#clickbait

Uncomfortable truths about Hate Crime in America

Total HC by race

The FBI has a treasure trove of data on hate crimes, broken down by race, type of crime, city or state it occurred, motive and so on. The positive out of all of it is the overall trend of hate crimes has fallen dramatically since 1996 in absolute and relative terms. As always, we present the data without emotion. The figures published here are reported by the FBI. The Census Bureau is used for any population data.

As we reported in the previous post, the mainstream media is desperate to paint a narrative that anti-Asian hate crimes are about to go through the roof. Who might be behind it?

Race

The FBI data would suggest that a likely culprit of anti-Asian hate crimes might be whites, who make up c.75% of the population and totalled around 54% of hate crime offenders in 2018. Black Americans make up 13% of the US population but in 2018 were responsible for 24% of all hate crimes. Unknown races made up 12.9% and mixed races made up 6.9%. Asian-Americans are responsible for only 1.3% of offenders of hate crime, below their 5.8% representative population.

Offenders by Race

Over time, if we boil down hate crimes by race as a percentage of the overall representative populations, which doesn’t take into account repeat offenders, we can see clearly that not only has hate crime fallen in absolute terms it has plummeted in percentage terms too.

The FBI stats would tell us that Black Americans are twice as likely to commit hate crimes as White Americans as a percentage of their respective representative populations. That would be a narrative inducing headline, wouldn’t it? In absolute terms, whites still commit hate crimes at over 2x the rate of blacks and 42x that of Asians. However, the more important way to look at the data would be to say that as a % of hate crimes, over 99.98% of Black, White and Asian Americans are not in this cohort. Period.

Where does racially based hate crime usually occur? One could easily twist the data on that too.

HC Cities

One could argue that Elloree, South Carolina has 511x the race-based hate crimes of the national average. Springfield and Calhoun Falls, South Carolina would seem to support the data that South Carolinians are unhinged. Or do they? If we look at South Carolina as a state, hate crimes are more or less the same as the national average. What we did note from the stats is that the populations of Elloree, Springfield and Calhoun Falls were 652, 488 and 1,925 respectively vs a state population of 5.08 million.

We might say that a more densely populated area like Seattle (3.4mn residents) is 20x more racist than the national average. Or Washington DC at 10x. Decatur, Texas is 13x more racist per head of population but the State of Texas is below the national average. Is it a fair reflection? Probably not. The data can tell whichever story one wanted to paint. Would the media tread carefully here?

By state, the FBI data suggests the District of Columbia would seem to home to the highest percentage of all hate crimes for a state/district in America, even though as a % of the resident population, 99.96% of the citizens there are not. We can see how easy it is to paint narratives.

Republican

For the sake of comparison, we coloured the states by 2016 presidential election results. It would seem there were more Democratic-held states (blue) than Republican-held states (red) that were above the national average for hate crimes as a % of the resident population. It is not a very valid comparison but we often only hear that only Republicans are unabashed racists. Although one might argue that DC hate crimes are still committed by Republicans, even though party affiliation is not taken by the FBI. Perhaps it should!?

Race

The places where race-based hate crimes were committed threw up some interesting statistics. 25% were committed at or around the home. 20% on a highway, alley or street. 8% were unknown. Most other cases were reported at public venues such as schools, supermarkets, convenience stores or gas stations. Race hate crimes are even reported in prisons.

Religion

When religious hate crimes are committed, most are unknown. Not surprisingly, 15% occur outside a place of worship.

Sexual

Most sexual orientation hate crimes occur at or around home or alleys and streets. Bars and nightclubs account for 5%.

Although hate crimes are naturally better borne out by motives. As we can see in this chart below, c.70% of hate crimes are driven by actual offences – assault, vandalism, robbery, burglary, car theft, larceny, murder or rape. 30% is based on intimidation which could range from name-calling, racist bill posters to threats of violence.

Yet does a white carjacking a black or vice versa have the primary motive of race or theft? Is race sometimes not a factor but happenstance? Is the motive to steal a Ferrari or take the car because of the occupant’s skin? Yet the victim may point to the race of the perpetrator when filing the report.

Type

It is too easy to twist the data on hate crimes.

Is it possible COVID19 hate crimes will get a separate section in the 2020 FBI data series? Will there be a tidal wave of anti-Asian crimes as a result of Trump calling it the “China virus“?

We don’t think it is lost on most people where the virus originated but at the same time, we would also imagine that racists didn’t need any assistance to form bigoted views. Their narratives had plenty of ammunition to work with before Trump or the mainstream media mentioned it.

