Statistical Significance

by thoughtsatlarge

I wrote comments to two gun articles, one in the Houston Chronicle, one in the New York Times.

To a Houston Chronicle editorial on May 1st, I wrote the following comment:

“The NRA is an anachronism, society’s vestigial tail. When common sense becomes more common, reason and sanity will outweigh paranoia and fear-mongering. Kudos to the Chronicle for embracing civilization.”

My comment was met with six nasty, elementary grade reading level, grammatically challenged, rebukes from gun lovers.  In a “thumbs up/thumbs down” poll, my comment received 5 thumbs up and 26 thumbs down.

To a New York Times article on March 28th, I wrote the following comment:

“No, we don’t have a problem in this country!

300,000,000 guns?

87 deaths every day, including 8 children and 11 women?

90% of the public wants universal background checks and yet Congress is stymied by what to do?

Senators Paul/Cruz/Lee want to filibuster against background checks?

Republicans think voting “Nay” to every bill is a solution?

We are no longer a Christian country. We worship guns. To bastardize a phrase from the murdered John Lennon, AR-15’s are bigger than Jesus.

If this moment passes and we do nothing (again) we have failed the victims of Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Chicago and your town. Shame on us.”

My comment was met with one nasty, grammatically challenged retort telling me that crime had gone down due to the increased number of guns in society (in classic post hoc ergo proctor hoc attribution). This was met with two responses to the nasty remark showing how the writer was, in fact (damn those nasty facts!) wrong and questioning the writer’s tenuous grasp on reality.  In a “thumbs up” poll (the Times has no thumbs down option), my comment received 114 thumbs up.

Now, I’m no statistician, but there does seem to be some disconnect in these reactions. Draw your own conclusions.

Oh, and on a totally unrelated issue, the NRA’s new president, James Porter, takes over on Monday. No, not the catholic priest convicted of molesting 28 children in the 1990’s, the other one, the nut case. You know, the guy from Alabama who said President Obama was our “fake president” who wants to make the United States a “European socialistic, bureaucratic type of government”; who said Hilary Clinton was “trying to kill the Second Amendment at the United Nations”; and who refers to the Civil War as “the War of Northern Aggression”? Yeah, that guy. Outgoing NRA president David Keene said Porter was a “perfect fit” for the NRA presidency. First time I’ve ever agreed with the NRA. Now that’s statistically significant.