Michigan Governor George Romney used to quip during his election campaigns that under his leadership, the state had more days of sunshine than during the prior four-year period.
Of course, only the intellectually challenged would have taken Romney’s self-deprecating humor seriously.
Since the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, the intellectually challenged have condemned President Donald Trump for the violence there. Of course, Trump was as much a cause of the violence in Charlottesville as Romney was responsible for the extra days of Michigan sunshine.
It is now commonplace to assert that Trump got elected and hate crimes increased. Unlike most Trump haters, any 5th-grader will recognize the post hoc fallacy: that simply because one thing happens after another, the first event caused the second event.
Beyond the logical fallacy, how do they know hate crimes increased?
The most accurate and meaningful database for hate crimes is that compiled by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), whose latest data is from 2015.
Those citing the alleged increase in hate crimes are probably quoting the Southern Poverty Law Center’s (SPLC) data. As the BBC correctly notes, that data lacks statistical value.
The SPLC itself says that while hate crimes are a formidable national problem, “there is no reliable data on the nature and prevalence of the violence [caused by hate].”
We don’t even know if hate crimes have increased. We won’t know until the BJS releases data for 2017, probably two years from now.
These issues come to mind because in my community in the San Francisco Bay area, the local branch of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) is circulating a letter about hate crimes that is high on Trump derangement syndrome, and low on both logic and facts.