Your comparisons make me cry

When we’ve got bad news, we get comparisons that show how deluded people are on other subjects. The NRA has been doing a great job promoting less gun control, and one of their tactics has been the myth of woman empowerment by gun…when on average, women are far more anti-gun than men. But do I really need to be reminded that 29% of Americans believe in little green men?

The data on guns isn’t so good for the ladies. A 2003 study by The American Journal of Public Health found there was “no clear evidence” that owning a gun reduced women’s chances of being killed. An analysis this year by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that “in states that require a background check for every handgun sale, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners.” Six times more women were murdered by intimate partners than by strangers in 2010. A study published in the Journal of Urban Health in 2002 found that women were 4.9 times more likely to be murdered by a gun in states with high gun ownership than in states with low gun ownership. Of the 10 states with the highest rates of female homicide, five are in the South. Southern white men are the most likely to own guns, at 61 percent. Southern white women are the women most likely to own guns, at 25 percentThat’s 5 percent more than the percent of American women who believe aliens exist

Aliens: More real than the myth that more guns means women are safer.

Or how about this: we get the good news that public support for gay marriage is rising, but get reminded that belief in creationism has been steady, and right now, only 44% disapprove of gay marriage, while 46% think the earth is 6000 years old.

What is going on? The Supreme Court hearings on the challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s ban on same-sex marriage suggest barriers to legalisation will fall eventually. Growing public support for same-sex marriage is another factor: the latest poll by the Pew Research Center shows 49 per cent of Americans approve of same-sex marriage, with 44 per cent disapproving.

This number is significant, not just because it shows that the swing in support for same-sex marriage has been swift, but because – as Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show this week – more Americans have an “evolved” view on same-sex marriage than actually believe in evolution. Forty-six per cent of them think the human race was created in a single day within the past 10,000 years, according to a 2012 Gallup poll. It is unclear how many of them will eventually evolve this view.

I get the message. People aren’t rational.

But I also get the promising message from the fact that we see a rise in support for gay marriage that there are tactics that work, and they involve actually touching personal and emotional and human values. The gay marriage campaign has been working because they’ve combined sound, logical arguments — how can you deny rights to one couple and give them to another? — with personal stories of people in love, and people excluded by cold regulations and bigotry.

We ought to try that more.


  1. jamessweet says

    So what we need is a nice human story of how someone’s life was ruined because somebody else disbelieved in evolution. Hmmm….

  2. jamessweet says

    Some people aren’t rational.

    I beg to differ. I think all of us are pretty irrational about a lot of things. The difference is how much of an effort you put into it. If you put a lot of effort into it, and value rationality, you will be less irrational about fewer things than someone who doesn’t value it. But let’s not pretend any H. sapiens are innocent of being pretty damn irrational a lot of the time.

  3. Abdul Alhazred says

    So much for the myth of women empowerment by gun.

    But it sure beats empowerment of woman by whining when facing a rapist.

    Clue: Mao said it best about where political power comes from.

  4. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    But it sure beats empowerment of woman by whining when facing a rapist.

    Yes, being far more likely to be killed AND raped in states with many guns, I’m sure those damn hysterical bitches whine much much less when they can provide the attacker with the very gun used to kill them.

    Jesus fuck. After the fucking week we just had, where two seventeen year old girls committed suicide in part because no one followed up on their rapes.

  5. Gen, Uppity Ingrate. says

    Sorry, unclear first sentence.Should read:

    “being far more likely to be killed AND raped (as opposed to being “only” raped)…

  6. butchpansy says

    Pedantic digression from the topic: the difference between 25% of the pop. (gun owners) and 29% ( believers in little greenies) is not 5% (nor is it 4%), it’s more like a 20% difference.

  7. butchpansy says

    The data that are not ” good for the ladies” are those statistics that show an intimate partner is far more lkely to rape you than a stranger; a clearer expression of life in a rape culture would be hard to find.

  8. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    Dream on.

    The government will not protect you. Abdul Alhazred

    Are you even capable of looking at the real world? Just a quick glance, I promise it won’t hurt apart from just possibly undermining your invincible ignorance and dogmatism. The USA has both the highest homicide rate, and (by far) the highest gun ownership among rich countries. Just try accepting that plain fact, and thinking about it for a while.

  9. sharkjack says

    you know what would protect people from a lot of harm Abdul? If we stopped blaming the victim for getting raped.. Your comment 4 basically says that a women who carries a gun has power and that that would have helped in deterring the rapist. Combine that with your comment 7 and it sounds to me like you’re blaming the victim for getting raped here. That makes you part of the problem.

  10. raven says

    So what we need is a nice human story of how someone’s life was ruined because somebody else disbelieved in evolution. Hmmm….

    It’s easy. Been done. I have even seen it. Their lives aren’t ruined. They are dead.

