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JohnH1963
January 10, 2009, 02:52 PM
The rule of statistics is the most important rule.

If you go 60 miles per hour in a 55, chances are you wont get a ticket. However, if you drive long distances on highways for a living then the chance of getting a ticket are higher. It just takes 1 or 2 tickets to have your commercial license yanked. Therefore, commercial drivers are wise to keep their vehicles right at the limit.

In the same way, its important to be anal about what is taught in training and how to approach each situation.

A patrol officer who pulls over speeders on a daily basis needs to follow his training exactly and take a cautious attitude with everyone. 99% of the time, nothing will happen and the extra precautions taken are not really needed. However, its that rare 1% which could prove fatal.

Therefore, its important to always error on the side of caution and to take no risks.

eric75
January 11, 2009, 10:14 PM
Not to hijack your thread, but the subject reminds of the quote from Joseph Stalin.
"One death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic."

Yes, the "it can never happen to me" attitude is very dangerous.

David Armstrong
January 11, 2009, 10:29 PM
You always have to take risks. Statistics help to understand just how much risk you are taking, and let you decide where you want to draw the line for risk.

cchardwick
January 11, 2009, 11:34 PM
I don't believe in statistics at all and I work as a scientist LOL. For example, take a 55 gallon bucket full of dice and throw them on the table. Then line them up in a row and look at the numbers. What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen. The odds are nearly astronimcal that the results you get will happen, but every throw of the dice it does happen depsite the odds. No matter what the odds are, you'll get unexpected results in the end that are considered 'impossible' by any statistical analysis EVERY SINGLE TIME!

KUHIO
January 11, 2009, 11:54 PM
Err on the side of caution.

JohnKSa
January 12, 2009, 01:15 AM
What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen.No, it didn't happen again, it only happened once. You are correct that the odds of it happening again are essentially nil, but that's beside the point.

You emptied the bucket putting no prior constraint on the outcome. The odds of you emptying a bucket of dice and getting an outcome (any outcome) are exactly 100%. In other words, every time you empty the bucket, the odds are exactly 100% that you will get a long row of numbers. What is very UNLIKELY is that you will be able to duplicate that long row of numbers by emptying the bucket AGAIN.

There may be good arguments against statistics, but the one you gave is not one.

BuckHammer
January 12, 2009, 01:16 AM
You always have to take risks. Statistics help to understand just how much risk you are taking, and let you decide where you want to draw the line for risk.
+1

Err on the side of caution.
+1, also.

Statistics are tools that can play an important role in making a decision. It is also always good to be safe.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 01:27 AM
There are lies, damn lies and statistics. :barf:

I think some of the statistics I see quoted on here at times are nothing more than educated guesses. :rolleyes:

I may look at some statistics regarding risk and evaluate them (if I know the context of them) but ultimately I'll use common sense.

BuckHammer
January 12, 2009, 01:51 AM
I don't believe in statistics at all and I work as a scientist LOL. For example, take a 55 gallon bucket full of dice and throw them on the table. Then line them up in a row and look at the numbers. What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen. The odds are nearly astronimcal that the results you get will happen, but every throw of the dice it does happen depsite the odds. No matter what the odds are, you'll get unexpected results in the end that are considered 'impossible' by any statistical analysis EVERY SINGLE TIME!
I think what he's trying to say (please do correct me if I'm wrong), is that if you were to hypothetically assess the chance of landing the outcome you got before you got that outcome, the chance of getting that outcome would have been so small as to be considered impossible, yet it happened anyway. I understand that argument perfectly, and IMHO, it's a good one, if that is indeed cchardwick's point.

I think some of the statistics I see quoted on here at times are nothing more than educated guesses.
+1, not mentioning names, though.

JohnKSa
January 12, 2009, 01:57 AM
...if you were to hypothetically assess the chance of landing the outcome you got before you got that outcome, the chance of getting that outcome would have been so small as to be considered impossible, yet it happened anyway.The problem with the argument is this:

Predicting outcome X, dumping the bucket and actually getting outcome X is one thing. Odds are essentially nil.

NOT predicting any outcome at all, dumping the bucket and getting outcome Z and THEN saying--wow, what are the odds of that happening again is another thing entirely.

EVERY time you dump the bucket you will get SOME outcome. Assessing the odds as if you had predicted that particular outcome is interesting but it doesn't tell you anything other than your chances of doing it AGAIN are VERY small.

BuckHammer
January 12, 2009, 02:09 AM
EVERY time you dump the bucket you will get SOME outcome. Assessing the odds as if you had predicted that particular outcome is interesting but it doesn't tell you anything other than your chances of doing it AGAIN are VERY small.
I understand that point, and it's a good one, too. But the chance of you getting the specific outcome you did get was negligible. I agree that it is irrelevant now, because it is reality. It just makes you think about what is negligible. It is a very interesting discussion for both sides and I believe both sides of these philosophies make great points.

JohnKSa
January 12, 2009, 02:21 AM
But the chance of you getting the specific outcome you did get was negligible.The chance of getting the specific outcome again is negligible.

Since there were no restrictions placed on the outcome before dumping the bucket, the odds of getting the desired outcome (which is any outcome since no restrictions were stated) the first time you dump the bucket was 100%.

Trying to assess the probability of events retroactively when no predictions or restrictions were made before the event doesn't make any sense.

It may seem like there's not really any difference in the odds but there is. If you don't believe me try going to Vegas and asking to be allowed to place your roulette bet AFTER the wheel stops and then use cchardwick's explanation as to why the odds are still going to be against your winning. ;)

Rifleman 173
January 12, 2009, 04:37 AM
Statistics have their place in the world. Trouble is that people interpret what the statistics mean and how to use them in a more effective manner.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 10:57 AM
Some of this discussion makes my head hurt. But I was never good in math. :barf:

I took statistics in graduate and undergraduate and am not sure how they relate to most of our topics in this forum of tactics. Maybe I am missing it but I see visions of someone doing mental odds calculations in their heads ala' Mr. Spock or Data as they go thru their day. Should I stop at this stop & rob to get a soft drink or not? Hmmm, it's 3:30 PM and the moon is full and the temperature is 10 deg and the stock market is down so no I won't do it. As opposed to just being aware and looking around the area before we go in etc. I know we all take risks every day, I am not so sure that we on a personal basis, base our actions on all these mental statistical calculations. We have experience and common sense and maybe we read about what others have done. One discussion I have heard on here a lot is that most people go through life and never need a firearm. Don't know the stats but I can believe that. I carry anyway, because I don't want to be the one who needs it and doesn't have. No real statistical calculations for me!

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 11:04 AM
We had a similar discussion about odds in another thread. It is always good to know the odds so that you can prepare for an event that is likely enough to occur that you feel the need to prepare. On the flip side, it's also good to know the odds so that the fear mongers of the world can't make you freak out about everything THEY decide is a big problem.

The world is full of problems. We tend to address them in order of frequency and severity. As the more common and severe problems are dealt with we tend to redirect out attention to those problems that went unnoticed previously. Eventually, we focus on problems that most people will go through their entire lives and never experience. Why? Sometimes it's because someone who did experience that problem gets on their soapbox to try and save the world from that "problem". Other times it's frankly, because we don't have any more important problems to deal with.

As an example (for northerners, mostly)... Seen any news stories lately about the "dangers" of snow sledding? I have, more than one. Why is it that (literally) every person I know did it as a kid, with no helmets even!, and we never had any problems? Well, because it's not really dangerous but there really aren't any other problems out there bothering our kids (that aren't already being addressed) so it's "on to the next worst event".

We have experience and common sense and maybe we read about what others have done.

You're exactly right. Do you know what "experience" is though? It's your brain using your past and information from others, essentially calculating the odds of every situation, on the fly, without your permission. Constantly assessing the risks and letting you know what's "safe" and what isn't. So do "we" have to stop and assess the odds constantly? No, you're too slow. Your brain already did it.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 11:16 AM
It is always good to know the odds so that you can prepare for an event that is likely enough to occur that you feel the need to prepare.

I think that in the personal realm that is intuitive and not mathmatical. When someone says "what are the odds" I hear math. What I see on a lot of these discussions are math problems derived from "studies" that various academics throw about. I agree we assess risk but saying that there is a 1 in 200 chance you will need a gun sometime in your life is not why I carry and seems I don't think my brain calculated that.

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 11:22 AM
What are the odds of that number happening again from a throw of the dice? It's nearly impossible but it did happen.
That is not a particularly accurate description of the process or of the odds.

