Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I love my brother, truly I do. I generally ignore the right-wing crap he forwards my way, figuring that his time in Baghdad bought him several years' worth of me not taking his head off for not critically evaluating the stuff in his e-mails. I couldn't let this one go, although I did show admirable restraint in not sending my response to everyone else on his distribution list.

Have we all seen this one yet?
I found an interesting statistic for those who think we should pull out of Iraq because we have lost some military personel. I do not belittle their sacrifice, just trying to make a point. It may very well be safer to go to Iraq then to stay in the USA. Read this snippet: If you consider that there have been an average of 160,000 troops in the Iraq Theater of operations during the last 22 months, and a total of 2112 deaths, that gives a firearm death rate of 60 per 100,000. The firearm death rate in Washington D.C. is 80.6 per 100,000. That means that you are about 25% more likely to be shot and killed in our Nation's Capitol, which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation, than you are in Iraq. Conclusion: We should immediately pull out of Washington.
Groan. Basic math. Basic math, people! My response is below:

Statistics are fun! A correction to the stats provided: 2,112 deaths in an average population of 160,000 comes to 1,320 deaths per 100,000, although the majority of those are due to IED rather than gunfire. The original e-mail also assumes that the entire deployed force saw the same casualty rates, although the majority of the violence is centered in the Sunni Triangle. For comparison, troop strength in Baghdad has been increased over the summer to roughly 13,500 from 8,000. Working from the larger number, the 668 casualties from Baghdad still gives a rate of 4,948 per 100,000.
Current murders in DC stand at 188 in a population of roughly 550,000, which comes to roughly 34 deaths per 100,000.
In any event, neither is a particularly good place to be.

The dishonest use of casualty stats to justify the continued occupation of Iraq (hey, some guys died, but it's not as bad as... the Battle of the Somme!) or to vaguely argue against gun control laws is fairly distasteful. And what really pisses me off is the likelihood that probably 75% of the people on my bro's mailing list will read that stuff uncritically and swallow it whole.

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

Me, I would've hit "Reply All" and said, "Wow, Iraq sounds GREAT! So much safer than the U.S. I'm sure everyone on this list is now thinking about moving there so their children can grow up in such a safe environment!" :)

It's interesting that the assumption of his argument is that Iraq deaths are all "firearms related" -- aren't many from IEDs? Looking at the gun-death rates in Iraq might make the stats closer to DC gun-death rates, which would weaken your argument but would also be a wash for him. But then again, if DC residents walked around in the same kind of protective gear that soldiers in Iraq do, our death-by-firearms rate would be a LOT lower than it is, leaving the Iraq firearms-death rate higher. Either way, as a DC resident (well, at least I work in the District), I am only too happy to stay here.