Crime Statistics - Split

1. Jul 22, 2017

Staff: Mentor

Here is some data from the FBI, from 2013, with arrest percentages by race for a variety of crimes (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2013/crime-in-the-u.s.-2013/tables/table-43). The data I've listed here comes from Table 43A.
$\begin{array}{ccc} ~ & \text{White} & \text{Black/African American}\\ \text{Murder,nonnegligent manslaughter} & 45.3 & 52.2 \\ \text{Rape} & 45.3 & 52.2 \\ \text{Robbery} & 41.9 & 56.4 \\ \text{Aggravated assault} & 62.9 & 33.9 \\ \text{Burglary} & 67.5 & 30.4 \end{array}$
I did not include American Indians/Alaskan Natives or Asians, whose arrest percentages are almost all below 2% for all crimes listed, nor did I include Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, whose arrest percentages are all 0.1% or below.
Hispanics are not included by race - there is a separate section in this table for Hispanic vs. Non-hispanic.

Focusing on black/African Americans, the arrest rates for violent crimes I listed above are disproportionately high for a group that makes up about 12% of the population. It is disingenuous, IMO, to say that a certain group is being incarcerated due to discriminatory policing.

2. Jul 22, 2017

UsableThought

This is getting into race relations, about which a lot could be said.

May I urge that the thread not get involved in a deep discussion of yet another absolutely enormous issue, especially given (a) it would grow contentious quite quickly as race is a hot topic, and (b) that it would be tangential to the OP's question?

3. Jul 22, 2017

Staff: Mentor

My aim was not to steer the thread into a different direction, but only to rebut some earlier assertions that aren't borne out by the existing data.

4. Jul 22, 2017

StatGuy2000

We are getting off-topic, but let me respond accordingly. The FBI is reporting arrest percentages by race for a variety of crimes. What you fail to take into account is that decades of biased policing (based largely on the implicit bias that black people are inherently more likely to be violent, dangerous, or criminal) has led to black Americans being disproportionately being pulled over, questioned, and arrested for various crimes. Even if there isn't a deliberate attempt from police officers to be biased, there may be structural bias introduced by, say, patrolling differently in high crime neighbourhoods.

See the following:

http://www.slate.com/articles/healt..._20_states_suggests_evidence_of_racially.html

http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/reprints/2011/RAND_RP1427.pdf

All of these may well play into while you are seeing disproportionately high arrest rates for violent crimes for black/African Americans. Ditto for Hispanic Americans.

5. Jul 22, 2017

Staff: Mentor

Nevertheless, anyone who watches the news or picks up a newspaper now and then can see the actual disparity in crime rates by counting the bodies. This should not be controversial.

...but it is off topic. I can split this to a different thread if people really want to discuss it more.

I would also caution people against judging personal motives in statistics. Assume you are talking to someone reasonable until proven otherwise.

6. Jul 24, 2017

StatGuy2000

You are right that this is off topic and should belong in a different thread.

That being said, your point about watching the news and picking the newspaper -- the TV or print news does not necessarily present a fully accurate picture of the true rate of crime due to the necessity to present the latest headlines to sell the news. That is a fact that is beyond dispute -- just look at how any mention of terrorism in the news today is almost invariably associated with Muslims, even though in the US today, right-wing extremist groups commit the most # of terrorist attacks or incidents (this is coming from a study commissioned by the Department of Homeland Security during the second Bush administration, so no liberal bias here). Here is a link to a PBS report summarizing the results.

All of this has the (unintended) consequence of presenting a biased picture with respect to crime rates, and can often have a tendency to reinforce biases people have of various minority groups (e.g. African Americans, Hispanics, Muslims, etc.)

Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
7. Jul 24, 2017

Staff: Mentor

Agreed, but that was non-responsive to my statement. Please clarify: do you agree that blacks commit more murders in the USA than whites, per population, by several times (roughly a factor of 5)? Here's the data:
https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-09-29/race-and-homicide-in-america-by-the-numbers

Please note, there is a difference between murder and drugs or other contraband found in a traffic stop: police can generate more of the latter by making more traffic stops, but they can't generate more of the former by making more dead bodies. So murder statistics are much less subject to such selection bias. This is true of most crimes not associated with traffic stops.
Oy. Just awful. First off, please don't construe government funding of research with endorsement. If it were, we'd have NASA endorsing anti-gravity and reactionless propulsion (that's actually being researched directly by NASA, not just funded by them).

Anyway, there are three major flaws in that research, two of which are provided for us right there in the title:
1. Notice the different terminology: "Deadly threat from far-right extremists" vs "Islamic terrorism". Why didn't it say "far-right extremist terrorism"? That isn't an accidental lack of clarity: it's an attempt to slip past you (successfully, since you misquoted it as "right-wing...terrorist attacks"!) the fact that they are comparing apples to oranges. They are comparing things like ordinary hate crimes and murders of police on one side to terrorism on the other. They aren't the same thing. The fact that they hide this bait-and switch in plain sight doesn't make it any less deceitful.

2. Why just far right? Doesn't the far left commit such crimes? (Since a large fraction are just run-of-the-mill hate crimes or murders of cops, yes, they do.) Indeed, if you look at the list of this group's published papers, they focus heavily on far-right extremism and have published nothing on far-left extremism (arguing against their point!). They repeat their thesis several times in several ways:
"But focusing solely on Islamist extremism when investigating, researching and developing counterterrorism policies goes against what the numbers tell us. "
"Our conclusion is that a “one size fits all” approach to countering violent extremism may not be effective."
Since the premise is unstated, and only implied, this thesis is either a casual lie (if the premise is: "only Islamic terrorism is focused on") or the study is totally useless (if the premise is: "all forms of extremism are investigated").

