22 April 2007

Gun Death Graphic

In addition to my preoccupation in photography, I also am interested in "data graphics" - ways of depicting aggregate phenomena in graphical (in contrast to tabular) form. I am especially taken by Edward Tufte's work and his recognition that graphics are tools for seeing and thinking about complex, large scale patterns and events [1] [2] [3]. In The New York Times today you can find this nice graphic on the distribution (by age, race, sex, and category) of deaths caused by guns in the United States. I know that a large number of Americans subscribe to the mantra "guns don't kill people, people kill people." My reply is that like most simplisitic mantras, this one is unpersuasive. Sure, people kill people, but in the U.S. they do so far too frequently by using a gun and we ought to stop trying to fool oursleves about that. According to The Times, (American) people killed people with guns 81 times per day in the last year for which data are available from the Centers for Disease Control, namely 2004.

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