Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From the Department of Inconvenient Correlations

The Uber Blog has this hilarious post on prostitution arrest data:

Apparently prostitution arrests in San Francisco go up on Wednesdays. Weird, huh?

Oakland hump day

Apparently, they go up significantly more on the second Wednesday of the month than the first. Even weirder, huh?

Prostitution Wednesdays

What happens on the second, third and fourth Wednesday of each month?
Social Security benefits are paid each month. ...Generally, your benefit will arrive on the second, third or fourth Wednesday of the month, depending on the birthday of the worker on whose records you receive benefits.
Birth date on 1st - 10th, Benefits paid on Second Wednesday
Birth date on 11th - 20th, Benefits paid on Third Wednesday
Birth date on 21st - 31st, Benefits paid on Fourth Wednesday
Oh.. Ooohhhh.


The guys at Uber Blog try to put the best gloss on this that they can.
Keep in mind we’re only talking about 4-5 prostitution crimes each Wednesday. This is pretty low considering the cities we’re talking about have populations in the hundreds of thousands to millions. So before you go running off screaming about how the welfare state is subsidizing sexy times for retirees, chill out and keep that in mind.
Firstly, 4-5 arrests != 4-5 crimes. Not by a long shot.

Secondly, erectile disfunction being what it is, my mind wasn't turning to retirees, but people (some fraudulently) claiming social security disability benefits, which get paid on the same time line.

But it's the obligation of all right-thinking people to test their hunches against data. Thankfully (for this specific task, if not in general), the Megan's Law database lets you easily look up all the sex offenders in San Francscio.

As it turns out, there are a lot more retiree-age sex offenders than I would have guessed. Since few of them seem to have the year of conviction listed, it's hard to tell whether they actually committed their crimes when retiree age (as the authors seem to claim), or it happened years ago. I would guess the latter, but it's hard to know. Maybe it is retirees going to the hookers.

Also, very few of them seemed to be for prostitution offenses specifically. It's amazing how many of them are listed for 'Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Child Under 14 Years of Age'. Yeesh.

Either way, we'll file this under the category of 'awkward data points for fans of the welfare state'. Which, given the proclivities of the mainstream media, means it gets flushed down the memory hole.

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