John Tirman on Munro and Soros

John Tirman comments on Neil Munro's misconduct:

One quick note about the Soros bugaboo. I commissioned L2. It was commissioned in Oct 2005, with internal funds from the Center for International Studies at MIT, of which I am executive director. The funds for public education (not the survey itself) came from the Open Society Institute in the following spring, long after things had started. Burnham did not know this (Roberts was not much involved at this point.) MIT was providing funds, that's all he knew or needed to know. There were other small donors involved too. I told this to Munro on the telephone and in an email. He nonetheless implied that Soros money had funded the survey from the start, possibly at Soros' behest. That is a disgraceful lie, and Munro knows it.

This timing also underscores another Munro falsehood: the attempt to influence 2006 congressional elections. We began in Oct 05 with the intention of getting the survey done in winter and results out in spring. The violence was so severe that the survey could not be conducted until late spring, and then at great peril. About two months for data entry, analysis, writing, peer review, etc. We decided to delay the release if too close to the election, setting our own deadline of Oct 14. It was never intended to influence the congressional election, though there is certainly nothing wrong in a democracy with wanting the public informed.

Munro also knew this and fabricated a tale to make this sound like a political gambit from the start. These are just two aspects that I know first hand. Munro's behavior--screaming at me on the telephone, demanding to know if any donors were Muslims, etc.---signalled his intentions from the start. This is a bad actor and is a disgrace to the newsletter where the diatribe appeared.

The NEJM article is far more important and interesting. This is where debate should be focused, not a blatant hatchet job by a guilty malcontent and one "source."

Tags

More like this

John Tirman documents Neil Munro's dishonesty. I think this is an excellent catch by Tirman -- Munro selling his National Journal story to Iraq war architect Michael Rubin: George Soros funded the survey. The U.S. authors played no role in data-collection, and did not apply standard anti-fraud…
Back in November 2001 Neil Munro was an advocate of war with Iraq and predicted: The painful images of starving Iraqi children will be replaced by alluring Baghdad city lights, smiling wages-earners and Palestinian job seekers. Iraq war advocates like Munro don't like the results of the Lancet…
Michael Spagat is back with another attack on the Lancet study. Most of it is stuff we've seen before, like absurd assumptions he makes for Main Street Bias, and the false claim that Soros funded the study. But there is some new stuff, including this (L2 is the second Lancet study): The above…
John Tirman has an article in Editor and Publisher. Extract: The charge, repeated in all these media, that the Iraqi research leader, Riyadh Lafta, M.D., operated "without U.S. supervision" and was therefore suspect is particularly interesting. Munro, in a note to National Review Online, asserted…

I responded to these comments in the original thread. Short version: Roberts did try to "influence" the election, both in 2004 and 2006. Don't believe me? See the citations, including reporting by AP's Paul Hoy.

Not there is anything wrong with trying to influence elections!

By David Kane (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

So far as I can see, there is nothing in the comment David Kane has just linked to, nor elsewhere in that comment thread, that either states that Roberts tried to influence any election or gives evidence that he did.

Whoops! My mistake. I linked to the wrong Deltoid comment. I should have linked here. Sorry. Key quote is from AP reporter Paul Hoy.

Roberts organized two surveys of mortality in Iraqi households that were published last October in Britain's premier medical journal, The Lancet. He acknowledged that the timing was meant to influence midterm U.S. elections.

And then there was this gem from L1.

Mr. Roberts acknowledges that he also hoped to ignite a policy change or public response. "This was going to do more good in terms of changing policy if it came out in October than if it came out in November," he says. "But we never had any delusions that this might affect the U.S. election."

Now, admittedly, this one is not as clear cut. Perhaps Roberts wanted a "public response" that did not involve voting of any kind, even though L1 came out a few days before the 2004 elections. Could be! I believe that there is another better quote from the AP story in 2004, but I can't find the link just now.

By David Kane (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

David, your second quote makes it clear that they didn't intend to influence the elections. To "have no delusions" about A is to not believe A. As in "I have no delusions that David Kane can calculate a CMR".

Your first quote shows how incredibly stubborn you are. Mr. Tirman has given a clear instance of a journalist misrepresenting Roberts. Your response is to stick with your original claim about Roberts, by quoting a journalist.

So here we have one verbatim quote from Roberts saying he couldn't affect the elections; we have Tirman saying they didn't intend to affect the elections; and you quote a journalist who doesn't quote Roberts verbatim, but describes what "he acknowledged." Particularly amusing given that the journalist in question claims Roberts published "two surveys of mortality" "last October". Which doesn't seem accurate, since his two surveys were published 2 years apart.

And at the time this is what you said:

Is that true? As far as I can tell, Roberts has always denied that the timing of L2 had anything to do with the US elections.

Interesting, Soros said that removing Bush from office was "a matter of life and death" and Tirman is author of the book "100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World". And the gullible public is expected to believe they were simply conducting an unbiased mortality survey? Give us all a break.

Tirman toots his own horn on his website, stating his study is the "most reliable study of Iraq mortality". He doesn't say why his study is the most reliable, just that it is because he said so. So there, take that, case closed.

I remain unconvinced that Tirman's ideology and his association with Soros didn't taint the survey and its methodology. And newer surveys, done by more reputable organizations, appear to confirm the grossly inflated numbers in Tirman's study.

By Charles H. (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

^ S/B " . . . appear to confirm that the numbers in Tirman's study were grossly inflated."

By Charles H. (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

David, your second quote makes it clear that they didn't intend to influence the elections. To "have no delusions" about A is to not believe A. As in "I have no delusions that David Kane can calculate a CMR".

When I first read David's conclusion above regarding that statement, I was amazed. Not the first time. It is clear that Roberts was under no delusion that the survey results would have any impact on the election whatsoever.

Charles H logic:

1. Survey is commissioned, work begins.

2. Later, a foundation supported by Soros gives additional funding.

3. "Soros commissioned the survey".

"Perhaps Roberts wanted a "public response" that did not involve voting of any kind..."

I can't remember where it was he said it but Roberts said that was exactly the case. Specifically, he said that drawing attention to the high casualty rate from US bombing might encourage one or both candidates to commit to review policy in Iraq.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 11 Jan 2008 #permalink

I have to laugh aloud when I read comments here suggesting that the Lancet studies were aimed at influencing the US presidential and mid-term elections. I've said if all before but David Kane and others must really believe they live in a helathy, functioning democracy in which there are real political divisions between the two main parties. If Kerry had won, what would have changed in terms of foreign policy? Nix. Nil. Nooit. If this is possible, Kerry, who voted in support of the imperial aggression in the first place (along with just about every other Democrat) was one of those claiming that 'mistakes had been made in waging the war', not that the war was a criminal enterprise. He had apparently supported sending even more troops in to Iraq at a time that Rumsfeld and the chicken hawks in the current Bush-Cheney junta were reluctant to do so (I suppose that they were convinced that outsourcing the conflict to private mercenary armies on public funds was just as effective).

Kerry also stated that he did not support universal government health care in the US because it was not have "political support". What did he mean by that? Poll after poll in America generally show that 70% or more of the population support the idea of government-funded health care for everyone. What Kerry meant by 'political support' was that the private insurance companies and pharmaceutical corporations were opposed to it. That's 'political support' in the US. If the corporate elite don't like it, then it ain't gonna happen. The truth is that the general population in the US is so far to the left of its two main parties that it is almost impossible to connect the two. This is 'democracy', US style - in reality, a corporatocracy.

David also says that there isn't necessarily anything wrong in influencing elections. Isn't there? Perhaps this explains why big, vested interersts supply billions of dollars in campaign contributions to candidates in both parties, to ensure that whichever candidate wins, they 'speak for them'. This also ignores the huge amounts of money well-funded lobbying groups spend to influence government policy in the US. In 1998, the agro-biotech lobby alone spent 1.29 billion dollars lobbying politicians in Congress. Oil and gas interests spent 58 million dollars the same year in lobbying. The same year all NGOs - across a broad spectrum of areas - mustered a measly 4.5 million dollars for lobbying purposes. To reiterate, this ignores the vaster sums spent funding election campaigns.

Some democracy.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

A few more reactions: First, "Soros" had nothing to do with any of this. The charitable foundation he created, Open Society Institute (OSI), gave a grant to MIT's Center for International Studies to partially fund the public education effort on this issue. The grant came in the spring of 2006, many months after I commissioned the second study (L2) by engaging Roberts and Burnham. (Roberts immediately passed the baton to Burnham.) OSI had no influence over the origination, conduct, or findings of the survey. Burnham, Roberts, Lafta, et al had no knowledge of the sources of funding, only that MIT was providing the money.