The better way to look at hate crimes is that they have fallen since 1996 when FBI data collection began. Whites now commit 48% fewer hate crimes as a proportion of their population cohort on a relative basis and 43% on an absolute basis. There has been a 37% relative and 18% absolute drop in hate crimes caused by blacks and 77% and 49% respective decline in Asian perpetrated hate crimes.

In aggregate there has been a 43% relative and 30% absolute decline in all hate crime offenders since 1996. Yet the media would have it that hate crimes are surging to unprecedented levels. Simply not true.

No wonder Jussie Smollett needed to stage a hate crime hoax.

Let us not forget when claims of racist hate crimes backfire.  An issue over alleged racism started when a student from Oberlin College was caught shoplifting two bottles of wine from Gibson’s Bakery while trying to buy another with a fake ID. Allyn Gibson, son of the owner chased down the shoplifter but was attacked by his accomplices. The perpetrators claimed racial profiling by the store. Oberlin College’s Dean of Students, Meredith Raimondo, joined in student protests calling Gibsons a “racist establishment.” It was then that Oberlin ended all business with the bakery (which had been an ongoing supplier to the college since 1885). Flyers were printed and the store attacked.

Oberlin College in Ohio was sued for defamation and charged $44.2m in damages. It was awarded by the court to Gibson’s Bakery for unsubstantiated claims of racism.

Which begs the question, just how severe were the hate crimes reported by the FBI, were they prosecuted and how many were thrown out for the lack of evidence or being unsubstantiated? That is not contained in the published FBI data.

Anti-Asian hate crime stats to date. A COVID19 surge ahead?

As with almost everything, the mainstream media want to whip up a story that anti-Asian hate crimes could surge during the current pandemic due to Trump calling it the “Chinese virus“. Never mind that the mainstream media used the term itself until it became more fashionable to turn it into a dog whistle to attack the president. Forget context and perspective when chasing clickbait.

Hate crime in America has fallen from 9,861 incidents in 1997 to 7,120 in 2018. These are official FBI stats. We’ll have to wait till November 2021 to get the official 2020 aggregated hate crime statistics unless the FBI release an interim statement.

The Hill noted,

“The FBI is assuring the public that investigating hate crimes remains a top concern amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The agency updated its guidance on COVID-19 to note that “protecting civil rights and investigating hate crimes remain a high priority for the FBI.” The update comes amid growing warnings about hate crimes targeting Asian Americans over the coronavirus.

The bureau added in an intelligence report obtained by ABC News this week that “hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease … endangering Asian American communities.”

According to the FBI, anti-Asian hate crime has fallen from a peak of 527 in 1996 to 148 incidents in 2018. In 2018, Asians were 0.00071% likely to suffer a hate crime relative to the Asian American population. Technically, one could argue there was a 13% surge on the 2017 figure. Why didn’t the media drum up a story on that?

After the 9/11 terrorist attack, anti-Islamic hate crimes surged from a trough of 22 before the incident to 481 in 2002. At last count, there were 188 hate crimes against the Muslim community in 2018, or 0.0076% of the representative population in America, a 31% fall on 2017.

Anti-Native American hate crimes trended at a very low level out to 2010. Since then they’ve surged from a low of 44 cases to 154 under Obama and at last count under Trump sit at 194 in 2018.

Anti Hispanic hate crime has fallen from a peak of 636 in 1997 to a trough of 299 in 2015 to 485 at last count.

Anti-Semitic hate crimes remain the highest among all religions in America. They have drifted down to a low of 609 in 2014 from the peak of 1,182 in 1996 but in 2018 saw a resurgence to 838 or 0.0147% of the representative population.

As a % of the black population, Anti-Black hate crimes have fallen from 0.0131% to 0.0046% of their racial background. In 2018 hate crimes fell 4% on 2017 to 1,943 incidents. In 1996 this figure was 4,469.

Why didn’t the media run the narrative of Zika or Ebola causing a surge in anti-African American crimes given those viruses were named after places in Africa? Surely any old excuse will do for foaming at the mouth racists.

As a % of the total population, anti-white hate crimes have slid from 0.00052% in 1996 to 0.00024% in 2018, up from 0.00016% in 2011. The media would never run a narrative that hate crimes against whites have jumped since 51% since 2011.

However, what would a surge in anti-Asian hate crimes entail in the media’s mind? With the law of small numbers, any surge won’t require much in absolute terms.

