Culture History Political Commentary

Reason 5379 we need better statistics education

Replied to Gun Violence Is Actually Worse in Red States. It’s Not Even Close. (POLITICO)

America’s regions are poles apart when it comes to gun deaths and the cultural and ideological forces that drive them.

Using raw numbers / absolute values instead of per capita data is so misleading. I know that data don’t actually change minds, but some skepticism around statistics couldn’t hurt 🤷‍♀️

I have a feeling people who live in rural areas don’t really get how many people live in cities — understandably, since human minds aren’t naturally suited to process numbers in the millions. It would explain why these more conservative rural areas don’t believe they could legitimately be losing elections, because everyone they know thinks and votes the same way they do; it’s just that cities have so many more people. I am sympathetic that they feel they’re being controlled by city folk, but that’s how representative democracy works: majority wins*. And would it really be fair for them to control so many more people who feel differently? (We have lived so long under minority rule nationally due to the Electoral College and disproportionately distributed House of Representatives seats, I suspect conservatives have gotten used to being in power even though they’re in the minority. Fairness has been redefined or relegated.)

* I am a proponent of better forms of voting and democracy that make more people satisfied, like instant runoff voting so multiple candidates can run without “spoiling” elections.

People from Eastern Washington often dismiss liberals as “it’s just Seattle,” (at least in the comments of Seattle Times articles, hoo boy!) but that’s dismissing the rights and opinions of four million people just because we live geographically close together. The fearmongering around cities and othering of people who live there is intense, perpetrated by politicians who can’t win democratic elections anymore, so they need an excuse to disenfranchise (liberal) urban residents.

Statistics and politics aside, it’s fascinating to analyze the country based on what culture colonized it — I’m not super familiar with the differences in settlement between the South, the Midwest, and the East Coast, but a different cultural origin makes total sense.

By Tracy Durnell

Writer and designer in the Seattle area. Freelance sustainability consultant. Reach me at She/her.

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