Second, this was not my survey. It was conducted by, analyzed by, and/or written up by the authors of the Lancet article. I commissioned the survey and consulted on matters only of the public education effort.

Third, people are allowed to have political opinions, believe in God, etc., and still do science. That said, Roberts was not involved in L2 until the analytical phase in late summer, because he was interested in running for Congress (btw, don't we want more scientists in public life?). Which brings us to Hoy's misstatements, and

Fourth, on the elections and timing. It was as I stated. We started in Oct 05. We intended to get it done as quickly as possible and still do a professional job. The delays were due mainly to the violence itself. Was it my intention to inform and maybe even cause a stir among the American public? Yes, of course. That the timing took place as it did, and the study was released three weeks before the election, was actually unfortunate, because those who want to bury the findings---who simply cannot come to grips with the blooshed and US culpability---would dismiss it as "political." This was done at the time and continues to fester. I would much have preferred to have the study done and ready for the public the previous spring.

The persistent claim that Roberts tried to influence the '06 election is purely false (and maliciously so). He was not involved until the drafting of the Lancet piece, and the timing was by then "set" by the circumstances of when the survey could be conducted.

Fifth, I do judge the Burnham et al study to be the most reliable calculation of mortality. As I said in yesterday's post, the new survey published in NEJM is interesting and important. (Their mortality figures are quite high, by the way, but their calculations of death by violence lower as a proprotion than L2---there is much to explore on this.) What L2 and NEJM both signal is how difficult it is to do such surveys, but both confirm an exceptionally high number of Iraqis have died as a consequence of the war (whether by violence or other means). Recalling that these surveys were completed 19 months ago, the numbers now must be truly staggering, as the ORB survey indicates. There will be method issues with all, given the circumstances. But, contrary to the unreliable IBC counts, these surveys indicate an exceptionally gruesome level of unnecessary death, which track consistently with 4.5 million displaced, extraordinary numbers of widows, and so forth. The science debate should focus on the human cost and how to calculate it. The policy debate should focus on how to prevent such catastrophes from occurring again.

I appreciate John Tirman taking the time to clarify these issues for us, and I agree that the Soros stuff is a red herring. However, it sure would be nice too get some clarity in certain topics:

1) You claim that Hoy is guilty of "misstatements." How do you know? Has Hoy admitted making a mistake? Has Roberts denied that he "acknowledged that the timing was meant to influence midterm U.S. elections." Since you were not present (I assume) when Roberts was talking to Hoy, you don't know what Roberts did or did not acknowledge. (Neither do I.)

2) You write "We intended to get it done as quickly as possible and still do a professional job." Excellent. I can understand delays in data gathering. But why, if you were trying to get it done as quickly as possible, did it take 3 months to go from survey end to publication while it only took 3 weeks for L1? Perhaps you could give more details on the timeline. For example, when did you submit the article to the Lancet?

3) If it was "actually unfortunate" that the study came out in October rather than after the elections, why didn't you ask the Lancet to delay publication? I am sure that they would have, at your request. Of course, if your goal is to "cause a stir among the American public," then obviously, the weeks before an election are the best time to do so.

4) When we had breakfast two years ago, you said that you would push for the data to be made public. In fact, you indicated that MIT probably owned the data. What is the status of that? Do you agree with the decision to refuse to share the data with people like Spagat? Is that consistent with MIT's policies on data-sharing?

By David Kane (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Why are you hectoring people with uninteresting questions?

When we had breakfast two years ago, you said that you would push for the data to be made public. In fact, you indicated that MIT probably owned the data. What is the status of that? Do you agree with the decision to refuse to share the data with people like Spagat? Is that consistent with MIT's policies on data-sharing?

Was this before or after you publicly accused the study of being fraudulent?

Despicable frauds like Kane have a limited set of purposes - one is testing the waters for new neo-fascist talking points, another is muddying the waters of public discourse with already tested lies, and yet another is trolling - hoping they can get respectable researchers to respond, preferably lose their tempers and respond with something they can abstract to their neo-fascist paramedia allies. But any response at all to them directly, as opposed to listing and debunking the collective points of the right-wing denialist community on an issue, serves these goals.

Denialism is a template now - the same machine serves for Iraqi casualties, evolutionary biology, climate science, public health, etc.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

ali baba asks: "Why are you [Kane] hectoring people with uninteresting questions?"

Sure beats answering the legitimate questions about his own behavior and statements, like this one for example:

Why has the high response rate (96.2%) for the NEJM survey not inspired Kane to float the fraud balloon, while virtually the same response rate for L2 (98.3%) did so inspire him?

A tried and true debating technique at which Ivy leaguers excel: instead of answering a question, simply pose another (preferably tangentially related) one.

Tim,

With your help, we have gotten to the bottom of one empirical mystery: Age data was not collected from the households in L2. Could you help us with another? Did Les Roberts "acknowledged that the timing was meant to influence midterm U.S. elections?" If you could ask Les whether or not Hoy's reporting is accurate --- I was there and I now think that it was --- we can add this to the list of empirical debates we can put to rest.

By David Kane (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

For Mr. Kane: You had breakfast, and I had coffee. Please don't misrepresent my eating habits. I do now realize that you were misrepresenting your intentions.
Re Hoy: Roberts did not time L2 to coincide with the elections, period. He had no opportunity to do so, period. Hence, Hoy I expect misquoted.
Re time to press: I was not involved in analysis or writing, so I can't say. Getting it into print in 3 months seems fairly quick. I can't speak to L1.
Re October release: It was a tough call regarding the release, or to hold it. We thought 3 weeks was okay. It was released when ready, which seems appropriate.
Re data release: I think Burnham and JHSPH has handled the release of data appropriately. We have no reason to believe anything unethical has occurred.

By John Tirman (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

What Mr. Kane has to say about himself on his "Lancet on Iraqi Mortality" blog:

I am an Institute Fellow at IQSS at Harvard. I am chairing a panel on mortality in Iraq and the Lancet surveys for the August 2008 Joint Statistical Meetings in Denver, Colorado. Tentative participants in the panel include Jon Pedersen of Fafo, Safaa Amer of NORC, Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway College, University of London, Mohamed Ali of WHO and Debarati Guha-Sapir of WHO Collaborating Centre for Research on Disaster Epidemiology.

I realise that research needs to be robust enough to stand up to hostile questioning; but shouldn't that hostile questioning be by someone who is capable of dealing with evidence as honestly as he is so vociferous about others needing to be? Given that Kane has stated, on the basis of not liking the numbers, that the authors of the Lancet study committed deliberate fraud; given that he has failed to acknowledge any point made about the plausibility of the high response rate; given that he has failed to acknowledge that there is consistent evidence that at least 3/4 of the "basic" demographic data was collected in L1 and L2 (I have to look into this more, myself); and given that he is so busy trying to force everyone else to apologise that he has no time to spare for acknowledge any possible error on his part, I cannot see how Kane has any credibility in this respect. Isn't this kind of like asking McIntyre to host a panel reviewing Mann?

By Luna_the_cat (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

David Kane: "Did Les Roberts "acknowledged that the timing was meant to influence midterm U.S. elections?" If you could ask Les whether or not Hoy's reporting is accurate --- I was there and I now think that it was --- we can add this to the list of empirical debates we can put to rest."

Why is that an interesting question? Does it change anything at all about the study?

I appreciate John Tirman's answers but they still sound too self-serving to be believable.

""Fifth, I do judge the Burnham et al study to be the most reliable calculation of mortality.""

Of course, your opinion is the most important. But you are not a disinterested nor objective participant. The study met your agenda, so naturally you support it. And all too conveniently, the study met met Soros's objectives also.

""Recalling that these surveys were completed 19 months ago, the numbers now must be truly staggering, as the ORB survey indicates.""

The ORB survey? The results of that opinion poll appear even more preposterous then the study you commissioned.

As I posted on a previous thread, someone could throw out the figure 50,000,000 dead in Iraq and there would be posters vigorously defending it here.

By Charles H. (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Given that Kane has stated, on the basis of not liking the numbers, that the authors of the Lancet study committed deliberate fraud...

Actually, he spent an immense amount of time defending a claim that the response rate ALONE was indicative of fraud.

Yet as pointed out above, no such reaction to the NEJM response rate.

