There is some [statistical] dispute about whether I should have separated the totals by type of school, and whether I should use aggregated killed and wounded. I have generally replied that
- we are talking about human beings, not fruit flies or dice
- when multiple bullets are launched in a small classroom it hardly matters whether the velocity at the muzzle is less than or more than 3,000 feet per second.
- likewise, the force (at the muzzle) of let’s say 3,600 foot-pounds will not have much time or distance to dissipate.
- It is always harder to inject more detail back into data than it is to take the detail out. It is trivial to assert school type is not a factor and analyze the entire data set. It would be very tedious for a future researcher to comb through many text files trying to determine what kind of school was involved.
- In that spirit several readers have asked if one can conclude that charter schools are safer than public schools. As charter schools are fairly recent I would suggest that perhaps 10 years of massacres would be a large enough sample to draw a conclusion with let us say 95% confidence. There are some implicit assumptions there that the frequency of massacres will be uniform and that the intensity of the massacres (number of killed and wounded) will be uniform as well.
- Generally, I dislike descriptive and discrete variables as they force one to partition the data. Then is an unfortunate tendency to claim that the presence of a X chromosome with massive deletions [otherwise known as a Y chromosome which often distinguishes males from females in many species] or various mutations of the MCR1 (16q24.3), OCA2 (15q12-q13.1), TYR (11q14.3), LRMDA (10q22.2-q22.3), SLC24A5 (15q21.1), SLC45A2 (5p13.2) and TYRP1 (9p23) genes [involved in melanin production and metabolism. Melanin strongly influences hair, eye and skin color]. I fail to see that the life of a Hispanic-identified woman somehow has a different value that the life of a Pacific Islander male.
- In a similar manner bullets only say “To Whom It May Concern” so I currently fail to see what use it would be to tally students versus aides, teachers, security guards, administrators, first responders, random strangers … Regardless of what one was before a disaster, after the catastrophe there are only dead, wounded and more or less unwounded living.
- That all said, there may well be merit in formalizing a scale for massacres. In geology we have Richter and Volcanic Explosivity Index scales which are logarithmic, so, for example, a Richter 7 is ten times more powerful than a Richter 6.