Plausible connections: Study links increase in crime with emerald ash borers

Emerald ash borers are terrible pests that wreak havoc on ash trees. (Photo by Mike Schoonveld)
Should a person choose the color of the hat they wear depending on the kind of fish they want to catch? Does it make a difference?
I think there should be a research study to prove and predict the perfect combinations. I want to know if bluegill fishermen need blue hats? Should redfish fishers wear red hats? Should brown trout anglers don brown hats? Or is it less apparent than that?
Someone give me some money (and a couple grad students) and I’ll find out. Even better, and for just a few dollars more, I’ll partner with the Fish and Wildlife Service or the Mad Hatter’s Society to get a deeper understanding of the connection.
Does this sound stupid? Unlikely?
Stupid, yes. Unlikely, not so much. A $300,000 study at the University of Kentucky, funded by the National Science Foundation, “proved” that hungry people are more likely to stab Voodoo dolls than well-fed individuals. The National Institute of Health spent $5 million to learn if drunk birds slur when they sing.
So I wasn’t surprised when I saw a recent connection blaming increased crime on emerald ash borers in a study conducted by a joint collaboration between the U.S. Forest Service and the University of Pennsylvania.
These eight-legged illegal aliens (or should I call them undocumented insects) must somehow obtain tiny little guns and routinely go on crime sprees. I’m not sure if they are more prone to criminal activity than native bugs, but I’m sure I can get some money to fund a study on that subject, too.
That’s a bit far fetched, I admit. What the study examined was if places where emerald ash borers have wiped out all the ash trees have more crime than similar non-infested areas. It turns out, at least according to the researcher’s evaluation, there’s a direct correlation between borer infested areas and higher crime rates.
To understand why, the researchers reached out and paid Seunghoon Han, a criminologist from the University of Omaha, to chime in on the subject. It seems to hinge on two things according to Han.
First, people like trees. So if there are more trees, there are more people and more people equates to increased crime … Really? Second, criminals are deterred by policemen and other crime fighters. Han calls them “capable guardians.” I’m sure this includes Super Heroes.
“Trees may offer evidence of a capable guardian nearby and thus prevent crime,” Han said. Evidently, cops and/or super heroes hide behind ash trees. Or they used to, before the ash borers showed up.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all in favor of trees in general and ash trees in particular. I’m dead set against emerald ash borers and criminals. I have trees in my yard and capable guardians can hide behind them all they want.
What I really need to know is, will I catch more white bass if I wear a white hat?

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