Lies, Damned Lies…

…and Statistics seem to be an integral part of the liberal argument against guns.

But we had to wait for Ryan McMaken of to unveil what’s going on behind the numbers, in their fine article The Mistake of Only Comparing US Murder Rates to “Developed” Countries.

Much of the political thinking about violence in the United States comes from unfavorable comparisons between the United States and a series of cherry-picked countries with lower murder rates and with fewer guns per capita. We’ve all seen it many times. The United States, with a murder rate of approximately 5 per 100,000 is compared to a variety of Western and Central European countries (also sometimes Japan) with murder rates often below 1 per 100,000. This is, in turn, supposed to fill Americans with a sense of shame and illustrate that the United States should be regarded as some sort of pariah nation because of its murder rate.

Note, however, that these comparisons always employ a carefully selected list of countries, most of which are very unlike the United States. They are  countries that were settled long ago by the dominant ethnic group, they are ethnically non-diverse today, they are frequently very small countries (such as Norway, with a population of 5 million) with very locally based democracies (again, unlike the US with an immense population and far fewer representatives in government per voter). Politically, historically, and demographically, the US has little in common with Europe or Japan.

Prejudice about the “Developed World” vs “the Third World”


But these are the only countries the US shall be compared to, we are told, because the US shall only be compared to “developed” countries when analyzing its murder rate and gun ownership.

And yet, no reason for this is ever given. What is the criteria for deciding that the United States shall be compared to Luxembourg but not to Mexico, which has far more in common with the US than Luxembourg in terms of size, history, ethnic diversity, and geography?

This is obvious after it has been pointed out. Indeed, Our Betters make this ‘mistake’ so many times, so consistently, that it is obviously not a mistake, but an integral part of the Narrative.

While ignorance about true global poverty, life expectancy, and family planning are no doubt a source of some of these wrong-headed comparisons, one doesn’t need to be the world’s biggest cynic to recognize that the US is only compared to a selective list of countries because doing so offers a biased view of the United States that makes it looks like an especially crime-ridden place.

Nothing shall be permitted to challenge the Narrative!

Indeed, it makes more sense to compare the US to other states in the  Americas than to Europe or Japan. The US and most Latin American countries were settled in similar time periods. They are frontier countries settled mostly by European immigrants that displaced a native population (to varying degrees), and most of them gained independence from European imperial nations in a similar time period. They tend to have ethnically diverse populations, and many have been impacted by the slave trade that ended in the 19th century.

European countries share very few of these qualities in common with the US.

So, it would seem that the old diktat of “thou shalt only compare US murder rates to the approved ‘developed’ countries” is based on really no objective standard at all. And we should stop doing it.

If we’re honestly trying to evaluate the nature of crime and violence in a comparative atmosphere, we cannot limit ourselves to a handful of countries that have very little in common with the US beyond a handful of economic indicators.

Scholarly Christians should learn from the Scholarly Austrians… assuming that there are any Christians that care to use their brains as the weapon God intended.


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