As a former math teacher, I agree that we can and should formulate responses to issues based on data. Any time we look at data regarding a problem, we must be extremely careful to compare apples to oranges and to include all relevant pieces of data. I therefore have some concerns about the data that was used, or missing, from a recent letter (“Letter to the Editor: When debates fail, data succeed,” June 16) because it certainly impacts the implications for interpretation.

First of all, the quoted data is not identified by country, nor year. Most readers would assume it is for the U.S., but we should never have to assume when we are using data. Following the bulleted information, the author then quotes police statistics from 2015. As a reader, I am unsure if this information is aligned with the previous quoted information unless I do the math and see if the numbers match. In addition, data from 2015 is woefully inadequate to use in discussing policing issues regarding 2020.

Finally, in what I consider to be the most egregious omission, the author informs us that 25 percent of deaths were African American and 47.3 percent were white. While I am not implying that the author’s omission was intentional, these percentages have no meaning unless you know the percentage of African Americans to whites. Using 2010 census information (the most recent exact count, not an estimation), whites constituted 76.5 percent of the population, while African Americans were 13.4 percent. That shines an entirely different picture on the interpretation.

With so much information — and misinformation — at our fingertips and in today’s news media, we all need to be discerning consumers of what we read.

Kathy Hill, Bakersfield

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