Friday, November 02, 2012

Bad Analogies Cause Even Worse Science

Homicide as Infectious Disease: Using Public Health Methods to Investigate the Diffusion of Homicide

April Zeoli et al.
Justice Quarterly, forthcoming

Abstract: This study examined the spatial and temporal movement of homicide in Newark, New Jersey from January 1982 through September 2008. We hypothesized that homicide would diffuse in a similar process to an infectious disease with firearms and gangs operating as the infectious agents. A total of 2,366 homicide incidents were analyzed using SaTScan v.9.0, a cluster detection software. The results revealed spatio-temporal patterns of expansion diffusion: overall, firearm and gang homicide clusters in Newark evolved from a common area in the center of the city and spread southward and westward over the course of two decades. This pattern of movement has implications in regards to the susceptibility of populations to homicide, particularly because northern and eastern Newark remained largely immune to homicide clusters. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings, as well as recommendations for future research, are discussed.

Suppose murder were like a rutabaga.  Then, it would be mostly dirty and underground, with a green leafy top.  And you could stop murder with herbicide.  If murder were like a rutabaga, that is.  It's not.  But then it's also not an infectious disease.  As Röyksopp  put it, "brave men tell the truth; the wise man's tools are analogies and puzzles."

Nod to Kevin Lewis


Brad said...

The final sentence of the abstract is icing on the dimwit cake. Oh, you discuss the implications of your findings?! Well thanks for telling me that, how unconventional!

Tom said...

Somebody was hard up for something to publish. If a firearm were an infectious agent, then by very strong evidence, a huge majority of the US population is immune.

John Cunningham said...

or as Hobbes put it so well,
"Words are wise men’s counters, they do but reckon by them; but they are the money of fools, that value them by the authority of an Aristotle, a Cicero, or a Thomas, or any other doctor whatsoever, if but a man."