Hot Air, September 7, 2018
Back in 2016, Adam Lankford, a University of Alabama professor, published a study claiming that roughly one-third of the mass shootings in the world take place in America. The study was widely panned almost immediately, with other experts in the field describing it as junk science which should never have made it into print in a scholarly publication, but it served as a perfect vehicle for the media to talk about the need for stricter gun control laws. But just how far off the mark was Lankford?
A new, comprehensive study released by John R. Lott jr., author of The War on Guns, suggests that Lankford missed by a country mile. In a summary of the study published by the Washington Times, we see that Lott’s figures indicate that the United States accounts for fewer than three percent of all mass shootings in the world. Of course, that remains an entirely ambiguous phrase (which we’ll get to in a moment), but no matter what definition you use, there are more mass shootings going on around the globe than you generally hear about. . . .
You can see all of Lott’s work here. One indicator that he’s on the right track is the fact that Glenn Kessler at the WaPo Fact Checker dug into the numbers and couldn’t come up with too much to complain about. Kessler doesn’t assign any Pinocchios to Lott’s work, primarily because he expends most of his effort arguing over precisely what qualifies as a mass shooting. But he does focus on the fact that Lankford refuses to share the data he used to arrive at his conclusions with the public or the press. . . .
Red State, September 27, 2018
I’d say this paper shows that Lankford was completely wrong but it goes deeper than that. The failure to present data is a common feature of bad science. We saw it with Michael Mann and the hockey stick, where it turned out just about any data set from global temperature to baseball batting averages would produce the infamous hockey stick. Here we see data being hidden and a result that is something a subset of the population really wants to believe, and a smaller subset wants believed so they can fund raise and gain the ability to control new government initiatives to crack down on gun ownership. . . . .