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WootBot


quality posts: 17 Private Messages WootBot

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October is Crime Prevention Month, says the National Crime Prevention Council, and would the nonprofit that brought you McGruff the Crime Dog lie to you about crime prevention? In honor of the occasion, we've decided to shine the hard light of truth on the underbelly of the criminal underworld. As a Jeopardy! superhero, Ken Jennings doesn't fight crime—just misinformation about crime. He'll be here all month debunking felonious falsehoods and misdemeanor myths.

The Debunker: Is Crime on the Rise?

If there's one thing Americans always agree on, despite the shifting winds of politics, it's that crime in this country is increasing. Gallup has been asking Americans since 1993 if they think crime is up over the past year; in every single year except for 2001, most respondents said yes, there's more crime lately. Pew Research's most recent numbers, from late 2016, show 57 percent of voters share this gloomy perspective on crime stats. Fully 78 percent of Trump voters believed crime numbers are getting worse, which could either be a cause or effect of their candidate's frequent insistence, on the campaign trail, that crime is up.

The Debunker

But pairing Gallup's poll numbers with actual stats reveals a glaring mismatch between perception and reality. Bureau of Justice Statistics numbers show both violent and property crime decreasing steadily and markedly since their all-time peaks in the 1990s. Violent crime is now down 77% since 1993 while property crime is down 69%. Why are voters so wrong about real crime trends? It's tempting to blame the occasional fear-mongering politician, but our consistent wrongness on this issue makes it seem that the cause must be more deeply rooted in human psychology. Surely the nature of modern media coverage is partially to blame. Urgent-sounding scare stories about local and national crime brings ratings. Headlines about "yet another small decline in crime rates!" are much less flashy. How do you televise a non-event?

When Trump spoke about rising crime rates at the Republican National Convention, his remarks were more specific. He allowed that there had been "decades of progress made in bringing down crime," but that this trend had lately been "reversed" by Obama administration policies. This version of the claim—that crime statistics are down in general, but have seen a recent uptick—is more defensible. FBI data did indeed show small year-to-year crime increases in 2015 and 2016, but it remains to be seen whether this is a new upward trend, or just continued statistical variation in the long downhill since 1993. The Brennan Center for Justice suggests it may be the latter, since they project a 1.8 percent decline in 2017, as well as a slight drop in violent crime driven by lower numbers out of Chicago and Washington lately. But one thing is certain: whether the crime "bounce" is real in the long term or not, Americans will continue to be convinced that the sky is falling. Apparently that's just how the human brain works.

QUICK QUIZ: According to the United Nations, the world's highest homicide rate by far is in what smallest country in Central America?

Ken Jennings is the author of eleven books, most recently his Junior Genius Guides, Because I Said So!, and Maphead. He's also the proud owner of an underwhelming Bag o' Crap. Follow him at ken-jennings.com or on Twitter as @KenJennings.

Chicagolakefront


quality posts: 0 Private Messages Chicagolakefront

“Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don't know we don't know.”
― Donald Rumsfeld
Crime statistics are a funny business, of course crime is down on (insert your politicians name here) watch. Even the way the FBI records crimes (UCR Index) is flawed, it doesn't even use data from a bunch of major cities because the numbers they supply are so fudged.

moles1138


quality posts: 49 Private Messages moles1138

What is Colombia?

dschrenk


quality posts: 0 Private Messages dschrenk

Honduras - Home of Los Catrachos

(BTW, Colombia is in South America)

moles1138


quality posts: 49 Private Messages moles1138
dschrenk wrote:Honduras - Home of Los Catrachos

(BTW, Colombia is in South America)



Oops. Didn't even read the question right.

davidbowser


quality posts: 2 Private Messages davidbowser
Chicagolakefront wrote:“Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns- the ones we don't know we don't know.”
― Donald Rumsfeld
Crime statistics are a funny business, of course crime is down on (insert your politicians name here) watch. Even the way the FBI records crimes (UCR Index) is flawed, it doesn't even use data from a bunch of major cities because the numbers they supply are so fudged.



I only know one major city on a daily personal level and that is NYC. The crime rate went down in the mid-80s, then up again, then down again when Giuliani cracked down. Then there were exposes around both illegal profiling and fudging of crime numbers, so crime was down, but innocent people got swept up in the process. I know too many former and current NYC cops to believe it is an illusion.

What passes the IRL eye test is that NYC streets are WAY better than they were when I was a kid. There are still plenty of rough areas, but many of those area problems go beyond policing (community, socio-economic, ethnic, etc.). The historic numbers match up well with my memory, so I take them with only a small grain of salt.

rocdragon


quality posts: 1 Private Messages rocdragon

I believe El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America.

tundrwd


quality posts: 0 Private Messages tundrwd

Mmmm... Might check some more sources, or be more accurate.

Yes, generally crime has been decreasing. HOWEVER, violent crime increased in 2016 by 8.4% (https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2016-crime-statistics-released)

And violent crime increased from 2014 to 2015 (https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/violent-crime/violentcrimemain_final)

Statistics are lies and statisticians are damn liars. It all boils down to perspective - what you're comparing against. Again, comparing to the 1930s - yep, it's down. However, its generally been on the rise, year over year, for the last 5-6 years.

phileoca


quality posts: 15 Private Messages phileoca

Crime in California has increased since the passage of idiot laws that turn felonies into misdemeanors. Resulting in no punishment for crimes since the prisons are full.

Alarm systems only go so far and criminals know they have a good 5 minutes of looting before the cops will even be near.

Crime is up in California. Ask the police and they will tell you the same thing.

Where is crime going down? I will consider moving there.

My wife woots too

whoiskenjennings


quality posts: 9 Private Messages whoiskenjennings

Guest Blogger

tundrwd wrote:Mmmm... Might check some more sources, or be more accurate.



Who will ACTUALLY the ACTUALLY-men???

1. You claim that violent crime is generally on the rise "for the last 5-6 years." That's misleading; the FBI only show rises in three of those six years.

2. You say that crime is generally down since the 1930s. That's true, but it seems an odd decade to pick, designed to reinforced a "things are bad lately" narrative! It's also down since the 1980s and 1990s and 2000s.

3. It's not at all clear whether the violent crime rises lately--which are explicitly discussed in the original post!--are the beginning of a troubling new trend, or statistical "noise." Current projections are for a drop in 2017.

deanerino1


quality posts: 3 Private Messages deanerino1

There's a difference between crime and violent crime. he isn't talking about violent crime, he is talking about crime in general. he does bring up some stats with specific focus on both violent and property crime, but that's not the focus of this post. The focus of the post is to shed light on the fact that people believe the crime rate to be on the rise even though this is likely just normal fluctuations in the statistics; not consistent.