As of 2018, statistically one was 8x more likely to suffer an anti-LGBT attack than an anti-Asian hate crime in America.

In a world where smartphones are everywhere (aka amateur news reporters), it is surprising that despite this, the mainstream media hasn’t unearthed one grainy picture of a racist wailing at Asians over COVID19. Could it be the media might have to stage a Jussie Smollett hoax to drum up the narrative?

Lazy Journalism 101

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News reports, “Australians are becoming increasing worried about climate, with their concern on the issue doubling since 2018…Researchers for the latest Mapping Social Cohesion Report asked Australians to name their biggest concern off the top of their heads, with 19 per cent saying climate change.”

From the Mapping Social Cohesion report of 2017, “Environmental issues have declined from a peak of 18% in 2011 to 7% in 2017, close to the level of the previous
four years.

So essentially the above search took CM less than a minute. Effectively depending on the start point, we are near as makes no difference the same as we were in 2011 in our views on climate change. If the media outlet wanted CM to do their sensationalism for them they technically could have run a “near trebling from 2017” headline.

Typical media clickbait but we’ve proved they aren’t even any good at it. Hopeless alarmists.

Mental Illness = Gun Violence?

As ever, the mainstream media are sensationalizing “mental health” and the connection to gun massacres. Let’s not forget that mental health can be categorized in a broad variety of ways – from mild anxiety, ADHD to PTSD and full blown bi-polar or schizophrenia. The mainstream media would have us believe that Trump wants the keys to the gun cabinet handed over to certified crackpots to go on white supremacist fueled mass rampages. It is easy to say that those who commit these atrocities must be mad. How easy is it to fall for that assumption? Yet the stats say otherwise.

First, what is this bill that has been repealed by Trump? Why is the media making such clickbait hyperventilating news of something that was already enacted c.2 years ago?

The previous Obama bill allowed gun retailers to get access to “mental health” related social security benefits paid to potential buyers. There are nine categories of mental disorders covered in the Social Security Blue Book. These include:

Affective disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Autism and related disorders

Mental retardation

Organic Mental Disorders

Personality disorders

Schizophrenia, paranoia, and psychotic disorders

Somatoform disorders

Substance addiction

The idea is that if one had claustrophobia or similar mild anxiety, it would be unlikely to be a factor in causing someone to shoot up a Walmart. In order to get mental health disability checks, the applicant must prove compliance to prescribed medication and that they seek regular treatment from professionals. Why do we automatically assume that mental health status is a direct trigger to mass murder? Simply because it is easy to categorize these events to unhinged crazies and presume that there was ‘illness’ involved.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in America showed,

Thirty-four subjects, acting alone or in pairs, committed 27 mass murders between 1958 and 1999. The sample consisted of males with a median age of 17. 70% were described as a loner. 61.5% had problems with substance abuse. 48% had preoccupations with weapons. 43.5% had been victims of bullying. Although 23% had a documented psychiatric history, only 6% were judged to have been psychotic at the time of the mass murder. Depressive symptoms and historical antisocial behaviors were predominant. There was a precipitating event in most cases–usually a perceived failure in love or school–and most subjects made threatening statements regarding the mass murder to third parties. The majority of the sample clustered into three types: the family annihilator, the classroom avenger, and the criminal opportunist.”

Recall Cuban Parkland, Florida student Emma Gonzalez admitted she’d bullied the shooter Nikolas Cruz. It doesn’t excuse his actions. Nor hers.

Take cyber bullying stats from the Association of Psychological Science in the US. In 2015 more than 16,000 young people were absent from school daily because of bullying. 83% of young people say cyber bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem. 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of cyberbullying. 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

So the stats tell us in 3 out of 4 cases, mental illness was not the culprit in mass shootings. A violent/bullying, substance abuse based environment was.

As mentioned in the previous post, how is it we can find out about the history of shooters within hours of the terror? Surely the powers at the FBI, NSA etc can monitor the traffic of hate – death lists, death threats etc and use that as the basis of background checks rather than rely on whether someone received mental health related disability cheques? Perhaps someone who is fully healed from a mental illness as a child poses no threat if wanting to hunt or fire at a supervised gun range. Perhaps that individual wants to be a security guard?

Dr Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral science at the Duke University School of Medicine believes that in the event of unlawful use of a firearm by those with mental illness, 95% likely to turn the weapon on themselves than commit homicide.

