Lott on Baghdad murders again

Lott responds on his blog to Wyeth’s accusation that he had no evidence for his claim about Baghdad murders. (My earlier comments are here.)

Notice that Lott responds on a minor point, once again ducking the question of the coding errors. And while he links to Wyeth and responds to some of my comments he doesn’t link to me, but pretends my comments were emailed to him. I link to Lott’s comments and have him in my blogroll because I want my readers to see what he says and what I say and make up their own minds about who is right. Lott doesn’t link here or even let on that this site exists.

Anyway, what evidence does Lott offer that Baghdad has fewer murders than Washington DC? He states:

Baghdad is a city with a population some 8.5 times greater than Washington. While it might be difficult to keep track of the number of property crimes or robberies these days in Iraq, presumably Rumsfeld knows whether the number of murders is greater or less than 200 a month.

Actually, metropolitan Washington has a population close to that of Baghdad and about 30 murders a month (UCR table 6). Lott (as well as Rumsfeld) is inappropriately comparing part of metropolitan Washington with metropolitan Baghdad. Nor is assuming that Rumsfeld has evidence the same as actually having evidence. But more importantly, Rumsfeld never said that Baghdad was experiencing fewer murders than Washington, D.C.. You can see the entire transcript here. Rumsfeld, while responding to this question:

Q: Mr. Secretary, is there any sign in this department of any central control over these dead-enders, as you call them, who have now killed—well, 42 American troops have now died since the president declared major hostilities at an end. Any sign of—

eventually said:

Rumsfeld: Look, you got remember that if Washington D.C. were size of Baghdad, we would be having something like 215 murders a month. And it is—there’s going to be violence in a big city. It s five and a half million people. For the most part, it’s in that area I described. That’s where the active—and it tends not to be, at this stage, random killings. It’s not the kind of rioting you saw on television last night in Michigan, or that type of thing. What you’re seeing instead is what we believe is purposeful attacks against coalition forces as opposed to simply crime and that type of thing.

His “215 murders a month” is in comparison to the 42 US troops dead in a month or so. Nowhere does he say that Baghdad has fewer murders than Washington DC. Now, Rumsfeld is playing fast and loose with his statistics here, since the relevant population is not the size of Baghdad, but the number of US soldiers in Iraq, which is about 1/4 the number of people in Washington DC, and therefore US soldiers in Iraq are considerably more likely to be murdered than DC residents. But he is not saying what Lott claims he is.