Here's a published example of a problem I come across frequently:
A cop is six times more likely to be shot by someone black than the opposite.
Let us assume that the writer meant to say:
Events in which a cop is shot by someone black are six times more frequent than events in which a someone black is shot by a cop.
Obviously a concise way of abbreviating the second clause would be desirable. But is there a way to do it that is not ambiguous?
The problem with the way the author did it originally is that the opposite could mean a number of things. E.g.,
- White (or non-black) is the opposite of black, so did he mean than by someone not black?
- Not getting shot is the opposite of getting shot, so did he mean than not being shot by someone black?
Granted those may seem like less likely interpretations, but they are not inconsistent with the original sentence.
My inclination is to replace the opposite with vice versa, but is that truly unambiguous in this example? I.e., is the original example so amended inconsistent with any interpretation other than the one desired? Or is there a better solution to concisely convey what I assumed was the intended fact?
For those who find the subject matter distracting please replace the original quote with ScotM's equivalent but less politically hot formulation:
A bird is six times more likely to be eaten by a cat than the opposite.
Not that it's relevant to the question, but for reference here is the source and context of the original quote.
Homicide is the leading cause of death for young black men in the U.S., and around 90 percent of the perpetrators are also black. Yet for months we’ve had protesters nationwide pretending that our morgues are full of young black men because cops are shooting them. Around 98 percent of black shooting deaths do not involve police. In fact, a cop is six times more likely to be shot by someone black than the opposite. Race Relations and Law Enforcement — Jason L. Riley