Why not? Kane fairly gushes over the NEJM paper. Because of the methodology? Because of the number?

No, because he thinks they're attacking L2 directly and supporting his claim that L2 was a fraud.

That seems quite clear from his post on his own blog.

I apologize to John Tirman for mischaracterizing his eating habits. He did, indeed, have coffee.

Also, I can second the professionalism with which Gilbert Burnham (and Shannon Doocy) have conducted themselves throughout the debate.

By David Kane (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Also, I can second the professionalism with which Gilbert Burnham (and Shannon Doocy) have conducted themselves throughout the debate.

It would've been more useful if you'd conducted yourself professionally and honorably from the beginning.

Not that there's any evidence you're doing so now.

And, interestingly, you don't praise John Tirman for his professionalism.

Also, I can second the professionalism with which Gilbert Burnham (and Shannon Doocy) have conducted themselves throughout the debate.

none of us fails to notice the truly professional way in which you enjoy having been right on the unimportant point of data collection.

"we can add this to the list of empirical debates we can put to rest."

In your mind, perhaps.

But that's all that matters, right?

John Tirman's last direct contact with me was a request that I not e-mail him anymore. That is not the way that professionals behave.

By David Kane (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Counterpoint: yes it is.

Regarding the time to publications, according to David Kane it is 3 weeks for L1 and 2 months for L2. Assuming this is true (I can't be bothered checking), David Kane seems to be implying something underhand about L1 here. Or he could be implying that L2 had big problems because it took so long, where in fact 3 months is pretty normal for an epidemiology paper. I would suspect that the difference in timing occurred because the first paper, being novel and about a very important issue, was fast-tracked. Most medical journals have a fast-tracking system for articles about issues considered topical, and I believe I may have tried to use such a fast-tracking system myself in one instance (unsuccessfully, from memory). Regardless of the political affiliations of the authors, an article about deaths in Iraq is topical during an election for the country that invaded Iraq, and likely to be fast tracked.

That is my guess for the different times.

No. Perhaps I would be better off if it did! I have managed to exchange dozens of e-mails with Shannon Doocy and Gilbert Burnham with no problems whatsoever. I was every bit as professional and polite with Tirman as I was with them. (Or I have been with Tim and dsquared.) In fact, I think that I only exchanged a couple of e-mails with Tirman, beyond the bookkeeping of setting up our breakfast, before he told me not to e-mail him again. But, alas, I don't think that Tirman is used to communicating with scholars who question his assumptions.

The only other example was Les Roberts instructing me, not just to stop e-mailing him, but to stop e-mailing any of the Lancet authors. That was funny! With his permission, I would be happy to reprint his e-mail here. Perhaps Tim could ask him.

By David Kane (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

Kane, given that the total excess deaths in this new IFHS study is 400,000, assuming the under-reporting works on non-violent deaths as in violent deaths, how do you reconcile your claim that IFHS demolishes L2 against this from L2:

We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654 965 (392 979-942 636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2·5% of thepopulation in the study area

The two studies actually agree in the total excess deaths, don't they?

David Kane:

"John Tirman's last direct contact with me was a request that I not e-mail him anymore. That is not the way that professionals behave."

You know something about how professionals behave? You could have fooled me.

Kane continues:

"alas, I don't think that Tirman is used to communicating with scholars who question his assumptions."

Then again, perhaps he is not used to communicating with people who label studies he commissions "frauds" based on little more than their incredulity at response rates.

Or perhaps Tirman just could not be bothered by people who do not know how to calculate CMR's.

SG,

The two studies actually agree in the total excess deaths, don't they?

Sure they do. If you ignore the fact that the IFHS study gives no estimate of total excess deaths, and then make up a number of total excess deaths from the study's crude death rates, ignoring the fact that you have no idea of the methodology the authors used to derive their own count of violent deaths from the totality of their data and adjustments, and if you then almost double that made-up number, and if you then attribute that second made-up number to the IFHS study, you're right, the two studies agree!

Brilliant.

The increasingly absurd efforts of those desperate to salvage the Lancet study are painful to watch.

make up a number of total excess deaths from the study's crude death rates, ignoring the fact that you have no idea of the methodology the authors used to derive their own count of violent deaths from the totality of their data and adjustments

The arithmetic is simple, and doesn't involve "making up" numbers. The total rate, and the subset of that rate which represent violent deaths, are both given. The arithmetic that extrapolates the subset rate to a fixed number for the period in time works equally well for the total rate.

and if you then almost double that made-up number

Now you're just making shit up. No doubling of that number is necessary, and indeed people have been (correctly) subtracting out the author's estimate of the death rate before the shit hit the fan.

Now you can argue about the error bars that we ought to assign to the number that's been arithmetically computed from the information given in their paper.

And, if you want, you can argue that their survey gives accurate results for the violent death rate, but not the total death rate. That would be fun. I would enjoy seeing that.

The increasingly absurd efforts of those desperate to salvage the Lancet study are painful to watch

You are going to have to do better than to make up rules that say that if we have two rates, then it's OK to multiply R1 by a factor to get a total death number, but not OK to multiply R2 by the same factor, when both rates are generated by exactly the same set of questionnaires.

Oh, and no one is presenting the calculations done on the data in the NEJM paper as being rigorous. It's a back of the envelope affair.

Apparently it's OK for David Kane to do such bank of the envelope scribblings to support his claims that Les Roberts et al are guilty of scientific misconduct (have presented fraudulent data, one of the biggest frauds ever, according to Kane) but when anyone does such scribbling in a way that lends credibility to the Lancet work, it's cheating.

yes Jason, in my imagination I multiplied one number in the paper by another.

Or did you think that perhaps the number in the column labelled "total" of table 4 was calculated on the back of an envelope, but the number in the column labelled "violent" wasn't?

Brilliant.

then make up a number of total excess deaths from the study's crude death rates.

the increase of both death rates is discussed in the paper. if you don t like the "excess number of deth" calcualtions, simply stick to the rates.

ignoring the fact that you have no idea of the methodology the authors used to derive their own count of violent deaths from the totality of their data and adjustments,

the methodology is described rather well.
the Anbar adjustment can t be done, as it relies on the IBC numbers which do not provide any informations about non-violent death. so this part is an estimate based on the calculations in the paper.
if you disagree, feel free to do some calculations of your own.

if you then almost double that made-up number

enlighten us. when and where does this step happen?
apart from in your mind?

The problem with the Lancet study is almost no one believes it. It was a shocking number injected into the middle of an election campaign, but one that few in the general public found or find credible.

Having been misled about the rationale for the Iraq war, the general public is in no mood to swallow, without question, a mortality study with the political odor attached to it like Tirman's study is.

By Charles H. (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

The problem with the Lancet study is almost no one believes it.

nice assumptions.
so you walked the streets, polling people? asking them whether the Lancet number or the president Bush number was to be believed?

you ve done a detailed study about the amount on information people collected about the study? you factored in the amount of misrepresentation about the Lancet paper in the mass media?
false informations spread about the paper by the like of David Kane?

"The problem with the Lancet study is almost no one believes it".

Charles, you should qualify that. Of course, those in power know the truth but they suppress it. The media, acting as the usual echo chamber, parrot that line. If 'no one believes it', its because of the well cultivated myth of the 'basic benevolence' of western countries, the notion that our governments uniformly support human rights, freedom and democracy. The volumes of evidence to the contrary are buried, forever sent down the memory hole, as if they never happened. This explains why 'no one believes it'. It also explains why many people in the US think that the death toll of civilians in Viet Nam from US bombardment was a fraction of the actual total. Why many don't understand the meaning of Richard Nixon's infamous 'Anything that flies on anything that moves' order to Kissinger for mass bombing of Cambodia in 1969. Why the 1901-02 slaughter by American forces of Phillipinos as the US wrestled control pf the Phillippines from Spain doesn't register either. There are 'worthy' genocides and 'unworthy' genocides. Those carried out directly by the west or its proxies are 'unworthy', and are downplayed or ignored. Those carried out by non-aligned natiuons or officially designated enemies are highlighted and given extensive coverage in the western media.

There are plenty examples of both, if you bother to look.

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 12 Jan 2008 #permalink

What is this, the fifth thread in a row about the Lancet study? Can we have a thread about something else now, please?

Hmmm ... this issue is significant, not only the subject matter, but the fact that David Kane is a fairly prominent individual who is publicly accusing Les Roberts et al of what amounts to scientific misconduct and fraud.

He's doing his best, with the help of the right wing blogosphere and press, to ruin the man's reputation.

