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Prospects for Liberty: No War ...,
Some notes on Roger Bournival's, aka the Angry Cyclist,
of Herold's tallying of civillian Afghanistan
casualties (why I'm bothering to note anything is a good question, given that this has apparently already
been beaten to death, but I still
haven't seen the corpse of the bogus horse): Herold's decision "to do the study because I
suspected that the modern weaponry was not what it was advertised to be" does not mean
that Herold "starts his research with an apparently predetermined conclusion" as B argues, it means he started
it with a predetermined suspicion - hardly a specious cause for study. At the same time I wouldn't call collecting
press clippings "research", but it's something like it - in Herold's case he can hardly be accused of
cargo cult science as there's no gravy train
to hop onto for small liberal arts college professors determined to make the US government look bad.
B is mostly correct to my knowledge that
"there is no effort on anyone's part to determine the actual casualties". At least in this he and Herold
are in agreement, "given the lack of official interest".
It's quite possible that Herold's biases are affecting his judgement, that's a fair question,
but it's equally possible that B is guilty of letting his biases affect judgement:
"17.5 percent of his data points contained multiples of ten, extremely strong evidence of rounding,
and, in my estimation, rounding up". What's the basis for that estimation? It also might be helpful
to include the number of casualties represented by that 17.5 precent to given some indication of it's
impact on the end tally. Nevermind that Herold's tally is based entirely on press reports - given
the lack of media access to the war zone and military intelligence it hardly seems outrageous to
suggest that such a tally, assuming it were credible (an assumption that remains dubious, I concur),
would be something of an undercount.
in acknowledging that there are "reports from potentially biased sources such as the Afghan Islamic Press,
Pakistan Observer and the Guardian of London" one has to level the
same criticism at US sources, given in particular the substance of some internal memos commanding the
US press corps to downplay civillian suffering and the otherwise radical inflation of the value of patriotism
and jingoistic pride that has been occasionally acknowledged and was a) understandable and b) obvious.
propaganda, and then there's facts. The "constant revision of [the] database"
presumably speaks of some degree of scrutiny of orginal reports' accuracy, quite likely not enough, but
there's no clear basis on which to judge how such scrutiny would affect the end tally, given the lack of it.
I'm unaware if Herold has taken
all double counting into account
(he's stated that double counting due to different spellings of place names has been),
but assuming a huge influence on the results that would render them "hardly reliable"
"based even on this limited sample" doesn't really speak any better of the critic's background in statistics
than does Herold's unrelated academic field, nor do their efforts to follow up reports via
the web and dropping the issue when it doesn't provide the necessary archived information
really say much about the quality of their own "research".
Regardless Herold doesn't include estimates for casualties due to the interupted flow of aid
because of the bombing campaign, and not many others have taken up the challenge
has), as again there
is little official interest. It's not unreasonable to argue that not taking this into account
renders some critics upwards of irrelevant in terms of their self-vaunted dedication to "truth"
and calls into question declarations of the minimal effect on civillian life and the corresponding
success of the campaign, given that no notable kills were made on the organizers of 9/11 and that
CIA/FBI reports indicated that said campaign if anything increased the US security risk. Just like
shit you can flush them out, but there's always more to flush if you keep shitting.
Finally, all the defamations back and forth between contributors to this discussion accusing eachother
of racism, low valuations of Afghani lives and/or freedom, fabrication, of being
and insinuating that one or another individual should be fired and/or is guilty of gassing Kurds
is terribly entertaining, but given the prominence of such comments in what passes for the argumentation
I'm prone to judge it more as an exemplary indication of how little intelligence has actually been
applied to this subject. Bravo everybody.