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OUT OF THE BOX: Comparing apples to oranges won’t cut it

January 7, 2013

By Camille Nesler

Yesterday I read an article published by Business Insider, which
listed the 25 most dangerous cities in America. Believe it or not,
Little Rock was listed as number 6! Are you amazed? Because I sure
was. The first thing that amazed me was the fact that cities like
Chicago and New York City didn’t even make the list. I find that
pretty hard to believe. According to this article, every year the FBI
compiles a giant collection of data on crime in America. Local
precincts report everything from violent crimes to rape to art thefts.
The FBI defines violent crime as murder, non-negligent manslaughter,
forcible rape (is there any other kind?!) robbery, and aggravated
assault. The good news is, the most recent report shows that violent
crime in 2012 was at a five year low. The bad news is, I don’t think
the people who compile these statistics know what they are doing. They
round up the most dangerous cities in America, based on the number of
violent crimes per 100,000 people reported for each city. And they
only consider cities with 100,000 residents or more. In Arkansas, what
does that amount to, a total of 3 cities?
Here are the top 25 cities that made the list this year:
1. Flint, Michigan
2. Detroit, Michigan
3. St. Louis, Missouri
4. Oakland, California
5. Memphis, Tennessee
6. Little Rock, Arkansas
7. Birmingham, Alabama
8. Atlanta, Georgia
9. Baltimore, Maryland
10. Stockton, California
11. Rockford, Illinois
12. Cleveland, Ohio
13. New Haven, Connecticut
14. Hartford, Connecticut
15. Buffalo, New York
16. Kansas City, Missouri
17. Miami, Florida
18. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
19. Nashville, Tennessee
20. Newark, New Jersey
21. Washington, D.C.
22. Indianapolis, Indiana
23. Springfield, Illinois
24. Orlando, Florida
25. Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Now the thing that strikes me as really ridiculous is the way this
article rated these cities. For example, Little Rock is listed at
number 6, because it reported 440 robberies per 100,000 people. Yet
Birmingham is only listed at number 7, and THEY reported 85 rapes per
100,000 people! And Baltimore at number 8 reported 31 murders per
100,000 people. Seems to me the crimes of rape and murder are FAR
more “violent” then 440 robberies! It doesn’t seem logical to be
comparing crimes like rape and murder to robbery. It’s like they are
trying to compare apples to oranges. And Newark reported a whopping
711 robberies per 100,000 people, yet they are at number 20 and Little
Rock with 440 robberies per 100,000 residents is at number 6? Whoever
came up with this rubbish needs to take some classes on statistics and
arithmetic if you ask me. Not only that, but what about the
percentages? They are only looking at cities with more than 100,000
people. Ok, so there are 440 robberies per 100,000 residents in Little
Rock. That’s a percentage of .004. But say you live in one of the
smaller towns across our state. Say the population of your town is
only 2000 and you only had 100 robberies committed last year. That’s
way less than Little Rock, but your percentage is actually HIGHER at
.05. With those percentages you’d have a greater chance of being
robbed in the smaller city than you would in Little Rock.
Now I’m not saying those ARE the number of robberies in smaller
cities, I’m just pointing out that it’s simply not accurate or fair in
any way, shape or form to publish an article such as this one without
looking at ratios of specific crimes and without looking at the
percentages of ALL towns, not just the larger cities. Next thing you
know, they’ll be telling us that Arkansas has more earthquakes than
California or more hurricanes than Florida.
Yep. And I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona, too. How about
we all move there? After all, none of THEIR cities made the list….

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