Wuchak
January 12, 2009, 11:24 AM
I get what you are saying but I disagree. There is no way to lead a risk free life. It's about reducing risks and putting blocks in place to prevent or lessen the severity of those that can be prevented and having contingency plans in place for others. In your example of speeding the real message there should be not to avoid risk, but don't break the law. The biggest risk when driving is death and bodily injury. You cannot avoid this risk, it is inherent in the act of driving. All you can do is try to reduce the odds of an accident through things you can control e.g. keep car in good running condition, tires inflated, headlights on even during the day, don't talk on the cell phone, keep both hands on the wheel, use your signals, etc. and lessen the effects in the event something does happen e.g. airbags, seatbelts, keep speed within limits to lessen the severity, have a good insurance policy.

Some fun thoughts on statistics

I always find that statistics are hard to swallow and impossible to digest. The only one I can ever remember is that if all the people who go to sleep in church were laid end to end they would be a lot more comfortable. ~Mrs. Robert A. Taft

The average human has one breast and one testicle. ~Des McHale

Do not put your faith in what statistics say until you have carefully considered what they do not say. ~William W. Watt

He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lampposts - for support rather than for illumination. ~Andrew Lang

Statistics are like women; mirrors of purest virtue and truth, or like whores to use as one pleases. ~Theodor Billroth

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 11:26 AM
I think that in the personal realm that is intuitive and not mathmatical.

I agree. I only tend to invoke math when some obscure issue arises that makes my intuition say "Seriously? I don't know if that's a real problem..." That's when I go looking for numbers.

Basically, some news lady comes on TV and starts blathering about dangerous snow sledding. My statistical center, "intuition", starts doing the math... let's see, I was never hurt in thousands of tries, no one I know was ever hurt, I recall only a few stories (mostly about idiots sledding into the road)... my intuition presses the "BS" button.. I don't buy it. Of course all this happens in about a nano-second, without any conscious thought. My first conscious thought is "That's BS, these people need more to worry about..."

There is no way to lead a risk free life....All you can do is try to reduce the odds...

You're exactly right. I just think it helps to know which odds are WORTH reducing. Some can be ignored. For instance, some wives have unceremoniously removed their husbands appendages. Do I prepare for that happening? No.

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 11:33 AM
Do you know what "experience" is though? It's your brain using your past and information from others, essentially calculating the odds of every situation, on the fly, without your permission. Constantly assessing the risks and letting you know what's "safe" and what isn't. So do "we" have to stop and assess the odds constantly? No, you're too slow. Your brain already did it.
Exactly, and that is something some fail to realize or to admit. We are constantly determining the odds as we go through life. Frequently we figure them on a very broad level: It's OK to drive to work today because I probably won't get into an accident. Sometimes we figure them on the basis of bad information, such as what the local 6:00 news has as the lead story. We are constantly figuring cost versus benefit, even when we don't actively consider it. We do much of it automatically and without conscious thought. The more accurate our information the more accurate our cost/benefit analysis.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 11:48 AM
Where I see the statistics thing falling apart is when someone says: "well studies show that the odds are if you are robbed you won't be harmed, so don't resist." or "don't engage in a gunfight ever because cops only hit 20% of the time" or "there is no need to carry because the UCR shows odds that you won't be attacked" and so on. I will assess the situation as I see it then and take action based on what I see and the training and experience I have at that time and not based on odds from a study some academic quotes, which could be wrong.

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 11:55 AM
I will assess the situation as I see it then and take action based on what I see and the training and experience I have at that time and not based on odds from a study some academic quotes, which could be wrong.

You're absolutely right. On the flip side, it's equally wrong to suggest an automatic "SHOOT" response to any given situation. Such responses are based on an equally deceptive and inaccurate application of statistics.

psyfly
January 12, 2009, 12:08 PM
A few minor observations about statistics that I have found helpful.

1. Statistics are about counting numbers (most often LARGE numbers) of events.

2. An event cannot be counted as a part of a statistic until the event is over.

3. There are no statistics that can tell us anything really useful about a single event that hasn’t even happened yet.

4. From a personal perspective, it doesn’t much matter if the odds are two to one or 2 million to one……..if you happen to be the one ;).

I like to be prepared for the possibility, however small, that I will be the one.

Best,

Will

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 12:56 PM
I like to be prepared for the possibility, however small, that I will be the one.
Sure, we'd all like that. However, it isn't possible, so we need to decide what possibilities we can prepare for and what possibilities we should prepare for. Is it better to prepare for a BG attacking you in a parking lot or to prepare for a tiger leaping through your living room window and trying to eat you? Both are possible.
3. There are no statistics that can tell us anything really useful about a single event that hasn’t even happened yet.
Sure there are. For example, statistics can tell us that you are probably going to be better off in a vehicle accident if you are using your seat belt than if you are not using it.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 01:38 PM
On the flip side, it's equally wrong to suggest an automatic "SHOOT" response to any given situation. Such responses are based on an equally deceptive and inaccurate application of statistics.

peetza, we have a very serious case of agreement here. :)

psyfly
January 12, 2009, 02:17 PM
Sure there are. For example, statistics can tell us that you are probably going to be better off in a vehicle accident if you are using your seat belt than if you are not using it.

I'm not convinced.

One, the operative word in your response here, unfortunately for certainty, is "probably".

Two, okay, I was using a bit of hyperbole, statistics do identify trends which can be useful to us in making decisions. But they cannot, by their nature, tell us anything predictive about a single individual or event.

For example, I have a good friend who is alive today because she was sitting on her seatbelt during the accident. Had she been wearing it, she would not have survived. Does this lead me to not wear my seatbelt? Of course not, after all, her statistic has already been counted :). But it does help illustrate the limitations of statistical methods in individual prediction.

Best,

Will

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 02:24 PM
peetza, we have a very serious case of agreement here.

What are we supposed to argue about then?:D:)

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 03:29 PM
One, the operative word in your response here, unfortunately for certainty, is "probably".
Of course, that is what predictive stats deal with, probability. They allow us to understand the dynamics of a situation. They let us know what will "probably" happen so we can build a response that deals with the probability of that response working. For example, in a murder situation, we know with a high degree of likelihood that going along with the killer's wishes is is probably going to result in you being killed, just like we know that in an armed robbery situation going along with the robber's wishes will probably minimize your loss and danger. You can never be certain, but you can know what tends to work out best and start from there.
But they cannot, by their nature, tell us anything predictive about a single individual or event.
Sure they do. I can predict that you will not live to be 300 years old. I can predict that in an NBA basketball game that each team will score at least one goal.
For example, I have a good friend who is alive today because she was sitting on her seatbelt during the accident. Had she been wearing it, she would not have survived.
That is an assumption, unless you have replicated the accident with her wearing the belt and she did die.
But it does help illustrate the limitations of statistical methods in individual prediction.
Of course there are limits, but that does not mean you cannot predict at all or without any level of certainty. There will always be some degree of uncertainty, but the lower one gets that the better.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 03:30 PM
What are we supposed to argue about then?

Oh, I am sure we will find something later on;)

There will always be some degree of uncertainty

Which is why using statistics (and we haven't even discussed context or bias) are pretty useless in these types of self-defense discussions.

ZeSpectre
January 12, 2009, 03:54 PM
Sorry, I'm going to have to disagree with the OP's premise right from the start.

Self defense, tactics, and training have nothing to do with statistics.

It's not about the odds of something happening, it's all about the consequences that happen if you aren't prepared.

Glenn E. Meyer
January 12, 2009, 04:07 PM
I am totally confused by this discussion and the use of the term 'statistics'.

There are descriptive statistics and inferential statistics. To describe and predict. People do act as intuitive scientists and make predictions.

One may not explicitly worry if one's wife will dismember them but one does usually have health insurance to pay for the cost of injuries. One may not engage in adulterous behavior or spousal abuse because one predicts that this usually doesn't end well. That's making a prediction.

Most of us don't wear body armor all the time as compared to officers. Most of us don't walk around with M4s as compared to soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan. That's because we have a feel for the probabilities of a civilian in our environments needing either.

Formal statistics just quantify and test such informal views.

On fora like this, the statistics arguments usually center about:

1. How many mags do you carry?
2. Do you need a BUG?
3. Don't practice beyond 3 inches as gun fights are close up.

or something like that.

Then folks carry on about extreme cases - well, statistic methods are based on predicting the likelihood of such an outcome and the likelihood of an error if you don't take such an action. However, anyone with stat training knows that the cutoff and decision points for an action based on distributions is a subjective decision.

So when you say that you will carry one extra mag, even though it is rarely used, you are making a choice based on your view of the risk of not being ready for an extreme case. That is not outside our statistical methodologies. We evaluate the cutoffs based on such outcomes.

I see little here that does negate statistical methodolgies if correctly applied and understood. It is usually that someone wants to make a decision based solely on central tendency where these arguments go awry.