And he intends to continue, chairing a session on the studies next August at a stats conference, if I read his blog correctly.

Jeff, there you go again injecting facts and reason into the discussion.

What MC is saying is that the majority of Americans want to believe in the benevolence and wisdom of their government and don't care what a few egg-heads have to say about dead towel-heads.

Fox News says the surgw is succeeding and that's all that matters, isn;t it?

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 13 Jan 2008 #permalink

It would be useful, after the next US election, if the new administration was to request such a mortality survey, as part of decision-making about what to do next. Of course, some would see it as political, but deliberate ignorance is no less political.

"What is this, the fifth thread in a row about the Lancet study? Can we have a thread about something else now, please?"

I find it interesting when "Born again Christians" like Levenson don't like to talk about the death of thousands of people (many of them undoubtedly innocent civilians) due to policies of their own government.

Very interesting indeed.

That's one of the reasons I

"The problem with the Lancet study is almost no one believes it."

That's because Americans don't want to believe it -- not because they are skeptical (what a laugh) of the methodology of the study or anything like that.

They don't want to believe it because doing so would destroy their view of themselves as good "Christians," requiring them to acknowledge that they are at least partly responsible for the death of thousands of people.

After all, they -- we (because I am an American too) -- continue to elect the people who carry out the carnage.

I did not vote for Bush but I have voted for Democrats who voted for the war originally and who have done nothing since to stop the carnage in Iraq.

You know, what Kane is doing is gaining publicity for himself, so our choices are to ignore him, or google bomb him, associate some phrase such as "disgracefully incompetent David Kane" with his name so that when his mom googles him she learns what sonny boy has been up to. Suggestions?

SG,

Or did you think that perhaps the number in the column labelled "total" of table 4

There is no column labelled "total" in table 4.

dhogaza,

The arithmetic is simple, and doesn't involve "making up" numbers.

SG's number for "total excess deaths" is entirely made up. The authors of the study provide no such number.

The total rate, and the subset of that rate which represent violent deaths, are both given.

No, the study gives "crude death rates" for violent and all-causes deaths. It does not explain the details of the methodology by which it produced the figure of 151,000 total violent deaths. It does state that the methodology involves adjustments for sampling errors, underreporting and population changes. Since SG doesn't know the details of this methodology, he has absolutely no idea of how to produce a number for total excess deaths using the crude all-causes death rates. He's just making shit up. He's lying.

Now you're just making shit up. No doubling of that number is necessary,

No, you're just making shit up. The number of total excess deaths SG fabricated and falsely attributed to IFHS is 400,000. Even that made-up number must be almost doubled to match the estimate of total excess deaths in Lancet.

SG's number for "total excess deaths" is entirely made up. The authors of the study provide no such number.

It's computed. Computation isn't "making things up" unless you think that claiming 2+2=4 is "making up" the number 4.

But if you want to say really stupid things in public, we can't stop you.

Elis said: "what Kane is doing is gaining publicity for himself, so our choices are to ignore him, or google bomb him, associate some phrase such as "disgracefully incompetent David Kane"

Kane seems to be digging his own hole quite nicely.

I don't think he needs anyone's help.

The fact that Tirman requested Kane not e-mail him any more is just one indication of this.

Sometimes the things that happen quietly in the background without public fanfare are the things that have the most impact.

Just ask Lubos Motl.

It's computed. Computation isn't "making things up"

SG substituted a crude computation of his own devising for the complex methodology used by the authors of the IFHS study, then attributed the number produced by his made-up computation to the study, then almost doubled that number to try and argue that the IFHS study "agrees" with Lancet on total excess deaths. That is most definitely making things up. It's laughable.

SG substituted a crude computation of his own devising

The algebra's entirely straightforward and no "devising" is necessary. violent death rate * population * time interval is how they got their total deaths due to violence. (total death rate - violent death rate - background rate) * population * time is how SG got his number (as have several others here and elsewhere. The only unknown value is the excess death rate.

You're essentially arguing "their total death rate is garbage". If you really want to argue that, feel free.

SG substituted a crude computation of his own devising for the complex methodology used by the authors of the IFHS study,

what complex methodology? they failed to visit certain clusters and try to fix it via the IBC numbers.

BUT the paper still includes a mortality rate for non-violent causes. and unless the inability to make death rate calculations is contagious, everyone can calculate how many iraqis died from non-violent cause DIRECTLY from the numbers given in the paper!

then attributed the number produced by his made-up computation to the study,

you might want to discuss this accusation in more detail with David Kane, who constantly simply uses his calculation of the L1 numbers to compare it to this study.

let us compare the two cases:

* the IFHS study includes a death rate, but does not include the simple calculation for a number of dead.

* the L1 paper makes a DETAILED ARGUMENT, why it excludes the falluja numbers from some calculations.

then almost doubled that number to try and argue that the IFHS study "agrees" with Lancet on total excess deaths.

you might want to google what a CONFIDENCE INTERVAL is.
then you might notice, that two studies do not need to give the exactly same result, to confirm each other.

It's laughable.

yes, you are making quite a joke out of yourself here.

you might want to google what a CONFIDENCE INTERVAL is.

Actually, I was thinking he might want to google what a MULTIPLICATION TABLE is. They still teach kids how to use them, right?

sod,

what complex methodology?

The complex methodology of "simulations that took into account survey sampling errors and estimated probable uncertainty in the adjustment factors for missing clusters, in the level of underreporting, and in projected population figures."

BUT the paper still includes a mortality rate for non-violent causes. and unless the inability to make death rate calculations is contagious, everyone can calculate how many iraqis died from non-violent cause DIRECTLY from the numbers given in the paper!

Utter nonsense. The study provides only crude death rates and does not describe the details of the complex methodology by which it produced its estimate of 151,000 total violent deaths from the crude death rates and all the other data that went into the authors' calculations.

you might want to google what a CONFIDENCE INTERVAL is.

You might want to google what "nonsequitur" is.

yes, you are making quite a joke out of yourself here.

You have revealed yourself as a complete joke.

dhogaza,

The algebra's entirely straightforward and no "devising" is necessary. violent death rate * population * time interval is how they got their total deaths due to violence.

More nonsense. The authors clearly state that they produced their estimate of total violent deaths "on the basis of simulations that took into account survey sampling errors and estimated probable uncertainty in the adjustment factors for missing clusters, in the level of underreporting, and in projected population figures." They give no estimate of excess violent deaths, and no estimates of either total or excess all-causes deaths.

SG made up a number, then falsely attributed that fabricated number to the IFHS study, then almost doubled that fabricated, falsely-attributed number to assert that the IFHS study "agrees" with L2 on total excess deaths. It's a joke. He's a joke. And you're a joke for trying to defend his nonsense.

no estimates of either total ...

However they give a CALCULATED figure for total death rate, WITH CONFIDENCE INTERVALS (which means they did basic stats analysis on it).

So essentially you're arguing this figure is crap. As I invited you to do. Thank you!

Now, if this figure is crap, why aren't the others.

(I don't believe any of the rates are crap, but since you're arguing that at least one of their published rates is crap, I must ask my question). Please tell us why their published total death rate is crap in some detail.

If rate * time interval * population is no good, then the rate figure they give is garbage. So, again, is this your argument? That the total death rate they give is garbage, despite their providing error bars?

dhogaza,

However they give a CALCULATED figure for total death rate

They provide estimates of various crude death rates. You cannot produce an estimate of total excess deaths from those crude death rates because YOU DON'T KNOW the complex methodology they used to produce their estimate of total violent deaths. Stop pretending that you do.

What's even more idiotic is the hilarious notion that 400,000 is about the same as 655,000.

The authors clearly state that they produced their estimate of total violent deaths "on the basis of simulations that took into account survey sampling errors and estimated probable uncertainty in the adjustment factors for missing clusters, in the level of underreporting, and in projected population figures."

They did this, of course, to increase the accuracy of their final figure.

However, if they'd extrapolated from their violent death rate directly the result wouldn't be MEANINGLESS, as you are trying to argue.

Only less accurate.

The only way that using the rate directly to extrapolate a final figure would be if the rate itself were garbage, if population estimates were garbage, if the time interval were garbage, etc.

They did this, of course, to increase the accuracy of their final figure.

No shit, Sherlock. And the reason they didn't just, er, make a wild guess was also to "increase the accuracy of their final figure."

However, if they'd extrapolated from their violent death rate directly the result wouldn't be MEANINGLESS, as you are trying to argue.

