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A proud member of the reality based commentosphere since 2000. You can find my two Eurocent mainly at liberal and centrist discussion threads, but also at some other surprising places. Also tweeting now, as user "graygoods".

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Don't fall for spin - Iraq IS more dangerous than DC!

This bullshit is circulating since at least June 2005 in the internets, and, sadly, most readers don't recognize it's a fraud:

You consider that there have been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000.
The rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation’s Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq.
Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington D.C.

Now, what's wrong with that comparison? Why, the math is wrong!
Well, this has already been totally debunked in the blogosphere. The critics focus on two major points:

Firstly, the anonymous author compares the monthly rate of casualties in Iraq per 100000 with an alleged number of 80.6 for DC for "the same period", and that's 22 months! Regardless that nobody else managed to find this number (80.6), it is obvious that this calculation will understate the risk in Iraq by the factor of 22. Correcting the calculation, using the spinmaster's own mysterious numbers, we see that the 'right' comparison is 1320/80.6=16.37 (1320=(2112/160000)*100000).
So, Iraq is 1537% more dangerous than DC!°
US soldiers aren't on a holiday trip, they are facing clear and present danger.

Secondly, as stated above, The cited numbers are totally questionable. 2112 casualties in June 2005? 80.6 homicides in Washington DC in 22 months? Nobody knows where those numbers come from, it's quite possible they are simply made up.

Also, pls note, even if the numbers would be right, 60/100,000 isn't the "firearm death rate". Sadly, this number includes those who were killed by IEDs, and that's the majority!

Now,let's try a better, honest comparision, using publicly available numbers. To get a picture about the situation right now, let's look at the most recent statistics:
Washington metropolitan police says the monthly number of homicides in June 2007 is 23.
And the US census bureau gives an estimation of 581,530 citizen living in Washington DC.
So, the monthly homicide rate was 3.955 /100000 in June 07.

At the same time, 06/2007, the US forces in Iraq suffered from 98 casualties
It's more difficult to determine the US troop numbers in Iraq for June 2006. This article from early July by an AP military expert gives a number of 158000. This computes to 62.025/100000 for that month.
Comparing those numbers, we find that in June 2007, serving in Iraq has been more than 1400%, or 14 times, more dangerous than living in Washington DC. Because of the possible errors in the population numbers, and in the troop levels, it's impossible to say that with more accuracy, but this gives a clear picture.

Conclusion: The US should immediately pull out of Iraq. At least, if they care for the lifes and wellbeing of their soldiers.

Ok, don't get confused by this comparison. Actually, all those soldiers doing administrative jobs in the relatively safe green zone or in the big bases distort the numbers. It goes without saying that US soldiers on patrol in Bagdad neighborhoods face an even graver risk. Nobody should diminish their sacrifice by pretending it isn't so bad in comparison. Anybody who spreads such madness should enlist and volunteer for Iraq ASAP!

° This may be confusing: 200% in a comparison means, it's 100% more of something, ok? So 1637% means its 1537% more. My math is a bit rusty, and I was confused about this at first, too.

[This story is derived from comments I posted at No Quarter, the blog of Larry Johnson, who simply doesn't get it. Looks like those CIA guys don't do math. |-( ]


Blogger Hill said...

Sounds like Turd Blossom's "math" to me.

13 October, 2007 13:13  
Blogger American Goy said...

Oh I remember that retarded comment about Iraq being safer than DC.

Comedy gold (just not for American soldiers in Iraq at the time).

10 February, 2008 04:53  

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