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View Full Version : Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics



LawDog
02-07-2022, 05:22 PM
Another thread sparked this, but Iím bringing it here to address it separately. We all know how statistics can be twisted, manipulated, or outright fabricated. But I want to discuss it with a particular goal in mind: how to use this knowledge to increase your own familyís safety.

When I was a student at The University of Georgia, there was a serial rapist preying on the girls there. He was eventually captured, but I remember girls that I knew who were (rightfully) worried. Some friends and I even organized a free self-defense seminar for the girls. A year or so later, I randomly picked up a brochure at the registrarís office that was an advertisement to parents, extolling the virtues of life at UGA. Among the reasons given, one was the very low incidence of crime. It even included data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports covering the last several years. The number of sexual assaults listed wasÖ.zero.

I could recount a half-dozen separate incidents, and that was just from what I had seen in the papers. But close examination revealed that every one of them occurred just off of the University property. Each one was at an apartment or parking lot that everyone would have identified as being part of campus. But the actual spot of ground itself was not officially University property. And the school cops (the guys we teasingly called ď2.5sĒ) werenít going to fight for jurisdiction. So those rapes went into the statistics for the county, but not for the school. That was my first life lesson on crime statistics.

After college, I managed to escape from Georgia. I was still a poor kid, though. I made it to Richmond, Virginia, and was living in what seemed like style to me. Long before the communists had pulled down those glorious statues, I had a place just off Monument Avenue. It was a lower income bracket, but not high crime. Whether it was accomplished through iron fist enforcement, or just happenstance social evolution, I could not determine. But I quickly learned the geography of crime in my new home. I was in the buffer zone. One block north of me were million-dollar homes from the 19th century. Two blocks south of me was the hood. Whether it was fear or lack of an industrious spirit, those hood rats stayed well away from my home. They would tear it up in their own area, and you would be a fool to walk through there at night. But they stayed in their place.

Any realtor in the area knew exactly where you could live in peace and where you couldnít. The lines didnít match the zip codes or the school districts, but they were firmly defined. If you did a statistical analysis, the area in which I lived would appear to be atrocious, because the statistics looked at a much broader area. The rate of violent crime was off the charts. But the reality was quite different.

My memory is certainly shaded by my own history. At that time, I was still living in the mindset of southside Atlanta. Coming from there, everything seemed more peaceful. Today, I might view it differently.

Alaska provided several lessons on statistics. The most significant lesson by far is the hazard of small sample size. Small populations consistently lead to outrageous results. And Alaska is nothing if not a small sample size.

On paper, Alaska has an Ďepidemicí of drunk driving. And no one ever really questions that. It just goes along with the stateís image. People accept Homer Simpsonís wisdom: In Alaska, you can never be too fat or too drunk. Having directly worked on these cases in three different states, and getting feedback from trusted sources in other states, I am confident in asserting that drunk driving isnít more likely or a bigger problem in Alaska than it is in many other areas. One reason that it looks like more of a problem is because they have more enforcement. Alaska is short on roads, so drunks donít have many backroad options. This makes searching for drunks and stolen cars in Alaska easier than in other places. The statistics themselves will bear out that Alaska has very few auto thefts. The ease of observation, which greases the skids for enforcement, means that more drunks get caught. Additionally, Alaskan police departments have learned to make use of their Ďepidemicí and used it to obtain grants and other federal funding. So they have a vested interest in catching more drunk drivers because it is tied directly to their bottom line.

Sex assault is another crime that is astronomically high in Alaska. But if you dive into the cases, youíll immediately note a trend: most of the cases are in the villages, and the offender and victim are family. Are those cases terrible? Absolutely. But they arenít a threat to my wife, which is all Iím worried about. If you limited your study to sexual assaults between strangers, youíd find that over half of them occur at one or two bars in Anchorage, the victim was drunk/high, and it was after 2 a.m. (Donít EVER go to the Gaslight Lounge on 4th Avenue. Ever.) In over a decade of criminal work, I saw one true drag-her-into-the-bushes rapist in Alaska. One.

The incidence of sexual assault is the kind of thing that will make a woman choose not to live someplace. You can go to city-data.org or a similar website and pull a number right up onto your screen. But the reality is that the number on the screen is a very poor measure of the danger that a reasonable woman would face.

