Most Read
Image 01 Image 02 Image 03

Stand-Your-Ground Study Authors Concede They Didn’t Study Stand-Your-Ground

Stand-Your-Ground Study Authors Concede They Didn’t Study Stand-Your-Ground

“These are cases related to SYG, not SYG cases…we clearly state this in the methods section”

I know I promised that my prior post would be my last on the thoroughly debunked “scientific” paper, “Race,law, and health: Examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ and defendant convictions in Florida.”

The debunking took place in these posts:

But then, well, THIS happened:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 4.33.05 PM

Yep, I found two of the paper’s authors in my Twitter timeline:  Melody S. Goodman and Cassandra Arroyo-Johnson, both of the Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery [!], Washington University School of Medicine.

Paper title

“Self,” I thought to myself, “this would be a great chance to communicate with the authors diectly, and make sure I’ve not merely misunderstood their methodology which I’ve been tearing to shreds these last several days.”

Rather than narrate the communications that followed, I’ll let the tweets between us speak for themselves, along with a few images of their paper to provide context.

Can you share

Of course, then I got hit with the “internet troll” label–always the best way to defend the quality of one’s “science”:

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 3.34.32 PM

I guess Ms. Arroyo-Johnson senses the water’s getting deep, so she tries to shuffle me off onto the poor journal that got taken in by her paper:

Dissenting commentary

At this point Ms. Goodman steps in to throw her flailing colleague a lifeline.  Unfortunately, they apparently don’t know the definition of lifeline, either. Pro-tip: It’s not spelled “anchor.”

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 3.50.06 PM

I have to confess, I LOL’d at that one, as the kids say these days.

Oddly, for a paper that is not actually studying SYG cases, but merely “cases related to SYG,” there’s a great deal written about the former and very little about the latter.  In the abstract, for example, the word “related” doesn’t appear even once:

Abstract highlighted

Of course, that’s just the abstract.  One can’t shove every word into the abstract, or you’d have the whole paper. Surely the phrase “related to SYG,” or words to that effect, must appear densely throughout a paper the authors claim was targeted at precisely that.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to do a word search of a PDF document.

Unfortunately, in a paper spanning 8 pages the words “related” and “Stand Your Ground” appear in proximity only once, in the Methods section where the authors describe their data set:

Methods related to SYG

Everywhere else in the paper, including every conclusion and finding resulting from the authors’ analysis, specifically refers simply to SYG, and not laws or cases related to SYG.

Indeed, their key finding specifically cites “the SYG law in Florida,” rather than, say, “SYG-related laws in Florida”:

Key finding

Clearly, then, the authors studied something that looked like SYG (to their uninformed eye, at least), and from that drew conclusions about something that actually is SYG.

Am I the only person reminded of the parable of the blind men feeling the elephant?

In reality, of course, it’s much worse than that.  In my previous posts here, here, and here I’ve already shown how very few of the cases in the Tampa Bay Times bore any resemblance to any useful definition of Stand-Your-Ground, of either the correct “no-duty-to-retreat” or the incorrect “self-defense immunity” variety.

Really, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.  After all, it’s not like the cases in the Tampa Bay Times were selected and validated by someone expert in Stand-Your-Ground law (mirror, mirror). Rather they were collected by the staff of a regional Florida newspaper.  When even many lawyers and judges and (gasp!) post-graduate students can’t seem to understand what Stand-Your-Ground is and is not, it hardly seems reasonable to expect greater discernment from a local journalist.  So that’s not surprising.

What is surprising is that the authors of this paper–who hold positions at Schools of Medicine and Schools of Public Health (and, it must be noted, a School of Social Justice)–did not themselves make any apparent effort to validate the data set on which they were basing their paper.

If they had, they would have discovered that fewer than half the cases in that dataset could possibly constitute Stand-Your-Ground in any form applied in court, those being the only forms that could affect conviction rates (the paper’s key finding).

(I suppose an alternative explanation would be that they did seek to validate the data, but were simply not smart enough to figure it out.  That, however, seems an uncharitable perspective.)

Instead, they chose to use the definition of the term central to their paper’s research subject and key findings–Stand-Your-Ground–as defined by a local journalist with no apparent expertise in either science or the law.  That’s science!

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 4.29.07 PM

Am I the only person that’s reminded of the phrase, “garbage in, garbage out”?

OK, that’s all the time I have for the “faux science” crowd today!

–-Andrew, @LawSelfDefense

[Featured image is a screen capture from the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, “Young Frankenstein,” which remains remarkably watchable even today.]

Attorney Andrew Branca and his firm Law of Self Defense have been providing internationally-recognized expertise in American self-defense law for almost 20 years in the form of blogging, books, live seminars & online training (both accredited for CLE), public speaking engagements, and individualized legal consultation.
“Law of Self Defense, 2nd Ed.” /Seminars / Instructors Course / Seminar Slides / Twitter / Facebook / Youtube


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.


Matthew Carberry | November 7, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Note that this “research”, like most of the new anti-gun output, is by people with medical training publishing in medical-related journals. They actively avoid the proper venues, econ, legal, and criminological journals, to avoid peer-reviewers with actual subject matter expertise. It’s the same “legal gun ownership is a public health problem” false-premise work pioneered by the CDC.

The contrary is true for sound gun/crime research, regardless of findings. It is published by researchers with relevant training and expertise in journals reviewed by their peers with the same credentials.

Char Char Binks | November 7, 2015 at 5:43 pm

Why is there no mention in this sciencey study of the overwhelmingly black nature of those claiming SYG in Florida? Do their lives not matter?

Sharpshooter | November 10, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Two two clowns don’t really conger up a load of confidence. Contrast those two tribalists with the works of the magnificent Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams.

Another Ed | November 10, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Get the popcorn ready. The Stand Your Ground discussion on the front pages will resume shortly:

Note within the story the citation to the Tampa Bay Times study.

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail (or subscribe without commenting.)

Font Resize
Contrast Mode
Send this to a friend