Retraction: Police Shootings Not Bad For Black Babies After All

Last week I wrote about a study showing that when police shot an unarmed black man, it affected the birthweight of black babies born nearby. The proximate cause was that shootings produced stress in the mothers, which in turn affected birthweight.

However, it turns out that there were errors in the data used by the study. The author, Joscha Legewie, describes them here. The original chart of the data is shown below on the left and the corrected chart is on the right:

As you can see, the original chart shows that nearby shootings cause birthweight to be reduced by as much as 50 grams. However, when the data is corrected the loss in birthweight is about half that and isn’t statistically significant. What’s more, the trendline for the first and second trimesters is almost identical to the trendline for the third trimester. This is suspicious since stress is known to have only a small effect on birthweight by the third trimester.

In any case, Legewie has retracted his article and, of course, I do too.

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You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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