Americans' 'Antipathy to Facts' is the Problem Where COVID and Guns are Concerned


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An editorial published by the editorial board Minneapolis’ StarTribune is beats what has become a familiar drum by claiming guns and COVID have a great deal in common:

Nothing will bring back the loved ones we’ve lost to the pandemic, but at least we’ll be worrying about our old familiar foes — heart disease, for example, and cancer.

And guns.

Gun violence remains one of the more potent threats to U.S. public health. Firearms play a role in most of the murders committed in the United States each year, and in more than half the suicides. More people die from gun violence than from traffic accidents.

Hold up there. According to the CDC “road traffic crashes are a leading cause of death in the United States for people aged 1-54.”

The National Safety Commission lists approximately 38,800 deaths from car accidents in 2019 and says the numbers are much worse in 2020. Apparently there’s been a massive reduction in cars on roadways due to lockdowns but our traffic accident rate is high meaning the percentage rate of accidents per drivers on the roads has rocketed.

According to the Association for Safe International Road Travel the United States has a 50 percent higher fatal-crash rate than similar countries such as Canada, Australia, and Japan. That death rate in 2019 was 12.4 deaths per 100,000 people which was actually a two percent reduction over 2018 (but now, in 2020, it’s gone up).

In 2018 NPR reported on deaths related to gun violence – not suicide or officer-involved shootings – with the following:

The United States has the 28th-highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world: 4.43 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 — far greater than what is seen in other wealthy countries.

If you count every gun-related death ever from 2017, meaning suicides, officer-involved shootings, accidents, drug deals gone back, gang shootings, and so on, you get 39,773 or 12 per 100,000 people, says the CDC.

Bottom line, the traffic accident idea of guns being worse than cars isn’t accurate. Even the CDC admits traffic fatalities are among the top three leading causes of death in the United States: heart disease, cancer, and accidents including motor vehicle traffic deaths.

And don’t even get us started on the number of deaths due to medical errors each year, a number that dwarfs firearms-related deaths (including suicides).

Here’s how the Strib’s editorial compared COVID to guns regarding what they feel is an inability to comprehend facts by the average and apparently stupid citizen:

A survey reported this month by Pew Research found that about 4 Americans in 10 say they would not take the COVID vaccine if it were offered to them. Then there is the small but growing population of children whose parents refuse to vaccinate them against once-common diseases like whooping cough. And let’s not forget the people who refuse to wear a mask during the pandemic, or who insist that the pandemic itself is a hoax. Their antipathy to scientific fact — perhaps it’s just antipathy to facts, period — may help explain why the United States has lost more people to COVID than any other country on earth.

In the gun debate, there are similar contradictions between demonstrable fact and stubborn belief. For example, in a new survey commissioned by the Joyce Foundation and the George Family Foundation (bit.ly/JoyceResearch), two-thirds of likely Minnesota voters say they believe the presence of a gun makes a household safer. In fact, people who have a gun in the house are at considerably greater risk. For every anecdote about a homeowner’s defense of his castle, there are instances of tragedy — a toddler dead, a suicide completed, a domestic dispute turned fatal.

Yes, it’s “antipathy to scientific fact” that’s causing people to eschew the COVID vaccine and to feel guns are a good idea for self-defense. Totally.

What do you think, are people just dumb and uneducated, unable to comprehend scientific facts? Is that the problem here? Or is the issue perhaps that the other side of the aisle enjoys fabricating information and twisting details to suit their needs?

 

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