Another problem with statistics is the fact that we tend to assume the definitions, and they donít always match up. Example: an 18-year-old who is a sort of teacherís assistant at an after-school dance academy takes the opportunity when demonstrating a dance move to grope a 16-year-old through her leotard. Itís wrong, and he shouldnít have done it. But itís not what anyone would call ďrape.Ē If you were the girlís father, you might punch the kid in the nose, but you wouldnít string him up from a tree. But under Alaska law, itís Sexual Abuse of a Minor in the 4th Degree. It should be automatically baffling to anyone that we would have a crime of ďsexual abuseĒ and that it is a misdemeanor. Those two things donít seem to match up. But the petty little misdemeanors, simply because of their title, get lumped in with all of the other sexual assaults. There is a world of difference between copping a feel on a girlís butt in dance class and beating and raping a woman behind a dumpster. But on paper, they go into the same category.

The inability to distinguish between such diverse acts makes these statistics useless. With some crimes, the numbers are a reasonable reflection of reality. There isnít that much variation in auto theft, but assaults cover a broad spectrum.

What if the statistic for homicides includes every event in which any person intentionally killed another person? Meaning, what if the homicide rate includes self-defense cases, or times when police shot a bad guy? If half of the homicides are justifiable, then the statistic looks twice as bad as it looks in reality (at least from my point of view).

Learning to fight, equipping yourself with weapons, and hardening your homeís defenses are all good measures to take. But the single greatest thing you can do to increase your familyís safety is a change in zip code. Thatís a hard lesson for many to accept, because it boils down to this: If you want to protect your family, then make more money. But as jagged as that pill may be, itís truth.

Money alone wonít do it, though. Itís only a part of the equation. I know areas in Atlanta where people live in million-dollar homes and they canít walk to their mailbox without the risk of getting robbed. And there are places way out in the sticks where you can live in a double-wide and be quite safe.

It will always be a balance, and it will hinge on factors that are specific to your life, your skills, your job prospects. But in the economy of today, people are increasingly able to live where they want. You no longer have to live in Silicon Valley to work for Google, as long as you have a good internet connection.

If you can choose where to live, and safety is a priority, it still makes sense to start with the crime statistics. But take them with a BIG grain of salt. There are other lessons I have learned. Some general principles for finding a peaceful area:

1) Avoid being too near the Mexican border. This advice is usually stated in a more vague way, with references to ďan international borderĒ or something along those lines. It gets muddied and isnít taught clearly because everybody is afraid of being called a racist. The reality of life, though, is that there isnít much crime on the Canadian border.

2) Avoid diversity. Iím really not trying to dress myself up in white sheets here, and I hope Iíve established my reputation solidly enough that people wonít think Iím some crazed bigot. But diversity and crime go together like cheese and crackers. Homogenous societies exhibit far lower rates of crimeóboth violent and nonviolent crime, but particularly lower rates of violent crime. Any area that promotes itself as ďdiverseĒ is advertising a negative, and thatís only going to attract more of something undesirable.

3) Steeples equal safety. Jesus Christ is love. When you zoom out and look at the world with a macro view, it is ironic that the Bible Belt actually has a very high violent crime rate. But when you zoom in and look at the micro level, youíll see that the churches are usually set apart from the liquor stores, pawn shops, and check-cashing stops. Live near the churches.

4) You can buy safety. Your realtor will tell you that you are buying the neighborhood, not the house. And itís true. Spending more than what seems necessary is sometimes an effective way of keeping out the riff-raff.

5) Rules can be good. On one hand, I hate living under an HOA and Iíd like to just be free of them. On the other hand, I like that the idiot down the street is constrained by some rules that force him to live in a more organized fashion than he otherwise might. Gated communities are even better.

6) Donít live near areas where liberals have political power. They will ruin everything. You donít just not want to live among them; you donít even want to be near them. Their sickness spreads.

7) Farms and ranches are good. If you can live somewhere where farming and ranching are still viable businesses, and live among them, do so. Tech hubs will come and go, but people arenít going to stop eating. These areas tend to be slightly poor, but they are stable.