I haven't argued any such thing. I'm saying that SG's made up number for the IFHS study is a lie, and that his claim that the IFHS and L2 studies "actually agree in the total excess deaths" is preposterous.

Thank you Jason, for strengthening the case for rationality on this blog. Though not as you intend.

I'm sure several of us are smiling at your flailing away, claiming that the rates of death given in the paper are ...

"estimates of various crude death rates."

Crude, i.e. inaccurate, in your parlance.

This includes, of course, the death rate due to violence they give.

You're saying the the survey results alone are garbage unless fiddled. And after fiddling? "may underestimate the violent death rate by 50%".

Oh, wait, you didn't say that, the authors did.

If you're arguing garbage-in, garbage-out your argument applies to their violent deaths figure as well as any back-of-the-envelope calculation by SG or anyone else.

And now you argue ...

me:

However, if they'd extrapolated from their violent death rate directly the result wouldn't be MEANINGLESS, as you are trying to argue.

I haven't argued any such thing.

So you agree that extrapolating from the raw violent death rate would give us something of use but ...

I'm saying that SG's made up number for the IFHS study is a lie

extrapolating in the same way for their total death rate, given with confidence bars, blah blah, would be a lie.

I understand totally well.

You like one number, don't like the other, therefore one would be valid, the other a lie.

Beautiful.

No shit, Sherlock. And the reason they didn't just, er, make a wild guess was also to "increase the accuracy of their final figure."

i will repeat this for you, very SLOWLY.

if you feel uncomfortable with any kind of calculation, then simply compare the increase in death rates:

3.17 to 6.01 in the IFHS paper,

5.5 to 13.2 in L2.

you cant fail to notice the pretty similar increase.

but of course basic calculations on the basis of those numbers are NOT a wild guess. that is what the numbers are there for. if we follow your advice, we can t compare temperatures from a paper in °C to one in Fahrenheit.

so all that needs to be done, is follow the basic meaning of a death rate. and multiply it by population and years.

if you do that for the increase in violent death rate ,

you get

(0.99/1000)*27000000*3.33 = about 90000

the same for total death rate

(2.84/1000)*27000000*3.33 = about 255000

now we know that the violent death rate, which is included in the total above, is an underestimate. we can improve our figure, by adding the difference between 90000 (crude calculation) and 151000 (the number for violent deaths in the paper) to our total number.

we end up with an extremely conservative estimate of 316000 total excess deaths.

the 95% confidence interval for the 151000 number of violent excess deaths in the paper is given with: 95% uncertainty range, 104,000
to 223,000) from March 2003 through June 2006.

the lancet2 interval is only given for violent deaths, but looks like this: (601000, confidence interval ranges from 426,000 to 793,000)

there was not a single guess involved in this calculation!

So you agree that extrapolating from the raw violent death rate would give us something of use

No, I don't agree with that statement.

extrapolating in the same way for their total death rate, given with confidence bars, blah blah, would be a lie.

The number SG invented and attributed to the IFHS study is a lie. SG's claim that the IFHS and L2 studies "actually agree" on total excess deaths is another lie. And they're not just small lies, they're great big honking lies.

if you feel uncomfortable with any kind of calculation, then simply compare the increase in death rates:

How many times do we have to go over this? The IFHS authors used a complex methodology to produce their estimate of 151,000 violent deaths. Therefore, you cannot simply "compare the increase in death rates" to produce a corresponding estimate for total excess deaths. It's nonsense.

we end up with an extremely conservative estimate of 316000 total excess deaths.

Congtaulations, you've produced a meaningless "estimate" using your own invented methodology that appears nowhere in the IFHS study.

calm down Jason, you are sounding shrill.

Therefore, you cannot simply "compare the increase in death rates" to produce a corresponding estimate for total excess deaths. It's nonsense.

no one asked you to estimate anything. just compare the increase of the rates, as given in the papers!

Congtaulations, you've produced a meaningless "estimate" using your own invented methodology that appears nowhere in the IFHS study.

you mean like people use data from other papers, "invent" their own methodology and produce "meaningless" estimates?

sorry, but that is called science.

why, for a start, don t you point out the problem in my methodology?

Jason, in table 4, those rates - with numbers like 3.17, 6.0, etc. - were calculated somehow, right? How was that done?

Let me give you a suggestion: crude death rate = number of deaths divided by sample size.

i.e. the various clever methodological adjustments are included in the calculation of the rate.

Or did you think that the authors went out into Iraq and sampled a rate directly?

Hello SG.

Could you show us where the IFHS study gives an estimate of 400,000 for total excess deaths? You said it's there in the study, but I can't find it.

Also, could you show us where the IFHS authors describe the calculation they performed to produce their estimate of 151,000 violent deaths from their estimates of crude death rate, sampling error, uncertainty factors for missing clusters, level of underreporting, projected population numbers, and whatever else went into the calculation, so that we may repeat it to see if your 400,000 number even passes the laugh test?

And after that, could you explain why you think 400,000 = 655,000?

Thanks.

Could you show us where the IFHS study gives an estimate of 400,000 for total excess deaths? You said it's there in the study, but I can't find it.

Sigh, you twerps are like a broken record. It's all explained above.

And after that, could you explain why you think 400,000 = 655,000?

No one says they are. However, as suggested above, you might want to look up CONFIDENCE INTERVALS and give thought to what it means when they overlap for two different study results.

JB posts:

[["What is this, the fifth thread in a row about the Lancet study? Can we have a thread about something else now, please?"
I find it interesting when "Born again Christians" like Levenson don't like to talk about the death of thousands of people (many of them undoubtedly innocent civilians) due to policies of their own government.
Very interesting indeed.]]

If you'd asked my position on the Iraq war, you would have found out that although I thought that the idea of ousting Saddam was a good one, the occupation had been so badly botched that our best choice now would be simply to leave. But you assumed that, because of my religion, I had to be a Bush voter and someone who didn't care about the deaths of Iraqis.

In short, JB, you assumed a generalization would be true about me because you are an anti-Christian bigot. Your anti-Christianism is no morally different than anti-Semitism or hatred of black people.

Fellow Christian here, BPL--I browsed part of your website and thought it quite interesting.
I mean that in a good sense, not that I agreed with everything. But yeah, not all of us American Christians are Bush supporters. Far from it. I even know ID believers (of which neither Barton nor I are one, best I can tell) who think Bush is awful.

That said, Barton, you were sort of combative in the Christmas thread and when you come here saying you wanted to talk about something else, it's a little understandable JB might jump to conclusions, though he shouldn't have. A lot of combative Christians online are Bush supporters, and people exposed to that sample sometimes extrapolate incorrectly.

And anyway, Tim goes for months without talking about the Lancet, usually focusing on global warming or the DDT/malaria thing, I think. The Lancet popped up again because of the National Journal article and this new study in the NEJM.

By Donald Johnson (not verified) on 14 Jan 2008 #permalink

David Kane will soon bring up some response to the "response rate" phenomenon.
he will claim that the health poll returned up to 3 times, and as we learned "convinced" people to participate. (Kane will not find this troubling in any way)

so i took the time to dig up some of his posts on the subject.

http://lancetiraq.blogspot.com/2007/03/response-rate.html

http://lancetiraq.blogspot.com/2007/10/100-response-rate.html

http://lancetiraq.blogspot.com/2007/03/case-for-fraud.html

i had lots of fun skimming them. it is a case study in shifting the goal posts, so everyone should have a look.

he keeps raising the percentage numbers of "normal" response rates, ask for always higher examples, the 100% example does not fullfil his personal requirements.
on the way he picks up the difference between initial response and later visits, accuses the lancet team for skipping empty houses and constantly talks about fraud, without any evidence.

it is good fun to read, believe me!

you should definetly not miss this part, about the correlation between the most controversial poll and the one with the highest response rate:

Again, one poll will, by definition, have the highest response rate. A priori, there is no reason why Lancet II might not be that poll. But it is a bit worrying that the poll with the most controversial result of any poll conducted in Iraq in the last 2 years would also have the highest response rate of any poll. What are the odds of that? If response rate and controversy are independent, then this would be a surprising result. If they are correlated (perhaps people are more likely to want to participate in a poll about death rates than in a poll on less controversial topics), then this is to be expected.

now i wonder:

what are the chances, that the poll that David disagrees with the most, should be the one in which he finds the most errors and frauds?

