Fantasy, meet reality

After Adam and I wrote articles about having to be careful when interpreting data, this Toronto Police graph came to my attention. It’s part of their ‘Way Forward’ initiative, already covered, that seeks input from Toronto residents about the future of policing.

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Click to enlarge.

The chart is breathtaking in its deceptiveness and misrepresents the true levels of crime in these cities. The authors seem to want people to interpret the graph to the effect that New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago have lower crime levels than Toronto. The fine print at the bottom basically informs readers that the statistics are meaningless but who cares, the bars have probably done their job.

For those interested, and again, murder being the best indicator of violent crime levels since there’s no ambiguity about a murder – they are almost always reported, here are the same cities’ murder rates in 2013, the middle year used in the police chart, so we can compare apples to apples.

20160818043023Let’s resolve that ‘The Way Forward’ should not be to mislead, or indeed to believe that Torontonians are stupid.

2 thoughts on “Fantasy, meet reality”

  1. Misleading and a way to justify police? When I replied to the Way Forward initiative with suggestions, I got an almost immediate response saying that many people agree with my suggestions or have similarly commented, but that budget restrictions don’t allow the kind of contact with the communities that I think would be helpful.

    Budget for high police salaries, justified by scaring us about how unsafe our city is? PR run wild, and thanks for making it real here.

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience Westonian and well done for taking the time to be a good citizen and give input to the Way Forward group on this important topic.
      It’s interesting that instead of thanking you for your suggestion and adding it to their data collection they tell you that what you’re proposing is popular and then judge it to be financially unfeasible.
      This makes me worry about what they will present as a public input. They’ve already shown an inability (or unwillingness) to interpret and present data correctly. I’m concerned that any final report on the public’s responses may not be a true representation.
      They should have asked a neutral third party to gather information from the public and summarize it in the form of a report, along with recommendations. I suspect they didn’t because they can’t control the results that way.

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