser from the CDC; and CBS from the National Center for Health Statistics — for whatever that’s worth. Goodness knows where Leah Gunn Barrett drew her data.

Trust, but verify, as we used to say in the trade.

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