Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Follow the Numbers!

The other day I saw a post on facebook. I think it was trying to make a point that the chances of being killed by a moslem fundamentalist were really small. As is often the case with such things there was some very selective cherry picking of the data. Number of people who had been killed by buses was given, but not the number killed by road traffic accidents in general. The author had chosen to make the highest number that they posted as deaths from firearms.

Something of interest struck me. The figure given for “deaths by firearms” was 11,000. Or should I say, “only 11,000”. For a country with a population of around 350 million 11,000 is actually a very low percentage. Looking at other sources I am not sure how they got that figure. It may be meant to be murders with firearms.
Intrigued, I did some research:
Deaths from firearms in the US average about 10.5 per 100,000 population. Or 0.0105 per cent! Homicides by firearm are 3.43-5.0 per 100,000, suggesting that most firearm fatalities are accidents, suicide or legitimate self-defence. Deaths from road traffic accidents vary from 10 to 20 per 100,000 population per year. So you are three to four times more likely to be killed by an automobile than murdered with a gun. Chances of a non-fatal injury from an automobile are much higher.
Looking at the cause of death figures for 2014 is interesting. The total number of deaths for that year was 2,626,418 which is 823.7 per 100,000. Heart disease and cancer were the main killers. What is interesting is that diabetes killed 76,488, which is 23.98 per 100,000. 55,227 or 17.32 per 100,000 died from “Influenza and Pneumonia”. To place this in perspective, the number of Americans killed in the entire Vietnam war was around 58,315.
Think about that for a second! In a first world country that claims to be a superpower tens of thousands of people are dying from diabetes and chest infections!
Next time you see a politician or someone else claiming that guns are an important issue and something needs to be done about them remember the above and think about what they are really trying to distract you from.

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