Since a goodly number of folks seem to have either never learned or have forgotten some basic facts of life, here’s a primer on a few which relate directly to murder statistics.
When collecting data, arbitrary identifiers are necessary in order to sort the data into categories which can be compared. Usually these identifiers relate to things with which ordinary folks are familiar especially when the data is used for reporting things like crime statistics.
What sort of categories are typically used? Well, just about anything will do, but most commonly we hear things like motivation, location, time of day, age of victim and murderer, and previous criminal records of each. These are also the exact bits of information that news collectors and reporters talk about when distributing stories to the public.
So what is with this “workplace violence” thing? “Workplace” is a location. Sure, it can be a valid piece of data for statistical analysis when compared to other locations. Like homes, open spaces, city streets and such. Convenience store robberies occur in a workplace, for instance.
Motivation is something else entirely. It’s the “why” something occurs. Comparing the “where” with the “why” provides a lot of confusion. But perhaps that is the point of the current trend.
Or maybe it’s just laziness. It probably is more difficult to determine actual facts than to gather heaping mounds of useless information to pass along. Problem is that many people are not buying it. Yeah, we suddenly are the radicals because we refuse to accept nonsense when it is presented as meaningful information.
Is it really asking too much when we demand that categories of crime be reported accurately? Without it, how are communities to develop meaningful policy to address crime in their neighborhoods? Is it even possible to establish priorities when some of the data is being deliberately skewed? Of course, but the results will reflect the skewed data.
Come on, folks. Data is important but of no use when collected, sorted and reported in nonsensical ways.