Statistically, Racial Violence is Wrong.

A couple of days ago I read a statistic published in response to the massive, uncontrolled, and senseless destruction, looting, and death occurring as a result of the unfortunate death in Minneapolis, MN of alleged criminal and black man George Floyd at the hands of white police officers:

“In the U.S., African Americans are 2.5 times more likely to be killed by police than white people.” (Source)

Back in 1906 Mark Twain wrote “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Statistics, like most things in life, are both a blessing and a curse: They can be generated in response to any question answerable with data, applied to any two conditions regardless of whether or not they’re actually related, are always imprecise even if you have all the data because in a New York minute more data will be generated, and the data itself can be abused, modified, or ignored to fit a desired conclusion.

Still, statistics provide guidance if not always a guarantee: For example, wearing a life jacket on a boat is no guarantee you won’t drown, but not wearing one increases your risk of drowning by 80%.

With that in mind, here are a few statistics the mainstream press probably won’t remind us of during this period of social crisis:

  • “The risk of death from a doctor or nurse is 254 times greater than the risk of death from police use of force.” (Source)
  • According to the FBI’s published data, during 2016, the Black population, which represents approx 12.6% of the US Population, committed:
    • 53% of all reported murders / non-negligent manslaughter
    • 42% of all reported illegal weapons carrying / possession
    • 38% of ANY violent crime   (Source)
  • “About four-fifths [80%] of black victims of nonfatal violence perceived the offenders to be black (table 5).” (Source, PDF download)
  • “Of crimes involving a single offender and victim: 81% of white victims were killed by a white perpetrator; 89% of all black victims were killed by a black perpetrator.” (Source , PDF download)
  • On average, between 2001 and 2015 the number of white people killed by black people is about 2.5 times that of black people killed by white people. (Source)
  • For every 10 deadly weapon attacks on police officers by assailants there was only one death of an assailant. (Source)
  • Based on 2015 statistics, “the probability [of any person being killed at the hands of a policeman] is so low — roughly 0.01 percent in each case [or, about 1 in 10,000] — as to be virtually nonexistent to anyone being arrested.” (Source)
  • Every year since 2007 approximately 51 law enforcement officers are killed by their assailant. (Source)
  • “While blacks are 14% of the U.S. population, they account for 47% of killings of police.” (Source)
  • “a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.” (Source)

And, if you’ve read this far, consider perhaps the largest curse of Statistics: They don’t make any judgments or offer any historical, social, economic, racial, or cultural reasons as to why two things correlate, or offer any solution.

And, feel free to curse me if you like, because I don’t have a convenient solution either.

Thanks for reading!

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