Evolution and Homicide: A Better Graph

Evolution and Homicide: A Better Graph July 22, 2012

A commenter on this blog, K. L. Onthank, saw some of the problems with the graph I posted previously, comparing acceptance of evolution and homicide rates, and decided to rectify the problem. Here is the chart they kindly came up with and shared!

The increased accuracy is worth the price of having Americans who see this take comfort that the Baltic states are worse than us in the homicide category…

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  • arcseconds

    These are all European nations, though, with the exception of the USA and Japan and a less exceptional exception of Turkey (may one day be European!).

    Ignoring the outliers (including Bulgaria and Cyprus) and you’re not left with much: European nations accept evolution to anywhere between 55% to 85%, and they have between about 1 and 2.5 homocides per 100,000 (i.e. they all have pretty low homocide rates). There doesn’t look like much of a correlation between evolution and homocide within that central bunch.

    I’m pretty sure the European nations have broadly similar systems of social support, so you’d expect to see them cluster somewhat on most social indices.

    Canada, Australia and New Zealand are possibly better comparisons with the USA than Europe.

    If there does turn out to be a global correlation, then I’d probably want to see some kind of correction for education levels, economic inequality, poverty, that sort of thing.

    I suspect world-wide belief in evolution and low homocide rates are both likely to be correlated strongly with being a rich, well-educated, egalitarian nation.

    • Paul D.

      Canada would be located close to Norway on that map (high acceptance of evolution, very low murder rate).

      • domy

        according this article acceptance of evolution in Canada is 59%.
        It seems not very high compared with European countries.
        As the author writes: “Clearly, Canada does not rank at the level of nations like Iceland,
        Denmark, Sweden, France, or Japan where public acceptance of evolution
        is very high (up to 80%), but neither does it fall in the same category
        as the United States.”


    • The other thing that shouldn’t be ignored in any comparison between countries is the ease of access to lethal weaponry.

      • arcseconds

        Well, yes! I guess i thought that was obvious…

        That wouldn’t shed any light on a correlation between acceptance of evolution and homocide, though, at least, not on its own.

  • domy

    as Warren was writing about sex and not homicides, it could be interesting if someone could produce a graph about belief in evolution and rape statistics, or sexual crimes in general…

    • domy

      The data here:

      of course I’m asking a comparison with the countries listed in the Science paper about public acceptance of evolution.

      I’m really curious to see if the chart is done with the same speed with which it was done that about homicide.

      • KL Onthank

        A little bit slower because it is a weekday. I also have zero confidence in the accuracy of those rape stats. I really think it more reflects which cultures in which women feel safe reporting rape to authorities.

        • domy

          kl onthank,
          I could say the same for murders.
          Murders rates depend for example in the capacity and availability of emergency and medecine care of the countries considered.
          So attempted murder could be a better sign of the violence in a country. Also the legal definition of “intentional homicide” differs among countries. But it seems that those limitations have not previously disturbed you and you have accepted UN statistics without problem.
          Anyway, thanks for your graph and for your very significant warning in the same.

          • domy

            p.s. if you do not trust rape statistics, would you consider assault statistics?

            As assault is a ” physical attack against the body of another person resulting in serious bodily injury” I suppose that assault is reported by the hospital system and so the statistics could be more reliable.

          • KL Onthnak

            Well, honestly a lot of my unease came from comparing the homocide and rape datasets. I didn’t do that until after I had made the first graph.
            However, there are some pretty good reasons to think that the rape data is quite a bit more unreliable than homocide data.

            1) There is a negative correlation between the two: as reported homocides goes up, reported rapes goes down. This suggests one (or both) of the dataset is particularly prone to some bias
            2) While the some subjectivity in the definitions of both homocide and rape between countries, the amount of subjectivity isn’t close to being comparable. There is much more divergence between cultures on what constitutes “rape” than “homocide”.
            3) Additionally it it much easier for a rape to go completely unnoticed and unreported than a homocide, and this is much more subject to cultural bias.
            4) You can use the US as a benchmark in both datasets, because US crime reporting should be relatively reliable (though not perfect by any means). It seems hard to believe that US is really 10x higher rape rate than Turkey.
            5) Additionally several countries report higher homocide rates than rape rates.

    • The problem with statistics on rape or sex crimes is that they are socially produced – I suspect that the recorded rates of rape in Saudi Arabia are incredibly low, but this is likely to say more about the way rape is (or isn’t) reported, recorded, and defined than the holiness of the country.

      • domy

        read my previous comment:
        “of course I’m asking a comparison with the countries listed in the Science paper about public acceptance of evolution.”.

        So, as I can see, mainly European countries where I hope the statistics are reliable and homogeneous.

        • Andom – we posted at a similar time so I hadn’t read your comment or the stats you linked to when I wrote the above.

          • domy

            sorry. I did not realize that there could be a problem in the timing of the comments.

  • arcseconds

    I’ve just seen some statistics indicating Australia and New Zealand have about the same level of acceptance of evolution as Norway (76% and 75% respectively) and have homicide rates of 1.16 and 1.41 respectively. So they are around Norway.

    hmm, not sure this was all that elucidating after all…

  • mark

    Haha way to go USA! Worse for murder, except for the Baltics, and jostling for ignorance on evolution with Turkey. And to think, U.S. has the best universities in the world, not to mention intellectual capital production. Honestly think the U.S. should split into just the coasts and the interior.