Camden: Worst In Violence Or “Incomprehensible” Data?


As Camden, N.J., has been fearing, New Jersey’s poorest city has been designated the nation’s most dangerous city for a second year in a row in a statistical survey out today. The Kansas-based publisher Morgan Quitno said Camden had the highest violent crime, homicide, and robbery rates among all cities with populations of 75,000 or more. It is followed by Detroit; St. Louis; Flint, Mich.; Richmond Va.; and Baltimore.

After last year’s ranking, federal and state law enforcement officials pledged to devote more resources to Camden. Overall crime in Camden is down 18 percent to date, Camden County Prosecutor Vincent P. Sarubbi said. “I find it interesting that it took being No. 1 to do that,” editor Scott Morgan of Morgan Quitno said, noting Camden has consistently placed in the top 10 every year during the last decade. “It seems as though it’s OK to be fourth or fifth most dangerous, but when you become No. 1, things suddenly become quite dramatic.” The method Morgan Quito uses to determine the rankings is attacked by experts. John Allen Paulos, author of “Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences” and a professor of mathematics at Temple University, labeled the methodology “incomprehensible.” It “calls for a new category of crime: statisticide,” Paulos said. “I think they should be sentenced to a course in probability and statistics.”


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