Monday, January 07, 2008

FBI crime reports

The FBI released crime reports today.

The FBI crime reports are good examples of government support of complete nonsense. These reports aren't based on surveys in any sense of the word, they are compilations of crimes reported by various police agencies scattered around the country. Many areas have overlapping police jurisdictions. Some report known crimes to the FBI, some don't. They all use their own ways to define catogories of crimes, and if a crime has been reported to multiple jurisdictions then it's likely to be reported to the FBI multiple times.

These reports simply don't have much validity for use in any kind of rational crime analysis. There are survey techniques that could be used to adjust the raw reported numbers in ways that would make them useful, but the ability to do that is lost once the FBI aggregates the numbers. And the FBI isn't going to do that, that would be too hard.

I have no idea how the FBI actually got a reputation as a scientifically oriented police agency. These are people who actually employ lie detector "experts". That's like employing Gypsy fortune tellers.

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