He also believes that those who are violent or been charged with assault make far better predictors of homicidal behavior than the outcome of a mental health diagnosis.

In Connecticut, almost 23,300 people were diagnosed with a history of serious mental illness. 7% were disqualified from owning a gun because of that mental record. 35% were banned based on a disqualifying criminal record that wasn’t necessarily linked to the mental illness.

Dr. Swanson closed with,

We need to think of violence itself as a communicable disease. We have kids growing up exposed to terrible trauma. We did a study some years ago, looking at [violence risk] among people with serious mental illness. The three risk factors we found were most important: first, a history of violent victimization early in life, second, substance abuse, and the third is exposure to violence in the environment around you. People who had none of those risk factors ― even with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia ― had very low rates of violent behavior…Abuse, violence in the environment around you ― those are the kinds of things you’re not going to solve by having someone take a mood stabilizer.”

Sadly such is the state of lazy journalism that ‘respected media outlets’ simply infer that those that commit mass murder are simply head cases and giving them access to guns will somehow create a bigger problem. That’s how the mainstream media is portraying a 2-yr old bill to whip up more misunderstanding.

Air India seconds from disaster?

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Typical to see the press try to link the tragic accident caused by engine failure on a Southwest flight and a poorly fitted window frame on an Air India 787. The press once again went for clickbait talking about “smashed window…three rushed to hospital” instead of trying to search fact that this was a cosmetic folly and nothing more.

The main difference was in the Southwest accident, engine parts flying at 3,000rpm punctured the EXTERIOR window causing rapid decompression. In Air India’s case a poorly mounted interior window which has the functions of sound deadening and aesthetics popped out of a mount which would cause zero risk of compromising the plane’s structural integrity. If you look at the picture the oxygen masks haven’t deployed which would occur automatically if it did.

The sad truth of the Southwest uncontained failure is that the engine casing is supposed to catch any debris that breaks off. Such metal fatigue is more likely on such aircraft types (737) is that the short haul nature puts more stress on components. Such aircraft make more than half a dozen cycles (takeoff/landing) a day meaning wear and tear is higher. Tyres make a good reference- a 737 gets new tyres on average every 20 days. A long haul aircraft despite being heavier gets tyres every 40-60 days.

So typical press phooey to connect two completely unrelated accidents.

Americans read fewer newspapers today than in 1940

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It is hardly surprising that hard copy newspaper consumption in America is declining. In fact in 2014, fewer hard copies were sold than in 1940. So that is 12% of the population read hard copy vs 32% 76 years ago. Internet has changed all that.

The Newspaper Association of America (NAA) said “the digital audience engaged with newspaper content reached a new peak in August 2015, totalling 179.3 million adult unique visitors.” So over half of Americans access media. I guess we don’t have stats of radio back in the 1940s (not that I could find) which is the smartphone equivalent of the day.

The latest data also revealed:

 More than nine in 10 men (93%) and women (92%) ages 25-44 who were online in August 2015 engaged with newspaper digital content.

 The newspaper digital audience grew more than twice as fast as the overall internet audience for age groups 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44.

 Half of the newspaper digital audience is composed of those who use only mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) for their newspaper digital content

 Eight in 10 of the newspaper mobile audience use smartphones exclusively for access.

Is it any wonder that the world is now full of ‘click bait’ headlines? There can be no doubt that general journalism has gone down the plughole for quality,insight and balance. I keep an ever shrinking list of publications I religiously read. Is it any wonder when we look at newspaper circulation that poor journalism is seeing falling readership. Fairfax in Australia shed 120 journo jobs in March as profitability is one quarter of the peak on revenues that are 40% lower. I guess now journos get paid for clicks not content.

I recall an interview I did on BBC Radio 5 Live which came about by ‘trending’. I wrote a report on crime which found its way into the FT and then got syndicated to Fox (who didn’t do the honourable thing and quote the source I might add), Reuters and translated into about 15 other languages. All said and told over 3 million hits. The subject Japanese pensioners breaking into prison. When I spoke to the BBC’s story gatherers, they had no interest in any other subjects. If it trends (no matter how irrelevant) it will get air time. Rather than importance, popularity is the key. Click bait. That to me is a worrying side of media and its dumbing down. That a video is watched 100 million times still does not mean that it is the prevailing view or sentiment of those who watch it but somehow people mistakenly think it is. I still remain surprised how few people see the impending economic crisis coming our way. Perhaps too buried in watching YouTube or Facebook to notice. Too busy taking photos of food and selfies.