A New York Times article reporting on a sharp increase in homicides over the last year in places like Milwaukee, Baltimore and St. Louis led to much tut-tutting about how this was cherrypicking and all around Bad Science from outlets like Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.
So now FiveThirtyEight has rounded up the homicide numbers for 59 of the 60 biggest cities in the country for, as close as they can measure, for 2014 before Michael Brown’s death in August 2014 and for the same stretch in 2015. Here’s how they spin their analysis:
Scare Headlines Exaggerated The U.S. Crime Wave
A full list of the top 60 cities gives a more nuanced picture.
CRIME STATISTICS 11:09 AM SEP 11, 2015
By CARL BIALIK
If you’ve read reports of a U.S. crime wave this year and wondered how many cities it was really affecting, you’re not alone. We’ve spent the last week trying to answer that question and have compiled 2015 homicide data for nearly all of the 60 biggest cities. The results confirm that there has been an increase in homicides this year in big U.S. cities of about 16 percent.
But that doesn’t come close to reversing the long-term decline in homicides. And it’s a less dire picture than the one painted by reports in several large media outlets, which generally highlighted those cities that have suffered the biggest increase in homicides.
The reports have been based on just a small, possibly cherry-picked sampling of cities. The country’s broken crime-data system makes it impossible to know what’s happening everywhere, and the “if it bleeds, it leads” journalistic imperative means the places we hear about often are the biggest outliers.
Wait a minute, what did you say somewhere in there? Oh, yeah, here’s the actual finding of FiveThirtyEight’s number crunching.
The results confirm that there has been an increase in homicides this year in big U.S. cities of about 16 percent.
Wow, that’s horrible.
A better headline might be:
“Scare Headlines about the U.S. Crime Wave Vindicated: Homicides Up 16% in 59 Biggest Cities Versus Last Year”
In these 59 cities, the total number of homicides in 2014 through August 8, 2014 was 2,955. Through the same period this year, the total number of homicides has been 3,437 for an increase of 482 more dead human beings.
How much of this has been the fault of the campaign by #BlackLivesMatter, the Justice Department, the Soros Foundation, and the national media to demonize police as white racists out to murder black baby bodies? In absolute terms, the biggest increase in dead bodies in 2015 came in Baltimore, the 26th biggest population town, with an increase in homicides of 77 from 138 to 215. That’s an increase of 56%.
The second biggest increase in absolute number of dead bodies was in St. Louis, which is only the 60th most populous municipality. But it happens to be next door to Ferguson, where the Eye of Soro came to be so malevolently focused from August 2014 onward. Before Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, there were 85 homicides in St. Louis in 2014. Over the same stretch in 2015, there have been 51, for an increase of 60%.
So, just in the two cities where the media obsession with #BlackLivesMatter has been most ferocious, there has been a year to year increase of 128 homicide victims. That’s 27% of the total increase of 482 dead bodies across the 59 biggest cities.
A lot of highly respectable institutions have some statistical blood on their hands.