Think Tank Says iPods Are To Blame For Crime Wave, Despite Little Evidence

from the correlation-not-causation... dept

About a year ago, we saw UK politicians complaining that the iPod’s white earbuds made it an attractive target for criminals. They even went so far as to suggest that gadget makers should design their products in a way that would not encourage such crime. We may start to see similar suggestions after a DC think tank has started claiming that the rise in crime over the last few years can be attributed to iPods. It makes for a compelling headline, but there seems to be little evidence to support it — other than the fact that violent crime has increased over the same period that iPods have grown in popularity. Other than that, the actual evidence put forth by the think tank seems rather weak. At best there’s a correlation, but that’s hardly proof that the iPod is to blame. As the AP reporter notes, while there certainly have been more reports of iPod theft, that may often be larceny rather than violent crime. Also, while most of the reports of iPod theft shows up in urban areas in places like crowded subways, the increase in violent crime appears to be coming from small and mid-sized cities. In other words, there’s nothing to see here, other than a catchy headline.

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Comments on “Think Tank Says iPods Are To Blame For Crime Wave, Despite Little Evidence”

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15 Comments
Chronno S. Trigger says:

Correlation?

Doesn’t the rise in crime also correlate with the drop in the economy? I’m no economist, but I believe that lack of money would have more to do with theft than pretty earbuds.

And to Oreally, if it’s a governmental think tank then yes it uses tax payer money. This is emphasised by “DC think tank”

Kevin says:

Re: Re: Correlation?

For those not from the DC area: There are hundreds of think tanks in DC that are NOT affiliated with the government in any way.
All these think tanks do is study patterns and release, usually, pointless findings.

The findings are NOT pointless! The think tanks release the findings to help support the arguments being made by the lobbyists that are affiliated with them so that the congresspeople who have their campaigns underwritten by the same lobbyists can have a justification for passing the legislation that is written for them by (guess who?) those same lobbyists. It goes like this:

“Hello Congressman Smith, I’m Bob Johnson from the Alliance of Concerned Citizens for Better Government. You remember us, we helped you raise all those campaign funds?”

“Oh yes, Bob! Glad to see you again! What can I do for you?

“Well Congressman, we believe that IssueX is a real problem for our country, and we believe that you can help eliminate this problem by passing legislation against IssueX.”

“Well Bob, I don’t really know all that much about IssueX. Do you have any research to back up your claims?”

“Yes Congressman, here’s a list of studies that ThinkTank1, ThinkTank2, and ThinkTank3 have done on IssueX.”

“Well Bob, the word ‘Think Tank’ makes me think of smart people. If they’re all in agreement, that’s all of the political cover I need.”

“That’s great Congressman Smith! By the way, we’ve taken the liberty of drafting a sample of what we think the legislation should look like. Feel free to modify it, it’s just something to start with.”

“Thanks Bob, I’ll do that.”

(Congressman Smith mumbling to himself…)
“Writing legislation is hard…I’ll just use what they gave me.”

wer2chosen (user link) says:

Re: Re:

Overcast has it. My ipod(the first one) had the worm game in it. If the new ones have that game, there is your crime wave.

I use the word past tense, because my iPod worked flkawlessly until one month ago. I bought a cheap iMac just so I could sync it again. I had never bought the windows kit, and getting periphs for it now is near impossible. So a visit to craigslist and 25 bucks allowed me to put new music on my first gen Ipod. I connected it to the Imac, Apple said there was a patch they had to apply. 20 minutes later, my beautiful, pristine(thanks to body glove) bulky, 4 meg Ipod was a well designed brick.

Anonymous Coward says:

A think tank that generates $74M in revenue last year?

I guess you can change public policy even if it’s illegal to give it to a politician! Solution: Give it to another team! RIAA for the win! We already have the most people per capita on the planet in Jail (1 out of 100 Americans, actually) Let’s lock more away! Yah Taxes!

The Urban Institute has influenced numerous policy decisions, including how the homeless are counted, how government measures discrimination, and who pays at tax time.

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