8) Southern hospitality (i.e. nosiness) is a good thing. I grew up southern, but have always liked the way northerners will just leave you alone. Southerners will be all up in your business. But that nosy nature is good for ferreting out the evil-doers.

9) Live with the old people. Retirees are always home and always watching. If you can identify an area or neighborhood that is older, thatís a good find. This is a statistic that is easily tracked.

As you look through that list, youíll see some that are easily tracked with statistical measurement and some that are not. You can look at an area to see the median age, educational level, income level, or home price. You canít easily track how ďsouthernĒ an area is.

Use the statistics to help guide you, but donít trust the statistics. They are just a starting point for deeper analysis.

62-10
02-07-2022, 08:15 PM
A grand tip of the hat from Mr. Poisson...

apamburn
02-07-2022, 08:21 PM
I have nothing to add but to say that this is solid advice from start to finish, and as usual it is delivered with eloquence. I'd expect nothing less from LawDog, of course.

coastalcop
02-08-2022, 10:54 AM
I want to piggyback (pun intended) on #1

Distance from Mexico. How Far?

Well, it depends.

I have property a few miles from the southern border. Gonna build a little get away from it all Casita on the Terlingua Ranch. Will my threat profile be higher? YEP, plan accordingly. But lots of bodies drop in that region anyway.

BUT, in addition to this, within a couple hundred miles of the border, you need to look at major and medium routes from the Mexican border to Major cities.

While Sicario was a good watch, there HAS been a trend for cartels to establish drop/transfer/stash houses in SMALL or rural towns along these routes. The idea is that small and rural generally doesnt have the resources to effectively investigate, identify and interdict whatever the cartel is moving.

If your county has three cops on at night, how much time do you think they have to detect/deter/interdict these things. While the folks involved generally arent interested in you (unless you own a f-250 pickup, and expect that shit to disappear in short order) some of the spillover can impact your life.

If you want to take it to another level, look up where established checkpoints are in the border area closest to where you live. Look at points north or past the control point on the Mexico side where it would be easier for me to offload product and transport offroad to a medium/major throughfare. Now look at small towns within 50 miles of there. Then go to major cities along this route and look small suburbs along the periphery. You're finding places to avoid.... or go hunting if thats your thing, just hope you run into the southbound transfers.

As a thought exercise, plan a route as though you ran a cartel (someone with business and shipping experience can chime in ) add the illegality of the conduct, and the opposition from LE and competitors.

There are lots of shops on both sides of the border that specialize in finding/building voids into just about any kind of vehicle/trailer you can imagine, as well as folks on both sides with trained drug dogs to find new ways to conceal shipments (as well a bounties on just about every good drug dog on the border) .

This used to be a wellspring of information and still has some good raw data from boots on the ground south of the border, though it has gone a bit more hesitant to report in the last year or so.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/

coastalcop
02-08-2022, 10:54 AM
I want to piggyback (pun intended) on #1

Distance from Mexico. How Far?

Well, it depends.

I have property a few miles from the southern border. Gonna build a little get away from it all Casita on the Terlingua Ranch. Will my threat profile be higher? YEP, plan accordingly. But lots of bodies drop in that region anyway.

BUT, in addition to this, within a couple hundred miles of the border, you need to look at major and medium routes from the Mexican border to Major cities.

While Sicario was a good watch, there HAS been a trend for cartels to establish drop/transfer/stash houses in SMALL or rural towns along these routes. The idea is that small and rural generally doesnt have the resources to effectively investigate, identify and interdict whatever the cartel is moving.

If your county has three cops on at night, how much time do you think they have to detect/deter/interdict these things. While the folks involved generally arent interested in you (unless you own a f-250 pickup, and expect that shit to disappear in short order) some of the spillover can impact your life.

If you want to take it to another level, look up where established checkpoints are in the border area closest to where you live. Look at points north or past the control point on the Mexico side where it would be easier for me to offload product and transport offroad to a medium/major throughfare. Now look at small towns within 50 miles of there. Then go to major cities along this route and look small suburbs along the periphery. You're finding places to avoid.... or go hunting if thats your thing, just hope you run into the southbound transfers.

