Thursday, September 20, 2007

Aerial Conspiracy Theory: Breaking the Numbers Down

The other day at Hullabaloo, a commenter mentioned something along the lines of "Ever notice how only Democrats die in plane crashes?" Being as I'm a lifelong fan of aviation and a longtime fan of both statistical analysis and conspiracy theories, I thought I'd do a little research and see what I could find.

Notes on Methodology: I'm attempting to use the best sources I can find online, and taking out all the data from 1920-1960, because most of the earlier entries involve either aviation pioneers, wartime pilots, or similar confounding factors. I'm also not going to be making any speculations about the cause of any trends I might find.

US Politicians Killed in Aviation Incidents
Broken down by year and party affiliation

Donald Grant NutterRepublican1962
Clement Woodnutt MillerDemocrat1962
(small plane)
de Lesseps Story MorrisonDemocrat (Mayor of New Orleans)1962
Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr. (Hale Boggs)Democrat1972
Nicholas Joseph BegichDemocrat1972
(Disappeared, presumed killed)
George Washington CollinsDemocrat1972
Jerry Lyle PettisRepublican1975
Jerry Lon LittonDemocrat1976
(private plane)
Ralph Frederick Beermann Republican1977
Lawrence Patton McDonaldDemocrat1983
(Aboard the Korean Airlines jet shot down by the Soviet military)
Jim WaltermireRepublican1988
George Thomas LelandDemocrat1989
Larkin I. SmithRepublican1989
(private plane)
Henry John Heinz IIIRepublican1991
(small plane)
John TowerRepublican1991
George Speaker MickelsonRepublican1993
Ronald Harmon BrownDemocrat1996
Charles B. YatesDemocrat2000
Melvin Eugene Carnahan Democrat2000
Paul David WellstoneDemocrat2002

Totals and Statistics

Number of Republicans: 8 (40%)
Number of Democrats: 12 (60%)

Risk Factors: Rural, small/private planes

Lifetime odds of being killed in an aircraft incident (US population average, deduct for frequent flyers): approximately 1 in 5,000


"Politicians killed in plane crashes,", Friday, October 25, 2002.

"List of people who died in aviation-related incidents, Politicians," Wikipedia.

" Politicians Killed in Aircraft Accidents and Disasters," The Political Graveyard.

"What are the odds of dying?," National Safety Council.


Blogger Vox Populi said...

HMMM. NOW it would be interesting to know what 'kind' of Republicans those were. Republicans are not ALL pigs. Isn't it also kinda surprising that it's stopped at wellstone for five years? Like someone said ... 'oops, that one was really suspicious, time to pull the plug on aviation deaths for awhile.'
I'll also add this, though you may already think I'm crazy ... I have met and conversed face to face with innumerable Democrats and Progressives who have suffered a horrible disease, extremely tragic loss of a loved one ... Some incident that kept their attention focused on another picture than the world is seeing since Bush. This happened in my own family and threw me for a loop I almost never recovreed from ... BUT, then I became extremely suspicious after Sept. 11, 2001 and would take note of when I would read from progressives on the web and the shocking and revealign proportion of those who had suffered some life-altering incident. While the local Republicans adn those I can read online have just sailed forward.
Until it got to the point that I started talking about it out loud. Some 'types' of deaths stopped IMMEDIATELY. Never another one. Just like these plane crashes. Sure as I've written this, another one will happen. Don't forget Tampa's direct connection to all that's evil. And beyond. Once I mentioned online quite casually that my brotherinlaw was a FEEB. FBI. It took a few years for the word to reach me that my sister's recently divorced husband had been killed in an explosion at a job he'd had for ... YEARS. This guy was not the guy and he was not connected in any way with the feds. So, they got the wrong person but the dates were too close for it not to be a hit. And there you have it.
Okay, now you think I'n crazy but .... there's more.
I'll spare you.
I actually really liked that brother in law and felt the divorce was the fault of my sister ... to this day I feel terribly guilty that this man died for no reason and it was more than a coincidence that this kind man died so shortly after I remarked that online.
BUT, according to all I know --- he's stronger now than ever ... so --- we keep fighting the good fight because to give in is ... worse that death.
Thanks for all you give us interrobang. I deeply admire your grasp and savvy of things American. I have a pretty good outlook on Canada ... you guys would never tolerate this criminal administration ... So -- thanks for the help.
Friend, we can use it.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Interrobang said...

The thing is, with a sample size of 20, a 60-40% split is noise. The distribution timewise looks pretty normal to me, as well. I actually think there's nothing going on here but a rumour.

I think the chart stops at 2002 because I wasn't able to find any more recent information than from a few years ago...

I will tell you one occupation grouping that seems to have a very high risk of cancer (which no one has suspected previously) -- bus drivers. A friend of mine is involved with the Canadian federal government in an epidemiological study of cancer in bus drivers.

1:24 PM  
Blogger ECOPHOTOS said...

Interrobang, there is one more Republican death not on your list. Ted Olsen's wife died on 9/11. She was on the plane that went down in Penna.

You are right, nonetheless, about the sample size being too small to reach statistical significance.

There is at least one occupation with an extremely high incidence rate for cancer: Chemical Engineers, almost a no-brainer.

Vox: greetings from Mount Dora

12:25 PM  
Blogger Herdingcats said...

Is there a correlation with Democratic deaths during Republican administrations and vice versa?


9:56 PM  
Blogger TA said...

That seems like a small sample size to be statistically significant, but assuming all of the externalities are controlled for, on those occasions when a aircraft expires there's a 60% chance one of those departed unconvicted felons will be from my party. Maybe we should reinstitute train rides for districts, or volunteer Republicans for plane crashes to reduce the correlation.

12:39 AM  
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