"Victim said they were attacked by 3 pit bulls".
My experience is that most common citizens don't know jack about breeds of dogs. Most can maybe pick out a Labrador Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, or Poodle, but most really can't dig much deeper into the breeds than that. Most certainly can't identify rarer breeds like Rhodesian Ridgebacks, Akitas, or Chow Chows. And never mind once you start getting into mixed breeds - -where dominant characteristics can sometimes go away.
And yet, it seems the media is eager to print when someone says they were bitten by a "pit bull" as if this person can really knows what breed of dog was involved.
What further muddies the water with "pit bulls" is that they aren't one breed, but 3 or 4 breeds, or in Toledo, Tom Skeldon considers up to 16 different breeds of dogs to be "pit bulls". So you have "one breed" that now can have 3 - 16 distinctly different looks - -and that doesn't doesn't count the variety of different looks involved in the mixes.
So what ends up happening? All biting dogs are declared "pit bulls".
They'd declared such because if the dog bites, it must be a pit bull, and I'm sure that looks a little like the dog that was on TV a couple of years ago that was declared a pit bull. So it must be one.
And the myth gets perpetuated.
Caveat has a nice post this week about mistaken breed identification. Look at those dogs...how many do you really know what they are? I'm a serious enough dog person to spend my time writing this blog and I'm HORRIBLE at breed identification. I find myself grouping things together as either a "bully", "shepherd", "lab mix" or "other".
Many times, after the report has been filed, the breed of dog is changed in the official report, but the media has already moved on and never reports the error. And the image of "pit bulls" as deadly, mean dogs gets enhanced. And with each enhancement, the cycle grows and builds.
And people who make up data based on press reports end up with terribly inaccurate data that is not only not information -- it's misinformation. Which is far worse.
As I've typed this I have been including pictures of "pit bulls" that have come into my life. Some are really either American Pit Bull Terriers. Some are somethine else entirely. Some I have no idea what the heck they are. But the point is that a "pit bull" can look
like anything. They can be almost any color. They can be a wide range of sizes and can have a variety of different looks. So it's easy for someone with a vendetta to group all dogs as "pit bulls". And when they do, they completely miss the point.
Tomorrow I'm going to give an example of what can happen when you look at small chunks of data to make decisions. Saturday I'll cover the real meat of what data people should be looking at to get INFORMATION instead of just data, and on Monday, why it should matter to everyone.