A Radio Derb listener's interest was piqued by my back-of-envelope statistical analysis of the people murdered in the Las Vegas atrocity last Sunday.
The age range is from 20 to 67: median 35, mean 38, standard deviation 12. So far as one can judge from the pictures and names, I get 36 females and 22 males; eight or nine Hispanics, two blacks, two East Asian Americans, three likely Jewish, one Native American.
Why the sex disparity there? my listener wondered. Is it perhaps the case that females are more likely than males to die from gunshot wounds? If so, what would that say about the morality of sending women into combat?
There are way too many unknowns here to form any kind of firm judgment. We can only speculate.
Just for starters, I'd want to know the proportion of females to males in attendance at the event. I'd have guessed country music more a male than a female thing; but my acquaintance with the genre is slight and out of date
, so my guess doesn't mean much.
My listener's speculation that females are more likely than males to die from wounds goes against the general truth that women survive better than men in most lethal scenarios. This is one aspect of the great universal principle that sperm is cheap but eggs are expensive. Reading accounts of the Donner Party
, for example, one is struck by how many more women than men survived.
Was the shooter particularly targeting women? At that range, under those lighting conditions, and judging by the rate of fire, I doubt he was targeting anything at a much finer resolution than the entire arena, or perhaps the densest clusters of people.
Was the well-documented male advantage in visuospatial ability
in play? Were males just more swift and adept at presenting the lowest possible profile to the shooter, or locating cover? Given the speed of the events and the general chaos, I doubt this. Did the concert-goers even know where the shooter was located?
The sex disparity among the Las Vegas dead thus remains a mystery, at any rate to me. If any readers of this care to offer other speculations—or better yet, actual numbers and facts—I'd be interested to hear them.
A different reader, picking on a different point in those thumbnail statistics I offered, was outraged at my having identified "three likely Jewish" among the dead. Aha! he wrote, so I am
an antisemite, as he had long suspected!
I'm afraid that just gets a weary roll of the eyes from me, and a link to my having written, sixteen years ago
, that: "One thing you learn, writing for the public, is that anything whatsoever
that you say about the Jews will be seen as virulently antisemitic by somebody, somewhere."