How many people get killed by police?

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2021

The fruits of selective reporting: For several years, we've been wondering what would happen if a certain type of survey question was asked.

The question would deal with the number of people shot and killed by police, justifiably or not. 

(Just for the sake of the record, we'd like to live in a world where the number of victims was zero. As it is, we still live in a rather violent, gun-inflected world.)  

The survey question would go like this. It would be intended as a study of the results of selective reporting:

Imaginary survey question:
According to the Washington Post, 237 black people were shot and killed by police last year. How many white people, if any, would you say were shot and killed by police last year?

(You could drop the words "if any" with half your survey's respondents.)

It's a ghoulish question. But police shootings have played a large role in mainstream reporting and punditry in the past nine or ten years.

In our imaginary question, we'd be citing the actual number of black decedents recorded by the Washington Post's Pulitzer-wining Fatal Force site. Here's what we'd  be curious about:

How many people would say that the answer to our question was "none?" Would anyone say the answer was none? If no one thought the answer was none, what number would people offer?

(Correct answer: 453. Or at least, so says the Post, though no precise number is possible)

This would be a ghoulish line of inquiry, but we'd be curious to see what answers people would give. This would be intended as a study of the results of selective reporting—of the highly selective way police shooting incidents have been reported and discussed over roughly the past ten years.

As it turns out, Michael Shermer's Skeptic.com web site recently asked two variants of this same general question.  We think our question is better than theirs, but in this recent post, Kevin Drum presented their survey's results.

(Drum focused on the first question the survey asked. We think the results of the second question may be even more instructive.)

Survey says? In our view, the survey suggests that selective reporting does, in fact, produce large misimpressions. It also does something worse—it scares the daylights out of a lot of good, decent "black" kids and out of their loving parents.

We love to perform our performative virtue here in the streets of Our Town. But as the poet once thoughtfully asked:

But oh, what kind of love is this / Which goes from bad to worse?

This would be a ghoulish area to explore. That said, a great deal of misunderstanding arises from the performative virtue widely displayed in Our Town. 

A great deal of fear and trembling gets caused as we perform. On the brighter side, everybody gets to see how morally stellar we are.

We get to pose and posture and preen. Many children and many parents get badly scared in the process.

For the record, we also love to remind everyone about the Tuskegee experiment. Last week, we saw Rachel Nichols performing this mandated recitation on ESPN's daily NBA show! 

To watch that segment, click here. Lack of trust in the government is "definitely earned," Nichols impressively said at the beginning and end of the segment. "Look up the Tuskegee study," she thoughtfully said.

We'd be impressed with Nichols' greatness, except we keep reading about the way many black people are avoiding vaccination because they keep hearing that scripted old tale. As we noted several weeks ago, we seem to love our performative virtue more than we love life itself.

(Correct that! More than we love others' lives.)

We have no doubt that Rachel Nichols is a thoroughly good, decent person. But we're drunk on morality here in Our Town. We love to recite and perform.

Final point: Two nights ago, Tucker Carlson opened his show with the Skeptic.com survey. Like Drum, he stressed the part where large numbers of self-identified liberals wildly overestimated the number of black people killed by police. 

That seems to be the fruit of Our Town's relentless selective reporting. On the brighter side, everyone gets to see how much and how deeply we care.

Tucker opened his program with that!  Over There, viewers are constantly told about Our Town's extremely few tiny small flaws. 

Over There, viewers are told. In Our Town, generally not.

Tucker is often (not always) a mess. In Our Town, we tend to ride in on an extremely high horse. 


53 comments:

  1. "Survey says? "

    This is not a joke. This game show reference is inappropriate, callous, unfeeling, wrong. Somerby should treat this subject, and covid deaths, with more respect, with some understanding of the feelings of those who are bereaved.

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  2. "Tucker is often (not always) a mess."

    We are not sure what you mean by it, dear Bob: not as great as Rachel Maddow? Whatshisname O'Donnell? Don Lemon?

