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Old 09-18-2010, 04:40 AM
 
Location: Chicago
38,690 posts, read 89,279,412 times
Reputation: 29451

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Old thread and all.... but one problem I have with the "stranger on stranger" homicide formulation, and the typical "murders mostly happen between people who know each other so if you mind your own business you'll be fine" deduction that often follows, is that it doesn't seem to take into consideration that if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of gunplay, you're more likely to be acquainted with people who engage in it whether you want to be or not. So if you end up on the wrong end of their temper and their Glock one day, people who conduct studies like this can dismiss it because it wasn't a "stranger on stranger" crime. And if your kid goes to school with a bunch of gunplay knuckleheads, is he more likely or less likely to get caught up in that lifestyle than if he's in a sedate school in the suburbs? If your kid ends up dead because of the lifestyle he was exposed to, the "it wasn't a stranger-on-stranger crime" fetishists once again get to explain it away.

At any rate, the quality of the people who live around you will have a large impact on your day-to-day quality of life, and more importantly, that of your kids. That's a lot more tangible and immediate than a remote chance of being killed by X means versus an even more remote chance of being killed by Y means.
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Old 09-20-2010, 06:29 PM
 
Location: Oak Park, IL
5,522 posts, read 12,297,924 times
Reputation: 3827
I'm happy that this thread has been revived. I think its always useful to see if our common sense assumptions are supported by data.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Peterson View Post
The study is very flawed in that it didn't take into consideration a few things like the amount of time people spend in the outer suburbs compared to in the inner city area nor the ratio of people that take mass transit to work instead of driving. Of course if people drive their car to the train station and then take the train into the city and then also use the car in the burbs on the weekend then of course there is going to be a much higher incidence of dying in a car crash in the burbs than in the city.
Mike, I think you are misinterpreting the study. It is comparing risks of living in an urban environment versus risks of living in a suburban/exurban environment. It is not comparing the risk to a suburbanite who commutes to the city versus driving around in the suburbs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drover View Post
Old thread and all.... but one problem I have with the "stranger on stranger" homicide formulation, and the typical "murders mostly happen between people who know each other so if you mind your own business you'll be fine" deduction that often follows, is that it doesn't seem to take into consideration that if you live in a neighborhood with a lot of gunplay, you're more likely to be acquainted with people who engage in it whether you want to be or not. So if you end up on the wrong end of their temper and their Glock one day, people who conduct studies like this can dismiss it because it wasn't a "stranger on stranger" crime. And if your kid goes to school with a bunch of gunplay knuckleheads, is he more likely or less likely to get caught up in that lifestyle than if he's in a sedate school in the suburbs? If your kid ends up dead because of the lifestyle he was exposed to, the "it wasn't a stranger-on-stranger crime" fetishists once again get to explain it away.

At any rate, the quality of the people who live around you will have a large impact on your day-to-day quality of life, and more importantly, that of your kids. That's a lot more tangible and immediate than a remote chance of being killed by X means versus an even more remote chance of being killed by Y means.
Drover, you are absolutely correct that there are others downsides to living in an urban environment aside from the (rare) possibility of being a victim of homicide. Even when the risk of death is minimal, its the day-to-day hassles that can drive even the most dedicated urbanist out of the big city.

I think the big take-home message is that we humans are pretty bad at judging probability of rare events happening. We vastly overestimate our risk of becoming a victim of violent crime while discounting our risk of severe injury or death by automobile. We say so-and-so urban neighborhoood is so dangerous you shouldn't even drive through it because you're guaranteed to die, while at the same time jumping in our car (sometimes without wearing a seatbelt) and driving out into the night on some poorly lit high-speed suburban road without any thought of the (small) real risk of death.

I understand that there are deep-seated reasons for this discrepancy which are unlikely to change, but at the least it'd be helpful if we were more aware of our biases.
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