For what it's worth, don't spot malevolent frauds anything - anything whatsoever. The person who didn't do the survey, just handled the data afterward says not ALL the AGE data was gathered and that makes the claim that age and sex data were not gathered correct? No, the trolls are zero for infinity still.

By Marion Delgado (not verified) on 14 Jan 2008 #permalink

Reading those posts, it's pretty clear that Kane doesn't know that the maximum value of a random variable has a distribution, that the distribution can be calculated, that inference can be conducted on it, and that for 5 values from a distribution like that, there's no way you can conclude the maximum is unusual.

Well done for digging that up sod, I doubt Kane will ever address this issue but if he does it shall be fun to see him argue with himself.

Barton Paul Levenson said

"
you assumed that, because of my religion, I had to be a Bush voter and someone who didn't care about the deaths of Iraqis."
In short, JB, you assumed a generalization would be true about me because you are an anti-Christian bigot. Your anti-Christianism is no morally different than anti-Semitism or hatred of black people."

Perhaps you have your own reasons for not wanting to talk about the deaths of Iraqis, but I would just note that lots of "good" Christians (including the Pope) did not want to talk about (or even acknowledge) what Hilter was doing to the Jews during WWII either -- not because they were evil or even that they did not care about the death of innocent people. In most cases they simply denied that it was even occurring.

It is a fact that there are lots of Christians in this country who have been essentially silent about what has been happening in Iraq.

That does not mean that

"they don't care about the deaths of Iraqis."

It means they are basically in denial that the deaths might even be occurring on the scale suggested by Lancet II -- or even the latest NEJM survey.

You are a Christian and you did indicate that you did not want to discuss the Lancet issue here any further, right?

I merely pointed out that you don't wish to discuss the Lancet results and that I find that interesting, given that you are a Christian.

If making that simple observation makes me an "anti-Christian bigot" which in turn sends me to hell, so be it.

At least I won't have it on my conscience that I was silent about the issue of Iraq.

JB- I think your being either deliberately provocative or unfrotunately obtuse. BPL merely exhibited some exsperation with endless dogfighting over the Lancet results. That you want to extrapolate this into something else is rather silly. I think BPL is happy to just leave it be, and I think you should as well.

(Yes, and who am I to tell you what to do? Merely another internet person. I make no claims to be anything special.)

JB posts:

[[You are a Christian and you did indicate that you did not want to discuss the Lancet issue here any further, right?]]

No, I just wanted to see other things discussed as well. Discussion of the Lancet paper can go on forever, but I don't see that it needs to occupy each of 5-7 successive threads.

[[I merely pointed out that you don't wish to discuss the Lancet results and that I find that interesting, given that you are a Christian. ]]

Any Christian must be interested in discussing this particular paper? Why? Maybe I agree with the paper. Maybe I disagree with it. What does either have to do with wanting to discuss it endlessly?

[[If making that simple observation makes me an "anti-Christian bigot" which in turn sends me to hell, so be it.
At least I won't have it on my conscience that I was silent about the issue of Iraq.]]

What makes you an anti-Christian bigot is your assumption that a Christian must have evil political views.

I wasn't "silent about the issue of Iraq" either. You have no idea what I've said elsewhere. You see I object to the lack of threads on different subjects and conclude from that that I don't care about the Iraq war. Your logic appears to run:

Major premise: Anyone who doesn't want to discuss the Lancet paper forever doesn't care about the war in Iraq.

Minor premise: BPL doesn't want to discuss the Lancet paper forever.

Conclusion: BPL doesn't care about the war in Iraq.

Perfectly logically valid, but not sound, since the major premise is false. Not to mention stupid.

Guthrie said:

"I think BPL is happy to just leave it be, and I think you should as well."

Leave it be at JB is "an anti-Christian bigot [whose] anti-Christianism is no morally different than anti-Semitites or hatred of black people."

Yes indeed, leave it be!

You are one funny guy, guthrie.

More from that joker guthrie:

"That you want to extrapolate this into something else is rather silly."

Perhaps you deny that many Christians (not all but many) are in denial about Iraq -- and hence do not wish to even acknowledge the carnage to say nothing of discuss it?

It's good if not all are in denial -- (and if Levenson is not one of those who are) -- but there are a great many who are.

"What makes you an anti-Christian bigot is your assumption that a Christian must have evil political views."

I never said (or even insinuated) that ... but I do seem to have touched a nerve with what I did say.

JB- you had already answered his point by the time I made my post. And feel free to guess what you like about myself, but you're getting a bit dull.

Meanwhile, it has reached the stage where the real Lancet denialists are fairly quiet and left making propaganda statements. Why don't you go and bash them, rather than people who are on your side?

JB writes:

[[Perhaps you deny that many Christians (not all but many) are in denial about Iraq -- and hence do not wish to even acknowledge the carnage to say nothing of discuss it?]]

Why "Christians" in particular? Why not "conservatives" or "hawks" or "neocons?" Your claiming not to be an anti-Christian bigot while relentlessly searching for things to use against Christians is kind of self-contradictory. And who says the Christians who disagree with you on Iraq are "in denial" about it? Maybe they just think you're wrong.

"relentlessly searching for things to use against Christians"

Yes, I spend every waking hour of every day relentlessly searching for such things.

Ah, now I see.

This explains some things.

From the website of Barton Paul Levenson:

"Why Are So Many Biologists Evil?

"I'm being facetious, of course, but the frequency of extremist politics and poor ethical conduct among biologists sometimes makes me wonder. I cite a few examples below in alphabetical order by last name. It's not an exhaustive list by any means. What is it with biologists?

Richard Dawkins
The noted science writer and proponent of the scientifically dubious sociobiology (now usually called evolutionary psychology) is a militant anti-religion crusader and has a pathological hatred of Christians in general and Roman Catholics in particular."
"

// end Barton Paul Levenson quotes

Yes indeed. What is it with all those evil anti-Christian bigot biologists?

I don't wish to get into an argument about whether individual people (Dawkins, for example) are "evil" (whatever that means), but it is just kooky to say, as you did that in that same piece that "there seem to be fewer nice biologists than nasty ones", where "nasty" is to be interpreted in the context in which you placed it: "anti-Christian", "anti-semitism", "Communist", "Nazi", "eugenics" [your words, not mine etc].

Talk about unsupported generalizations and utter nonsense.

Are you an "anti-biologist bigot"? It would certainly appear so from your own standard of what makes for a bigot.

JB, I did not at any time say all biologists were nasty, and in fact took pains to cite ones who were pleasant people (Charles Darwin, Alfred Russel Wallace, Jane Goodall, Stephen Jay Gould). I was pointing out a funny coincidence, like those lists of similarities between the Kennedy and Lincoln assassinations. I don't know anyone who takes that page seriously, including the head of my writers' workshop who is a Ph.D. biochemist.

And for anyone who hasn't actually seen the web page in question: I AT NO TIME maintained that biologists in general, or even all the biologists on the web page, were "Nazi, Communist," etc. JB's selective quotation makes it seem like I did. I pointed out that particular individuals had those affiliations -- Konrad Lorenz was an Austian Nazi Party member, JBS Haldane was a propagandist for Stalin, etc.

Heck, I even know some biologists who support Bush and Cheney, in spite of the fact they are part of what academic Edward Herman refers to as the 'Washington DC axis of evil'.

Link: http://www.zmag.org/content/TerrorWar/herman_axis-of-evil.cfm

But I wonder if Barton would count anyone supporting Bush as 'evil'. What exactly is your definition? Is it based on what people say or on what they do? On your web site, Barton, you say, evil is based on "poor ethical conduct among biologists". What about poor ethical conduct among politicans and corporate CEOs? Conduct that results directly in the mass suffering of people elsewhere?

With respect to Richard Dawkins, what actual physical harm has he done to others? Have his writings been directly linked with physical harm? If so, how many people has he harmed? Probably a lot less than Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld etc., so by BPLs defintion I am sure that these three guys must be really evil in your book! If not, why not?

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

By the way, Barton, the point I am making in my last post is not to defend real evil - there is no doubt that leaders such as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam, and many others were very evil, and deserve their notoriety. But what about our leaders? Or ther despots we support?

When our leaders sign off on decisions that they know will lead to the death of innocents, or extreme suffering, are they also not evil? The Blair government in the UK sold fighter planes to Indonesia and Suharto that they must have known would be used to attack villages in East Timor. Curtis LeMay gave orders to fire bomb Japanese cities in WWII, leading to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. Successive US governments have supported rogue regimes around the world both militarily and eonomically, and of course Bush and co. committed the 'supreme international crime' (in the words of Nuremberg Prosecutor Robert Jackson in describing the German invasion of Poland in 1939) of aggression against Iraq. Does that make Bush and his senior staff evil? If not, why not? Can you describe the actions of any western elected governments and politicians as 'evil'?

