Media and the consequences of fear

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

Alex Tabarrok shares some thoughts on school shootings, media, and the consequences of fear:

“There is not an epidemic of school shootings,” he said, adding that more kids are killed each year from pool drownings or bicycle accidents.

James Alan Fox, the Lipman Family Professor of Criminology, Law, and Public Policy at Northeastern.

School shootings are actually down since the 1990s (with a lot of variability). Fewer students are carrying weapons to school and fewer students report having easy access to guns (data here).

It’s been said that we live in an increasingly divided media universe but on many issues I think we live in an increasingly uniform media universe. Social media is so ubiquitous and the same things sell so widely that I suspect the collective consciousness is less fragmentary than in the past. Does anyone not know about Parkland? Contrary to common wisdom, mass shootings also occur in European countries and the US is not a notable outlier in this regard. I suspect, however, that the Finnish media don’t cover German shootings as frequently as shootings in Florida are covered in Nebraska — as a result the larger the media-market the greater the extent of availability bias. In other words, the larger the media market the greater the over-estimation of rare but vivid events. (Someone should test this theory.)

I worry about turning schools into prisons and what kinds of citizens this will create. My letter to my son’s high school principal was sent before the recent shootings but I stand by it now more than ever:


  1. Sam J. says:

    Some statistics I found on another site about gun violence. I found this on

    Who said he got it from someone else.

    “…here are 30,000 gun related deaths per year by firearms, and this number is not disputed. The U.S. population is 324,059,091 as of June 22, 2016 (the last searchable census numbers) Do the math: .009%[corrected original was wrong]of the population dies from gun related actions each year. Statistically speaking, this is insignificant! What is never told, however, is a breakdown of those 30,000 deaths, to put them in perspective as compared to other causes of death:

    -65% of those deaths are by suicide, which would never be prevented by gun laws.

    -15% are by law enforcement in the line of duty and justified.

    -17% are through criminal activity, gang and drug related or mentally ill persons – better known as gun violence.

    -3% are accidental discharge deaths.

    So technically, “gun violence” is not 30,000 annually, but drops to 5,100. Now lets look at how those deaths spanned across the nation:

    -480 homicides (9.4%) were in Chicago

    -344 homicides (6.7%) were in Baltimore

    -333 homicides (6.5%) were in Detroit

    -119 homicides (2.3%) were in Washington D.C. (a 54% increase over prior years)

    So basically, 25% of all gun crime happens in just 4 cities. All 4 of those cities have strict gun laws, so it is not the lack of law that is the root cause. This basically leaves 3,825 for the entire rest of the nation, or about 75 deaths per state -an average because some States have much higher rates than others. For example, California had 1,169 and Alabama had 1…”

    OK I started looking at numbers and here’s CDC data from 2014. It’s close. I took out the 65% suicide from the 30,000 and got 10,500. CDC says 11,008. So except for the percentage part I think the numbers used at first are very close and good to use.


    All homicides

    Number of deaths: 15,872

    Deaths per 100,000 population: 5.0

    Firearm homicides

    Number of deaths: 11,008

    Deaths per 100,000 population: 3.5

    If there were no firearms I bet the numbers would be a lot lower looking at the firearm vs. not firearm. I wonder if the better numbers are not directly related to how good a job emergency rooms are at saving shot people if they can get them in the building. It would nice to see actual shooting numbers. Personally it’s better to have firearms so the Jews don’t kill us all.

    It’s astounding that so much of this is in such a confined area. We could stomp the whole thing out in no time at all if we used my miraculous “Great Western Permaculture Project”(gulag). Look at what they did in NYC. They just stopped Blacks and searched them and if they had weapons hauled them off to jail. I don’t know for sure but I bet the more times they went to jail they were warned by the judge to never come back or they would face real hard time so they left, making the crime rate plummet. A fancy word for this is Gentrification but it’s actually DeDinduification.

    I read somewhere that the US, per population, actually had less school shootings than Europe did. Who knows if that’s right.

  2. Slovenian Guest says:

    To quote The Z Man:

    “I’m fond of pointing out that the main reason Progressives win every fight is that their opponents make the mistake of thinking it is a debate over facts and reasons. The people calling themselves conservative right now are sure that all they have to do is round up the facts and present them to the other side and the Left will throw down their weapons and embrace them as brothers.

    Progressives don’t care about guns. They care about who they imagine are the gun owners. Neo-Puritan fanatics associate guns with southerners in particular and bad whites in general. It’s the tool of the sinful. They believe this with the intensity of a zealot because it is wrapped up in how they define themselves as the anointed. Therefore, facts and reason have no impact on the believers, the statistics of crime have been explained for half a century.

    Gun control has always been a proxy-debate that is more signalling than a debate. Good whites from Yankeedom see guns as a stand in for southerners in particular, but all bad whites in general. After these shootings, the good whites get to have their day for acts of public piety. It’s why they say the same things over and over. Rituals are like that. The illogical of gun control has been detailed for as long as I have been alive. Yet, the true believers belied ever more intensely.”

    Facts like how the homicide rate declined by nearly half since 1992, despite multiple surges in gun purchases, never enter the debate.”

    Indeed, they hate guns for the same reason they hate pick up trucks, it’s the mark of the beast! The four horsemen of the apocalypse upgraded to Hummers SUVs.

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