Well, a gun fight only has 3 shots on the average, thus I NEVER need more that a J frame with 5 - it's the implicit never which makes those kind of comments baloney.

I think we are smart enough to get beyond that. You plan for extremes if the risk of being in one is so horrendous that you take the inconvenience of planning for it. But these analyses are second nature if you really use statistics as they were designed.

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 04:09 PM
It's not about the odds of something happening, it's all about the consequences that happen if you aren't prepared.
How do you decide what to prepare for if you don't know what the threats are and what works to stop them? That info comes from statistics. How do you know what training works, and what tactics work? That information comes from statistics.

ZeSpectre
January 12, 2009, 04:19 PM
How do you decide what to prepare for if you don't know what the threats are and what works to stop them? That info comes from statistics. How do you know what training works, and what tactics work? That information comes from statistics.

I don't know about you but I don't prepare for trouble based on the statistical probability of what might happen to me. I take into account the general categories of bad things that happen (regardless of the "odds" of them actually happening) and try to work with broad spectrum tools and techniques that stand a chance of working under the widest variety of conditions.

I will agree that finding effective countermeasures is enhanced by a study of the statistics regarding success.

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 04:42 PM
It's not about the odds of something happening, it's all about the consequences that happen if you aren't prepared.

I made a song about that in the "other" thread. You make plans based on BOTH probability AND severity. A meteor crashing into your house would be VERY severe, yet you (I hope) aren't preparing for it. It's the same as carrying a spare mag or driving fast or not wearing a seatbelt. If you planned based entirely on severity you would, well for one thing you'd never get out of bed, but for another thing, you'd feel compelled to walk around in body armor with the M4 mentioned by Glenn, driving an armored car with RPGs in the trunk.

You have to draw the line SOMEWHERE. That line is drawn based almost entirely on ODDS, not severity.

ZeSpectre
January 12, 2009, 04:58 PM
You make plans based on BOTH probability AND severity
Not really or I wouldn't bother with a firearm at all. The odds of me ever needing one are pretty damned small and the inconvenience of owning and carrying one is pretty big. However the severity of a situation where I'd actually need a gun and the consequences of not having one at that critical time, weigh far more heavily on my mind than the odds.

A meteor crashing into your house would be...
of no concern since there is no preparation for such an event that I'm capable of carrying out.

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 05:07 PM
Do you prepare for a plane crash in your neighborhood? A Mumbai situation? A truck driving through your house? An escaped elephant from the zoo? How about being in the middle of the North Hollywood Shootout?


Bottom Line: If you don't go about your life looking like a Marine in Baghdad then you're making your decisions based on severity and odds, MOSTLY odds because the most severe scenarios are essentially ignored.

Glenn E. Meyer
January 12, 2009, 05:07 PM
You have to take into account the odds when you look at severity.

There is a possibility that some quantum event will port me into another dimension where I will need a M4 and a plan to start a new civilization. If I didn't have such plans then the outcomes are severe. But this is unlikely and thus I leave my plans for a new civilization at home. When you say you plan for severity - that is because your realize that there is a small likelihood of the event but if that occurs it will be severe. But you don't plan for events that don't have that small but severe package.

When someone says they don't take into account the odds, that's just not true. We predict possible outcomes on most things we do.

Again, rational decision making takes into account the odds and the outcomes.

Rich Miranda
January 12, 2009, 05:23 PM
...you'll get unexpected results in the end that are considered 'impossible' by any statistical analysis

The odds of something occurring fall into a 'likelihood range'. But if something did actually occur, it was never 'impossible' that it could have.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 05:42 PM
Not really or I wouldn't bother with a firearm at all. The odds of me ever needing one are pretty damned small and the inconvenience of owning and carrying one is pretty big. However the severity of a situation where I'd actually need a gun and the consequences of not having one at that critical time, weigh far more heavily on my mind than the odds.

Common sense again. I agree odds aren't in that equation or you wouldn't carry.

Wuchak
January 12, 2009, 05:43 PM
In the most basic form of risk analysis you look at risk and severity and use them together to identify the steps you should take to either mitigate the risk or prepare for the occurrence.

Basically it's the following steps.
• Identify Risk: “What could go wrong?”
• Analyse Risk: “What is the likelihood of this happening, and what’s the impact?”
• Plan Risk Response: “What do I need to do about it?” (This is what I can do to prevent the risk from occurring.)
• Monitor and Control Risk: “How is the risk changing?” (is it growing, lessening, or staying the same over time)
• Execute Contingency Plan: “What do we do if the risk happens anyway?” (this is what I do if my plan to prevent the risk didn't work or if it is something I have no ability to control)

It's very useful to list the risks and then give a weighted value by multiplying the the likelihood and the impact to get a risk factor. I like to use a 1 - 3 - 5 scale. Where for likely-hood 1 is not likely to occur, 3 is somewhat likely to occur, 5 is almost certainly going to occur. For severity 1 is not severe at all, 3 - somewhat severe, 5 - severe.

Those items with the highest risk factors should be addressed first. In many cases there is nothing you can do to change the likely-hood of an event, you can only have a contingency plan. For example if I have an office building in the midwest there is nothing I can do to prevent a tornado from hitting it but I should have a plan in place for what I will do if one does hit it.

Statistics come in when I'm looking at establishing what bucket to classify a risk into. Statistics are great for predicting the behavior of groups of a type of event but not individual occurrences. They let me make some very educated guesses about an individual occurrence but the larger the group I am describing the more accurate my prediction can be. For example (and I'm making up the numbers) if analysis shows that out of 1,000,000 armed assaults where the victim was armed they only had to actually shoot the aggressor 20% of the time and that only 1% of those shootings was fatal I cannot tell you which percentage an armed assault you are involved in will fall into. What I could tell you is that if you were involved in an armed assault you are 4x more likely to not have to shoot as to shoot and you are very unlikely to kill the attacker if you do have to shoot.

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 06:44 PM
I don't know about you but I don't prepare for trouble based on the statistical probability of what might happen to me.
Sure you do. You probably don't have a can of shark repellent with you right now. Why not? Because you have figured out that the probability of you being attacked by a shark at this point and time is virtually nonexistent.
I take into account the general categories of bad things that happen (regardless of the "odds" of them actually happening) and try to work with broad spectrum tools and techniques that stand a chance of working under the widest variety of conditions.
And that, my friend, is a form of statistical analysis. It isn't high level and real precise, but you are still analyzing the data you have and then determining what actions you need to take to reduce your likelihood of danger. You do take into account the "odds" of them actually happening, you just don't do it on a conscious level.

ZeSpectre
January 12, 2009, 06:58 PM
David, I see your point. I'm still not sure I completely agree but then again I've been wrong before.

Brian Pfleuger
January 12, 2009, 07:02 PM
And that, my friend, is a form of statistical analysis. It isn't high level and real precise, but you are still analyzing the data you have and then determining what actions you need to take to reduce your likelihood of danger. You do take into account the "odds" of them actually happening, you just don't do it on a conscious level.


That conscious level bit is what gets people. I think a lot of people are thinking about charts and data plots and bell curves and going "What the...? I don't use statistics. These guys are crazy." We tend not to realize the amount of data our unconscious minds process, informing our conscious decisions, without any effort at all.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 12, 2009, 07:43 PM
And that, my friend, is a form of statistical analysis
I think it is called common sense.

and the problem is:

I think a lot of people are thinking about charts and data plots and bell curves and going "What the...? I don't use statistics.

when you confuse the two.:)

David Armstrong
January 12, 2009, 07:53 PM
We tend not to realize the amount of data our unconscious minds process, informing our conscious decisions, without any effort at all.
Exactly. Lots of the time when people talk about things like "a gut feeling" or "common sense" or "it just makes sense" or "it doesn't seem likely" or any of the dozen other phrases we toss around, it is that unconscious process back there doing the stats and sending us a message. Like Glenn said, "When someone says they don't take into account the odds, that's just not true. We predict possible outcomes on most things we do." We just don't realize that we are making those predictions based on what we think the odds are.

Lee Lapin
January 12, 2009, 09:11 PM
I've always figured it wasn't the ODDS that mattered, so much as the STAKES.

lpl

JohnKSa
January 12, 2009, 11:49 PM
I've always figured it wasn't the ODDS that mattered, so much as the STAKES.It's both and more.

If the stakes are negligible then it doesn't make sense to spend a lot of time/money/effort preparing for that situation regardless of the odds.

But when the stakes are large then you have to weigh the odds, your ability to make a difference and the amount of time/effort/money you can/are willing to spend.

For example, the stakes of an airliner falling on my house are huge, but the odds are astronomically small. I could protect my house by encasing it in a concrete/steel dome like they use to protect nuclear reactors, but it would take a huge amount of time/effort/money.

