Sunday, October 31, 2004

Iraqi Citizens Embrace American-Style Democracy

Stunning Development Shows Success of Bush Strategy

Prior to the Iraq war, pessimistic naysayer liberals frequently voiced doubts about the ability of our leader to install the virtues of democracy by bombing and killing a lot of people. And when The Lancet -- the world's oldest and most respected medical journal -- published a report done by Johns Hopkins University -- the world's leading medical research institution, and the location of a hospital that provides treatment to much of the nation's leadership -- showing that over one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians have been killed in the war, many liberals touted this as evidence of the inhumanity of the Administration strategy.

Now, however, a mere two days before the crucial American Presidential Election, the influential LA Times has reported a survey of Iraqis that shows the strategy is working. Indeed, we now all can rest comfortably knowing that the considerable cost of all those bullets, bombs, and and body bags, has produced the desired result. Iraqi citizens now hold exactly the same political beliefs as the majority of Americans:
If a recent poll and a sampling of interviews with Iraqis around the country are any indication, neither President George Bush nor Sen. John F. Kerry is particularly popular.The majority of nearly 2,000 respondents -- about 59% -- said they don't like either candidate.

"I wouldn't vote for either because both are useless," said Abed Qahir Abed Aziz, 37, an attorney in the northern city of Mosul.

"Neither Bush nor Kerry can solve our problems," said Atheer Adil, 27, an Arabic-language student in Baghdad.
See? Now They are just like Us.


It has been a while since I've posted anything about science.  It also has been a while since I posted anything satirical.  The satire is above; the science is below.

After I wrote the first part of this post, I saw some posts that disputed the validity of the Lancet study.  I also saw some written by people who seem to feel it is valid, and others that show the problems with the attacks on the study. 

The Blosphere is studded with links to the study.  Some of the first ones I saw, which express doubts about the study, are these:

Command Post
Common Sense Technology
Les Jones's Blog
Chicago Boyz

Those who lend credibility to the report are here:

Crooked Timber
Body and Soul
Rhosgobel: Radagast's home
Old Hickory's Weblog
Informed Comment

Of these, I think the most important to read is the one at Crooked Timber, because it has the most cogent analysis of the statistics.  Indeed, statisticss can be tricky, and it will be a while before we can say with certainty that the methodology is or is not valid.  The article was subject to peer review, but a more thorough review always is done after publication.  That is the beauty of the scientific method.  Now tha the study is out, everyone gets to take a crack at it.

One thing I must say, though, to add to the volumes already written, is to point out the problem with those who take the accelerated publication of the aritcle as evidence of political bias.  I would say that the authors are biased, but I would not say that the bias is necessarily political.  The authors are from the School of Public Health (at Johns Hopkins), so we can guess what their bias might be.  However, not all biases are bad; not all cast suspicion on the veracity of the study.

When the SARS oubreak occurred, the New England Journal of Medicine published some fast-tracked articles ahead of the usual publication schedule.  That is because people were dying, doctors don't like it when people die, and they wanted to get the information out when it would do the most good.  Nothing nefarious, no wingnut conspiracy, but a bias nontheless: a bias against premature death, and the virus that causes it.

Faculty at a school called "public health" might well have a similar bias: a bias against public death, and the factors that cause it.