Comparing the data from one year to the next year without further context over a number of years is misguided at best. Two point comparisons can be misleading. Looking at the Reported Hate Crime data overtime is the best way to understand what the data can tell us. Certainly the news headlines published after the 2017 FBI Hate Crime report was published contain some true information. However after looking at the Reported Hate Crime data for the past twenty years different headline could have been written. Some have suggested the increase of Reported Hate Crimes from 2016 to 2017 is due to the increase of the number of reporting agencies from 2016 to 2017. The data plotted below for the past twenty years does not seem to indicate this.
Some have suggested the rise of anti-Semitism could be a contributor? This brings up the questions how are hate crimes measured? What is an incident? If 11 people are massacred how is that counted in the data? Do all reporting agencies report the statistics in the same manner. Looking at the actual data of reported Anti-Jewish Hate Crimes plotted over the past twenty years 24% of the increase of Reported Hate Crimes from 2016 to 2017 is due to Anti-Jewish incidents.
Certainly we should look at the data. If we are measuring any metric measured over time we should do our best to get at least ten data points. Most statisticians would even recommend 20 to 30 to gain the full context of the data. Measuring is not easy and numbers themselves do not convey the complete story. Becareful what you ask for, you might get it.
“Being committed to the truth is far more powerful than any technique.” Peter Senge
“Tell me what number you want I can get it?” Operator
“My job is to come up with a measurement that shows our product passes the standards” Researcher
For further reading you could go to my last LinkedIn post “Right Question at the Right Time” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/right-question-time-peter-peterka/ and the connected Video Presentation “Business Process Charting” https://vimeo.com/283344579
Below are some of the headlines from a recent Google Search for Hate Crimes. Given the discussion above what do you think?