From an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in Australia.
From an exhibition at the Melbourne Museum in Australia.
Propagandists frequently fool people by focusing them on a point of data that doesn’t represent the whole of the data and claiming that this exceptional point of represent the whole of the data.
The graphic at left is an example. The graphic states that the state of Vermont, which does not require the licensing of its citizens’ firearms, has the third-lowest crime rate in the United States.
That statement is largely true: Vermont does not require the licensing of its citizen’s firearms. And Vermont has a low crime rate compared to the other 49 U.S. states (for example, it had the 15th lowest gun homicide rate during 2013).
The graphic attempts to convince people that not requiring permits or licenses to own firearms—in other words, looser laws about gun control—results in fewer crimes. It infers that looser gun laws anywhere equal less crimes of any kind.
The rural state of Vermont (largest city: 42,417 people; second largest city: 17,904 people) does indeed have a low crime rate. However, the whole data about crime in the U.S.—in other words, the data for all 50 U.S. states—shows the opposite correlation between gun laws and crime. That data shows that Vermont is a rare exception to what’s overall true.
The table below list each U.S. state, it’s rate of gun-related deaths, and how strict (blue) or loose (grey) its gun laws are. This overall data shows a direct correlation—more strict gun control laws equal less gun-related deaths and safer citizens. (For another example of such overall data, see Harvard University’s conclusions about multiple scientific studies by it and other universities that study public health and crime—neutral studies that weren’t funded by either the gun lobby or by anti-gun advocates.)
It’s easy for propagandists to cherry-pick an outlying data point—something that is actually an exception to the overall rule (such the low crime rate in Vermont, an exceptionally rural and sparsely populated state)—from which they will then attempt to infer a false conclusion. Such propaganda will probably fool people who don’t think to look at the overall data or who simply want the false overall conclusion to be true.
Such exceptions can be found in almost any set of data, even data in which most people would never expect there to be any exceptions. For example, everyone knows and understands that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. However, there are actually two places on Earth where that is not true (see beneath the table below for the answers where). Yet does the existence of those two exceptional places mean that people can’t rely on the sun rising in the east and setting in the west? Of course not. Don’t be fooled by propagandists cherry-picking data.
By the way, where are the two places on Earth where the sun doesn’t rise in the east nor set in the west? The North Pole (where the sun is always exactly south, rising due south and setting due south) and the South Pole (where the sun is always exactly north, rising due north and setting due the north).
I yesterday began my fourth year of being married to this beautiful Spaniard. Brains (‘Doctor Professor’ is how European academics address her); beauty (well, just look at her picture!); a marvelous personality (no wonder that some folks know me as ‘Mr. Rodriguez’); and the patience required to live with me (no explanation necessary). I love her dearly. Happy Third Anniversary, Emma!
I’m in an eastern Asian mood today. Many things have reminded me of it.
For instance, Thailand is renown for its Public Services advertisements on television. Here is a recent example, a full movie told in only three minutes:
Click here to read Adweek’s story about why and how it was produced. The same producers two years earlier created a possibly even better Public Services short, about compassion:
The story behind that one is here.
Kudos to Chinese pharmaceuticals billionaire Li Jinyuan who took 6,400 of his employees on a nine-day vacation in France. They arrived aboard 84 commercial flights and occupied 140 hotels. the cost was €15 million ($18 million).
Who exactly won? Forty years after Communist North Vietnam took over capitalist South Vietnam, an international poll reports that Vietnam is now the world’s most capitalist country. China was ranked fourth.
When traveling to such places, or anywhere in the world, I’d always thought that the best passport to have was Swiss, because nobody blocks the politically neutral Swiss. However, CNN reports that the best passport to have is actually U.S. or U.K., followed by France, South Korea, or Germany, or Sweden, or Italy, or Denmark, Singapore, Finland, Japan, Luxembourg, or Netherlands, and only then Swiss. Those groupings are based upon how many countries the passport holder is allowed to enter either without a visa or by relatively easily obtaining a visa upon arrival at the border. One hundred forty-seven countries permit that for U.S. or U.K. passport holders.
Speaking of travel, it was interesting to see the the CEO of the Starwood Hotel Group concede that his company’s Sheraton brand has become tired and in need of change.
You might say that I’m sensitive to submarines. Although my naval officer father served aboard surface ships during World War II and the Korean Conflict, I grew up around New London, Connecticut, headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s submarine fleet. Seeing nuclear submarines silently leave that port (which was actually across the river in the town of Groton) was a routine sight. By far the most advanced submarines in the world are the Seawolf-class submarines constructed just after the end of the Cold War. These ships indeed are parts of a trio of U.S. ‘superweapons’ that no other nation possess. The other two in the trio are the super-accurate LGM-30G Minuteman III missiles (each capable of delivering within 30-minutes a thermonuclear warhead, with 20-times the explosive power of the Hiroshima explosion, within 200 meters of any target on Earth) and the super-stealthy F-22 Raptor fighter/bomber aircraft (which virtually can’t be detected by enemy radar and cruise without effort at supersonic speeds). There are only three Seawolf submarines – SSN Seawolf, SSN Connecticut, and SSS Jimmy Carter – because of the extraordinary cost of building each. The Seawolfs were designed to beat the Soviet nuclear nuclear submarine fleet in the event of war, but cost of $3 billion each ($3.5 billion for SSN Jimmy Carter), so, no further Seawolfs were constructed once the Cold War ended. Like F-22, the Seawolfs are super-stealthy, almost undetectable underwater by an enemy ship or submarine. The reason why the USN Jimmy Carter was even more expensive was that it was modified to be totally a spy submarine. What really interested me was why ten years ago the U.S. Navy decided to transfer all three Seawolfs from New London to that navy’s Pacific Ocean submarine base in Bremerton, Washington. It’s true that the Russian Navy is no longer as formidable as it was during the Cold War, but it still has missile submarines at undersea. My guess is that the U.S. Navy viewed the rising Chinese Navy as the future threat, so it moved all three Seawolfs to the Pacific. However, an article in Medium.com notes that the three Seawolfs have recently been further modified for operations under the Arctic Ocean where many of the Russian Navy’s missile submarines still lurk. Geopolitics is truly pivoting to Asia’s eastern and even northern boundaries.