The Importance of Data in a Confused World
I came across the following article in Slate this past week (http://www.slate.com/id/2284662/?gt1=38001) which says that even though data shows the crime rate in the U.S. has severely dipped over the last two decades, most Americans believe that it's getting worse. My grandmother would be a prime example of "most Americans." On more than one occasion, "it never used to be this bad" has been heard coming out of her mouth when talking about the crime that gets so theatrically broadcasted on the local news . It "kills" me to hear her say that because she spends so much time and energy worrying about crime; much unneeded stress which could be better spent worrying about her near-perfect grandsons.
News stories and anectdotes are both important, especially as a reminder that not all people have the same experiences. I'm certain the famillies of the scores of murder victims this week will find no comfort in that overall crime is not as bad as most people think. But data is ever so important to get a sense of what is actually happening in our so called lives. I feel fortunate that I get to work on the NCI project which has such rich data on the lives of people with developmental disabilities.