Monday, February 02, 2004

Meaningless Stat Alert 

Michael Novak has a column on the National Review defending the war from Iraq.

First, he notes that the media is vastly over-reporting the number of deaths in Iraq, since they are including accidental deaths - which might be happening anyway. I guess this means something. He notes that the actual number of combat deaths is a mere 343 - NOT 500.

Then he points out a stat that supporters of the war like to toss about from time to time....

"During 2003, the number of homicides in Chicago was 599, in New York City 596, in Los Angeles 505, in Detroit 361, in Philadelphia 347, in Baltimore 271, in Houston 276, and in Washington 247. That makes 3,002 murders in only eight cities."

What in God's name is this supposed to mean? Is Chicago a worse place than Iraq? If so, shouldn't the deaths of Iraqi soldiers and civilians be counted- after all, the actual death toll might be in the hundreds of thousands. And if we must judge everything based only on the number of deaths - wasn't this mission a waste of time? Couldn't the money have saved more lives if it was used to, I don't know, give AIDS drugs to every HIV positive person in the world or bring fresh water to everyone in any third world country?

I just don't understand what this stat means or how in anyway it furthers the argument that the war in Iraq was a good idea. It is very reminiscent of another conservative stat - the fact that George W. Bush got more votes in 2000 than Bill Clinton ever received. Of course, Al Gore also got more votes in 2000 than Bill Clinton ever received and, in fact, also got more votes than George W. Bush received in 2000.

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