    Yes, that is probably exactly what you meant.

    But by our lights Tucker is a mile above any of your liberal dembots. An occasional cheap shot (dictated by the nature of the genre) notwithstanding.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What Somerby means is that there are times when he agrees with what Tucker Carlson is saying, and on those occasions, he is not then a mess.

      A rational person, understanding who Tucker Carlson is and what he is about, would be concerned to find himself agreeing with anything Carlson says. It would be a red flag signifying a possible hole in one's knowledge or attitudes requiring more inquiry. Instead, Somerby decides that Carlson occasionally is not a mess. WRONG Somerby. You should recognize the warning signs and instead ask yourself why you are even watching someone like Carlson (who makes normal liberals puke).

      Delete
  3. "In our view, the survey suggests that selective reporting does, in fact, produce large misimpressions."

    It used to be that newspapers routinely gave the race of the perpetrator of a crime when that person was black, but not when he was white, leading to a misimpression that blacks commit more crimes than whites. Civil rights activists protested that practice and it was changed.

    Now, the race of a shooting victim is being reported when that person is black, but not generally when he or she is white. That is creating a misimpression about the race of shooting victims, similar to the one that existed for crimes.

    Kevin Drum spends quite a bit of time discussing the FACT that shootings are not the only deaths of black people that occur at the hands of police. He estimates totals that are much higher for all deaths of unarmed people.

    Somerby, in contrast, reports all shootings, including those that are justified because the deceased had a gun or otherwise assaulted an officer or placed others in danger. That makes the number higher, obviously.

    Somerby misses the most important point, that there should be NO killings of unarmed people by police, white or black. This is the problem, not misperceptions that white people are not killed arising because of the way such crimes are labeled.

    Somerby will not argue that race should be used to label all crimes and deaths, because he thinks race doesn't exist. He will instead blame liberals for being less aware of white deaths than black ones, even though white people are not the brunt of racism in our society. He will imply that white failure to understand that this happens in white encounters with police too, means that there is no race-related problem in encounters between black people and police. That is false according to many other measures and is a "bad faith" argument, of the deceptive kind that Somerby lately specializes in. In writing this kind of essay, Somerby gives the impression that he doesn't care about anyone's deaths much, except as tools to beat up liberals and prop up his favorite specious arguments. And that is a misuse of statistics of the worst kind.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There's no misinformation causing people to get upset.

      Here are the facts

      In order to be killed by the cops as a white person, you have to point a gun at them.

      In order to be killed by the cops as a black person, you only need to point your skin at them.

      Now do the protests make sense?

      Delete
    2. @4:39 - your comment exemplifies the ignorance Bob was addressing. WaPo also did an analysis of whether police shootings of blacks were justified, a couple of years ago. The great majority WERE justified. The number of unjustified police shootings of black people was in the neighborhood of a dozen.

      Of course, that's a dozen too many. OTOH the number of murders of black people by other blacks was in the neighborhood of 700 or 800.

      Delete
    3. Correction: the annual number of black murder victims killed by Other blacks is in the neighborhood of 7 THOUSAND not 7 hundred.

      Delete
    4. A whole lot more white murder victims are killed by Other whites than black victims killed by blacks.

      And more women are killed by men, especially their spouses or partners and exes, than men killed by women.

      I'm sure you consider that an urgent problem too, right David?

      Delete
    5. Obviously David didn't read Kevin Drum's article. In it, he points out that when you take into account killings of all kinds by police, not just those using guns against unarmed people without toy guns, then the total is closer to several hundred per year and that is a lot of unarmed people killed for no good reason.

      Delete
    6. The TV show "The Rookie" has been doing a good job examining what bad policing in minority communities looks like.

      Delete
    7. I think David's point is that the Police should be defunded. It would be divisive to ask him why it took him so long.
      Good on you, David.


      Finally.

      Delete
    8. Great news, David. They now have a name for folks, like you, who wont admit there is systemic racism in the USA. Congratulations, you're an asshole.