As a thought exercise, plan a route as though you ran a cartel (someone with business and shipping experience can chime in ) add the illegality of the conduct, and the opposition from LE and competitors.

There are lots of shops on both sides of the border that specialize in finding/building voids into just about any kind of vehicle/trailer you can imagine, as well as folks on both sides with trained drug dogs to find new ways to conceal shipments (as well a bounties on just about every good drug dog on the border) .

This used to be a wellspring of information and still has some good raw data from boots on the ground south of the border, though it has gone a bit more hesitant to report in the last year or so.

http://www.borderlandbeat.com/

Gabriel Suarez
02-08-2022, 06:14 PM
Drugs passing through your area are a guarantee if it has any sort of civilization. Its when theybstop and sell that you will have an issue...but that rarely happens in the sorts of hood mostbof us want to live.

The cartels are everywhere now. Like the mafia was in the 60s and 70s. They are American citizens and in law enforcement, politics, and everywhere else. So yeah...Nogales Arizona may not be the best choice...but Scottsdale isnt going to see many cartel killings.

The other matter is old people. Old people are cheap, complainers, that hate any modernity or advancements. They drive ten under the limit and sneer at the new restaurant in town. I would rather live in Cabo than in a retirement community in the USA.

Hang out in areas where you see more Mercedes than you see economy cars. And where everyone has similar net worth and likes the same standard of living. And where there are no laws making it illegal to be armed all the time. If the law would crominalize keeping an AR pistol in your car that is not the place I want to live.

Papa
02-08-2022, 06:31 PM
The other matter is old people. Old people are cheap, complainers, that hate any modernity or advancements. They drive ten under the limit and sneer at the new restaurant in town. I would rather live in Cabo than in a retirement community in the USA.

Having moved my father out of retirement communities in both Florida and New Jersey, I fully agree. And they are cannibals, calling the HOA on each other at the drop of a denture, literally stealing from each other's garages ("Skeezix said I could have this") and stealing small items (like personalized jewelry) from inside the residence when there's an open house.

If you have a house in Hell and one in "Leisure Village," sell the house in "Leisure Village."

henri
02-08-2022, 07:16 PM
Friends of mine reside in a 55+ community in west broward county, Florida, average home price 1.2-1.5M, most common vehicle is Porsche, not all 'retirement communities' are as described. I did convince him to carry an AR pistol when he visits me on the beach.... just in case

Gabriel Suarez
02-08-2022, 08:07 PM
Friends of mine reside in a 55+ community in west broward county, Florida, average home price 1.2-1.5M, most common vehicle is Porsche, not all 'retirement communities' are as described. I did convince him to carry an AR pistol when he visits me on the beach.... just in case

And those would be in the complete MINORITY. Want to stay young? Hang out with younger people or people that refuse to accept their age. Hang out with the gracefully aged and you are already dead.

And yeah...we have our share here in Prescott.

Wiseguy04
02-09-2022, 03:36 AM
Sounds like that phrase about becoming the average of the five people you hang out with the most…

Choose your circle carefully. It matters.

Gabriel Suarez
02-09-2022, 08:17 AM
Sounds like that phrase about becoming the average of the five people you hang out with the most…

Choose your circle carefully. It matters.

INDEED.

The topics of convo at your circle should not be how bad their back hurts, the new meds the doctor has them on, how fat their wife is getting, or how bad the government is screwing them on their fixed income taxes. Rather they should be what a great workout they got, how nice their new sportscar is, a great new nitrous oxide supplement they used, or how they are looking forward to the back country trip next week.

Everyone carries a virus. The virus of success, and strength and youth is just as contagious as the virus of defeat and sloth, and yes...age.

henri
02-09-2022, 05:26 PM
And those would be in the complete MINORITY. Want to stay young? Hang out with younger people or people that refuse to accept their age. Hang out with the gracefully aged and you are already dead.

True words indeed ! Which is why I do not live there, but for my friend and his wife, it fits them.

Wiseguy04
02-09-2022, 09:06 PM
Everyone carries a virus. The virus of success, and strength and youth is just as contagious as the virus of defeat and sloth, and yes...age.