Given the tiny odds and the tremendous difficulty in making a difference I choose not to prepare for this event even though the stakes are tremendous.

Now, let's say that tomorrow a device comes on the market that sells at any Wal-Mart for $2.99, that plugs into a standard outlet and emits a forcefield that repels all falling aircraft. Now the time/effort/money required to protect my house is virtually nil so I might spring for the $3 even though the odds and stakes haven't changed.

Let's say that I'm worried about an asteroid hitting my house. Now nothing I can do will make a difference so the odds & stakes don't matter a bit.

Ok, for a more practical example let's look at carrying a handgun.

The odds of having to use deadly force in self-defense are quite small, but the stakes are quite large. It's a situation where the statistics show it's very likely one can improve his chances of a successful outcome if he has a handgun available.

Scenario 1: I hate guns, am on a very limited income, am allergic to steel and live in a place where guns are difficult to purchase and impossible to carry. Conclusion? I don't want a handgun, don't have the money for one, would have a hard time buying one if I wanted, it would make me sick to touch it and I couldn't carry it no matter what. So regardless of the stakes, the odds and the fact that I COULD make a difference if I had a handgun I'm not going that direction. The time/effort/money/illegality required to make it happen render the solution infeasible. So instead I buy a squirt gun and fill it with lemon juice to spray in the attacker's eyes. :rolleyes:

Scenario 2: I shoot handguns for competition, already have a concealed carry permit because it simplifies purchases and transporting firearms and I can buy the perfect carry pistol & hoslter for less than my take-home pay from a single day of work. Now carrying a handgun looks very attractive although the stakes & odds haven't changed a bit.

Hardtarget
January 13, 2009, 12:09 AM
I like to see statistics about a subject. I don't know how to analyze or compare them to get a valid conclusion, but I still like to see them

My favorite saying about statistics:

Statistics are like a bikini. What they show is interesting...and
what they hide is critical.

Don't know who said it, just know I like it.:D

Mark.

supergas452M
January 13, 2009, 01:33 AM
Statistics are best left to mathmeticians and politicians, they have absolutely NO place in the decision making process in time of crisis. No further discussion required or needed. Close this thread!

JohnKSa
January 13, 2009, 01:37 AM
...they have absolutely NO place in the decision making process in time of crisis.Correct. This is why it's important to think things through ahead of time so that you have a basic framework to operate from BEFORE things turn bad.

supergas452M
January 13, 2009, 01:42 AM
My post from another thread...which shows that I for one have thought about it beforehand.


I live every waking hour in condition yellow now. Sometimes I think I may be overdoing it but I'm ok with that. Im not scared of what may happen but I am afraid. I'm afraid for my family and your family, but I'm not scared. Know what I mean? Every day when I wake up I say to myself "today may be the day" and I'm afraid but I'm not scared.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 13, 2009, 10:34 AM
Correct. This is why it's important to think things through ahead of time so that you have a basic framework to operate from BEFORE things turn bad.

John I agree with you on the thinking it through part but where I have issue is when some take "statistics" out of academic papers without showing the context or bias and telling you to use them when thinking it through beforehand. The danger is that if you don't really understand what these mathmatical formulae mean then you might come up with a poor plan.

As an aside, when I took statistics in grad school one of the most misunderstood concepts was the confidence interval. People who didn't understand statistics thought it meant one thing and it didn't.

I agree somewhat with supergas in that these academic studies had little or no bearing on what our plan may be as they might be misunderstood.

Of course some folk just like to try to come on here and show their academic schtick to get credibility. But I will leave that alone.

Brian Pfleuger
January 13, 2009, 11:07 AM
they have absolutely NO place in the decision making process in time of crisis.


On a formal level you are correct. Your unconscious brain, however, doesn't give a rats behind what your conscious brain is doing. Lets say your in a bank and 8 guys charge in with AK-47s. You're making literally dozen of decisions on a second by second basis. Do you run? Follow their instructions? Have they seen me? Do I hide? Dial 911 on my cell? All this takes fractions of a second. Meanwhile, your unconscious mind is constantly informing those decisions with its' "odds calculations"... "That BG is directly between me and the door, I CAN'T GO THAT WAY..."
What is it that tells you that you can't go that way? Like David said, we call it a lot of things, in this case we'd probably say that "common sense" says I can't go that way. What's really happening though? Your brain, partly consciously and partly not, is telling you that the ODDS of making it out that door are slim and the stakes for failure are high. Is it possible that you'd make it? Yes, of course, the odds might be 1:1,000,000,000, but it's possible.

When it comes right down to it, virtually every decision we make is based on odds. Do I want to have children? If the odds were 100% that the kid would become a delinquent, I'd say "Hell No!" In real life the odds are good that my baby will be healthy, my wife will be safe, my kid will be no "worse" than any other and we'll grow old and enjoy life together. So, I have kids.

Starting a business? What are the odds and stakes of failure? What are the rewards of success?

All most everything is based on odds. We just don't "think" about it very often. Mostly, those odds are on a very informal, non-compiled level. Occasionally it helps to have the numbers put together in a formal way to aid in our understanding.

Hondo11
January 13, 2009, 11:08 AM
Of course some folk just like to try to come on here and show their academic schtick to get credibility. But I will leave that alone.

The odds were that it would happen...:D

Glenn E. Meyer
January 13, 2009, 11:14 AM
If you want to discuss how we make decisions and your theory of such, please go ahead.

If you want to discuss personal motivations for discussing risk analysis - nope.

To get us on track:

What information do you use to make a rational decision about what actions to take?

Is it the likelihood of outcomes, per se?
Is it the likelihood of outcomes X results of such outcomes?
Is it the emotional vividness of an error that causes you to overvalue some action? - That's a well known effect.
What's your cutoff point for worrying about an outcome?
Or something similar.

If we start to snipe, then we are going in circles and guess what!

Tennessee Gentleman
January 13, 2009, 11:16 AM
then we are going in circles and guess what!

You certainly have my vote to close this thread. I agree that we are going in circles and it has little or no value to the purpose of this froum.

David Armstrong
January 13, 2009, 12:04 PM
Statistics are best left to mathmeticians and politicians, they have absolutely NO place in the decision making process in time of crisis.
You have just fallen off a cliff. As you are falling, you see a rope hanging from the cliff and a sparrow flying by. Both are in reach. Which one do you grab in this time of crisis? BTW, that is a decision-making process based on statistical analysis.

JohnH1963
January 14, 2009, 02:12 AM
I brought this topic up to point out how valuable it is to be anal about training and approaching situations in high risk-low probability situations.

Many times people will convince themselves that since there has been no incident of something happening that it will never happen. However, this is far from the truth. For example, a person who starts their car each morning gets used to the fact that it will start on the first try. There will be that day in the future it will not start on the first try.

Just like in self-defense situations. We dont know when exactly it will happen, but after a number of times, it will happen. Therefore, for law enforcement, training and protocol is very important. For civilians, the best practice is situational avoidance.

Should you walk outside of your house at night without first turning on the lights and looking out the window? Even though there has been no incident after several years doesnt mean it will never happen. In fact, after a series of no incidents tells me that it might be just about to happen...;)

JohnKSa
January 14, 2009, 03:00 AM
The danger is that if you don't really understand what these mathmatical formulae mean then you might come up with a poor plan.So what are you suggesting as an alternative that would make one less likely to come up with a poor plan?

JohnH1963
January 14, 2009, 03:20 AM
"I live every waking hour in condition yellow now. Sometimes I think I may be overdoing it but I'm ok with that. Im not scared of what may happen but I am afraid. I'm afraid for my family and your family, but I'm not scared. Know what I mean? Every day when I wake up I say to myself "today may be the day" and I'm afraid but I'm not scared"

I think this is way too overboard. I was thinking more along the lines of the way we approach routine situations on a daily basis.

Double Naught Spy
January 14, 2009, 07:25 AM
Should you walk outside of your house at night without first turning on the lights and looking out the window? Even though there has been no incident after several years doesnt mean it will never happen. In fact, after a series of no incidents tells me that it might be just about to happen... [QUOTE]

Um, no. Not unless you are talking about mutually inclusive events, which I don't believe you are.

For example, based on statistics of the sun coming up every day for the past 1460000000000 days (4 billion years of days), I can postulate that the sun will come up every day forever and have a very high statisticaly probability that this will in fact happen. This would be a misapplication of statistics because each day's event of rise isn't mutually exclusive from the past events.

You see, we know that the sun won't last for ever and does have a finite life as a star. So with every day that passes, there is a greater and greater chance that the sun will die and hence not "come up." In other words, each day's event is tied to the events of the past. They are mutually inclusive.