      Delete
    9. "A whole lot more white murder victims are killed by other whites than black victims killed by blacks."

      No. Not by absolute number and not as a percentage of the population. Even professional hucksters like Michael Hareiot admit black Americans commit roughly 50-percent of murders. Black Americans are six times more likely to be homicide victims than whites and eight times more likely to be perpetrators.

      Delete
    10. "In order to be killed by cops as a white person you need to point a gun at them. In order to be killed by the cops as a black person, you only need to point your skin at them."

      Again, no.

      You can't name one person killed by police for the color of their skin.

      More unarmed white people are killed by the police than black. Most of these killings, black or white, involve trying to take an officer's gun, running someone over with a car,or pummeling a cop on the ground.

      You heard of George Floyd, google Tony Timpa. You heard of Tamir Rice, but not Daniel Shaver. Bet you know who Breonna Taylor is but never heard of the white man shot when police served a no knock warrant at his address days earlier.

      Delete
  4. "Many children and many parents get badly scared in the process."

    Who cares about the dead? Hypothetical kids somewhere might be scared because accurate facts are being printed about police shootings (for black people, not white people, who aren't scared because they know the system will likely protect them)!

    ReplyDelete
  5. ""Look up the Tuskegee study," she thoughtfully said."

    What happened in the Tuskegee study? The government continued to withhold syphilis treatment from infected black men for decades after penicillin was discovered as a cure, because they were studying long term effects of untreated syphilis. Subjects were lied to for decades.

    The Tuskegee study was started in the 1930s, penicillin was discovered during WWII and became widely available in the late 1940s, the Tuskegee study was ended in the mid-1970s when someone in congress questioned why it was still being funded.

    Somerby minimizes the distrust that arose when black activists such as Malcolm X and W.E.B. DuBois and books like "Even the Lab Rat was White" by Robert Guthrie publicized these types of unethical studies involving black subjects.

    There is a deep suspicion of white motives when it comes to medical treatment, which Somerby dismisses as performative when acknowledged by journalists today. This is a real suspicion, and it has some justification in past practices, which are as horrific as Nazi medicine in the concentration camps.

    In Los Angeles, black residents were similarly suspicious of the routine spraying for invasive fruit fly species, believing that it was toxic and deliberately aimed at black neighborhoods. These beliefs arise because past such suspicions were substantiated, true abuses committed by racists who consider black people a subspecies akin to animals.

    Somerby ignorance on this topic is inexcusable. He has no business writing this offensive crap without investigating himself and learning something about why suspicions persist. He should start with the Tuskegee Institute webpage describing what happened in that famous study. Then he should track down Guthrie's book. Then he might be barely qualified to discuss whether Rachel Nichols deserves criticism for being "performative."

    Until then, he is another racist white asshole who doesn't know shit about anything important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And what is your race, so that we can see how it relates to the fact that you are an anonymous asshole? Would a non-asshole keep reading and commenting ad nauseam on the blog of a man whom he/she feels “doesn’t know shit about anything important”?

      Delete
  6. "But we're drunk on morality here in Our Town."

    Somerby has spent a great deal of time recommending that liberals listen to The Others and find out what they are thinking. He has apparently not spent much time listening to liberals and understanding what we liberals are thinking and feeling.

    I don't know one single liberal person among my friends and acquaintances who is "drunk on morality." I know a great many who were sickened by Trump, scared of what was going to happen to our country. I know many who seriously contemplated moving to Canada or elsewhere (before covid) in fear that our country would become unlivable. I know many who were horrified by many things Trump said and did, not least the attack on democracy that occurred on 1/6. I do not know any who poke fun at The Others or who find anything conservatives say and do funny. I do not hear them calling other people stupid or dismissing them in elitist tones. I hear despair, wonderment, frustration at being unable to change any minds on the right, concern about lack of covid planning/execution, fear about the future. I see a lot of volunteering and donating to those without jobs, homeless and those in need, struggle with kids and family issues, anger at those who won't wear masks or vote for needed relief aid, and none of that is performative. It is real money being donated, real time, real work being done. Today, I am not hearing demands for revenge but rather hope for a changed and better future.

