A few weeks ago I put some requests for information from the ABC. The have replied.
My first question:
On Q&A guest Lawrence Krauss made the following statement, “You’re more right (sic) likely to be killed by a refrigerator, in the United States, falling on you” in relation to the probability of being killed in a terrorist attack. Can you provide any peer reviewed evidence in support of that statement?
Thank you for watching Q&A and thank you for getting in touch.
I subsequently asked Professor Krauss about his comment and he admitted to making a mistake. He should not have singled out refrigerators and referred, instead, to large items of household furniture in general. He added that, had he known how popular vending machines were in Australia, he would have made reference to the number of people crushed each year by vending machines in the US.
He told me he was referring to an article he had seen in a newspaper or magazine, he couldn’t remember which one. His comment was essentially a conversational add-on to comments made by data journalist Mona Chalabi who has analysed the likelihood of death by terror in the US and found it to be very small. Despite this there is considerable public anxiety on the subject, in the same way that people fear death by shark attack or airline crash even though the chances are remote.
I was unaware that vending machines are particularly popular in Australia. It seems to me, however, that there is no peer reviewed evidence to support the argument the statement reported on the ABC.
My second question:
On Q&A host Tony Jones makes this claim, “I mean, I suppose, if you’re a young black American, you’re more likely to be killed by policeman”. Can you provide peer review evidence of the factual accuracy of that claim?
Tony Jones’s comment in the May 22 episode was a reflection of the statistical fact that more young African-American males die as a result of police shootings than die in America by acts of Islamicist terror, and followed a discussion by other panel members about how unlikely it was for Americans to die in a terrorist attack on home soil.
Tony’s comment was prompted by the fact that the panellist he was addressing, Paul Beattie, is an African-American whose Booker-winning novel The Sellout has the police shooting of an African-American as a major part of its narrative. That’s why Tony made that reference, though it was probably not obvious to those who haven’t read Paul’s book.
I am not aware of a peer-review process that operates within the world of journalism, except for the Walkley Awards.
So it appears that Tony Jones is exonerated from making factual statement because he is a Walkley award winner, and was speaking to (or about – it isn’t clear from the email) to an African American who has written a novel about police shootings. To remind readers here is the full quote:
Now, I want to bring in our other panellists. I mean, I suppose, if you’re a young black American, you’re more likely to be killed by policeman.
As far as I can see Tony Jones was not a reflection of the statistical fact that more young African-American males die as a result of police shootings than die in America by acts of Islamicist terror – he was making a general point that was false.
Furthermore – the book being referred to is a novel – a piece of fiction. To be clear, outside of ABC-land novels are made up stories.
So fake news from the ABC and lies to cover up the fake news.