Take the example with tossing a coin and doing heads or tails where it is assumed that the coin is actually (truly) balanced and 'sides' or 'edges' are not a realistic option. Each toss results in a 50% chance of a given outcome. Now say that you had 9 results that were actually the same, say they were all heads. What is the chance the 10th toss will result in heads? It can be argued with statistics that the chances are very good given the 9 previous outcomes. It can be argued with statistics that the chance is very bad as the longer you continue with such a pattern of results, the more likely the pattern is to be broken. Both sets of analysis would in error because they are treating the events as being mutually inclusive.

In reality, the chance of that 10th toss being heads again is the exact same as the original toss, 50-50. That is because each toss is mutually exclusive.

Applying such statistics to human behavior is problematic for this reason. People love to use statistics for things like estimating how much ammo they will need in a gun fight. While it may be most common for folks to only need 2-3 rounds for a gun fight (mean, median, or mode), what has happened in past gun fights does not determine or give a percentage indication of what will happen in any new gun fight in which any of us participate.

[QUOTE]In fact, after a series of no incidents tells me that it might be just about to happen...
No. Note statistically, not unless you are doing something to influence that outcome. Mutually exclusive events are not linked through time (hence part of the reason they are mutually exclusive). There is no more chance of you having an event happen today than yesterday simply because of the passage of time just like there is no more chance of me winning the lottery today because I haven't won't it in the past 10 years of paying.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 14, 2009, 10:33 AM
So what are you suggesting as an alternative that would make one less likely to come up with a poor plan?

I think reading an academic study about crime and using the statistics within to formulate an action plan of self defense without understanding what the statistics mean and their context and bias might cause you to formulate a bad plan.
My alternative? Training by experienced people supplemented by some reading on the subject (not an academic study). Some advice I see on these forum (some) is more useful to me than reading Gary Kleck's works.

Brian Pfleuger
January 14, 2009, 10:59 AM
It can be argued with statistics that the chances are very good given the 9 previous outcomes.

Actually, that can not be argued with statistics. It COULD be argued by a person that doesn't understand statistics. In order for it to be a valid experiment we must assume that the coin is balanced and that there is no external influence on its' landing. Making those assumptions, there is EXACTLY a 50% chance that the next toss will be heads. The odds of your 9 heads in a row is roughly 19 in 10,000. The odds of getting 100 heads in a row are very low (7.888609X10^-31, approximately) but it could happen. Once it does happen, the odds of getting heads on #101 are exactly 50%. Previous outcomes of random events DO NOT affect future outcomes.

Glenn E. Meyer
January 14, 2009, 11:04 AM
One should be a touch careful about basing arguments on 'experienced people' - let me give you a counter example.

Academic research using standard statistical methods have demonstrated the lack of utility of the AWB and the large number of defensive gun usages. These studies have been strong counterevidence to the folk knowledge of some (not all) antigun law enforcement experienced people - like chief of police types who are brought forward to support all gun bans, oppose shall issue laws and the like.

So, you might get what you wish for. Arguing from the one vivid instance and then overestimating the probability of such is a common mistake.

Cho used handguns - experts say handguns kill - ban them.

David Armstrong
January 14, 2009, 01:34 PM
The danger is that if you don't really understand what these mathmatical formulae mean then you might come up with a poor plan.

So what are you suggesting as an alternative that would make one less likely to come up with a poor plan?
good point, John. I suppose one could develop a plan from watching Rambo movies, or reading Sin City comics, or any of a number of other fictional sources. You don't always need to know what the formula means in order to understand the results. You really don't need to understand levels of confidence, multivariate and bivariate analysis, and so on to understand that you don't need to worry much about being attacked by a tiger in your living room when you find out the odds. The real dange, IMO, is developing plans based on incorrect perceptions, bad data, and so on. THAT is where the poor plan is more likely to come from, IMO.

David Armstrong
January 14, 2009, 01:40 PM
People love to use statistics for things like estimating how much ammo they will need in a gun fight. While it may be most common for folks to only need 2-3 rounds for a gun fight (mean, median, or mode), what has happened in past gun fights does not determine or give a percentage indication of what will happen in any new gun fight in which any of us participate.
Sure it does. It lets you know that there is a high percentage of probability that you will be able to solve the problem with a fairly low number of rounds. It tells us that we probably don't need to carry 100 rounds with us all the time. You might not be right in your decision about how much to carry, but the statistics have given you a pretty good idea about how many rounds you will neeed in a gunfight. Past gunfights don't determine what wil lhappen in a new gunfight, true, but they do give us an indication of what is likely to happen and what is unlikely.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 14, 2009, 02:52 PM
Academic research using standard statistical methods have demonstrated the lack of utility of the AWB and the large number of defensive gun usages. These studies have been strong counterevidence to the folk knowledge of some (not all) antigun law enforcement experienced people - like chief of police types who are brought forward to support all gun bans, oppose shall issue laws and the like.

I think using statistics to make policy decisions (like your example) has merit but that is off topic.

The real dange, IMO, is developing plans based on incorrect perceptions, bad data, and so on. THAT is where the poor plan is more likely to come from, IMO.

Precisely my point. Many academic studies have all those faulty elements; poorly formed premises, measuring the wrong thing, not taking bias and other factors into consideration, etc. As I have stated earlier, just pulling some statistic from a study or report and then making a plan based on that without understanding what the stats mean or how they were gathered can cause you to form a bad plan. Just because some academic publishes something surely doesn't make it so. In fact if you read that stats from here:http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/press-releases/2007-releases/press01112007.html You probably would plan to have no gun around ever.

But if you read this one: http://www.pulpless.com/gunclock/kleck2.html you might have ten guns.

Do I really need to read some mathematical formula to plan how to protect myself rather than use acknowledged experts in the field and my own common sense to filter their bias? I think not. BTW the references to Tigers attacking you is strawman stuff.

So, you might get what you wish for. Arguing from the one vivid instance and then overestimating the probability of such is a common mistake.

I have not proposed that Glenn, that is not my position. However, if the vivid instance as you call it matches what I encounter it might have more relevance than a linear progression chart.

Cho used handguns - experts say handguns kill - ban them.

I think the Volokh conspiracy calls that an intuitive argument.;)


It COULD be argued by a person that doesn't understand statistics.

My point here is that most people don't understand statistics (and some who claim to don't either) other than in a very rudimentary way and I am dubious that this is really helping someone make informed decisions with their self defense tactics?:rolleyes:

Brian Pfleuger
January 14, 2009, 02:57 PM
I am dubious that this is really helping someone make informed decisions with their self defense tactics?

No argument there.;) It's a fun and interesting discussion though.

The main area that I think statistics can be useful is when we have little personal experience for a particular event but which might be more common than we expect. It's fairly dangerous to say "Well, it's never happened to me..." when you might be the exception rather than the rule. On the flip side, it can prevent us from being overly paranoid about things that we seem to think we need to be concerned with but are statistically highly improbable, like getting hit by "ice" dropped from an airliner.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 14, 2009, 03:33 PM
No argument there. It's a fun and interesting discussion though.

Yeah, I know but sometimes there is a bit of hot air about;)

like getting hit by "ice" dropped from an airliner.

Yeah, I read something about that at www.snopes.com :D

I DO see a lot of uses for statistics concerning policy though but that is in another forum.

Milspec
January 14, 2009, 03:35 PM
In my experience the statistically correct amount of ammo to carry depends on such variables as how much I can fit in my gear and who's got extra mags... :D

Milspec

JohnH1963
January 14, 2009, 08:23 PM
I dont think a tiger or space alien will be in your living room anytime in the future. The chances of that are zero.

However, there is a chance of someone forcing entry into your house to get into your living room. Although the chance is small, there is still a chance.

I recount a story that was told to me by an ex-girlfriend of being the victim of a home invasion incident. A group of three guys broke in and made the family get on the ground while they ransacked the place. The family was not hurt.

So, no, a tiger isnt coming to your living room, but someone else might...

David Armstrong
January 14, 2009, 09:04 PM
However, there is a chance of someone forcing entry into your house to get into your living room. Although the chance is small, there is still a chance.
And that is using statistics!:D

JohnKSa
January 15, 2009, 02:17 AM
I think reading an academic study about crime and using the statistics within to formulate an action plan of self defense without understanding what the statistics mean and their context and bias might cause you to formulate a bad plan.
My alternative? Training by experienced people supplemented by some reading on the subject (not an academic study). Some advice I see on these forum (some) is more useful to me than reading Gary Kleck's works.Given that a lack of understanding of the data collection method and the context & bias seem to be your objections, how would one be better served by your solution?

I believe people have as much or more confusion about how to interpret a single person's experiences/anecdotes (experience as a data collection method) than they do about statistics. In fact, to some extent they go hand in hand. Similarly, determining the context & bias of a trainer or a person posting on the internet would seem to be just as difficult (if not more so) than determining the same for an academic researcher.

