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Letters by a modern St. Ferdinand III about cults

Plenty of cults exist - every cult has its 'religious dogma', its idols, its 'prophets', its 'science', its 'proof' and its intolerant liturgy of demands.  Cults everywhere:  Islam, the State, the cult of Gay and Queer, Marxism, Darwin and Evolution, 'Science', Globaloneywarming, Changing Climate, Abortion....a nice variety for the human-hater, amoral, anti-rationalist to choose from.  It is so much fun mocking them isn't it ?

Tempus Fugit Memento Mori - Time Flies Remember Death 

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Saturday, October 14, 2006

600.000 dead civilians in Iraq ? You don’t say. Why not 6 million ?

Goebbels, Stalin, Michael Moore, John Hopkins University........

by StFerdIII

The big lie. The Iraqi war is fraught with lies and half-truths and not those which supposedly only emanate from the neo-con Bush-whackers in Washington. Remember WMD? Apparently the media and chattering elite were not curious enough to view January-March 2003 satellite images of long convoys of trucks heading from Iraq into Syria. With 17 broken UN resolutions and 18 months to prepare it does not take a BBC analyst to figure out that Hussein and the boys were probably shipping WMD along with other goodies, to the Bashar family for safe-keeping. Now the scene has shifted from WMD to an unwinnable quagmire of a war where 50.000, 100.000 or 600.000 civilians now lie dead. Breathless reports just in time for the November US elections. Why stop there? Why not declare that 6 million or 16 million are dead, or that the entire country has been denuded of its population? If you want to lie, then act like Michael Moore and make it a big one. Whether it is large or irrelevant the insane poppycock which now passes for statistical analysis only makes the ‘researchers’ and the media that dwell on it, look very stupid indeed.

If quack science is your thing you might as well go all the way with the big lie and follow those erstwhile role models of scientific calculation, Lenin and Hitler. Why not just dive into fantasy-land and scream that Bush lied and millions of Iraqi’s have died? In the latest pseudo-science anti-war, ‘I hate Bush’ propaganda, which has oozed from the sewers of academe, Johns Hopkins University has concluded that 600.000 civilians are dead. This is 6 times the Lancet 2005 study which was debunked in about 10 minutes after it went public. So are we to take seriously a ‘study’ which uses a discredited methodology to produce a number that is 6 times the fantastical level of the Lancet fantasy?

Hopkins used the tired and usually inaccurate method of "cluster sampling." This clever phrase means that researchers pick arbitrary areas of the country, tabulate results and then make macro assertions. It is about as scientific as polling a random sample in a certain neighbourhood and then declaring that ‘Americans’ or ‘Canadians’ feel that ‘blah blah blah’. Hopkins only sampled 47 clusters of households for a total 1,849 households, scattered across Iraq. In these ‘clusters’ they interviewed people on who had died since 2003 and then verified their claims against death certificates. From this sample they took the number of dead and adjusted the total against the general population of 24 million to arrive at 600.000 civilian dead. Sorry but this methodology would fail you out of a first year course in statistics in a big hurry. No serious analysis can accept such faulty logic. "Since March 2003, an additional 2.5% of Iraq's population has died above what would have occurred without conflict," the report intones. Yeah right.

John Hopkins is a hotbed of left liberalism and anti-war activism - almost as pathetic and deranged as the Ivy league or San Fran. The ‘reports’ authors are known anti-war agitators and have little scientific credibility from other ‘surveys’ meaning that they have never done this before. Hiding behind their Phd’s and Dr. titles cannot obscure their hatred of all things Bush, and their antipathy to all matters concerning the Iraq war.

How about some other body count surveys? The Iraq Body Count org - hardly a pro-Bush group - calculates based on actual reviews of actual dead, that 48.000 have died over the 42 month period or about 15.000 per year or about 15 on day per average. The kill rate in the summer of 2006 spiked towards 100 per day, but in war and in Iraq, summer season is killing season and spikes are to be expected. Even the Pentagon admits that in August 100-120 people were killed on average per day. While scary this spike, if held constant for 42 months would mean a total civilian death rate of 126.000 since March 2003. Quite a bit lower than 600.000.

In fact 126.000 – as the Lancet 2005 misinformation study proved – is far too high. By most accounts the average death rate per day is about 30. That would mean that most likely in any given year there would be about 200 days x 30 dead + 150 days * 100 dead or about 21.000 per annum. Over 3.5 years the maximum number of civilian dead would be 70.000 or so. This however is too high. The spike of 100 dead per day in August 2006 was far higher than previous years. So the Iraqi Body Count org number of about 48.000 civilian dead is probably not a bad guestimate and is supported by other mortality counts.

The UN reported in August 2006 that during the year thus far 14.000 civilians had been killed. If we normalize this for the full year this means about 20.000 Iraqis will die in 2006. This would be the worst year yet: ‘More than 14,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq in the first half of this year, an ominous figure reflecting the fact that "killings, kidnappings and torture remain widespread" in the war-torn country, a United Nations report says.’ In June 2006, the Los Angeles Times released a report on death figures compiled by Iraqi officials from the records of the Baghdad Morgue, the Iraqi Health Ministry and other official agencies in Iraq, which concluded that the "War's Iraqi Death Toll Tops 50,000". The report said the count was "mostly of civilians" but also included security forces and insurgents. It added that, "Many more Iraqis are believed to have been killed but not counted because of serious lapses in recording deaths in the chaotic first year after the invasion, when there was no functioning Iraqi government, and continued spotty reporting nationwide since." So let’s accept the LA Times report along with the UN report, then somewhere between 45.000 to 70.000 civilians have probably perished in Iraq since 2003 or about 20.000 per annum.

But put the body count in perspective. In the past 20 years somewhere between 300.000 to 500.000 innocents were murdered by Hussein in Iraq, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of men he sent to death in his various wars; nor the tens of thousands of Kuwaitis and Iranians that fell in his madness to control middle eastern oil. The current kill rate is historically about average for Iraq or even below average.

Let’s look at it in another way. In 2004 there was an AP report which looked at mortality rates in Baghdad and its surrounding provinces. They counted 4,279 deaths during 2004, in a city of 5.6 million. Most of these deaths did not include combatants, [fighters are not brought to morgues usually] so we can assume that 100% were civilians. This death rate translates to 76 killings per 100,000 people, compared to 39 in Bogotá, Colombia, 7.5 in New York City, and the international average rate of 5.5. Baghdad in the middle of the war on terror is twice as dangerous as Columbia. No surprise there.

So think about those numbers for a second. If New York is say at 7.5 homicides per 100.000 people and Baghdad is at 100 this means that the 900 dead New Yorkers would translate into 12.000 dead Iraqis in Baghdad. Extrapolate that across Iraq and there is little chance that the total number of civilian dead per annum exceeds 20.000. In other words there is no proof from any reputable agency or report that would give any credence to any number of Iraqi civilian dead above 70.000. Sure every life is a loss and every death should be mourned. But such emotionalism cannot obscure the fact that some very disreputable ‘reporters’ and ‘researchers’ are playing political games and trying their worst to obstruct a successful prosecution of the Iraqi war.

The fact that the mainstream media even reports on such studies without caveats and analysis just means that a lot of very stupid people are opposed to what needs to be done. That unfortunately is the nature of fighting wars, and lies – both big and small.

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