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Thread: What variables affect crime?

  1. #1
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    Being an engineer and having taken several courses dedicated to mathematical modeling, I'm a firm believer that almost anything can be modeled mathematically. Models may not be 100% accurate, but they should at least be more accurate than normal probabilitistic distributions.

    We had several case studies in the classes, including shark population interaction with harvesting and population caps to determine equilibrium points, radioactive isotope decay between multiple elements to determine painting dates, and waterflow control between multiple bodies of water to determine the effect of controlling of pollution.

    Being an avid gun carrier, I've always considered what it would be like to attempt to model crime, and how gun control falls into the picture.

    Pro-gun people quickly point to Dr. Lott's research. Anti-gun people dispute it and point to their researchers' opposite findings.

    I found an interesting article found here:
    http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G1-80924579.html

    that some of you might enjoy reading. The author is neutral on the subject and basically comes to the conclusion that the majority of econometric models published in "scholarly journals" are completely bogus and tweaked to the researcher's likings by manipulating the data sets.

    All in all, no one has any clue how gun control affects crime.

    Another interesting point that the author didn't cover, to further validate his point, is how inaccurate the data sets really are. People keep pointing to statistics and data to support their models. Yet if you take a wonderful and clean city like Baltimore, if you were to use the publically released crime data, your model would be entirely invalid because Martin O'Malley tweaks crime rates.

    Anyways, just something for you to chew on.

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    All in all, no one has any clue how gun control affects crime.
    What aspect of crime? Commission? Disuasion? Severity? What kind of crime?

    It's a rather open-ended statement, though one can reasonably infer that, if you have more gun control and assume that bad guys will continue to use guns that, in fact, MORE crime will occur in the form of bad guys illegally obtaining guns as the only people who obey laws are law-abiding citizens.

    If it's prevention during the commission, the largest variable would be the number of people who don't report a thwarted criminal to the police. I'm certainly no mathematician, so I certainly wouldn't want any type of job trying to map this out.

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    Wynder wrote:
    All in all, no one has any clue how gun control affects crime.
    What aspect of crime? Commission? Disuasion? Severity? What kind of crime?
    Yes.

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    nickerj1 wrote:
    Wynder wrote:
    All in all, no one has any clue how gun control affects crime.
    What aspect of crime? Commission? Disuasion? Severity? What kind of crime?
    Yes.
    Oy. I'll stick to developing software.

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    Well, good luck modeling that

    I wouldn't know where to begin. Part of the problem, it seems, is that so little of the factors can be quantified. To be quite literal, you can't put a value on a family... or education, culture, and other aspects that are known to affect crime, though the extent of the effects is unknown.

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    nickerj1 wrote:
    Another interesting point that the author didn't cover, to further validate his point, is how inaccurate the data sets really are. People keep pointing to statistics and data to support their models. Yet if you take a wonderful and clean city like Baltimore, if you were to use the publically released crime data, your model would be entirely invalid because Martin O'Malley tweaks crime rates.

    Anyways, just something for you to chew on.
    Good topic. Let's first say that ANY mathematical model attempts to reproduce reality and therefore is based upon it. You will therefore need real-world values, specifically a histographic breakdown of crimes committed and attempted, where, what time, and by whom. You have a LOT of variables here; many people are habitual criminals, but many are crimes of passion.

    Now, the general proof of guilt is established through means, motive and opportunity. If you can prove a person had these three things toa point thatexcludes all other possibilities, you've proven they committed the crime, so by that same token a person who commits a crimehas means, motive and opportunity, and the total absence of any one of these means that crime does not and perhaps cannot happen. Certain of these factors are under human control; people who take strict security measures reduce opportunity, while those who do not increase it. Those who are well-provided for, by themselves or others, have no physical motive to commit crime, however there may still be a mental predisposition to commit crime, or a physical motive may be introduced because of fear of loss. The means to commit a crime can in some cases be controlled, but we're all too familiar with that kind of thing, and ANYTHING can be used as a murder weapon.

    Of these, motive is most important. If there is no desire to commit crime, crime generallydoesn't happen; crime MUST have either intent or negligence as its root cause, with action (intent)far outweighing inaction (negligence)as the proximate cause of crime. A person with motive on the other hand will generally find the means and opportunity, as there can be no fail-safe way to effectively reduce those aspects to "zero". Let's think along those lines and establish the mindset of someone who commits a crime. Quite simply, the urge to commit the crime must exceed the person'smental opposition to the crime. That can be either a strong urge, based on circumstances and/or mental predisposition, or a weak mental opposition, perhaps a justification, an ignorance of the consequences, or simply a low moral opposition. A person who has these variables set such that urge overpowers opposition is highly likely to commit a crime, and an area with many such people will have a high crime rate.

