|Captioned "Racist, homophobic graffiti was spray painted at Withrow University High School this past weekend. " Source|
H/T to BigHeadRob on the source. The article is much better than the photo caption.
So how can one discern whether we have in fact become less civil or if it is manufactured "media hype" and social media "reverb"?
In a word: Statistics and history.
|Data from the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics web page. Aggravated Assault chosen as the most representative and best populated metric for "un-civil" behavior. The mean for the period from 2001-2015 is 273/100,000 and 1.28 standard deviations is 37.2|
|Data from the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics web page. Rape chosen as the most representative, and best populated metric for "violence toward women". The mean for the period from 2001-2015 is 29.8/100,000 and 1.28 standard deviations is 3.23|
The time span was chosen to represent a near equal number of years when the President was Republican (Bush) and Democrat (Obama) to wash out any reporting (or other) bias.
The effect of sample size
One reason that the FBI is loath to report monthly numbers is that random noise, while dampened in large samples, is amplified in small samples.
Consider a small city. It might not have any homicides for twenty years...and then have three in one month. Just random noise.
Decreasing the size of the sample to 1/4 of the original sample size results in a doubling of the apparent "noise". Decreasing the size of a sample to 1/12 of the original can be expected to result in SQRT(12) times increase in variation, or to increase the standard deviation by about 3.5
Grinding the numbers, an observer can make a statistically defensible conclusion about loss of civility if the Annualized Aggravated Assault rate for January 2017 is 402/100,000 (or higher) or if the Annualized "legacy definition" Rape rate for January 2017 is 41/100,000 (or higher).
Rates that are less than 402 and 41 respectively are not high enough to make any statement with 90% certainty.
"News" that trumpets some minor up-blip fail the a priori requirements of good statistics.
I wait with bated breath to see the January 2017 data.
---Note added later: I don't want to give the impression that I believe that the world is entirely safe and benign. I believe that between 5% and 10% of the population suffer from EDD, that is Empathy Deficiency Disorder. They have few inhibitions against doing violence to others. My argument is that that percentage of people with EDD did not jump up when Donald Trump was elected.---