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Defining the variances
To define the question correctly, I am not asking if capital punishment deters crime, or whether there should be a penalty for murder. The issue at hand: Does capital punishment, in all form practiced in the United States grant a better deterrent to murder than long imprisonment? It is likely that retaining the death penalty in Florida will result in fewer murders than would take place if it were abolished. If not, then capital punishment offers no practical benefits to weigh against its social costs.
A very small portion on literature on crime and prevention deals with factual proof of deterrence. This evidence is based on statistic and the problem of interpretation, are difficult. Throughout this survey we will look at some general remarks about statistical reasoning to qualify our findings.
In 1964 The Health Administration organized the biggest public health experiment ever, a field test of the polio vaccine. This was to determine whether the new vaccine could reduce the incidence of paralytic polio. Several difficulties had to be overcome. The effects of polio varied from year to year and place to place in a seemingly random manner. Even without any preventive measure the incidence of the disease was very low. This meant that large chance variations in the number of cases were to be expected in the study population, and these variations might be hidden a positive effect from the vaccine or produce a false effect where none existed.
To overcome these problems a carefully designed experiment was performed, involving nearly a million children. A “control group” received placebo injection instated of the real vaccine; the rest were inoculated with the polio vaccine. The children were chosen at random, and either their parents or doctors knew which children received the vaccine or placebo. The process was to insured that there were no systematic differences between those received the placebo and the polio...