    Somerby's caricature of liberal thought is a daily insult here. His attacks on the press, which is neither a liberal mouthpiece nor liberal leadership, are another branch of the damage to our democracy wrought by the right. The press is not being performative, in my liberal opinion. It is occasionally getting things right about racism and gender issues. Somerby is the one who is wrong about everything he touches. He is representative of the rot afflicting the right. I don't know how he got that way, but mocking Rachel Nichols instead of Tucker Carlson is a symptom of his deep problems.

    ReplyDelete
  7. "Like Drum, he stressed the part where large numbers of self-identified liberals wildly overestimated the number of black people killed by police. "

    Kevin Drum didn't say that. He said that the bin labels provided to survey participants didn't properly capture the correct numbers, so that it was difficult for participants to select the correct answer. He also pointed out that the answer some were mistakenly selecting (for unarmed blacks shot, excluding several other circumstances such as toy guns and those killed in other ways besides shooting) was correct for deaths, just not the limited category intended by the survey (only unarmed shooting deaths in certain circumstances).

    Kevin Drum said that if the study had included the proper categories and people had better understood which deaths were included, the responses wouldn't have seemed so mistaken.

    Somerby and Carlson, using the study to shore up their own arguments, ignored Drum's main point and are now misrepresenting what Drum said.

    I think it is more interesting that whites are grossly underestimating the number of white people shot, but that doesn't fit Somerby's agenda, so he glossed over that result. It means that white people don't appreciate their own danger at the hands of police, consider themselves safer than they are. That may be part of why some white people are less supportive of BLM and efforts to reform the police than they might be if they truly understand how many unarmed white people are killed by police each year.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Doing the right thing doesn't mean you are on a high horse.

    In the old days, Somerby would have defined what he means by "performative". Now he is just calling names and it seems to refer to anything liberals do that should make conservatives feel ashamed of themselves (if they had any shame).

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  10. Use of force studies show that Black people are attacked for far less provocation. Has Bob read any of them? No he just looks at a single number and extrapolates that cops can't be racist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This isn't true, either. The best data shows police are more likely to use lethal force on white suspects and non lethal force on black suspects.

      Delete
  11. Bob is drawing broad conclusions from a single number. Let's quote the research:

    Police kill, on average, 2.8 men per day. Police were responsible for about 8% of all homicides with adult male victims between 2012 and 2018. Black men’s mortality risk is between 1.9 and 2.4 deaths per 100 000 per year, Latino risk is between 0.8 and 1.2, and White risk is between 0.6 and 0.7.

    Conclusions. Police homicide risk is higher than suggested by official data. Black and Latino men are at higher risk for death than are White men, and these disparities vary markedly across place

    https://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/abs/10.2105/AJPH.2018.304559?journalCode=ajph

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These numbers are meaningless unless you're suggesting both crime and police I interactions are equally distributed throughout society. They're not. Roughly 95-percent of murders in Chicago and NYC involve black/Latino victims and perpetrators.

      Delete
  12. “In our view, the survey suggests that selective reporting does, in fact, produce large misimpressions.”

    That isn’t a valid deduction.

    ReplyDelete
  13. “Imaginary survey question:
    According to the Washington Post, 237 black people were shot and killed by police last year. How many white people, if any, would you say were shot and killed by police last year?”

    If you were really savvy about population statistics, you would know this:

    Black: 13.4%
    White (non-Hispanic) 60.1%
    (https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219)

    So, without assuming that race is a factor, you might make a reasonable guess:

    237 is 13.4% of 1,768.
    So, your guess would be 60.1% of 1,768, which is 1,062.

    Which is a hell of a lot higher than 453.

