A dangerous misuse of flawed crime data
In the absence of data about an important subject, people will use whatever is available. So, yeah, there are issues with these rankings.
Jeff Asher, what list should people use to determine how safe their city is?
Glad to see Mr. Jeff accurately note that St. Louis’s “most dangerous” reputation is a statistical myth, not truth.
Also, if anyone wants to know how dangerous we truly are, just TRY my patience here and argue that the myth is anything but bullshit. I promise that I will literally fight you.
Pour one out for our host today. He's fighting the good fight on Twitter against those who are using bad faith to attack him.
It’s pretty embarrassing and sad that the US doesn’t publish better crime data even though there is clearly a lot of demand for it.
So this piece provides many reasons these articles suck - but surely a real humdinger is amalgamating all types of crime? I’d be much more concerned living somewhere with 100 murders than 1 murder and 200 property crimes.
This is only tangential to the piece but it reminds me how the academic discourse around crime is about rates, while most people think safety is measured in absolute number of crimes (just like how academics consider "good schools" to be schools that lead to the most student growth, while normies consider good schools to be the ones with the highest average student scores)
I'm vaguely curious how many Slow Borers have ever entered a police report. I have done so exactly once (knock on wood).
Someone broke into my car about fifteen years ago. I was on a run in peak summer in Utah and, among other things, they stole my gatorade--a crime worse than murder.
I appreciate the point about St. Louis, I know technically it has the highest murder rate in the country of large cities, but I'm also aware of the fact that the official city boundaries are quite small and its population is only about 300,000 which skews the numbers. Basically EVERY metro area has crime hotspots. In St. Louis, that just happens to be in the relatively narrow city limits.
Still, I don't think the data is completely useless. No matter how you slice the data, Baltimore is going to be more dangerous than Salt Lake City for instance.
Off topic completely, but I think I need to say this to you and don't know a better way to do this. It's ok to say "my bad" regarding your willingness to engage Richard Hanania. I absolutely do think there are some bad faith commentators out there who are saying or insinuating that you support or gave positive feedback to Richard's most odious views even before the latest revelations came out.
Having said that, I've cringed at commentators (including yourself) giving voice or engaging with this guy even before the latest revelations. I honestly did not know who this guy was until the Russia invasion of Ukraine and then suddenly he popped up in my Twitter mentions as someone saying Russia is going to easily conquer Ukraine. So far, not so terrible; a whole lot of people on all sides of the political spectrum thought Russia would win easily. But once he popped in my Twitter feed, I started wondering who this guy was. And immediately it became clear that his worldview was coming from a pretty troubling place. For example, it seemed really clear to me that he thinks we failed in Afghanistan because we were somehow too committed to advancing girls' rights and somehow too committed to feminism or something. I say this to be kind of critical of you and say it wasn't that hard to discern even from this published writings that he had some problematic views.
But I'll say these are things I concluded or was able to discern from reading his writings. It was not necessarily explicitly said verbatim as I wrote it. So there is sort of a "plausible deniability" aspect to what he wrote if that makes sense. So I do understand to a certain degree where you are coming from. You are committed to the idea that you need to engage with people who have policy positions and beliefs opposed to your own. Sometimes those people have what appear to be troubling world views, but it's not a 100% clear how troubling so in the meantime maybe it's worth listening to what they have to say when their more troubling worldviews aren't front a center a part of their arguments or when it is seemingly not relevant to a topic being discussed.
But then new revelations like the latest ones come out and make clear that a) his troubling worldviews are much much more troubling than we first thought and they were fairly troubling in the first place b) it's clearly a much more front of center part of their general worldview on a variety of topics.
Which is why I think my conclusion is it's ok to give a mea culpa. I do think you were a little too willing to listen to someone who's views were probably not worth platforming or engaging with. But again, it comes from a general place I can get behind which is willingness to engage with different viewpoints. But now that you "how deep the rot is" so to speak, you can say I was little too willing to engage with this person and shouldn't have been as credulous and willing to do so.
Really confused by the crime reporting statistics. Do 25% of people whose car is stolen not call police? And I’m really surprised that domestic violence reporting is so high - I had always read victims may be reluctant/unable to report but it’s reported just as much as things like trespassing.
Okay fine no list. But you're underplaying how important good crime stats are to people living in an area or looking to move to one.
How many people decided to avoid a neighborhood because they saw a liquor store they didn't like, or a group of people from a race they didn't like? People will absolutely resort to racial and other biases in the absence of better data.
I get that it's a very difficult data collection exercise, but is NeighborhoodScout worse than "I saw an abandoned gas station and that scares me"? I'm not so sure!
I had always thought the main issue with “safest city” and “most dangerous city” lists was that they left out the biggest factor in safety and danger by focusing only on crime. I want to know my chance of being killed, and I don’t really care whether I am killed by crime or by car crash. Interesting to know that these lists are really bad even just on crime!
Maybe Democrats should do an everything bagel crime bill consisting of inter alia, a) a national Police Academy b) big money in NAS for crime, policing, prosecution, prison, social science research, c) money for police departments to report crimes according to a uniform methodology d) subsidies for technology like position trackers for people on parole/conditional release (useful for people awaiting hearing for asylum and irregular entry cases, too), surveillance and traffic control cameras, DNA database of everyone passing through the justice systems e) more prosecutors, court personnel, and police officers including para-police officers that handle administrative and most traffic and public order events.
I am always skeptical of Top # Cities In America lists because everyone has different values on how to judge the best cities, and from my experience, the top two criteria that I most see actual people cite are family (which is individualized for every person) and weather (preference of which is about as subjective as it gets).
Not used to seeing the comment section this empty (which is also called never being awake at 3:30 I suppose)
Anyway, while I understand why it happens, it's frustrating that there are a ton of these click-baity lists doing things with data that are this clearly not intended. My standards for these sites aren't very high, but somehow they still manage to fall short