    There's a common variable here: money. The lack of it provides motive due to circumstances, while an abundance can decrease opportunity, but can also increase means. In addition, there's a geographical aspect; population density and distribution of wealth. Poor rural people living among other poor rural people have no motive; they gain little by robbing from equally poor people nearby, and in many cases do not know material wealth. However, people living in high-density cities provide stark contrast between rich and poor, sometimes just a few streets apart. The poor can't miss seeing the rich and how much better life is, while the rich become increasingly adept at ignoring the poor. The juxtaposition ofwealth and povertyincreases motive and opportunity, andthe increase steepens as the difference in wealth increasesand geographical distance decreases.

    Therefore, "the love of money is the root of all evil" is a very true statement indeed. However, there are plenty of criminals who are not motivated by money.Emotional painis probably the next most popular cause of crime. The loss or chronic absence of emotional interaction (love, friendship, whatever) is a downer. That can provide justification, and therefore decreased opposition and in turn increased motive, to the commission of a crime. Its opposite, emotional pleasure, can both increase and decrease crime. Most highly-desireable feelings are either difficult to arrive at or short-lived. Like money, the absence of good feelings provides an urge to attain them. The quick and dirty way is alcohol, drugs, and in the case of those with a sadistic predisposition, causing harm to others. These are quick, powerful highs, and like a glimpse of financial wealth, are addictive.Emotionalfactors are independent of money; wealth doesn't buy happiness, while being happy doesn't make you rich. However, those who are wealthy are achieving their goals (something to feel good about) while those who are poor have failed or did not have goals (something to feel bad about).

    Have I given you enough variables yet? The desire of money or the prevention of its loss,and the desire for emotional pleasureor the prevention of pain,are the two biggest motives of crime. They provide an urge to commit a crime while at the same time providing justification for moral opposition. They in turn are based on myriad events happening to thousands of people that I posit are impossible to predict. Given a series of events, one could probably calculate values that show a high motive to commit a certain type of crime, but any mathematical model will, I propose, be largely empirical as the inputs are varied and difficult to quantify.

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    I'm starting to suspect gun possession and gun control have only secondary and minor effects on crime, if at all.

    There is a study posted on a pro-gun site somewhere thatshows a number of countries,their relative crime rates, and gun possession. I can't remember which site; but it shouldn't take long to find if someone is really interested. Perhaps it was Dave Kopel's?

    Understandings I have, right or wrong:

    • Finland is well armed with a low crime rate.
    • Switzerland is well armed with a low crime rate.
    • Japan is unarmed with a low crime rate.
    • The US is well armed with a comparatively high crime rate.
    • England and Australia are unarmed with high crime rates.
    I'll make you an offer: I will argue and fight for all of your rights, if you will do the same for me. That is the only way freedom can work. We have to respect all rights, all the time--and strive to win the rights of the other guy as much as for ourselves.

    If I am equal to another, how can I legitimately govern him without his express individual consent?

    There is no human being on earth I hate so much I would actually vote to inflict government upon him.

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    John Lott has been cited as having the "best" data on the positive correlation between gun ownership and reduction in crime. And Harvard has just recently released a study (do not know who commissioned it - another importand issue) that shows gun control has no effect on crime rates. Both have been posted extensively her on OCDO as well as many other boards.

    You might want to look at their work to get an idea of how figures were arrived at.

    For myself, I tend to not believe anything written on the subject because there is too much data missing - crimes that "do not happen" because a gun was displayed are not reported, as a crimes that "do not happen" because the BG thought the potential victim might fight back. It's sort of like asking how many folks run the red light at the proverbial deserted country crossroads - we only know about the ones that are arrested (still not all) and the ones who brag about it (again not all and even more unreliable than data on those arrested).

    stay safe.

    skidmark
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    skidmark wrote:
    For myself, I tend to not believe anything written on the subject because there is too much data missing - crimes that "do not happen" because a gun was displayed are not reported, as a crimes that "do not happen" because the BG thought the potential victim might fight back. It's sort of like asking how many folks run the red light at the proverbial deserted country crossroads - we only know about the ones that are arrested (still not all) and the ones who brag about it (again not all and even more unreliable than data on those arrested).
    Not to mention the obvious aspect that we don't know exactly how many crimes occur... not all crimes that happen are reported (e.x. when someone has their kilo of coke stolen during an armed robbery), and not all crimes that are reported actually happen (e.x. "man with a gun" calls).

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