Monday, August 25, 2014

Editing basics: Post hoc, ergo shut up

No, you can't go home after you run the spellcheck. Somebody still has to look at the stuff and make sure it's true about all the things it's allegedly being accurate about -- even if, or especially if, the glass offices desperately want it to be so.

Such, alas, is the case with the offlede from today's Washington Times:

... Since Illinois started granting concealed carry permits this year, the number of robberies that have led to arrests in Chicago has declined 20 percent from last year, according to police department statistics. Reports of burglary and motor vehicle theft are down 20 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In the first quarter, the city’s homicide rate was at a 56-year low.

Pretty interesting correlation there. Too bad a clear conscience and a pure heart can't turn correlation into cause, no matter what your first named source says:

“It isn’t any coincidence crime rates started to go down when concealed carry was permitted. Just the idea that the criminals don’t know who’s armed and who isn’t has a deterrence effect,” said Richard Pearson, executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association. “The police department hasn’t changed a single tactic — they haven’t announced a shift in policy or of course — and yet you have these incredible numbers.”

He's welcome to his opinion, though you might be justified in questioning his observation skills:

... “The temperature would be 40 below, and you’d have these guys out on the range, having to crack off the ice from their guns to see the target,” Mr. Pearson said. “But they’d do it, because they were that passionate about getting their license.”

Sure would like to see the video on that -- maybe right after we watch the Correlation Is Not Cause Bears in "Breaking Training." But at least there's a bit of contrary opinion:

The Chicago Police Department has credited better police work as a reason for the lower crime rates this year. Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy noted the confiscation of more than 1,300 illegal guns in the first three months of the year, better police training and “intelligent policing strategies.”

Funny, the whole Chicago crime thing usually looks less rosy in our Fair 'n' Balanced media outlets. How'd it seem last month, Fox Nation?

Tom Bevan, the co-founder of, is calling Mayor Rahm Emanuel's Chicago a "war zone."

Bevan, a Chicago resident and host of a local weekend radio show, noted in a July 8 post that even as Chicagoans have become used to daily killings and shootings in the city, the toll of violence that occurred over the long Independence Day holiday was "jaw-dropping."

Between Thursday, July 3 and the early hours of Monday, July 7, Chicago was beset with a whopping 82 shootings during which 14 were killed.

... Then there is the constant refrain from Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy that the murder rate is actually lower than it has been in the past, a factoid that Chicago magazine effectively torpedoed earlier this year. According to the magazine, the Chicago PD arrived at their "lower" stats by monkeying with the numbers.

Good thing those stats got un-monkeyed by the time the WashTimes got hold of them. But the larger lesson remains: This is one of the ways you can tell the professional press from the party press. The party press is awfully hard to embarrass.

Not to pile on, but today's Times front also has a candidate for Gratuitously Offensive Lede of the (fading) Year:

There are two kinds of Christians in America — those who watch porn and those who lie about it.

A new study by the Barna Group shows that 54 percent of Christian men and 15 percent of Christian women admitted to viewing pornography at least once a month, compared to 65 percent of men and 30 percent of women who identified as non-Christian and said they watched porn at the same rate.

In Intro to Research Methods terms, that's not much different from saying there are two kinds of Republicans: Those who voted for Obama and those who lied about it. Somehow the absurdity failed to sink in, and the Times is left with a front that has a little something for everyone who likes to make fun of journalism.

Labels: , , ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then, once we've dealt with the fundamental logical fallacy, we might see if we can't do something to prevent the descender on the g from colliding with the tittle on the i.

10:58 AM, August 26, 2014  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home