Lott’s chutzpah on Baghdad murders

In my previous entry on the Baghdad murder rate I noted that pretty well every paper that had reported the Baghdad murder rate had given a vastly higher figure than Lott’s number and the only paper out of step was the Wall Street Journal. So, in Lott’s 11/19/03 entry on his blog he draws the obvious conclusion: every other newspaper got it wrong, and in amazing display of chutzpah, he demands that the New York Times correct its “error”:

A recent article in the New York Times got some of it’s facts completely wrong about murder rates in Iraq. The mistakes were up to around a factor of 12 fold. In fact, the piece couldn’t even accurately report another New York Times piece that it relied upon for its data. I point this out in a letter to the editor. Not surprisingly, the NYT has apparently decided not to correct this mistake.

And here is the letter that the NYT wisely decided not to print:

The Op-ed chart on “How are things really going in Iraq?” by Ms. Adriana de Albuquerque and Mr. Michael O’Hanlon contained grossly incorrect numbers (November 14). They claimed that the annualize murder rate in Baghdad from April to October this year ranged from an incredible 100 to 185 per 100,000 people. The number was contrasted to the District of Columbia’s murder rate in 2002 of 45.8 per 100,000 people. While the Baghdad “murder” rate came from another Times article by Neil MacFarquhar (9/16), the authors ignore that MacFarquhar clearly stated that these deaths included “automobile accidents” and cases where people “were shot dead by American soldiers,” not just murders.

More importantly, other figures do not paint such a dreary picture. For example, the U.S. Army 1st Division in Baghdad reports that the annualized murder rate in Baghdad in August was 15.9, not the 185 reported in the article.

If you glance at the op-ed chart you will see that it includes the murder rate for October. It is impossible for this to come from an article drafted in September. As for the claim that the numbers in the MacFarquhar article were not relevant to the murder rate because MacFarquhar stated that they included automobile accidents, MacFarquhar also states that 70% died from gunshot wounds, which you generally don’t get in automobile accidents. Lott also discounts the numbers because MacFarquhar “clearly stated” that they included “cases where people ‘were shot dead by American soldiers’”. Let us provide a little more context:

Several families from Abu Ghraib, just west of Baghdad, are there to gather some of the four victims, including an 8-year-old girl, they said were shot to death by American soldiers who opened fire in the market after a grenade was thrown at their armored personnel carrier. The U.S. military spokesman’s office in Baghdad confirmed that one soldier was wounded in a grenade attack, but denied the soldiers from the 1st Armored Division fired back.

MacFarquhar doesn’t “clearly state” that they included shootings by American soldiers. He “clearly states” that that is in dispute. Because he wants to discount the huge number of violent deaths in Baghdad, Lott is actually arguing that US soldiers gunned down an eight year-old girl and the military lied about it. Now clearly the American Enterprise Institute has no objection to Lott’s lying and fabricated research, but this is something that might get him into trouble.

This whole episode gives us more insight into Lott’s pathology. In the survey affair, all he had to do was admit to making a mistake in citing the wrong brandishing number, but rather than admit to the error he invented a survey; and then had to actually conduct a survey to try to bolster his story and then had to fabricate the results of the real survey to make them agree with the invented survey. Here, rather than admit to making a mistake about the Baghdad murder rate (if you you’ve forgotten what this was originally about, Lott claimed that all the guns the Iraqis had were making them safer), Lott has now effectively accused the US army of gunning down an eight year-old Iraqi girl. He’s pathological.