Barron’s attack misses the point

Re: Feelings will simply lead to erroneous conclusions (Advocate Letters, Jan. 18)

Re: Feelings will simply lead to erroneous conclusions (Advocate Letters, Jan. 18)

For the second time in just a few weeks, Guillermo Barron has written to chastise me, suggesting that I “misunderstand” his objection to what he says are my “repeated appeals to (my) ‘feelings’ to support a particular interpretation of crime statistics,” and concluding with what I suspect he intended as a knock-out punch: “well into the 21st century, it’s surprising to see Stuebing still presenting his “feelings” as expert opinion.”

There is a problem with this condescending and sanctimonious rhetoric. A careful review of both the Advocate’s original interview and my reply to Barron’s first “objection” reveals nothing resembling the position he attacks.

Simply put, I did not say what he claims I said.

For the record, as a criminologist and a teacher of both research methods and statistics, I would never say what he claims I said. Indeed, it would be a silly statement to make.

For whatever reason, Barron made it up, a near classic example of the logical fallacy of attacking a straw man.

By attacking his own misrepresentation of my position, Barron reveals that he is either unable or unwilling to recognize what I in fact did say. In any respect, his comments are personally insulting.

The truth is the exact opposite of what Barron claims.

I have argued that the StatsCan Severity Index, which was the basis of the Maclean’s magazine rankings, is not really a measure of “dangerousness” as claimed, but rather in many respects reflects the sentencing practices of local courts. It is this understanding of the character and content of the underlying statistics, as well as the data for Red Deer, which inform my judgment here.

And if anything, it is this interpretation of the statistics which — understandably — gives rise to any “feelings” I may have as an individual.

To Barron: it is not and never has been the other way around. Get over it.

Bill Stuebing

Red Deer