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US: “The weather was packing heat, and so was I.”

September 5, 2012
But is it semi-parametric?

But is it semi-parametric?

Not climate change, but CRIMATE change!

Right-thinking lefties everywhere have had their knickers in a twist over the House Republican proposal to curtail National Science Foundation funding for social science (especially political science), while maintaining funding for the “hard” sciences like physics, chemistry, etc. Well, perhaps papers like the one from Matthew Ranson, posted the other day on the Social Science Research Network, suggests why someone might look askance at social science, whether funded by the government or not. To paraphrase that great line from Randall Jarrell, you have to read it not to believe it. Herewith the abstract to “Crime, Weather, and Climate Change”:

This paper estimates the impact of climate change on the prevalence of criminal activity in the United States. The analysis is based on a 50-year panel of monthly crime and weather data for 2,972 U.S. counties. I identify the effect of weather on monthly crime by using a semi-parametric bin estimator and controlling for county-by-month and county-by-year fixed effects. The results show that temperature has a strong positive effect on criminal behavior, with little evidence of lagged impacts. Between 2010 and 2099, climate change will cause an additional 30,000 murders, 200,000 cases of rape, 1.4 million aggravated assaults, 2.2 million simple assaults, 400,000 robberies, 3.2 million burglaries, 3.0 million cases of larceny, and 1.3 million cases of vehicle theft in the United States….

via Power Line

“The last words I heard before they took me away were ‘Throw him in the cooler, Danny.'”

And what, pray tell, is a “semi-parametric bin estimator”? My occasional writing partner Ken Green emails to say that “It sounds like something Marvin the Martian would use to attack Duck Dodgers in the 24th and a halfth thentury! ‘Stand where you are, Earthling, or I will have to shoot you with my semi-parametric bin estimator!’”

Update 2012-10-22: Some real scientists think otherwise.

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One Comment
  1. The waste of public finds aside, a semi-parametric bin estimator is used to relate data into groups. Such a method might reveal trends and correlations, though not necessarily causations. The conclusions of the referenced researcher might be entirely dependent on the method used to tease meaning out of data. It is incumbent upon him to describe his statistical methodology – no matter how wonky – so that readers may evaluate his conclusions in light of his statistical method. If his method (and assumption: climate change) is flawed, so is his conclusion.

    I’d rather he spent his time seeking other correlations for crime. we all know people get stupid violent when it gets hot, climate change or not.

    For edification:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Histogram

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semiparametric_model

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