Thursday, October 12, 2006

John Howard, intellectual giant

"Well, I don't believe that Johns Hopkins research, I don't."

Oh good, then it can't possibly be true. That's all right then.


Jennifer said...

Unbelievable! I've read about that research before - strangely a number of reputable media outlets find it credible. Sadly, the infastructure if Iraq is so destroyed that there is no other way of counting deaths.

Bernice said...

So - let's get this right - a house to house survey in Iraq produces something that's "not plausible" & "absolutely precarious"(sic). OK so presumably there is something inherently wrong with the methodology of conducting such surveys. Right. Well why then does Australia & many other nations, use the form of the house to house survey called a census to provide demographic data for government planning? Could it be that in Sorry John's world live white folk can count but dead Muslims don't?

Another Outspoken Female said...

Denial aint a river in Egypt Johnny!

TimT said...

John Howard is right. The survey contains literally 99.9 per cent guesswork:

Pavlov's Cat said...

Sorry, TimT, but I'm not going over there, it's just not a safe place for women. Blair's own posts can occasionally be tolerable but as far as the slavering acolytes' comments threads are concerned ... well, I haven't had breakfast yet.

I am not claiming to have counted the dead myself. I am quite ready to say the numbers might be wrong. But the point I was making is that if one has to decide whom to trust, then both the Lancet and Johns Hopkins have just ever so slightly more cred in terms of (a) getting things intellectually right and (b) telling the truth than Ratty could ever hope to accrue. Of course, it may be that the Tim Blair mob have never heard of either.

If you haven't already, go over to the LP thread on this topic ('Lancet Again Redux') and have a look at the arguments about the statistical model, especially the posts by Leinad. I don't know of anybody who posts at Tim Blair's site whom I'd trust either to understand the statistical methodology or not to be in denial about the numbers.

TimT said...

I was linking to the post itself, not to what the commenters said. Here it is, in its entirety.

Lancet’s number of documented deaths in Iraq, upon which the respected medical journal based its Iraqi mortality study, is but a mere 0.0835% of Lancet‘s estimated post-invasion death total.

The “estimate” part of Lancet’s equation is 99.9%.

I believe a number of commenters in the LP thread also made the point that the statistical method used in Lancet - while valid - was ridiculous given the figures involved.

Pavlov's Cat said...

I can only say again that I'm not arguing about the numbers so much as about the relative reliability of John 'The Postmodernists Threw Their Children Overboard' Howard on the one hand, and the Lancet and Johns Hopkins on the other.

If what Blair says is true, don't you think someone at one or other of those august institutions, possibly even both, might have, you know, picked it up? Do you really think either of those institutions would want to risk their credibility by making as egregious an error as Blair claims they have?

Is it enough, these days, to dismiss scholars (and therefore their views along with them) as 'elites'? Or do you have such faith in Blair that you think he can out-think them? Being a woman and a grown-up woman at that, I'm not very suspectible to the strange hypnotic charm that Blair seems to have for a certain kind of bloke, and therefore am not inclined to turn into a noddy-dog whenever he says anything. Sorry, but last time I looked, 'valid' and 'ridiculous' were pretty much mutually exclusive terms.

TimT said...

I think Blair makes a good point. If he is wrong or lying, it would be pretty easy to pick him up - the figures are there in his post.

I'm not interested in pitting Blair against the elites, or the Lancet against right wingers, or Blairites vs. the rest, or anything like that.

But how is Blair wrong?

TimT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pavlov's Cat said...

Okay, one more time.

I don't accept the terms of your question. (Besides, I asked you four and you haven't answered any of them.) I know there is general confusion among right-wingers about the difference between opinions and facts, but I do not share this confusion. I am therefore not claiming that Blair is "wrong". What I am saying is that he is right out of his intellectual league, and that the choice between him and Howard on the one hand and the Lancet and Johns Hopkins on the other is a no-brainer. As it were.

Like everyone else on the planet, I have no idea what the true number is. I would recommend, however, that anyone reading this go over to Larvatus Prodeo (link to said blog in sidebar for anyone who needs it -- sorry, putting links in comments is a pain) and read FDB's 10.39 am comment, especially this bit:

"I agree that the figure seems very high, but what the fuck do I know? Answer: what I’m told by the US military and the media of my own complicit nation."

TimT said...

Well, when you started ridiculing those who used the term 'elites', it struck me that the questions were rhetorical. After all, I hadn't used the term, and there was no implication being made about 'elites' in the post linked, either.

I can only repeat that I don't really want to be drawn into a Blair vs. the rest, or 'elites' vs non elites argument. I don't see who that sort of divisiveness serves, apart from political hacks who are more interested in creating false conflicts than solving real ones.

I'd say the linked Blair post is relevant, because in your original post, you made a sarcastic comment about a John Howard quote which called into question the accuracy of research. The post I linked seems to me to provide a pretty clear example of why that accuracy can be called into question.

Anna Winter said...

“I'd say the linked Blair post is relevant, because in your original post, you made a sarcastic comment about a John Howard quote which called into question the accuracy of research.”

No, Pav was making a sarcastic comment about John Howard’s word being at all relevant in discussions of truth or accuracy. Also, he didn’t “call it into question” so much as whine “ ‘fraid not!”.

Anonymous said...

TimT - I don't claim to understand statistical methods but I do know that the good people who commissioned and carried out this survey are well versed in statistics. It seems only reasonable to me to trust their expertise over that of PJ O'Blair (who studied statistics where?)
Tim Lambert has more to say.

Freudian Slip said...

It sure will be interesting to see where all of the facts are, 10 years from now. Who knows!?!?!?