I agree that a person needs a basic understanding of the data collection method, and also needs to consider context and bias, I just don't see how that argues more strongly against statistical data provided via academic study than it does against experiential (anecdotal) data provided via word of mouth/internet.The real dange, IMO, is developing plans based on incorrect perceptions, bad data, and so on.I believe that this is what it comes down to regardless of one's sources.

Double Naught Spy
January 15, 2009, 06:45 AM
Sure it does. It lets you know that there is a high percentage of probability that you will be able to solve the problem with a fairly low number of rounds.

No, simple percentage historical data only tell you what the chances where in the past. It is your interpretation of the historical data, your assumption, that they project into the future.

Part of the way in which the percentage average is kept low is due to gun capacities. Low capacity guns introduce a bias into the data that keep the percentages lower.

You have also assumed that the problem will "solved" with that number of rounds. In reality, that number of rounds average includes those where the shooter, good or bad, lost of the fight.

Fire Guy
January 15, 2009, 07:33 AM
Statistics are just that, Statistics. I've read artical after artical of statistics. one thing that is the same in all. What can go wrong will go wrong. Plans are great until you have to act. I've been in law enforcement sense '92. I have planned for the worst but hoped for the best. I started shooting at age 9. I have won pistol matches too. I stopped a 15yo kid one night that was carring a 357 mag rev. Before I could put my car in park, he exited walking back at me. Plans are great, but that night my plan went out the door. My gun jamed. The same that I had trained with and shot matches with. Statisticly I should be dead. Turns out his gun was unloaded. I don't care for statistics. Alway plan for the oh s..., what now. And hope your plan works.

David Armstrong
January 15, 2009, 10:44 AM
I think reading an academic study about crime and using the statistics within to formulate an action plan of self defense without understanding what the statistics mean and their context and bias might cause you to formulate a bad plan.
Failure to use something right is not an indictment of that thing. Using ANY source of information without understanding what it means may cause you to formulate a bad plan. And using the stats available, even if used wrong, is apt to be more accurate than watching the news, or listening to a trainer, or "I just think, or "better to have...", etc.
My alternative? Training by experienced people supplemented by some reading on the subject (not an academic study).
First, many of those "experienced people" have little or no actual experience. Second, where do you think those "experienced people" come up with what they feel works, or what should be taught, and so on? It is by analyzing events. Some do it better than other becuase they actually look at the research. And academic studies are apt to be far more accurate and rigorous in their findings than are non-academic works. Academic studies get peer reviewed most of the time, while other readings are frequently done for profit.

psyfly
January 15, 2009, 10:47 AM
Past gunfights don't determine what wil lhappen in a new gunfight, true, but they do give us an indication of what is likely to happen and what is unlikely

Hmm. No, not really. Not for any particular single gunfight.

This is a quite common mistake for people to make about statistics; even people who have had training and should know better.

It is very common, for example, for physicians (most of whom have had some training in statistics) to quote statistics on medications and procedures in such a way as to communicate to the patient that: Because a certain medication/procedure has been shown to be effective in 78% of cases, then, should the patient choose this medication/procedure, she has a 78% chance of success.

Not so, of course.

In fact, no probability value for success/failure (in this one case) can be assigned with any confidence. I suppose a person could be excused for saying something like; “I think you’ve got a pretty good chance of success here” (not mathematically sound, but excusable).

Back to the main point; while statistics can be useful in the general sense of preparation for the average occurrence, it would be a serious error to depend upon them to predict how a particular situation will develop, let alone how it will work out in the end.

Stay safe and let your statistic be counted in the alive and breathing set.

Best,

Will

Glenn E. Meyer
January 15, 2009, 10:47 AM
There can be a tiger in your house. A few years ago, San Antonio had a major flood. Just a few miles from me, it washed out the fences on an animal rescue preserve. The lion got out. It ate the ostrich and then wandered down the road. It's distance and path was not in our direction. However, if it had chosen to walk in another direction, it would have reached our house.

True, it would have had quite a few other houses to choose from.

Years, ago - my mother-in-law moved into a neighborhood where some dirt bag kept a lion in the backyard as a pet.

Thus, I do worry about large predator attacks and plan accordingly.

Ok :D - one problem with this debate is that some of you (no offense) really don't understand statistical methodology usage. I keep seeing the error of planning as if the central tendency is guaranteed to happen and not understand confidence intervals and the various errors / risks associated with it.

It's very easy - what value to you give to the extremes in planning?

David Armstrong
January 15, 2009, 10:59 AM
No, simple percentage historical data only tell you what the chances where in the past. It is your interpretation of the historical data, your assumption, that they project into the future.
No, and this is where people continually get it wrong, IMO. The historical data (descriptive stats) does not tell you what the chances were in the past, is tells you what actually did happen in the past. Statistics then allow you to take that known data and make assumptions (inferential stats) based on certain proven mathematical formulas. Those allow you to determine, with a varying degree of accuracy, what the chances of something in the future will be.
Part of the way in which the percentage average is kept low is due to gun capacities. Low capacity guns introduce a bias into the data that keep the percentages lower.
That is not a bias, that is a factual piece of data to be included. It's like saying the average age of people dying is kept low because people don't live long. Gun capacity is fairly low, but that doesn't change the fact that most gunfights are solved with a very low number of rounds.
You have also assumed that the problem will "solved" with that number of rounds.
No, you have assumed there is an acceptable chance of success with that number of rounds. You accept the fact that you might be wrong, but decide the chance of being wrong is so low it does not justify any further investment in reducing that chance. Again, the tiger in the living room problem.
In reality, that number of rounds average includes those where the shooter, good or bad, lost of the fight.
That can be a reality. Depending on how you choose to use the data and what data you collect you can have averages from win and lose, those who win only, those who lose only. As a matter of reality, most studies that I have seen show all three of those numbers being very close together.

David Armstrong
January 15, 2009, 11:10 AM
Hmm. No, not really. Not for any particular single gunfight.
Yes, they do. That is the essence of inferential statistics.
In fact, no probability value for success/failure (in this one case) can be assigned with any confidence.
Sure it can. It is done all the time in all sorts of activities. I have seen nothing to indicate that DGUs would be any different.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 15, 2009, 11:15 AM
Failure to use something right is not an indictment of that thing.

It is if the "thing" has not been done right. See my links on academic studies that contradict one another.

academic studies are apt to be far more accurate and rigorous in their findings than are non-academic works. Academic studies get peer reviewed most of the time, while other readings are frequently done for profit.

"academic" studies can be incredibly biased and politically motivated AND supported by sympathatic peers. Se the Joyce Foundation and the "studies" they commissioned since the 1990s that are clearly biased and anti-gun. I am not the only one to call them out the NRA does it regularly. Remember the "study" that said you are 40 soemthing times likely to be killed with a gun in home than ifyou didn't have one? Please.:rolleyes:

There can be a tiger in your house.

I have a friend who is married to one!:D

I agree that a person needs a basic understanding of the data collection method, and also needs to consider context and bias, I just don't see how that argues more strongly against statistical data provided via academic study than it does against experiential (anecdotal) data provided via word of mouth/internet.

Come one John, who other than us forum dweebs are going to look at that kind of stuff. There are folks who regularly post on here that will say "statistics say!" and then won't give you the source or engage in sophistry when you ask the context of the statistics. I am not saying that statistics are useless but the OP said they were the most important rule. I think not.

For instance I have heard the statistic used that one in 200 people will need a gun. When I investigated further I found that statistic was not really true. That number comes from the UCS which says that 1 in 200 people out of the total population will be assaulted. But that number is misleading to apply to everyone as the poster did. It didn't take into account a whole lot of variables such as who really gets assaulted. Sometimes it is the same person many times because they live with an abusive husband or in a bad neighborhood on and on. I think I'll stick with training and some acknowledged experts who might even use some statistics BUT you know what they mean and apply them by common sense.

sophijo
January 15, 2009, 11:26 AM
My grandfather would say, "the first step in any scientific investigation is to get your head out of your ass". Everyone would chuckle, and somehow I got the sense that everyone knew what he meant.

David Armstrong
January 15, 2009, 11:42 AM
It is if the "thing" has not been done right. See my links on academic studies that contradict one another.

