On 'Mortal Exit Polling' In Iraq
With the War on Terror, many guage the threat level of certain aspects by considering the 'things that keep you up at night.' The sad (and infuriating) truth is that the source of such 'midnight oil generators' is often not from the enemy (jihadists and those who support them), but rather from the sizable segment of the West that is fueled by self-loathing and nihilism. Last night was one such instance, prompted by an MIT-sponsored and Johns Hopkins University 'overseen' 'scientific study' of Iraqi casualties since the 2003 invasion. The study would have the world believe that somehow the global media has overlooked 655,000 “excess” Iraqi deaths (that's over 500 per day unnoticed) as a result of the US invasion. The Washington Post's promoting of the study – touted widely this morning as both scientific and accurate – was logically debunked in the overnight hours in Mortal 'Exit Polling' Touted As Scientific.
There are several points made in the angry rebuttal offered at MilBlogs, but chief among them questions the randomness of the sampling and the geographic locations chosen by the "eight Iraqi physicians organized through Mustansiriya University in Baghdad." Even dismissing the fact that many at the Mustansiriya University have had an axe to grind with the US government since the formation of the initial Provisional Government before the Iraqi elections, there is much to question about the randomness and geocentric nature of the polling.
From a sample of "1,849 randomly selected households," we are to believe a number like 655,000? Stunning boldness rivaling that of the Zarqawi himself.
And 90% of those asked had death certificates? Where were they randomly polling, at the morgue itself? Who issues Iraqi death certificates? And now we are getting somewhere... Who knows more about Iraqi deaths (from which to potentially 'randomly sample' families)? Perhaps "eight Iraqi physicians organized through Mustansiriya University in Baghdad"? A Baghdad university would select doctors from which city? Perhaps the most dangerous one in Iraq? To where might they venture out to 'randomly sample'? In a dangerous country, there is comfort in familiarity...even if it is Baghdad.
‘Random sampling’ in and around Baghdad (and other high-intensity combat zones) in a ‘mortal exit poll’ and then extrapolating the findings across the whole of the Iraqi population is fundamentally flawed and false. It would be parallel to entering Rahway State Prison and determining that 30% of the inmates committed murder, concluding therefore that 30% of the American public are murderers (an equally fictitious figure of approximately 100 million).
Unlike Mortal 'Exit Polling' Touted As Scientific, which is hardly restrained in it’s angry passion, Rick Moran takes a look at the ‘study’ in A Most Ghoulish Debate with a more reserved tone but an effective look back at similarly debunked body counts attempted and proffered by the group in question.
But why is the study politically motivated?
This is the same crew whose 2004 study showing 100,000 Iraqi dead was thoroughly debunked by a wide variety of experts from both sides of the debate.
His is an excellent debunking as he goes on to reference their past studies as well as make similar observations to those found in Mortal 'Exit Polling'.
But the War on Terror is as much an Information War as one of physical combat, as Greyhawk clearly illustrates at the Mudville Gazette in al-Qaeda's 'Working Paper for a Media Invasion of America'.
Najd al-Rawi, the document's author, begins by noting that although they've been successful in many ways, the jihaddists haven't fully exploited the opportunities presented by the US media. Inspired by a video from bin Laden addressing the American people with subtitles in English, the author notes that "It seemed the Shayk wanted to send a clear message to his brother mujahadeen to pay more attention to this part of the mission." He points out that videos from the "Shayks of jihad" are in great demand in the western media.
So too, apparently, are ‘Mortal Exit Poll’ reports. Consider the rapid reaction and propagation:
- Washington Post: Study Claims Iraq's 'Excess' Death Toll Has Reached 655,000
- New York Times: Iraqi Dead May Total 600,000, Study Says
- Los Angeles Times: Study Puts War's Iraqi Death Tally at More Than 600,000
- CNN: Disputed study claims 655,000 Iraqi deaths
- MSNBC: Study suggests higher Iraqi death toll
- ABC: Study: 655,000 Iraqis Die Because of War
- BBC: Iraqi war death toll 'at 655,000'
- Guardian: '655,000 Iraqis killed since invasion'
- Times Online: War and turmoil has cost 600,000 Iraqi lives, study finds
- Sky News: '600,000 Killed In Iraq'
Yet buried deep within the reports above – if mentioned at all – is the admitted fact that the Iraqi body count figure was ‘scientifically’ extrapolated from a total Mortal Exit Poll result of 629 reported deaths, of which only 547 occurred after the invasion. From that we are to arrive at 655,000?
MIT and Johns Hopkins should be ashamed. This is not science.