Thursday, December 31, 2015

Mini-Snopes: Great moments in dishonest charts

A friend shared this chart on Facebook today. At the moment it has 5678 shares. Her source introduced it this way:
(For those that refuse to discuss anything but guns, because guns are the most important issue)
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our passions, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

Those bars are impressive and if scaled correctly would be more even more impressive. Gun homicides are truly insignificant viewed like this. However, this view is complete bullshit.

The bottom two bars measure homicides, none of the others do. If you add firearm suicides and accidental, fatal shootings, the gun death numbers triple. If you sort out the others to only homicides what do you get? How many motor vehicle homicides are there per year? Poison homicides? Alcohol, drug, tobacco, or medical homicides? When was the last time you heard of someone charging inro a building and killing twenty plus people with a baseball bat or a cigarette? If the sources of the chart are correct, the first eight lines should all be included in the "Non-firearm" category.

Was the original author dishonest or just unclear on the concept? As a general rule, we should never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. Here, however, I'm voting for malice. If the author was looking at causes of death in the United States, any source would have listed cancer and heart disease at the top. This dishonesty is especially obvious since the author lists one of his/her/its sources as the Center for Disease Control. If you can't make you case without resorting to lies, then you have no case.

PS - I have never met anyone who refuses to discuss anything but guns as the cause of death.

PPS - One of the commenters at my friend's source smugly says, "It is sad the sheeples believe everything they are told by the media." Sheeple automatically excludes you from any intelligent conversation.

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