No it isn't. That is just like the anti-gunners blaming the guns when they are misused instead of blaming the people.
"academic" studies can be incredibly biased and politically motivated AND supported by sympathatic peers.
Just like non-academic writings can be incredibly biased, motivated by profit or politics, and supported by sympathetic peers. The difference is that in the academic studies there are usually plenty of voices out there pointing out the problems with the studies so people can make a better informed, more accurate decision.
Remember the "study" that said you are 40 soemthing times likely to be killed with a gun in home than ifyou didn't have one?
Sure I remember it, at least I think I know what you are talking about even though the description isn't real accurate. Do you remember that it was academics who wrote articles pointing out the inadequacies of the research, the limitations on it, and other problems with it? If your claim is that "experienced people" don't misuse data, don't pass on their biases, don't have agendas, and so on, you are sorely mistaken. I find far more factual errors in the popular literature than in the academic literature, and far weaker interpretations of the data.
As I've said before, I find it strange that so many in the world of guns seem to think that lack of knowledge is a good thing when it comes to DGU planning and response.

Mike Irwin
January 15, 2009, 12:28 PM
As far as I'm concerned, there's really only one important rule in a self-defense situation.

Do everything needed to survive.

kiov
January 15, 2009, 01:00 PM
I like to cc my S&W 50 cal, cause everyone else is making predictions based on the assumption that I'll carry something sensible. So, I can shoot thru armor, most bullet proof glass, can put down a lion, and can use the muzzle blast as a flamethrower if I need to clear any tunnels.

Just kidding :)

--thanks JohnSA for the explanation of the bucket o dice. That was really bugging me but I didn't know how to say it.

I really just carry a 9mm, six shot kahr, and only at night or when going to bars. That's my read from the "stats" I've mentally collected over the years...that is, all the fights I have witnessed have been in bars, and the only times I have been threatened were at night. Stats help us, but they can mislead too.

Most folks twist and crush stats to fit the notions they already have. People are just like that, but in the end, math doesn't lie, and inductive logic can be very useful. (90% of the folks who tried this drug died, but the rest were healed. So I'll probably pass on this drug unless I have a 100% chance of dying without it.)

I play poker and make all kinds of decisions based on math, and based on patterns, such as repeated behaviors (odds and stats). Any night I might loose, but over the long run I'm a winner. That's because I respect and use math and observation...that is stats.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 15, 2009, 04:26 PM
Well David, I thought I was on your ignore list:rolleyes: I guess you "changed your mind";) To your points.

No it isn't. That is just like the anti-gunners blaming the guns when they are misused instead of blaming the people.

No that is a bad example. Academic studies say all sorts of things. They are far from any gospel. While many purport to use rigorous methods many do not and so cannot always be taken at face value. Anyway, I didn't say all statistics and all studies are bad, I just said that they weren't much good for these discussions since many of the "statistics" thrown about are not well explained or in context. Like saying we all have a 1 in 200 chance of needing a gun.

The difference is that in the academic studies there are usually plenty of voices out there pointing out the problems with the studies so people can make a better informed, more accurate decision.

There are plenty of voices out here on the TFL doing such for "non-academic" writings as well. Some of these folks flush things out quite well. It is a myth and erroneous to assume that just because a writing is from an academic that it is always superior to writings by those who don't have a degree or title.

Sure I remember it, at least I think I know what you are talking about even though the description isn't real accurate.

Here it is if this helps: "Protection or Peril? An Analysis of Firearm-Related Deaths in the Home," Arthur L. Kellermann and Donald T. Reay, The New England Journal of Medicine 314, no., 24 (June 12, 1986)1557-1560. Lots of statistics used and it was flawed, that is why we need context to understand them properly.

Do you remember that it was academics who wrote articles pointing out the inadequacies of the research, the limitations on it, and other problems with it?

No, I think it was the NRA that questioned it first and it didn't require an academic to discover them.

As I've said before, I find it strange that so many in the world of guns seem to think that lack of knowledge is a good thing when it comes to DGU planning and response.

I don't think anyone advocates having less knowledge in the gun world. However, when it comes to tactics and training which this forum is about I find it odd that some choose to throw statistics about without showing what they mean; context or otherwise and who don't provide sources for that data.

Stats help us, but they can mislead too.

Agreed kiov especially when they are taken out of context.

Brian Pfleuger
January 15, 2009, 05:12 PM
Statistics can be accurate and not applicable at the same time.
Take the "1 in 200" stat as an example. The problem with that number is that it is all-inclusive. It is ENTIRELY accurate that only 1 in 200 of ALL THE PEOPLE WHO CARRY in the ENTIRE COUNTRY will ever need their guns. What that number fails to do however is take into account regional variations. In my area, there is probably a 1 in 10,000 chance of ever needing my gun. In Portland, OR, especially right now, there might be a 1 in 10 chance.

The other problem is that we very often get no information except the "average", usually the "mean". While that information may be helpful, in and of itself there is no way of knowing what it tells us. Look at this example:

I have a set of 500 numbers with an average of 500. What sort of distribution do those numbers occupy? You have NO WAY of knowing without additional information. I could have 499 "1's" and 1 "249,501" and the average would be 500. I could have 500 "500's" and the average would still be 500. Much helpful information, like Standard Deviation and Median, are left out of the information available to the public because, frankly, most people wouldn't have the foggiest idea what it meant anyway.

Why am I talking about this on a gun forum? I forget now, but it's interesting.;):D

nate45
January 15, 2009, 05:34 PM
"I may say that this is the greatest factor -- the way in which the expedition is equipped -- the way in which every difficulty is foreseen, and precautions taken for meeting or avoiding it. Victory awaits him who has everything in order -- luck, people call it. Defeat is certain for him who has neglected to take the necessary precautions in time; this is called bad luck."
--from The South Pole, by Roald Amundsen.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 15, 2009, 05:53 PM
Hey nate!

Roald made it to the South Pole but Robert Falcon Scott died trying.

Glenn E. Meyer
January 15, 2009, 06:36 PM
Ahem, I have been talking about not assuming central tendency always happens, distributional shape, cut offs and the various errors from such, since we started talking about statistics.

So your point, Peetzakilla is well taken.

BTW, did you know that the NRA had/has folks trained in the social sciences that look at the gun research. They even go to the meetings where such is presented and raise criticisms.

Brian Pfleuger
January 15, 2009, 07:00 PM
Ahem, I have been talking about not assuming central tendency always happens, distributional shape, cut offs and the various errors from such, since we started talking about statistics.

So your point, Peetzakilla is well taken.

I think, that most of us in this discussion agree more than we do not... on average.;):D

David Armstrong
January 15, 2009, 07:56 PM
Well David, I thought I was on your ignore list I guess you "changed your mind"
No, you are on my ignore list, along with a few other folks who I have found to be problematic in the past. I wish you would have the same courtesy and put me on yours, but of course that lack of courtesy is one thing that got you put on the ignore list to start with. However, since I found that it was a quote of yours that I was responding to in one of JohnKSa's posts I thought it only fair to continue the dialogue directly.
No that is a bad example. Academic studies say all sorts of things. They are far from any gospel. While many purport to use rigorous methods many do not and so cannot always be taken at face value. Anyway, I didn't say all statistics and all studies are bad, I just said that they weren't much good for these discussions since many of the "statistics" thrown about are not well explained or in context. Like saying we all have a 1 in 200 chance of needing a gun.

No, it is a great examply because you are doing exactly what the antigunners do. And nobody has ever claimed that academic studies are gospel, just as the popular literature from your "experienced" folks is not gospel. However, one at least has the benefit of peer review and having any shortcomings openly challenged and discussed. As for whetgher the studies are any good or not, that is more a problem with the reciever than the sender. If one is unable or unwilling to learn to use the information available, that is not the problem of the person providing the information.
There are plenty of voices out here on the TFL doing such for "non-academic" writings as well. Some of these folks flush things out quite well.
But the basic problem is that in a non-reviewed and refereed arena, such as this, there is often no way to know the source of the person who is flushing, no way to check their honesty, and a very regular problem of thinking that an opinion is the same as a fact. Way too many folks here and on other forums (and off the forums!) believe what is essentially myth and mythology.
Here it is if this helps:
Yep, it is the one I thought you might be talking about.
No, I think it was the NRA that questioned it first and it didn't require an academic to discover them.

I don't think it was the NRA that questioned it first, but yes, the NRA did publicize the issue. AND the person doing the publicizing, criticizing, etc was an ACADEMIC, a full-blown Ph.D. type, working with the NRA.
However, when it comes to tactics and training which this forum is about I find it odd that some choose to throw statistics about without showing what they mean; context or otherwise and who don't provide sources for that data.
Most stats tossed around here are pretty straightforward. I haven't seen anybody try to discuss things by talking about different types of test, data comparison, SPSS runs, and so on. Most of it is pretty direct---the odds are that this is most likely to happen, in this situation "X" is the msot probable outcome, etc. Not much need to show what that means, since it means exactly what it says. And sources are frequently provided for those who are too lazy to do a simple Google search, but even then they are rarely looked at.
As my dear Mother has been known to say, "Ignorance is bliss" and for whatever reason way too many folks in the gunworld have way too much bliss.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 15, 2009, 08:42 PM
I wish you would have the same courtesy and put me on yours,

Why? And miss all this fun? :D:

However, since I found that it was a quote of yours that I was responding to in one of JohnKSa's posts I thought it only fair to continue the dialogue directly

Well good I am glad to know I am off the list now:cool:

If one is unable or unwilling to learn to use the information available, that is not the problem of the person providing the information.

