Is there any contemporary field with lower standards than journalism?
There were 230 homicides in Sweden in 2009, compared with 143 in Washington, D.C., which has a population a bit more than half Sweden’s size.
I read this and thought “that could not possibly be true, Sweden’s murder rate cannot possibly be as high as Washington DC’s and its population is surely much large.” Yglesias points out:
In fact, there are 9.3 million people in Sweden and only 600,000 in Washington DC. In other words, Sweden has about fifteen times the population of Washington DC and less than
halftwice the murders. Stockholm is a bit larger than DC, and it’s murder rate of 3 per 100,000 in 2009 is way lower than DC’s murder rate of 24 per 100,000.
For God’s sake, Foreign Policy is a respected magazine and the jackass who wrote this article won a prize, as I pointed out. How on earth could they not have fact-checked this?
And this is not some minor point in the article: the entire point of the piece is that “Swedish exceptionalism” is coming to an end and that Stieg Larson’s novels and the rising crime rate are proof of it.
Where do we go from here? What does it take to get some basic fact-checking back into our national discourse?
If I had written or edited this article, I would right now be deciding between suicide and a career change. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.