3. They picked a wide timeframe (1990 to today) when things changed drastically at 9/11. Things were relatively quiet on the Islamic terrorism front in the US from 1990-2000.

The data for that study doesn't seem to be available online, but for reference, here's a similar study with a similar bias:
https://www.newamerica.org/in-depth/terrorism-in-america/what-threat-united-states-today/

You can hover over the graph to view the crimes cited and see the bias. Unlike the study above, it includes "black nationalism", but still lumps run-of-the-mill hate crimes and anti-police violence by whites into the list -- but doesn't do the same for the "black nationalism" etc.

Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
8. Jul 25, 2017

HAYAO

I always wonder about looking at such statistics. This is my personal educated guess on the topic, and by no way is it sufficiently supported, but I do not believe from statistics that black people are naturally more inclined to commit murder/rape/robbery. Instead, I think it comes from the structural aspect of the matter. Black people are statistically, in average, paid less in the States compared to other races. I believe poverty plays a major role. Historically, this has been true for quite some time especially back when black people did not have the same rights. Although I heard that it has been continuously improving since then, the social structure of the black people due to such background usually does not change immediately and takes time until such structure is reformed so that the "tendency" for crime is lowered.

9. Jul 25, 2017

Staff: Mentor

Please do not *ever* read *any* judgement, much less that such judgement into a person's plain vanilla reporting of the statistics. It's a natural tenancy to want to figure out "why" and just as natural to try to ascribe "why" to others reporting the statistics, but that is dangerously prejudicial when ascribing motives to someone else out of whole cloth. Moreover, statistics can provide answers to such questions if we look for them.
The way you worded the first part about being "paid less" is problematic but overall, yes, statistics do show that crime is tied heavily to poverty.

10. Jul 25, 2017

HAYAO

I don't quite understand. I don't think I am reading your post right, but are you saying that one should not judge anything from statistics?

I'm sorry, problematic wording was not intended, so I don't understand. How should I reword it? I would appreciate it if you could teach me.

Last edited: Jul 25, 2017
11. Jul 25, 2017

Staff: Mentor

I'm saying you should be very careful about seeing value judgements in statistics and correlation vs causation. If I say blacks commit more serious crimes than whites, that's a factually accurate statement of correlation. But it is not a statement of causation: it does not say being black causes people to commit crime, meaning they are "naturally more inclined". This is how people become unfairly judged as racist (not you, but an unfair accusation was made that you can't see).
Well, I'm not sure of the intent so I'm not totally sure how to reword it. Saying "black people are...paid less" without explanation of by what measure can lead to misleading understanding; are they paid less for the same job or just overall? This would be similar to the gender pay gap hoax.

12. Jul 25, 2017

HAYAO

Of course I understand well that there is a difference between correlation and causation. At least I was careful of the reasoning behind why I thought the way I did, as said in that post. In fact, I was implying there is the correlation vs causation fallacy among many "uneducated" people who believes that just because statistics show black people have committed serious crime, being black leads to crime. My argument is against this because I was careful about judging from statistics.

It is an overall average value. If a black person would take the same job as a Caucasian, they would likely be paid the same. However, the overall average of black people are still lower than the other races because of the type of job they do that does not pay as much. I believe that this is due to the social structure that stems from the historical events concerning black people in the US. Black people were discriminated and generally given low wage job before and around civil rights movement, and although it has improved tremendously today, still have that negative cycle of getting low wage jobs in general. Poverty is strongly linked with crime, hence my conclusion that this is a social structural issue, more precisely the unconscious social norms that exists in the US.

13. Jul 26, 2017

Staff: Mentor

I'm not sure I buy this argument. In the 1800s large numbers of Irish emigrated to the US and faced discrimination (e.g. signs for jobs saying "No Irish Need Apply"). Since then we've had large numbers of Chinese, Japanese, and many other ethnic groups, all of whom faced discrimination in a variety of ways, but managed to overcome it with considerable success.
Probably the most significant predictor of poverty for an individual is growing up in a household with only a single parent. One chart I found compares the fraction of single-parent households in the US by race, in the period 2011 - 2015.
(See http://www.actrochester.org/childre...parent-families-by-race-ethnicity/data-tables)

14. Jul 26, 2017

StatGuy2000

Yes, various ethnic groups such as the Irish, Chinese, and Japanese have faced discrimination in the past (e.g. Chinese Exclusion Act, internment of Japanese Americans during WWII, etc.). However, no other ethnic group in the US faced the level of discrimination or prejudice that African Americans experienced (except possibly Native Americans). No other group were enslaved. No other group faced Jim Crow laws taking away the right way to vote, "separate but equal" (which were anything but equal). No other group faced legally enforced segregation. And I can't think of any other group that were routinely targeted for lynching from groups such as the KKK (yes, I am aware that other groups such as Italians were lynched too, but again, not to the extent that African Americans experienced). And in the case of the Irish and other immigrants, there were active measures taken by state and federal governments to assimilate these immigrants into Americans -- something that was denied to African Americans historically.

And much of these acts of discrimination have persisted well into the 1950s and 60s, so we are not talking about discrimination that occurred more than a century ago (in the case of the Irish, for example).

This history of discrimination and prejudice have had a marked economic and social impact on the lives of African Americans over the decades. It has only been in relatively recent times historically that efforts have been underway to rectify and mitigate these impacts. So it should not come as any kind of surprise that many African American families continue to fare worse compared to other ethnic groups.