Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

A Faulty Gun Report

While statistics are generally unreliable, data about gun crimes often qualify as “anti-data.”

“This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, ‘nearly 240 schools . . . reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting,’” National Public Radio told us yesterday. Like previous stats we’ve seen cited on social media, that seems unbelievably high. 

And yes, it is — “far higher than most other estimates,” reporter Anya Kamenetz noted. “NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened.”

Were they fibbing? Well, never underestimate the power of incompetence. 

Even that’s harsh: remember that reporting requirements are a burden. And filing bureaucratically-designed forms with the Education Department may be no easier than filing tax returns with the IRS. One of the biggest errors in one school district report resulted from a simple data entry error.

That is not a sophisticated statistical problem, but a simple typo.

Not that there aren’t some difficulties of a not-so-easy-to-understand nature in the story. For one, the degree to which the report was off is said to lie within “the margin of error.”

So, how big was the error, exactly? What’s the number? Well, of the 240 supposed “shootings,” NPR claimed to be “able to confirm just 11 reported incidents.”

Yet the Education Department bureaucrats will only affix an erratum note to their ridiculous report. 

Nor will it be withdrawn or replaced, as it should be.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


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By: Redactor


  1. Well, i think when it comes to violation of Guns usage, individual records and lifestyles matters. In America i think most young ones abusive the usage of gun so much and i feel something should be done about it.

  2. John Brennan says:

    It would appear that the goal of the of the report is to advance an agenda, not to provide the facts.
    This would not be so disturbing if it was an editorial piece, but is it very disturbing when the fact “provider” is a government agency allegedly providing truthful data to for use in developing rational public policy.
    It would appear that the Secretary of Education has something to look into, which, if all is normal, will end up to be only the tip of the iceberg. For me, my confidence level regarding almost all governmentally provided data has been severely compromised.

  3. Judy says:

    Good to know that NPR reported fairly.

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