Newsflash: Social Science Lacks Predictive Power


Experts have lots of theories about the dramatic drop in crime in the last decade, and at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, they tried to predict whether a recent slight increase in the incidence of homicides and robberies was cause for panic. The NYT's John Tierney reports:

The experts don't think crime rates will go up. Or at least not very much. Or at least they can't see any terribly ominous trends. But then, these social scientists don't claim to have great crystal balls.

"Our leading indicators stink," said Franklin Zimring of the University of California at Berkeley. "Remember that nobody predicted the decline of the '90s." The experts have had a hard enough time trying to explain it in retrospect.

One interesting theory floated at the AAAS convention for the drop in crime in the 1990s: More immigrants. "Studies have shown that crime in a neighborhood drops as the concentration of immigrants increases."

Via TierneyLab