    Seems the number of whites killed by police is far lower than you would expect, if race were not a factor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I suppose you think the NBA is racist because there aren't enough white players,too?

      These dumb comparisons only hold up if characteristics are equally distributed through a population. They aren't.

      Crime rates are much higher in poor, urban areas. As a result,police spend more time in such communities.

      75-percent of mass shooters are black.

      Something like 95-percent of murder victims in NYC and Chicago are black and Latino. They're killed almost exclusively by other blacks and Latinos.

      Asians are even more underrepresented than whites in police shootings. Is that anti-white, pro-Asian racism?


      Delete
  14. Listen up people!
    Is any besides Mao going to purchase any spells or potions?
    Hello...
    Anyone out there

    ReplyDelete
  15. Somerby apparently thinks that black people are too stupid to have heard about the Tuskegee experiment and only get their info about it from Rachel Nichols, and that they are so scared by her reporting about it that they are reluctant to get the vaccine. He also seems to think that sweeping bad things under the rug as if they never happened is the way to handle “the blacks.” Probably not a good way to win their trust.

    The reluctance pre-existed Nichols’ reporting, hence the lower numbers for vaccinations of black people. But that wouldn’t fit Somerby’s narrative.

    It’s pretty stupid that Somerby translates Nichols’ concern into its opposite, “performative virtue.” It’s stupider that he thinks the problem is Nichols and anyone talking about Tuskegee.

    I keep pointing this out, to no avail, but if reporting something dire scares people and therefore should be avoided, why report on the “achievement gaps?”

    ReplyDelete
  16. “Tucker is often (not always) a mess.”

    Somerby is never this charitable about Rachel Maddow, who is right about a number of things.

    Why is Maddow all tribalism, but Carlson is a “mess?” What an innocent sounding word.

    Does Somerby wonder how much money Carlson stuffs down his pants, or how much Botox he’s injected to get his face like that?

    ReplyDelete
  17. So much for McConnell’s “gift:”

    “Mitch McConnell said today he would support Donald Trump in 2024 if he became the Republican presidential nominee, less than two weeks after condemning the former president for the Capitol insurrection.”
    https://www.politico.com/news/2021/02/25/mcconnell-would-support-trump-2024-471672

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Meh. Give Republicans 4 years, and they'll find an even bigger piece of shit than Trump to elect.
      Bet on it!

      Delete
  18. Something of note from that skeptic study:

    “The available data on police shootings of unarmed Black men is incomplete; however, existing data indicate that somewhere between 13-27 unarmed black men were killed by police in 2019. Adjusted for the number of law enforcement agencies that have yet to provide data, this number may be higher, perhaps between 60-100.”
    https://www.skeptic.com/research-center/reports/Research-Report-CUPES-007.pdf

    Also:
    “Important Note: Existing databases are compiled from a central dataset, the FBI’s National Use-of-Force Data Collection. Critically, this data collection effort was established only recently in 2019, law enforcement participation is voluntary and, as of 2020, only 5,030 out of 18,514 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies have provided use-of-force data.”

    Therefore, how would anyone, including Bob Somerby or skeptic magazine, know what the true number is?

    Would Somerby care to think about why the data collection effort only began in 2019?

    ReplyDelete
  19. “In Our Town, we tend to ride in on an extremely high horse.”

    When liberals said that gays should be allowed to marry, conservatives responded with “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

    Guess which group was accused of “riding their high horse?”

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have a better question. What percentage of blacks who die by acts of violence are killed by other blacks? 90%
    According to FBI statistics. But this cannot be discussed. People act as if only deaths because of interactions with police were to stop, everything will be ok. Wrong!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The most recent figure is 88.9% not 90%. For whites, it is 80.2% killed by other whites.

      This is discussed plenty since the right has been circulating false figures about this (compared to FBI statistics).

      The difference in what gets discussed is that police are supposed to protect and serve, not kill, unarmed people, regardless of race.

