Tag Archives: CDC

The CDC is lying to you

I’ve mentioned the problem with highly variable firearm homicides numbers in the FBI UCR vs. the CDC’s WISQARS. For 2017, the UCR claims 10,982 firearms homicides, while the CDC says 14,542, 32% higher. Part of that is reporting.

The UCR is based on reported numbers from law enforcement agencies. But not all report.

The CDC, though…

The CDC numbers are based on emergency department reports, using ICD-10 codes. But, like the FBI, they don’t…use data from every hospital. In fact, they pick out just 60 hospitals and use their reports as a proxy for the country. It’s rather like Rasmussen pseudo-randomly surveying 1,000 people in hopes of picking a representative sample of all Americans, and extrapolating from there.

And that’s a huge problem.

If more of the sample hospitals are in places like Chicago, Saint Louis, or Baltimore, it skews the results, because those locations have a disproportionate number of firearms homicides compared to Alamogordo, New Mexico. If you assume everywhere has a firearms homicide rate like Baltimore, you’re going to extrapolate an unrealistically high number. Maybe even 32% higher than what the FBI says.

Problem, right?

I’ve barely started.

First, a 60 hospital sample is ridiculous when there are 6,210 hospitals in the US.

CDC samples fewer than 1% of hospitals.

Second, there is no good reason to do a 60 hospital sample. Or a 600 hospital sample.

To comply with the federal HIPAA law, since October 1, 2015, every HIPAA-covered entity — every hospital — in the nation reports every single gunshot wound, by ICD-10 code, to the government. All 6,210. For Every. Single. Patient. ICD-10 is just the latest iteration. They have been collecting this data for years.

The CDC doesn’t need to sample, then guess at the total number. The total number for every hospital in the country is already at their disposal. At most, they might have to make extremely minor adjustments for occasional coding errors. But since Medicare/Medicaid and insurance payments are based on the reported codes, the existing system already checks for coding errors. Damned few should slip past insurance companies dead set on paying out the least they can.

In fact, they have more data than just “gunshot injury.” ICD-10 breaks it down by intent (accidental/self, accidental/other, suicide, homicide) and weapon (machinegun, rifle, shotgun, handgun, other). There is a separate code for each possible combination. More codes if multiple weapons. More codes for where on the body the injury is. The admission data (which they get) includes age, race (with more choices than the 6 given in WISQARS), gender. They have the hospital location for geographic distribution of injuries.

And it isn’t just fatal injury, all those code options are there for nonfatal injuries.

With the available data, the CDC can sort for “white males, 18-24, shot in lower back, in Kalamazoo, fatal and non-fatal” and give you the exact numbers.

I’ve played with the WHO ICD database, and the available data is amazing.

So why isn’t the CDC simply using the raw data, instead of sampling and extrapolating? Is it too difficult to get to get the data for research purposes?

No. ICD is designed for researchers to use, by intent. Medical people hate it because — to make any possible injury/illness in which a researcher might someday be interested — there are upwards of 150,000 different codes to choose from; want to know how many people are bitten by large dogs vs. small; it’s there.

There’s only one reason for the CDC to forego using the entire database as intended, and cherry-pick a handful of “representative” hospitals.

Because the raw data doesn’t support the laws the victim-disarming gun controllers want.

The raw data would tell us who is getting shot. With what. What the victims’ demographic and geographic distribution is. Combined with the UCR, it would tell gun controllers which criminals to target, and how. All the things the CDC pretends it can’t do.

The CDC has to lie about injury reports to rationalize targeting honesty gun owners who don’t commit the crimes.

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Dueling Stats: CDC vs. FBI

When you have two government agencies generating conflicting data, which do you believe disbelieve less?

I ran across this story today:

CDC: Firearm-Related Homicides Surged During Obama’s Last 2 Years in Office
According to the CDC, “the number of firearm-related homicides was relatively stable during 2010–2014,” then firearm-related homicides sharply increased. For example, there were 11,008 firearm-related homicides in 2014 and that number rose to 14,415 in 2016. That is a 31 percent increase.

Sure enough, the CDC’s WISQARS is now reporting 14,415 homicides by firearm. Which struck me as odd, because I’ve been using the figure 11,004 for 2016.

11,004 is exactly what the FBI’s UCR is reporting for 2016; that’s 3,411 fewer firearms-related murders than the CDC retroactively claims.

In fact, the UCR figure for total murders — any weapon — is 15,070, only 655 more than the CDC’s firearm-only murders claim. The CDC claims 19,362 total murders (+4,292 difference).

Oh, and the 2014 numbers for firearms-related homicides?

CDC 2014: 11,008

UCR 2014: 8,124 (A difference of 2,884 murders.)


The agencies use different sources for their data. The UCR is based on police incident reports. WISQARS comes from incident coding in medical reports. One or the other — or both — could be wrong. But clearly both need some quality assurance checking to see if either come close to reality.

I’d love to do a little research into the discrepancy myself, but as an unpaid volunteer, it’s beyond my means. If you’d like to see me dig into this, consider contributing a little to the cause.

ETA, 8//2018: Gee, how ’bout that?

CDC Finally Corrects Bad Data On Number of Firearm Deaths
However, in 2017, John Lott found a discrepancy. He noted that due to an error in Tennessee’s data, the total count was about 100 higher than it should have been. He notified the CDC and they acknowledged the mistake.

It just took them a year to finally fix it.

Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar. He could use the money, what with truck repairs and recurring bills. Click here to donate via PayPal.


Why even watch the video?

I ran across this story: Former CDC Doc: You Can Reduce Gun Deaths Without Restricting Guns. I was going to watch the video, but after reading the intro..

Why bother?

“More people die from gun deaths than from car accidents every year in the United States.”

Not according to the CDC’s WISQARS.

Year MVA Firearms
2016 40,528 38,658
2015 38,022 36,252
2014 35,647 33,594
2013 35,612 33,636
2012 36,654 33,563

“However, while research-based policies have reduced motor vehicle deaths, federal research on firearm deaths is nearly non-existent.”

“Nearly” is such a useful term when you want to lie without… quite lying. The federal government does fund research into firearms-related deaths. It’s difficult to find a summary of such funding, but from checking individual papers (just where the funding is explicitly listed) it appears that the feds fund it to the tune of several hundred thousands of dollar per year. At least.

“That’s due to the Dickey Amendment, which says Centers for Disease Control funding cannot be used to promote gun control.”

The Dickey Amendment only addressed CDC operations, because it was caught diverting research funds to gun control advocacy; i.e.- they weren’t researching. Other organizations like the NIH have been free to study firearms, and do.

“Soledad O’Brien sits down with Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who formerly oversaw gun violence research at the CDC”

In fact, Rosenberg was the victim-disarming gun control promoter at the CDC who caused the passage of the Dickey Amendment, largely with this statement: “We need to revolutionize the way we look at guns, like we did with cigarettes. Now it [sic] is dirty, deadly and banned.”

That’s right; he’s the one who was diverting money away from real research, and to — very likely illegal — political activism.

I did try to watch the video, though. And stopped when O’Brien flat out stated that the Dickey Amendment was passed to stop research.

Don’t bother; it’s just biased media lying to push its agenda again. Still. Constantly.

Carl is an unpaid TZP volunteer. If you found this post useful, please consider dropping something in his tip jar. He could use the money, what with truck repairs and recurring bills.