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(17,671 posts)
7. Statistics are predictive,
Mon Dec 12, 2011, 11:45 AM
Dec 2011

but not individually so or in the face of unpredictable anomalies, like the vagaries of human emotion.

Sure it's an argument from emotion. That's the (fuzzy) point. That's how people think. If you put a thousand people in a room and convinced them that three of their number would be assaulted or killed, five hundred of them would go out and buy a gun tomorrow.

And indeed the predictability of statistics can be applied to an individual. That's how CCW laws and drivers licences work. But in those cases the statistics are wedded to individual experience and emotion. People will say to themselves some variation of, "I'm a good citizen so I get a permit." That's the real value of CCW laws. It weds education and positive individual action to political involvement. Some call it civic duty.

Statistics are of course important, but they really don't work all that well when it comes to changing people's minds. In fact, I've seen a few books and articles that seem to indicate that "just the facts" make people dig in their heels even if they've obviously been proven wrong. How many times does that happen around here?

Statistics can predict trends based on available evidence. But sometimes shit happens. And the arguments on both sides of the debate hinge on the unpredictability of future human behavior. It's either the pro gun, "I might get assaulted" or the anti gun "somebody might fuck up". Both of those possibilities and positions are much more emotion than objective fact.

For example, if the crime rate is going down fewer people are actually experiencing crime. So why are gun sales still climbing? I don't think it's because of a Democratic president. Especially since Democratic gun owners are the fastest growing demographic according to political affiliation (Gallup). But Democrats are much more aware of our future economic, environmental, and energy difficulties. Every progressive worth his salt believes in peak oil and labor unrest. I suspect that's what's selling all those guns. It ain't facts, its the heebie geebies.

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