      Delete
  21. According to Michelle Goldberg, there is a campaign on the right to cancel wokeness:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/26/opinion/speech-racism-academia.html

    ReplyDelete
  22. The NY Times has been featuring interviews with Asian people about their experiences during the pandemic. Today it is Sam and Maggie Cheng, whose mother was attacked on the street in Flushing, Queens.

    But Somerby doesn't think this is a real phenomena.

    ReplyDelete
  23. "In a move that wouldn’t upset any reasonable or rational person, Hasbro is rebranding Mr. Potato Head as simply Potato Head. So naturally, the far right is going out of its collective mind."

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  25. My husband and I have been having lots of problems living together, he never gives me attention or makes me happy because he has fallen in love with another woman outside our marriage. I tried my best to make sure that my husband leaves this woman but the more I talk to him about it the more he makes me feel sad and unhappy, My marriage started leading to divorce because he no longer gives me attention. I wanted to forget him but i love him and didn't want to lose him. We have been married for years and he is all I could call a true best friend and best in all, the man that handles my problems perfectly, the man that makes sacrifices for ,my happiness. I wanted him back in my life badly and I was so confused. My Friends told me to buy books about relationships, so I went online for relationship books while I came across a spell caster called Dr Emu. I read testimonies and reviews about him so I contacted him immediately, explained my problems to him. Same day , he casted a spell for me and assured me for 2 days that my husband will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my husband came knocking on my door and begged for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married again, he proposed. I wouldn't stop talking about him. Contact him today if you need his help via email: emutemple@gmail.com and you will see that your problem will be solved without any delay. Website: https://emutemple.wordpress.com/

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  26. To know more about Chief Dr Lucky you can visit his website (https://chiefdrluckyherbaltherapy.wordpress.com/)
     
     A friend that suffered from Herpes and was cure with the help of this great herbal doctor Chief Lucky so i decided to contact him for help in getting rid of my families genital herpes virus 1/2 which i did and all i was told to provide was just some useful information and some materials used in preparation of the natural cure and that i did and now i am the happiest person on earth because i am writing this testimony of mine with joy and happiness in my heart to the whole world to know that natural remedy is real because i am a living testimony of Chief Lucky traditional herbal cure and i want you all to contact Chief Lucky via his email: chiefdrlucky@gmail.com or WhatsApp him +2348132777335 am sure he will help you too.

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  27. Isiyku Abdulahi
    My ex-boyfriend dumped me one week ago after I accused him of seeing someone else and insulting him. I want him back in my life but he refuse to have any contact with me. I was so confuse and don’t know what to do, so I reach to the Internet for help and I saw a testimony of how a spell caster help them to get their ex back so I contact the spell caster and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me and assure me of 2 days that my ex will return to me and to my greatest surprise the third day my ex came knocking on my door and beg for forgiveness. I am so happy that my love is back again and not only that, we are about to get married. Once again thank you Dr Believe. You are truly talented and gifted.He is the only answer. He can be of great help and I will not stop talking about him because he is a wonderful man. Contact this great love spell caster for your relationship or marriage problem to be solved today via email: believelovespelltemple@gmail.com or WhatsApp: +19713839183



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  28. LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
    Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever








    LOTTO, lottery,jackpot.
    Hello all my viewers, I am very happy for sharing this great testimonies,The best thing that has ever happened in my life is how I win the lottery euro million mega jackpot. I am a Woman who believe that one day I will win the lottery. finally my dreams came through when I email believelovespelltemple@gmail.com and tell him I need the lottery numbers. I have spend so much money on ticket just to make sure I win. But I never know that winning was so easy until the day I meant the spell caster online which so many people has talked about that he is very great in casting lottery spell, . so I decide to give it a try.I contacted this great Dr Believe and he did a spell and he gave me the winning lottery numbers. But believe me when the draws were out I was among winners. I win 30,000 million Dollar. Dr Believe truly you are the best, all thanks to you forever

    ReplyDelete