By Jeff Harvey (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

Well, from the Christian point of view, we're all evil, including me and you. The Fall and all that. We see it most in leaders of governments because their power to affect others is vastly multiplied by their political power. For the biologists in my sample, I was focusing mainly on political views and ideology -- Dawkins's crusade against Christianity, Lorenz's Naziism, Haldane's Stalinism, etc.

Haldane wasn't a Stalinist you lying "Christian" scumbag.
Lorenz wasn't a biologist, he was a physicist.
Dawkins writes books and gives lectures, yet you think he's more evil than the man who invades countries, bombs civilians and vetoes spending on health care for children.

Dawkins is anti-christian because it's a pack of lies which leads to "scientific creationism" which is enabled by steaming hypocrites like you.

Zarquon, Konrad Lorenz was a biologist. You're thinking of the meteorologist. You ought to be sure of your facts before you flame someone.

Haldane was a communist for part of his life. The wikipedia article on him says he was something of a Stalinist too, but I'd want to know a lot more before I'd say that for certain.

By Donald Johnson (not verified) on 18 Jan 2008 #permalink

Yeah, I was thinking of Lenard, not Lorentz.

"stalinist" implies that someone supported Stalin's murdering of millions of his countrymen. It's a bit of a slur to apply that indiscriminately to those who supported the USSR during the 30s, when Stalin's actions were little known outside the USSR. Hell, they were little known within the USSR. Hell, they're denied by many Russians today.

Regarding Nazism ... BPL ought to be careful of slinging stones at biologists over support of Nazism, given the large number of christians who joined the party.

Oh, shit, I'm in for it now. The last time I pointed out that SOME christians have done some truly evil things, BPL called me an anti-christian bigot.

dhogaza writes:

[[Regarding Nazism ... BPL ought to be careful of slinging stones at biologists over support of Nazism, given the large number of christians who joined the party.]]

And yet Hitler denounced Christianity in no uncertain terms, equating it with ignorance, superstition, and at one point, venereal disease. And most of his high-ranking officers made similar statements, many of them publicly:

http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Hitler.htm

Now, explain to me, again, why it's wrong for me to criticize Lorenz for being a Nazi?

Barton Paul Levenson, with regard to your comment at 96, I am not evil, not even a bit, and I don't think many people appreciate being called evil. Also I am not going to hell and I don't appreciate suggestions that I am, which is the common christian lemma to theorem 1: " you are evil because I said so".

Hitler may have criticized christianity, but it was the catholic Centre Party who provided the votes to pass the enabling law. The Social Democrats and teh evil communists voted aganist it.

The Centre Party voted Hitler's way because he promised to protect their precious church. And he did. That's how much Hitler hated christianity.

SG posts:

[[Barton Paul Levenson, with regard to your comment at 96, I am not evil, not even a bit,]]

Wow, you've never been angry at anyone or done anything selfish? I've never met such a person before.

[[ and I don't think many people appreciate being called evil. Also I am not going to hell and I don't appreciate suggestions that I am, which is the common christian lemma to theorem 1: " you are evil because I said so".]]

I didn't say you were going to hell, did I? In fact, I have no way of knowing who is going and who isn't. That's up to God and the person concerned.

[[Hitler may have criticized christianity, but it was the catholic Centre Party who provided the votes to pass the enabling law. The Social Democrats and teh evil communists voted aganist it.
The Centre Party voted Hitler's way because he promised to protect their precious church. And he did. That's how much Hitler hated christianity. ]]

Oh, yeah, he sure protected the church. That's why the church was forced to take down crucifixes and put up swastikas, have all its sermons vetted by political officers to make sure they didn't say anything anti-Nazi, and saw public distribution of the Bible banned in 1937. Then we have the spectacle of a priest being lynched because he spoke out for the Jews, Martin Niemoller going to a concentration camp, and the saintly and intellectual Dietrich Bonhoeffer being hanged at Dachau for plotting to assassinate Hitler. Yeah, the church and the Nazis just got along splendidly.

Look again:

http://members.aol.com/bpl1960/Hitler.htm

Um, Barton, anger and selfishness aren't evil. You can't tell me I'm evil because your wierd imagination says normal human feelings are evil. That's, um, wrong.

You didn't say I was going to hell, but it's what your theology says, isn't it?

Hitler didn't make the same stringent requirements of churches as he did of, say, stamp collectors' societies, women's associations, the boy scouts and every other community group. The Church didn't become the "National Socialist German Workers' Church" for example. This means he treated the Churches better than most other organisations in Germany. In Nazi Germany at the time, the behaviour you describe was protection, and Niemoller et al's crimes were to speak out, not to be religious. (Not to mention how late the church spoke out, and how meekly).

Strange, I've never heard that the crucifix was banned and replaced by the swastika. You'd think that this catholic history site would talk about it regarding life in nazi germany, no?

Hitler was no fan of the church, and certain other nazis, like Bormann, wanted to get rid of christianity altogether and in the short term (and some writings by such may be the source of some of your beliefs about what actually DID happen).

And if the ten-thousand year reich had lived, surely christianity had no long-term role to play.

But don't let your hyperbole get in the way of reality, OK?

Then we have the spectacle of ... the saintly and intellectual Dietrich Bonhoeffer being hanged at Dachau for plotting to assassinate Hitler. Yeah, the church and the Nazis just got along splendidly.

So, Barton, was Bonhoeffer hung because he was Christian?

Or because he was guilty of plotting with abwehr officers to assassinate Hitler?

Are you suggesting that prosecuting a Christian for a crime they're guilty of is evidence of "anti-Christianism"?

SG posts:

[[The Church didn't become the "National Socialist German Workers' Church" for example. ]]

Will you kindly go read the web page I posted a link to? That is EXACTLY what happened to the church in Germany -- the state replaced it with a government-run church. Crack a book, for God's sake!

Well, Barton, I did look at your web page, which looks remarkably like the kind of quote mine exercise used by creationists to prove that Stephen Jay Gould (for instance) didn't "believe in evolution".

I see there, for instance, Martin Bormann's 1937 decree.

Which is probably the source for this?

That's why the church was forced to take down crucifixes and put up swastikas, have all its sermons vetted by political officers to make sure they didn't say anything anti-Nazi, and saw public distribution of the Bible banned in 1937.

Bormann's decree wasn't implemented.

For instance, right after the Bormann Nürmberg reference...

1. Important leaders of the National Socialist party would have liked.... complete extirpation of Christianity and the substitution of a purely racial religion. (OSS Report, cited in BBC 2002).

Note the use of the conditional phrase there? "would have liked" is there for a REASON.

2. The fragile, typewritten documents from the 1940s lay out the Nazi plan in grim detail: Take over the churches from within, using party sympathizers. Discredit, jail or kill Christian leaders. And re-indoctrinate the congregants. Give them a new faith -- in Germany's Third Reich.

Totally consistent with what I said above: "And if the ten-thousand year reich had lived, surely christianity had no long-term role to play."

Again, IF.

Much of what you seem to be taking as history is actually what MIGHT HAVE HAPPENED IF Nazi Germany's fortunes hadn't collapsed in the early 1940s.

And, yes, I've cracked more than a book or two on European history, which is why I knew you're posting shit in the first place.

I suspect that Barton is confusing the fact that Nazi Germany did create the Reich Church, and built many of them, with the fact that Bormann's further goal of making Reich Churches be the only churches in Germany never became a reality.

Bormann was a bit like Avis - he never became #1 in the Reich, after all, that position was held by another man (and Bormann's influence waxed and waned during the years of Hitler's dictatorship).

No, I'm not posting shit, dhogaza. You are. You wallow in the stuff.

That you could read the information I have on that page and conclude that it is "an exercise in quote mining" and that the Nazis didn't harm the churches just shows how deeply your anti-Christian bigotry has woven itself into the dark corridors of your mind. If the evidence doesn't fit what you want to believe, you just dismiss the evidence. Kind of like global warming deniers, or the creationists you so despise. You've become what you hate.

that the Nazis didn't harm the churches just shows how deeply your anti-Christian bigotry has woven itself into the dark corridors of your mind.

Note that Barton's claim that I'm an "anti-Christian bigot" rests on something I've never said. I have not said that "Nazis didn't harm the churches".

