So this tweet just came across my Twitter feed:
The reasons why Americans own guns have changed over time. http://t.co/6WUefY6VsV pic.twitter.com/OLDlNsY9Yv
— Pew Research Center (@pewresearch) April 28, 2014
Let's think about this for a moment.
The fine folks at Pew, who do amazing work, have a survey that suggests people are increasingly likely to own a gun for protection. Face it, a 22-percentage-point increase, that's significant. That's huge. That's ... friggin scary, as in mean and scary world scary. Hunting going down, that's reasonable and not particularly surprising. But has the world become so very scary? Not really. Crime has, instead, gone down in this time period.
Let's talk, methodologically, about a tiny word. That word is: say.
My lede for this would be that the reason people say they own a gun has changed. I suspect there's a lot more at work here, more than a single survey item can capture. You'd need some follow-up questions and a bit of sophisticated analysis to tease out what's happening. Ultimately, though, what we have is a crashing of perception and reality. Fear. And a host of other partisan and ideological mishmash of information that probably explains this.
Of course, perception is reality. So perhaps using "say" isn't necessary after all.
And thus ends this methodological moment.