The latest ploy of the desperate/delusional/dishonest wingnuts is the claim by Rep. Peter King (R-Iowa) that Iraq (as a whole) is safer than the worst American cities. Not to mention the fact that it flies in the face of common sense, this claim is such a complete statistical fallacy as to be dishonest. In the first place, in any statisical category (eg violent deaths) in any large population (e.g. an entire country), one can find “outliers” which will be large compared with the average of the entire group.
in studies of violence, big cities (Detroit, for example) are always worse than rural areas, and as a result the rates of violence in an entire country (Iraq, for example) are always lower than are the rates of its individual cities. In the present example, this difference is obviuosly accentuated because every single violent dath in Detroit is included, while in Iraq, the numbers of violent deaths have been understated by a factor or 2 or 3 (amateur Iraq Body count methodology vs numbers estimated by best epidemiologic methodology). Even in Baghdad, it would seem that body counts have been underreported. But let’s look at the body counts, such as they are, in Baghdad for the last 6 months: 6,000, from a population of 6 million. That is 200/100,000. And that really doesn’t reflect the true security picture. Let’s first consider Detroit: most of those killed are young males voluntarily engaging in dangerous/illegal lifestyles; the deaths tend to occur in circumscribed areas and times, among those with criminal records. The great majority of the population of Detroit are at miniscule risk as they go about their daily lives. Contrast this with Baghdad: Many of those killed are not engaging in illegal and violent lifestyles; they are lawabiding citizens who are killed merely because of their religion, or because they happen to be on the street when a daylight car bomb goes off. Travel is hazardous, many children are kept home from school, daily commerce is dangerous. Occupying troops travel only in armored vehicles and wear as much body armor as they can afford.
So the best comparison we have right now is that the violent death rate in a large city in Iraq is about 5 times greater than Detroit, and, furthermore, those being killed in iraq seem much more like innocent, law abiding citizens.
If you look at the numbers for Iraq as a whole, the best research would indicate that well over 100,000 (as of 3 years ago) excess deaths have occurred in a population of about 26,000,000. The excess death rate since the US led invasion is thus approximately 120/100,000/year in the country as a whole, again, much greater than that of Detroit or Washington DC or Baltimore, the most violent US cities.
We all know that this claim by Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds and others is complete nonsense. That it flies in the face of common AND statistical sense seems not to bother the wingnuts. Their ability to ignore the fact that white is white and not black, is surely a disturbing sign.