In an earlier thread, I pointed out that Luther was an anti-semite, and pointed out bad behavior on the part of certain other Christians in the course of history.

This, too, caused Barton to claim I'm an "anti-Christian bigot".

What I've said is that the following statement by Barton is false:

That's why the church was forced to take down crucifixes and put up swastikas, have all its sermons vetted by political officers to make sure they didn't say anything anti-Nazi, and saw public distribution of the Bible banned in 1937.

Churches continued to have crucifixes throughout the war, though as I've pointed out the government did start up the "Reich Church", and those did not.

I've supplied quotes from Barton's own page that make clear that the eventual goals held by some, such as Bormann, were not achieved in the Third Reich.

If the evidence doesn't fit what you want to believe, you just dismiss the evidence.

Hardly. Your own page provides no evidence that the crucifix was actually banned in the Third Reich. There's nothing to ignore there in regard to your claim that the crucifix was banned in churches by the Third Reich.

I'm not an anti-Christian bigot, but I do think you're a fucking asshole. Try reading the New Testament some time. Maybe it records Jesus saying a few things you could apply to your own life.

dhogaza, stop following me around from blog to blog and trying to provoke me. My being of bisexual orientation doesn't mean I'm available to anybody. I'm happily married to a lovely woman and I'm not going to cheat on her with either sex. I will not go out with you. Stop asking me.

dhogaza, stop following me around from blog to blog and trying to provoke me. My being of bisexual orientation doesn't mean I'm available to anybody. I'm happily married to a lovely woman and I'm not going to cheat on her with either sex. I will not go out with you. Stop asking me.

Where the fuck did this come from? I'm at a loss, perhaps someone can educate me?

It's nothing I've said, that's for sure.

All this because I pointed out that nazi germany didn't force all churches to remove crucifixes and provided quotes from Barton's own site in support of that?????

Makes no sense.

Barton, I just finished reading "The Coming of the Third reich" by Richard Evans, something of a definitive history of the rise of the Nazi party, and it pretty clearly lays out the differences between the way the Nazis treated the major churches and the way they treated other non-religious community groups. So I have "cracked a book" or two, and they don't support your contention at all. The Nazis were much more inclined to use the churches as allies than to persecute them, and the churches were happy to go along with the compromises so they could avoid trouble.

You're bending the truth to pretend Hitler's irreligiousity was somehow powerful in Nazi germany. It wasn't, get over it.

SG, so how does that tie in with the Nazi plan for the churches? "Take over the churches from within, using party sympathizers. Discredit, jail or kill Christian leaders. And re-indoctrinate the congregants. Give them a new faith -- in Germany's Third Reich." If you're trying to say the Christians weren't persecuted as badly as the Jews, then of course you're right. But the original contention was that Hitler or the Nazis were somehow tied to Christianity. That dog won't hunt.

But the original contention was that Hitler or the Nazis were somehow tied to Christianity.

A quick glance upthread suggests that no, it wasn't.

I agree with martinM. I thought the contention was that the Nazis were anti-christian, and that their activities towards the church were somehow particular to the church.

"But the original contention was that Hitler or the Nazis were somehow tied to Christianity."

As the original contender, no, it wasn't.

But honestly after the your logivsal contortions which essentially boiled down to:

Christianity is good

Killing people is bad

Therefore people who kill other people aren't Christian

I saw little point in continuing the discussion.

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 24 Jan 2008 #permalink

"The Nazis were much more inclined to use the churches as allies than to persecute them, and the churches were happy to go along with the compromises so they could avoid trouble."

Now then if you start making arguments like that it'll just end with me posting pictures of the Christian shrines built by the guards at Auschwitz so they didn't have to interrupt their buys work day by going all the way across the camp to the chapel to pray.

Then Barton will just denounce us all as "anti-Christian bigots".

By Ian Gould (not verified) on 24 Jan 2008 #permalink

Ian, if you're not an anti-Christian bigot, why are you so concerned to tie Christianity to the Nazis? Or vice versa?

[[Now then if you start making arguments like that it'll just end with me posting pictures of the Christian shrines built by the guards at Auschwitz so they didn't have to interrupt their buys work day by going all the way across the camp to the chapel to pray.]]

"Educational instruction was designed to ensure that the Verfügungstruppe soldier was a fanatical Nazi, unquestioningly obedient and ready to carry out any order from the Dictator-Chancellor. A flood of anti-Christian propaganda was loosed on the heads of the men to compel them to renounce all the rules of bourgeois Christian morality and to sever all ties with the church.... On every parade and during every instructional period the cry was 'One pace forward anyone who has not yet left the Church!' Every opportunity was taken to humiliate and ridicule them.... of 300 Catholics the church-leavers totalled 4 in 1937,3 in 1938, 67 in 1940 and 129 in 1942.... The young Verfügungstruppe officers were continually called upon to prove their uncompromising opposition to the Christian message of reconciliation and tolerance, which the SS regarded as un-German. From the outset they were ordered to abjure the Christian faith as a destructive, effeminate, and 'Jewish' doctrine." (Höhne 1966).

Along with the SS troops at the camps, there were numerous ordinary guards, who often weren't German.

The authorities at the Treblinka II killing center consisted of a small staff of German SS and police officials (between 25 and 35) and a police auxiliary guard unit of between 90 and 150 men, all of whom were either former Soviet prisoners of war of various nationalities or Ukrainian and Polish civilians selected or recruited for this purpose. All members of the guard unit were trained at a special facility of the SS and Police Leader in Lublin, the Trawniki training camp.

They guards got training on being an extermination camp guard after their recruitment.

They weren't SS members and didn't get the SS active troop training that Barton refers to above.

Ian mentioned guards, not the SS contingent, so I'm not sure exactly what the point of Barton's post was.

Barton, the SS guards were also required to be members of no labour union, and to only be members of Nazi-affiliated social groups. Is it any surprise that the Nazi authorities wanted them to be members of a Nazi church as well? This doesn't constitute evidence of a special hatred for the church, quite the opposite - you can bet they didn't give SS officers repeated weekly opportunities to leave a labour union, because they would have been murdered for their membership long before they could consider joining the SS.

Your posts continually provide evidence of the special consideration the church got. So far we have discovered that:

1) rather than destroy the church and establish their own (as with the unions), the Nazis established a rival church to compete with it
2) although they required church leaders to vet their speeches with nazi authorities, they didn't give them prepared speeches and they only murdered them for speaking against nazi party lines, as opposed to their treatment of unionists, atheists or non-christian religions
3) members of established churches were allowed to join and continue operating within party structures, even up to 1942, by which time anyone who had even a whiff of secular opposition to the nazis (i.e. unionist or socialist) was already ashes
4) they allowed camp guards to maintain their religious principles

So why don't you tell me exactly how those camp guards were able to continue being christian in the face of what they were doing, and so many of them that they could have their own religious establishment in the camp? Doesn't that speak of a certain ... moral flexibility ... lacking in the (by-then long dead) social democrats, atheists and non-christians who were most certainly not working in the same facilities?

Doesn't that speak of a certain ... moral flexibility ... lacking in the (by-then long dead) social democrats, atheists and non-christians who were most certainly not working in the same facilities?

Not necessarily, no. Smaller, more unpopular groups are easier to victimize. Could be that social democrats and non-Christians simply never got the opportunity to work openly in such capacities.

SG posts:

[[1) rather than destroy the church and establish their own (as with the unions), the Nazis established a rival church to compete with it ]]

Actually, they did destroy the church. Here's what a historian has to say on the subject:

Well, well, my web site seems to have disappeared from the web. That after being mysteriously deindexed a few days ago.

I'll post from my notes when I get home.

My web site's back! Yayyy! Take that, Westboro!

Anyway, here's a relevant quote from a historian:

"On July 11, 1933, the semi-pagan "Deutsche Christen" party, an instrument of the Nazis, seemed to triumph within the Protestant Church of Germany; at the same time the "Deutsche Evangelische Kirche" was forcibly given a new constitution by Hitler which put the Protestant Churches very largely under the control of government-appointed leaders. It was several months before any organized resistance began to show itself as it eventually did in the form of the antiÂgovernment "Confessing Church" ("Bekennende Kirche"). As noted by Karl Thieme on August 10, 1933, the Evangelical Church as such "no longer existed." There were those who were still loyal to her and defended her, "but these were merely individual pastors and congregations, no longer a Church." For this reason the Religiöse Besinnung would no longer appear." (Swidler 1996).