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Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It always pays to fact-check Idiot/Savant

Idiot Savant says:
they killed 25,000 innocent civilians for this?
in reference to the USA and a recent study of civilian deaths in Iraq.

The study he's referring to was written by these groups:
The survey was carried out by the UK-based Iraq Body Count and Oxford Research Group - which includes academics and peace activists.
Unbiased people then. Oxford Research Group has nothing to do with Oxford University, by the way. Here's how it describes itself:
Oxford Research Group (ORG) is an independent non-governmental organisation established in 1982 which seeks to develop effective methods whereby people can bring about positive change on issues of national and international security by non-violent means.
Probably staffed by little Idiot/Savants straight out of academia.

Not only were the authors biased, the data was gathered from dubious sources using a highly unstatistical methodology: culled from media reports (a curious substitute for a real survey). I'm curious to know how this is possible, given Iraq had no free media until the US 'occupation forces' encouraged free speech (the fascists!). Could Iraq Body Count be relying on Saddamite propaganda for some of its source data? Perhaps they mistook some of Baghdad Bob's delusions as facts. It wouldn't surprise me in the least.

The BBC summary of the report says 37% (9,250) of the 25,000 civilian deaths were caused by US forces, the majority during the invasion of 2003. It says 9% (2,250) of the deaths were caused by 'anti-occupation forces' (you can't make this stuff up), 36% (9,000) by 'criminal activity' (ie they weren't wearing Ba'athist uniforms at time of death), and 11% by 'unknown agents' (no, I'm not joking).

As you can see, the important category of 'terrorst' is missing. Apparently foreign arabs who detonate themselves amongst dozens of Iraqi Police applicants don't count. I wonder why that would be?

Can you say "This report has zero credibility"? And what does that say about Idiot/Savant?

PREVIOUS: Idiot has problems with Iraqi goalposts.

UPDATE: "On the right, I think you'd need to go diving in the sewer to find [a non-aligned political blog]". Speaks for itself, doesn't it. I'm sure we'll see his correction appearing soon.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 8/24/2005 04:04:00 AM

10 Comments:

Blogger Chefen said...

AL, you sound surprised...

8/24/2005 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

I expect personal integrity from everybody.

I've come to expect intellectual laziness in the case of most lefties. But I cant see how idiot could have read the "25,000 deaths" study without noticing its origins and the fact 2/3rds of said deaths weren't even blamed on the US. Thats more than laziness - he's lying to his readers.

How dishonest can you be?

I'd be ashamed to find out I'd been mislead by a study like that, but I doubt Idiot gives a crap. To him it's all just another step in some sort of propaganda war. If he responds to this fisking it will only be because he's been embarrassed, and for readers to continue reading him he must have a veneer of credibility.

8/24/2005 06:28:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

So how many have died then?

8/24/2005 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger Adolf Fiinkensein said...

roger, nobody will ever know. Get used to it. Just as nobody will ever really know how many people died in Kosovo because Kofi was more interested in the UN's impartiality than he was in saving lives.

8/24/2005 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Gordon Paynter said...

I'm a bit surprised by this post. The "Iraq Body Count" may not be perfect, but as Adolf says, we'll never know the truth, and the study is at least honest about its scope, methodologies and limitations.

However, my guess is that the poster hasn't properly read the methodology, or even the article he is commenting on, which is why the post is full of basic errors of fact, as I note here.

Gordon

8/24/2005 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

And if no one will ever know how can anyone be certain that a certain (beleiveable) figure is incorrect? Surely you must know in order to say that someone is wrong?

8/24/2005 12:04:00 PM  
Blogger ZenTiger said...

What is wrong Roger, is baseless speculation.

There are many studies that give reasonable ranges based on what evidence we can get, and estimates are noted accordingly.

You waste people's time to say "what if its a million - you must not disagree because we just don't know."

If you want to debunk the figures given, go ahead, and explain why. But do not write them off as meaningless using reverse logic.

8/24/2005 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Antarctic Lemur said...

Gordon Paynter.

Nothing in this post is 'inaccurate'. Everything here is taken from the two BBC reports linked to (except my own comments, mostly in the middle paragraph of course). What are you on man?

No serious study of anything relies on media reports as a basis for statistics (let alone for a country like Iraq).

It's full-of-crap. Simply isn't done.

After Gulf War I, Human Rights Watch repeatedly lowered its estimates for civilian casualties until they got to around 2,500-3,000. That's still iffy as it was based on interviews of doctors running facilities in Iraq who weren't meant to be talking, plus a couple of big published incidents (the air shelter bombing for example). And that was in a war with a longer air campaign (over a month) using far less accurate ordnance.

In fact total Iraqi combat casualties in that war are now estimated at ~21,000, half killed by air attacks and half killed by ground combat.

Compare those numbers to the much less lethal Iraq invasion.

Next time why don't you put down some actual criticisms, otherwise I'll think you haven't actually read my post.

And please - I read your blog post. "Venomomous"? What a ridiculous load of crap. How about "tired of dealing with fools who misrepresent their source data for political point scoring". If you want to start assigning emotional intent to others then there's no point even arguing with you.

8/24/2005 03:52:00 PM  
Blogger Psycho Milt said...

Well, you do declare the authors of the study to be biased without offering any genuine basis for doing so. And you point out that the methodology used wasn't a good one, without also pointing out why there really aren't any better ones available (ie, the body count is culled from media reports because the US military isn't keeping any records of how many civilians they kill). The report is an attempt to get at a figure for these deaths - nobody's trying to pretend it's a confirmed and official headcount.

I don't believe it's escaped Idiot/Savant's notice (or anyone else's) that the vast majority of Iraqi civilian casualties in the last year have been caused by other Arabs, Iraqi or foreign. It's just not particularly relevant to a discussion of how many were killed by Americans.

8/25/2005 01:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Gordon Paynter said...

I'm happy to take back the "venomous". But everything else I said stands on its own. I did read yor post, and I made "actual" criticisms.

The media study methodology is reasonable. It isn't really statististics as such, it is counting.

(Also: I think it's a little contradictory for you to dismiss the IBC estimates for lack of supporting evidence and then blithely assert that the current Iraq war is "much less lethal" than the first Iraq war without offering any sort of estimate yourself.)

Gordon

9/01/2005 10:53:00 PM  

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