I think the question is whether the study used provides accurate and germane information. Also, that the person who quotes the info provides it properly and in context. If one says "well studies show" and they misquote the study (and don't provide a reference) or the study has flawed methods of gathering the data then the information is not much use, especially in formulating a plan of action for self-defense.

in a non-reviewed and refereed arena, such as this, there is often no way to know the source of the person who is flushing, no way to check their honesty,

don't think it was the NRA that questioned it first, but yes, the NRA did publicize the issue. AND the person doing the publicizing, criticizing, etc was an ACADEMIC, a full-blown Ph.D. type, working with the NRA.

Speaking of that, I don't see a reference and I am not sure that statement is accurate. Again, it does not require a PhD or an academic to read a study and question it's methods of data gathering.

Most stats tossed around here are pretty straightforward.

Straightforward, maybe. Accurate and in context no. Like the "There is a 1 in 200 chance that you will one day need a gun". Incorrect use of a statistic.

And sources are frequently provided for those who are too lazy to do a simple Google search, but even then they are rarely looked at.

I always thought that if you made a claim of fact on a forum and wished credibility you would provide the reference rather than tell someone to "look it up". Unless of course one feels they should not be questioned, but I don't know your credentials and so I would ask for references instead. Sort of a trust thing.

As my dear Mother has been known to say, "Ignorance is bliss" and for whatever reason way too many folks in the gunworld have way too much bliss.

Perhaps and maybe you know better but as I once was told:“When men are most sure and arrogant they are commonly most mistaken."

JohnH1963
January 15, 2009, 08:52 PM
When I started this thread, I didnt mean to discuss complex statistical math or formulas.

My simple point is that if you do something enough times then the improbable becomes probable. The more traffic stops a police officer makes then the more probable that they will get attacked for example.

That was my original point.

Brian Pfleuger
January 15, 2009, 08:59 PM
The more traffic stops a police officer makes then the more probable that they will get attacked for example.


Let's say that the odds of an attack are 1 in 10,000, just as an example. Statistically, each and every stop has those very same odds. If the officer has made 9,999 stops, is he guaranteed to be attacked on the next one? Nope. The odds are still 1 in 10,000.

If you had 4 officers that had made 40,000 stops you could expect 4 attacks in those stops. Those attacks could have all been on the same officer or 1 each or any other combination.


The part of your statement that is correct is that every stop has a small chance of resulting in an attack. Therefore, if the officer keeps making stops forever he will eventually be attacked. However, there is never any way of predicting which stop will result in an attack.

The improbable NEVER becomes probable. Having a rare event happen doesn't make it not rare. If you have a 1: 100 million chance of winning the lottery, and you do win, it was not suddenly "probable" that you would win. You just got really lucky being the "1" and not the "99,999,999"

David Armstrong
January 16, 2009, 06:06 PM
Why? And miss all this fun?
If you consider rudeness to be fun I think we are back to one of those character problems I mentioned.
I think the question is whether the study used provides accurate and germane information.
That is a question that is not restricted to academic studies or statistical analysis. Whether it is germane or not is more of an individual issue rather than an information o study issue. You may not find it germane while others do.
If one says "well studies show" and they misquote the study (and don't provide a reference) or the study has flawed methods of gathering the data then the information is not much use, especially in formulating a plan of action for self-defense.
How do you know if the study is misquoted or has flawed methods without looking at it yourself? Your assumption is that someone would come here and intentionally offer up incorrect information that they knew could be easily checked.
Speaking of that, I don't see a reference and I am not sure that statement is accurate.
So what? You certainly don't provide references every time you say something, nor do most people, and generally claims for references are very selective in nature. If you are too lazy to look something up on your own, don't expect somebody else to do the work for you.
Straightforward, maybe. Accurate and in context no.
A nice opinion that is not supported by fact. Just because a bit of data is not in context for you doesn't mean it is not in context for another person. The 1 in 200, at peetzakillah pointed out, is accurate and in context for one question. That you (or others) cannot figure out how to use that stat in context for your needs is not a problem with the data, the analysis, or the findings.
I always thought that if you made a claim of fact on a forum and wished credibility you would provide the reference rather than tell someone to "look it up".
And if everybody who made any claim of fact always posted a reference communication on the forums would grind to a halt. Again, if one is too lazy to look something up it has no bearing on the credibility of somebody else.
Perhaps and maybe you know better ...
Never confuse knowledge and confidence with surety and arrogance.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 16, 2009, 06:30 PM
If you consider rudeness to be fun I think we are back to one of those character problems I mentioned.

Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone. Or better yet, remove the log from your own eye before you remove the splinter from your neighbor's.

That is a question that is not restricted to academic studies or statistical analysis.

True, in a greater sense but the thread has revolved around studies and statistical analysis.

You may not find it germane while others do.

I think that is why I post against using what you are asserting.

How do you know if the study is misquoted or has flawed methods without looking at it yourself? Your assumption is that someone would come here and intentionally offer up incorrect information that they knew could be easily checked.

No, I don't know others intentions unless they tell me. Actually, I think some who use statistics and quote studies may not have really looked at and examined the studies themselves and so context and meaning of what those statistics show are misunderstood.

If you are too lazy to look something up on your own, don't expect somebody else to do the work for you.

I think we confuse opinion and fact here. The more thoughtful posters provide references when they present something as fact, an opinion needs no reference. Presenting something as fact without a reference and then telling a person who questions the statement to go look it up is rather discourteous and lacks credibility.

1 in 200, at peetzakillah pointed out, is accurate and in context for one question. That you (or others) cannot figure out how to use that stat in context for your needs is not a problem with the data, the analysis, or the findings.

Actually, it was a previous post you made not peetzakiller and the stat was out of context and plainly so.

And if everybody who made any claim of fact always posted a reference communication on the forums would grind to a halt.

No, I think it would (and has) made the dialogue much better and useful.

Never confuse knowledge and confidence with surety and arrogance.

From the Dictionary, Arrogance: an attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions. I rest my case.

David Armstrong
January 16, 2009, 06:58 PM
Let he who is without sin among you cast the first stone.
Seems lots of sinners fall back on that to try to excuse their bad behavior.
I think that is why I post against using what you are asserting.
Rarely do I assert much without providing the facts or findings to go with the assertion That is the problem, you seem unable to understand the difference between facts, findings, probabilities and your own beliefs.
No, I don't know others intentions unless they tell me.
So you assume everyone is trying to lie to you and decieve you unless they specifically tell you they are not? Strange sort of system there.
Actually, I think some who use statistics and quote studies may not have really looked at and examined the studies themselves and so context and meaning of what those statistics show are misunderstood.
Actually, given your record in the past and given you discussion here, it is obvious that you do not have the ability to accurately determine that. As others have pointed out, of course, you are not alone in that. But, as mentioned before, that you (or others) cannot figure out how to use that the material in no way indicates a problem with the data, the analysis, or the findings.
Presenting something as fact without a reference and then telling a person who questions the statement to go look it up is rather discourteous and lacks credibility.

That's a nice opinion. The fact is that your inability or unwillingness to conduct a search on your own is not indicative of anything other than the fact that you are too lazy to do it on your own. If you disagree with the findings presented by somebody the proper response is to go and look at the material yourself and offer the evidence contradicting the findings, not to start whining "I don't believe you, prove it prove it." If you don't think the findings presented are right, show why they aren't right.
Actually, it was a previous post you made not peetzakiller and the stat was out of context and plainly so.

As I mentioned, and as peetzakilla demonstrated, your inability to understand the context or figure out how to apply to your issue is not a problem with the data, the context, the findings, etc.
No, I think it would (and has) made the dialogue much better and useful.
I would challenge you to find any public forum where communication and posts are done in that manner.
I rest my case.
Again, never confuse knowledge and confidence with surety and arrogance. But obviously attempting to have an intelligent, reasoned discussion with you based on knowledge and a reasonable understanding of what is being talked about has once again failed. Back to the ignore list you go. I would ask that you be polite enough to do the same, but I doubt that you will be that honorable. Bye now.

Tennessee Gentleman
January 16, 2009, 07:01 PM
Back to the ignore list you go....Bye now.

Adios! See you later I am sure!:D

JohnKSa
January 20, 2009, 12:53 AM
I should'a stayed on vacation... :(