Monday, June 30, 2008

Up Pops The Devil!!

Yesterday's Washington Post had an article called, "Guns For Safety? Dream On, Scalia" by none other than Dr. Arthur Kellermann.

I thought the sumbitch was daid!

Dr. K is the author of most of the "gun control" studies published in the medical literature in the 1980's and 1990's. He is the lead author of the 1986 article, "Protection or Peril?" which is the source of the now-discredited factoid that "a gun in the home is 43 times more likely to be used to kill a family member than a burglar, rapist or other intruder." After a firestorm of criticism from other academics over his methods and conclusions, Dr. K backed down to 22-to-1, and then to 12-to-1, which is the ratio he uses in this article.

As an inveterate (and indefatigable) writer of letters to the editor, I could not resist, and, since the WaPo won't publish it, I thought I would share it with mah bloggies:

To the editor,

In the article in Sunday’s paper, “Guns For Safety? Dream On, Scalia”, Dr. Arthur Kellermann says this, “A number of scientific studies, published in the world's most rigorous, peer-reviewed journals, show that the risks of keeping a loaded gun in the home strongly outweigh the potential benefits.”

It’s a good thing that The Washington Post isn’t a “rigorous, peer-reviewed journal”, because Kellermann’s statement is simply false. And as the author of the majority of those studies, he knows this. Kellermann’s studies may be peer-reviewed, but his statements to the mass media are not.

The studies he cites rely on statistical models which cannot distinguish between cause and effect. For example, Kellermann finds a group of gun-owning households with high homicide rates and concludes that owning a gun caused the increase in homicide risk. He all but ignores the equally-likely and far more plausible explanation that the victim already had a high risk of homicide when he decided to bring a gun into the house, and it was not the gun that caused the increase in homicide risk. In fact, hundreds of victims in Kellermann's studies have died by stabbing, strangling, beatings, and even poisoning, but the "risk factor" technique allows Kellermann to count these as "gun-related deaths".

If Kellermann used his technique in a study to identify the causes of obesity, and he discovered a lot of diet soda in the refrigerators of his obese subjects, he would conclude that consuming diet soda causes obesity. Of course, he couldn’t say that in his final report; he would have to say that “consuming diet soda is associated with obesity”. That would satisfy the peer-reviewers and his study could be published in a medical journal. Then Dr. Kellermann would be free to tell the mainstream press that he “strongly advises against keeping diet soda in the house” because it is “strongly and independently associated with obesity”.

Most of the subjects in Kellermann’s studies were taken from coroners’ reports. That seems logical until you realize that in his sample, every single gun-owner was dead before the study even began. When you start with a statistical sample like that, no wonder owning a gun looks so dangerous. But tens of millions of Americans own guns safely and responsibly, and Kellermann might be interested in meeting some of them, if he could just stop chasing ambulances.

Turk Turon
Bishkek, Turonistan


New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

thanks, Turk. I was looking for that info.

D.W. Drang said...

I thought we drove a stake through what that mo' fo' uses to pump circulatory fluid and buried him in a crossroads at midnight on April 30th! That "study" had holes in it you could drive the USS Abraham Lincoln through--now I have to dig up all the letters to the editor I wrote when it came put!

Tam said...

"Up Pops The Devil!!"

...he's about this big.
He had a red suit on
And widow's peak
And then a pointed tail
And like a sulfur reek...

Sorry, that's as accurate as I can get from memory... :D

Turk Turon said...

What, there's a song?