    1. Lysenko. Anti-Darwinian, anti-Mendelian reality denier. He did a huge amount of damage to Soviet and Red Chinese agriculture. Probably around 20 million starved to death in the two countries in the famines.

    A lot of the victimes of Stalin and Mao weren’t killed by malevolence or politics. They were killed by their incompetence.

    2. Antibiotic resistance. We are on the Darwinian treadmill and rapidly running out of steps. Out here MRSA is common and VanR MRSA is becoming common. Vancomycin is one of the two last line drugs.

    XDRTB Extremely Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. Spreading around the world. In one cohort, out of 53 patients, 52 died. In the hospital with treatment. There have been a few cases or TDRTB, Totally Drug Resistant TB. There isn’t enough data to say what the prognosis is exactly, but it isn’t good.

    Some of the people in the field and in the clinic think antibiotic resistance is going to be a major challenge for medicine in the 21st century.

    Everyone wants to get off the Darwinian treadmill of new drugs and newly evolved resistant pathogens. No one has any idea how to do it.

  11. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    P Ziddy,

    We ought to try that more.

    Co-optor!11!, appropriator!!11oneone11!.
    Abdul Alhazred,

    But it sure beats empowerment of woman by whining when facing a rapist.

    Quite the unempathetic asshole, aren’t we?

  12. FossilFishy(Anti-Vulcanist) says

    Thanks Abdul for the perfect demonstration of irrational, er, I suppose I’ll have to call it thinking for lack of a better word.

    Here we are, presented with evidence that women do not benefit from increased gun ownership, so what does Abdul conclude? That women are better off with guns. Wheeee! Up is down, red is green and victims are always to blame. Hey! This is fun. Who knew, besides Abdul, that ignoring the evidence and just making shit up was so liberating?

  13. erik333 says

    I don’t think anybody benefits from increased handgun ownership in a society, outside war time.

    Krav Maga or so might be a better idea for self defence.

  14. Larry says

    I fully support gay marriage, gun control, and the teaching of evolution. But I don’t think the way that support for gay marriage has increased can fully carry over to either of the others. Two of the major approaches for getting more support for gay marriage have been A) as more people come out as LGBT, their friends and families take notice. And it’s a lot harder to deny equality to someone you know than an abstract “other” (see Senator Rob Portman for instance). And B) getting people to realize that if 2 men or 2 women get married, it won’t affect their own marriages, so live and let live.

    For evolution, there isn’t really a personal argument. Scientific arguments are by nature more impersonal and data driven. But since religion is such a sensitive topic, many creationists will wrongly equate teaching evolution with belittling their religion, so they have a knee-jerk reaction against evolution.

    For gun control, the “live and let live” argument fails. People against gun control are worried that more gun control will lead to the government coming for their guns. Or that it will stop them from protecting their families. So while gay marriage could be seen as granting rights/equality to a minority, gun control involves taking their rights away and gives them a stronger reason to oppose it. And the personal argument doesn’t work as well as it did for gay marriage because people on both sides have anecdotes. For every anecdote about someone tragically getting killed by a gun, there’s a reply anecdote about someone’s life being saved or a robbery prevented by someone with a gun. And people tend to cling to those emotional anecdotes even in the face of data-based arguments.

    If Newtown wasn’t a wake-up call for massive gun reforms, I’m not sure what could be that wake-up call. And short of systematically weaning religion out of public life (which I’m all in favor of), I don’t know how to make the general public more receptive to evolution.

  15. Rip Steakface says

    @1 and 3

    Even people who are skilled at applying their rational skills (because no person is inherently rational, all the time) consistently will inevitably have some preference irrationally. You can’t really reason out why you like a form of music, for example. Why do I like progressive death metal? I dunno, it sounds cool and so I listen to it.

  16. spandrel says

    29% of Americans believe in little green men?

    It’s an ambiguous question. It’s not unreasonable to hypothesize that sentient aliens might exist on the basis of the Drake Equation, particularly given the surprising rate at which extrasolar planets are being discovered. That’s highly speculative but not irrational. People who believe in aliens on that basis are not in the same category as people who go in for crop circles and Stargate pyramid builders.

  17. summerstars says

    It is an interesting study, but I would caution against drawing firm conclusions based on it. The states with the most crime (including violence against women) tend to be more messed up in many more ways than just having more guns. Poverty, obesity, lower levels of educational attainment, more religiosity, higher rates of teenage delinquency, etc. All of these are either important risk factors for crime (such as poverty) or a symptom of a larger issue (such as obesity.)

    The states with the lowest rates of violence and crime also tend to be states with higher average incomes, higher educational attainment, etc. They tend to own fewer guns, too, but is that because of prohibitions on gun ownership or because they don’t foster the kind of environment that raises people who want to own guns?