Thursday, June 08, 2006

Fatality Rates

I wouldn't be telling you this except that I think the media provides a distorted picture of the war Iraq.

The civilian murder rate in the U.S. is 5 per 100,000. The rate in the state of Louisiana is nearly 13. The rate in Washington, D.C. is 36.

What do you figure the rate is in Iraq? Answer here (scroll down). Not as bad I'd have guessed. What about you? [Link corrected.]

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4 Comments:

Anonymous Anomolous said...

Both those links appear to go to the same web site, and I don't see the Iraqi statistic. Perhaps you meant to link to another page?

6:42 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Second link corrected. Thank you.

7:12 PM  
Blogger Slagothor said...

Concerning Steve King's numbers: you've heard the joke about being able to tell when a politician is lying, right?

And by the way, even if his numbers are correct, then he (and, by extension, you) are saying that the mean in Iraq is about the same as the 98% percentile in the US. Not exactly an apples-to-apples compariosn. I'm sure that the average Iraqi isn't as tall the average member of the Washington Wizards, but that statistic is about as meaningful as yours.

According to your school's webpage, you have a doctorate in economics from a reputable school. So it really shouldn't fall to a dummy like me to point out these obvious flaws in the arguments you cite. Unless you're interested in overlooking them "for the cause."

I'm pretty sure that if Hilary Clinton was putting them forth, you'd sharpen up your analytical skills PDQ.

5:44 PM  
Blogger John B. Chilton said...

Slagothor,

My post gives readers a link to all the state numbers. It also linked to an article that gave some give and take between Steve King and an opinion writer for the Wall Street Journal. It provides sufficient information for an educated reader to draw their own inferences. You wish to compare Iraq to all 50 states; so be it. I wish to draw the readers' attention to the fact that the numbers indicate that Iraq and at least one US state have civilian death rates in the same magnitude. I believe seeing that comparison helps one draw inferences about how unsafe Iraq really is for Iraqi civilians. If the public merely follows the day to day news public opinion is in danger of overstating how bad conditions are, and driving politicians into poor policy decisions.

Rather than impugning my intelligence or my motives, I encourage you to criticize the reasonableness of the comparison, or to express your assessment about whether the underlying numbers are counting the same thing. The dissonance between my comparison and the sense we get from watching the news on civilian deaths suggests this pause and reflect kind of question.

Regular readers know my politics and can apply their own discount factor on what I choose to highlight.

6:16 PM  

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