Two things that stink

First, here is a link (old stuff there was a link) to all the letters l wrote the city council about the Troops Home Resolution. Too bad 90% are not part of the public record, so when this bites the council in the you know what, we can’t open the record and say we told you so. Odd that none of my material was included in the 10-9-06 meeting packet when additional public comment was taken and the follow up agenda for the 9-25-06 meeting said:


Follow Up Agenda for September 25, 2006

Secondly, what about the new study showing 655,000 dead in Iraq due to the US? Many new sources call the study controversial. While I won’t be exhaustive, I can throw a few darts at the the validity of the number and usefulness the study.

With any look at polls and studies I think it is important that it you comment on the actual study. Don’t comment on someone else’s comment on the study. Here is my list to think about when I see a study or poll?

  • I ask myself are the results hard to believe? People are intelligent. Gut instinct is worth exploring. Some call this the smell test.
  • Are they consistent with other information you received? Goes hand in hand with the first, but look at results from other studies or documents on subject
  • What is the purpose of the study? People want to be successful. If the study has a goal/agenda, then results will tend to be slanted towards it.
  • Who funded the study? People don’t pay money for a study unless they think it will benefit them.
  • What assumptions are made in in the premise?
  • Sound math
  • Access to actual data.

So here is what a quick pass at this yields:

  • Yes this is hard to believe because it is way way above any number I’ve heard. This smells bad.
  • No it is not consistent with other information I have heard in the press. Lately I’ve been hearing how we at an unprecedented 3000 dead Iraqis per month which comes out to about 125,000 dead when the study claims 655,000. And where are all the bodies? You’d think others would have noticed and there would be corroborating data.
  • Purpose and funding are too big for me to tackle now and I’ve got to go to work soon. The major funding came from MIT, but ground work was done by Al Mustansiriya University, a prestigious Sunni institution. I would question the motive and validity of Sunni collected data. Not that they are dishonest, but that they are the most vocal and anti-US faction in Iraq.
  • The study assumed a mortality rate of 5.5 per 1000 people before the US invasion. Whatcom mortality rates for the year 1999 were 7.5 per 1000. Was Iraq that peaceful? What about all the mass graves?
  • Sound math? Number of of deaths was extrapolated from about 600 to over 600,000. I see that garbage multiplied by 1000 is lot’s of garbage.
  • Access to data. Not to bad. I found it in 5-10 minutes even on my slow dialup connection

So there it is. Smells awfully stinky to me, but I have to go now.

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