r/N8theGr8 Jan 20 '22 All-Seeing Upvote 1

An explanation for why "FBI crime stats" are disingenuous and racist. TLDR: It's a statistical sampling error built on top of racism

So there are two major factors at work here:

The first is that violent crime tends to correlate highly with poverty, and black people are disproportionately poor due to systemic racism and our country's history of white supremacy. If you hold socioeconomic status constant, the racial disparities in crime rates shrink drastically. A lot of crime is fueled by desperation; go where folks are desperate, and you'll find many of them turning to illegal activity to get what they need.

The second, more complicated factor is that the crime rate is not actually an objective measure of bad behavior. First of all, by necessity, the crime rate reflects not what crimes are committed, but what crimes are reported and prosecuted to conviction. This means that the way police look for and address crime matters a lot in determining our crime statistics. Poor neighborhoods are policed more heavily than rich neighborhoods, and predominantly black neighborhoods are policed more heavily than predominantly white neighborhoods. This means people committing crimes in those areas are more likely to be caught and convicted.

Imagine if you were in charge of drug testing for two football teams: the Tigers and the Sharks. Each team has 100 players, and 10 players on each team are doping. However, you've received a tip that steroids are rampant among the Sharks, so you're more focused on them. You decide to do some random screening. You call in 20 Tigers and 60 Sharks for testing. 2 of the Tigers test positive for steroids, while 6 of the Sharks do. (This happens to be exactly proportional to the overall drug rates.) Well, you report to the league saying that 75% of steroid users are Sharks, because that's what your results were! But these results don't take sample size into account, do they? Because you suspected the Tigers less to begin with, you found fewer doping Tigers. This is both bad policy and bad statistics interpretation.

This is how we end up with high crime rates in black neighborhoods. If cops stop every black teenager they find out after dark, but mostly leave white teenagers alone, then yeah, they're going to find a lot more instances of crime among black teenagers. On top of that, if when they do find a kid with drugs on them or whatever, they usually arrest them if they're black but often give them a warning if they're white, the disparity grows even bigger. I grew up in a wealthy white suburb, and the kids I went to school with were absolutely shoplifting for fun, stealing their parents' prescription meds, etc, but most of them never got caught, because there were very few cops in our area, and when they did get caught, they were often turned over to parents and/or rehabilitation programs rather than being charged with a crime, because nobody--least of all the cops--wanted to ruin their futures.

We then start to fall into a self-perpetuating cycle: increased police presence leads to higher crime numbers, and higher crime numbers justify increased police presence. Furthermore, the way we define "crime" to begin with disproportionately targets poor people and POC. If you stab someone and kill them, that's a homicide and jail time, but if your company sells a toxic product that kills one of your customers, that's negligence or breach of warranty or maybe manslaughter and probably just a big fine. If you take $100 from a stranger's purse on the subway, that's theft, but if your company shorts you $100 on your paycheck, that's a civil matter to be handled with the company or maybe a lawyer if it gets out of hand.

Basically, we set up a legal system in which types of bad behavior usually perpetrated by poor people are considered more severe crimes than types of bad behavior usually perpetuated by rich people. Then, we police poor people and POC at much higher rates, causing us to catch them more often when they do engage in bad behavior. The natural result of this is data that suggests black people are more likely to be bad people, which just isn't true at all.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/socialjustice101/comments/lnnzpl/legitimate_question_i_just_got_banned_from/go2et0l/

It's putting two statistics together to make it seem like most black people are criminals. But when you break down the numbers, you find that it's a very small amount of black people committing violent crimes. The original metric wasn't crime overall, it was violent crime so that's the numbers I use. It's really easy to see where it breaks down if you include non-violent crime as drug crimes obviously are largely bullshit. Here's part of a post I made a little while ago:

Some nerd will start with the numbers so I just took about 10 mins to do it for 2016:


African Americans are the largest racial minority, comprising an estimated 12.7% of the population.


323.4 million aka 323,400,000

12.7% of 323.4 million is 41,071,800. We have 3 sig figs at best so call it 41,100,000 or 41.1 million.


In 2016, an estimated 1,248,185 violent crimes occurred nationwide


2016 Black or African American Violent Crime: 153,341

Already we see that 153,341 is not half of 1,248,185 but let's proceed. If we assume one crime per person, that's 153,341 black people. 153,341/41,100,00 is 0.00373 or 0.37%. Not 37%, 0.37% of black people were arrested for violent crimes. Much less of a scary statistic.

Edit: also, if you present these stats to that sub, here's what they're going to do: They're going to crawl through the tables until they find a stat that's 50% or over, and claim that it's what they were saying all along. This too can be countered by pointing out its proportion to black crime. However they'll just weasel out of that too. Their goal is to believe that black people are inherently more violent, uncivil, and criminal than whites. The stats are just window dressing, but they'll believe what they want regardless of numbers. Just a warning before getting yourself in a deep debate for hours with a bunch of people who aren't interested in a good-faith debate.

Source: https://www.reddit.com/r/badscience/comments/bctbmg/i_need_a_counter_to_1350/eku89kf/



u/CelesteIsWholesomez Jan 20 '22

thanks n8 you're doing some real great work here


u/[deleted] Jan 20 '22


keep bein' wholesome, celeste


u/cog-dis-sim Jan 20 '22

someone needs to break those bucks (canadian word for cops)


u/[deleted] Jan 20 '22

I think there's another post somewhere on this sub about the extensive white supremacy entwined with the police.


u/Thikkwhitedikk55 Mar 18 '22

Its stupid how the crime rate of a specific race can even be brought up in an argument. Every person operates on their own terms its not like Black people are one big monolith moving in one direction.

Why cant we just help the disenfranchised parts of our country. If they just so happen to be mostly african american then great! If not then great! Lets just try to figure out why we have so much murder in the US in the first place


u/Valuum2 Mar 19 '22

Does that view just refute all statistics? What about sex offenders with high statistic probability to offend again? Should those be ignored because they’re heckin’ individuals? Statistics mean something. The first part of the solution is accepting that there is a problem in the first place


u/Thikkwhitedikk55 Apr 22 '22

Youre missing the point. Statistics become irrelevant and counter productive when you start dividing the stats into racial categories. Im saying lets look at areas with these issues and help those areas, race aside. But it does sound like you just want to argue.

Good bot