October 16, 2006

These People Are Sick, Dangerous and Insane

I wrote about the critical moral significance associated with the latest Lancet study in this essay last week.

We've been treated to the entirely predictable wide range of attacks on the validity of this study, offered by people notably ignorant about the subject of their vilification. The attacks are obviously motivated by one concern above all: the study offers a view of reality that entirely contradicts the perspective of the pro-war ideologues. That view is one that cannot be countenanced to any degree at all, because it calls into question on the deepest level their conviction that the United States represents the culmination of human civilization, and that our achievement grants us the "right" to bomb the rest of the world into submission and obedience. That bombing need not be confined to actual threats: our inherent and eternal moral superiority banishes any possibility of error (except in the narrowest strategic sense) or grave immorality in advance. We can murder hundreds of thousands, or even millions, and we remain forever pure.

But one particular response to the Lancet study deserves a brief mention. Here's the notable passage:
Okay. So, it's the same guys ... and looks to me like they used the same flawed methodology. How much did they allow for hear-say in the households involved, how many households reported deaths for each other thus doing double and triple tallies, and did the researchers extrapolate beyond places like Fallujah and Ramadi? What's the matter with physically counting graves, anyway?

The other question I'd just love to have somebody ask is: "How many Iraqi's have died to deliberately write bloody headlines for the New York Times ...?"
When people voluntarily evict themselves from civilization, and when they announce that facts, reason and evidence are entirely irrelevant to their beliefs and actions, it's pointless to offer any arguments whatsoever. They are vicious barbarians to the depths of their wretched souls, and they merit only banishment from the realm of human discourse. And they should always be prevented from ascending to positions of power and influence. At the moment, we are not doing terribly well on that score.

The most dangerous people of all are those who have absolutely no appreciation for just how dangerous they are -- or how completely disconnected from reality. They would kill us all, every single one.

UPDATE: Greg Mitchell:
With mass killings occurring every day in Iraq, and Americans falling at one of the highest daily rates of the entire war, it’s no wonder that support for the conflict in the U.S. continues to slip. What the American press, public and political figures have yet to grasp or acknowledge, however, is the true human catastrophe in Iraq, a 21st century holocaust, if I may put it that way. This inconvenient truth -- suggested, if not proven, by the Johns Hopkins study released last week -- seems to be too horrible for many to face, considering the mild or negative reaction to the report in the days following the broad attention it did receive at first.

Would it surprise you to learn that if the Johns Hopkins estimates of 400,000 to 800,000 deaths are correct -- and many experts in the survey field seem to suggest they probably are -- that the supposedly not-yet-civil-war in Iraq has already cost more lives, per capita, than our own Civil War (one in 40 of all Iraqis alive in 2003)? And that these losses are comparable to what some European nations suffered in World War II? You'd never know it from mainstream press coverage in the U.S.


"I loved when President Bush said ‘their methodology has been pretty well discredited,’" Richard Garfield, a public health professor at Columbia University who works closely with a number of the authors of the report, told the Christian Science Monitor. "That’s exactly wrong. There is no discrediting of this methodology. I don’t think there’s anyone who’s been involved in mortality research who thinks there’s a better way to do it in unsecured areas. I have never heard of any argument in this field that says there’s a better way to do it."

The sampling "is solid. The methodology is as good as it gets," said John Zogby, whose polling agency, Zogby International, has done several surveys in Iraq since the war began. "It is what people in the statistics business do." Zogby said similar survey methods have been used to estimate casualty figures in other conflicts, such as Darfur and the Congo.
Read the entire column -- and note that Les Roberts, one of the study's co-authors, has challenged newspapers to verify or disprove the study's findings, which would be relatively simple for them to do.

Of course, that assumes that America, and American media, are willing to face the truth, fully and completely. But, as we have seen repeatedly demonstrated in recent years, that is the one thing we resolutely refuse to do under any circumstances, most especially when it calls our precious, and false, self-image into profound question.