I’ve found far more people of the success-oriented mindset at my gym than anywhere else. Especially the 5am crowd. These guys get shit done with no excuses. I’ve surrounded myself with them and have already seen a change in my outlook on life. Winners find a way…

7 Mary 3
02-10-2022, 07:23 AM
Not much to add other than whats been said.

We used to live in a decent neighborhood, a bit of an island if you will, but just adjacent to it was a direct artery into ghetto SE DC. The hood rats would come up the highway do a quick hit on the gas station and scoot back before anyone could lift a finger. I was frequently armed inside the house in case their quick escape was foiled and they went with plan B.

Moved out once the kids got school age. Where we moved cost some serious $ but not many worries here and thats what you get. Nearby there is a metropolis that was literally designed and built from the ground up with mixed income housing neighborhoods office space parks etc. Nice suburban neighborhoods then a school then lower income apts then park then shopping then office spaces ...wash rinse repeat. It looks great on the surface, literally the best places in the US to live if you believe Money magazine, diversity and all that stuff, but Id never live there. Thats where all the stupid chit happens. Maybe not complete mayhem but all the kinds of stuff that eats at your life like robberies and petty stuff with occasional gun play. And because of the diversity the schools are a complete mess in there as well. LOL the commies who run the county and also the bd of ed tried to redistrict based on percentage of kids in poverty at each school. The people out my way were not happy, even the biden bumper sticker folks. What hypocrites.

Counting my days until I can move to free merica....literally on a countdown clock on my phone.

7M3

diving dave
02-10-2022, 09:18 AM
Good stuff. When I retired from a LEO agency in Cali, I immediately sold my house and moved and bought a home with 30 acres in SW Montana. Although meth heads are something to watch for here, Its nice not to have to worry about roving street gangs. Violent crime is up here however, no doubt to the massive influx of people moving here from big cities.

BigEd63
02-10-2022, 06:05 PM
Well, I'm preparing. More seriously now to unass this place for several reasons. One being the neighbors next door. Two, being two lying backstabbing relatives of mine two houses west of me. Long story on both but I don't take kindly to being lied to and thinking I'm like my father. No offense to him. Can't say anything else on that.
Then there's the politburo...err city council in the People's Idiotic Republic of Fagettevile AR.
Just sick of their PC idiocy.
So, after I've done some looking around and soul searching.
I've decided to stay in state but move at least one county over.
Since I'm single with no kids I want to custom build a tiny house and a bigger shop and garage for my projects.
Already have a couple of feelers out and maybe I'll be moving out of here by this Fall. Actually this Spring would be good but alas that's not happening.
Plans are I'll be residing on site in a camper until the house is finished out.
All I want to do is hunt, fish, hike, shoot maybe teach some people to shoot. And write a few comedy outdoor books like Pat Macmanus but a tad more edgy.

To add about people you hang out with. Yeah getting fed up with a couple people my age who've morphed into whiney old ladies.🙄

Oscar01
02-12-2022, 11:15 AM
2) Avoid diversity. Yup, having lived in various parts of California and Colorado, most of which were diverse and you end up losing community identify. In contrast you pick the Prescott area for a specific reason. My barber recently moved his half-million year business here from Washington state. We were talking about the Freedom Convoy and inflation among other things...

4) You can buy safety. Agreed, you just need to be able and willing. I know a lot of able conservatives behind enemy-lines that are content to just complain...

6) Donít live near areas where liberals have political power. I'd add look at recent legislation and trends for a given area as well. What is each side doing? Colorado had been sliding for awhile but becoming the first state to legalize weed was a death sentence. Then the liberals went full woke and lost 1/3 of LEO to their new laws in 2020

9) Live with the old people. 100%. Most of my neighborhood is retirees with a lot of vets. All have been helpful and friendly, especially once I hung my American flag out. Pretty sure XO and I got the "damn whippersnappers" from a few neighbors at first but flags changed that lol


Bold mine




Everyone carries a virus. The virus of success, and strength and youth is just as contagious as the virus of defeat and sloth, and yes...age.


Best part of moving!

XO and I got a decent amount of resentment from conservative friends/families in blue states. Most rather complain and wallow in self-pity than do something about it. Pick your social circles carefully.