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Auditing Australia — 17 Comments

  1. I am having a bit of a hard time with the charts. I recognize they come from other sources, but the X axis scales make it difficult to compare the shapes of the lines. The blue lines should all have the same shapes but they are different enough to cause consternation. Any way to fix that?

    Also, please make better distinctions between total homicide rates and firearm homicide rates in the text and charts.

    I think this is a good story, but to be really effective it must be ironclad as to what the data is saying.

  2. Click on any chart to get a much bigger version of it that is easier to read.

    The difference in the shapes of the blue lines are due to the time spans involved (first one goes out to 2011 whereas the third is a shorter equal before/after perspective).

    Aside from the next-to-the last,m we are not breaking out firearm homicides.

  3. I don’t think the X axes are a problem but the cases where there are dual Y axes on a single chart without a legend to know which of the lines is represented by which axis means that comparing absolute values is a challenge – though I get that the purpose of the charts is to show the overall change in rate rather than the specific numbers and the range on one might need to be larger than the other to avoid one of them looking like a flat line. It can be misleading if you have one axis with a range of only 1 from min to max and the other range is from 70 to 100 or a span that is 30 times the size. Sill if one dropped in half and the other doubled then the raw numbers may not be critical to making the comparison – labeling the Y axis would still be good so we can see if that is 1.8 homicides per year or per 100,000 people or what. Or – if possible – use the same total span but base shifted – for example if the data in one set spans 2 through 6 and the other spans 10 through 20 then using 0 through 10 on one axis and 10 through 20 on the other makes the scale of each a span of 10 but shifts the sets so they overlap more closely.

    • Matt, your comments are well taken.

      The main purpose when using two different Y-axis scales is so a comparison of the slopes of the lines.

      Time permitting, I’ll see if I can add the Y-axis labels, though you read correctly that these are incidents per 100,000 population for all.

  4. Great article! I had read something similar in another article explaining that Australia’s homicide rate was already declining BEFORE the Port Arthur massacre. And that homicides continued to decline at the same rate after the massacre. Hence, no one can say that the ban/confiscation was effective at reducing firearm violence. I like that this article uses the term slope. I don’t want to sound elitist, but many people struggle with algebraic concepts such as rate/slope. Most people simply look at the numbers nominally, and see that there were fewer gun related deaths after the ban, and are therefore content that the ban was successful. I’ve debated others about the effectiveness of the Aussie gun ban, and when I mention how the rate of decline, aka slope, did not change, they get that deer-in-the-headlights look on their faces. Then they do what progressives are so famous for…because THEY don’t understand, they call you names in an attempt to discredit.

    BTW – love all of your graphs! One thing I would like to see changed (and see another thread addressing the same thing) would be to include labels on the vertical axis’s (sp?). I had guessed they represented number of incidents per 100K people.

    • Thanks for the note Dave.

      I do need to be more careful about axis labeling. Sometimes the info is related in the chart title, but more often than not I am so familiar with the metrics that don’t think about how this adds clarity for other folks.

      Since the graphics are designed to be shared (and click on any of them to get a larger image) it would be worth the added effort as it may more completely educate people not well studied in the topic.

  5. The stats of homicide rates in all australian statistics offices (including the ABS) show a sharp increase in 1996 due to the 35 people killed in a single massacre. There is clearly no increase in 1996 in any of the stats for Australia here (and even a decrease in homicides by firearm specifically). You have clearly altered these numbers.

    • All numbers came directly from the Australian Institute of Criminology, both from web site data exploration tool extracts and some they guided me to by request. All the data is public, so feel free to cross verify.

      Please note, like all criminologist, we use homicide rates (#/100,000 population). Transient events like the one you cite do not create abnormal bumps in charts.

  6. After reading your recent article about gun deaths, I’m wondering what the homicide rate includes. Is it limited to murders or does it also include accidents, suicides, and/or self defense killings?

  7. maybe the slant was due to DNA techniques and the belief amongst the more intelligent that it is harder to not leave evidence hence the lowering slant

  8. Very dishonest graphs. 5.6 homicide rate for the U.S. yet graphically it shows it to be lower than the Australian homicide rate at 1.8. All you’ve done is destroy the credibility of people who use your information.

    • I’m guessing you missed the second vertical axis. Both are labeled, one for Oz and one for the U.S.

      We scaled the axises so that the relative slope of decline for each country would be readily visible. Had we not done so, the gap between the two nations would have made visualizing and understanding the relative rates of change difficult.

      Worry not. Though few in number, you are not the first person to either not notice the second axis or to not understand purpose of the slope comparison.

      • I’ve plotted it on a graph with a singular value Y axis and the representation of relative decline is still present and easier still to understand.

        The only difference is that the boom and busts are not so abrupt and really a .1 difference isn’t significant.

        The graph would have you believe a .4 decline is equal to a roughly a 2.4 difference due to the representation graphically.

        • As I said before, the goal was to demonstrate the slope of line for each nation. The rate of decline vis-a-vis legislative changes.

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