Monday, March 21, 2005

Juan Cole's Fuzzy Math

While browsing through Juan Cole's Iraq Death Count - er, Informed Comment, that is - I came across this example of fuzzy math at its best.

Juan takes the death count of an unusually large day (30) and says that's 11,000 deaths if you extrapolate it out (i.e.,30 x 365 = 10,950). Why stop there, Juan? Loss of nerve?

I figure if you take the car bombing Cole was referring to, and you make a morbid guess that the 30 casualties probably died within a space of one minute from the explosion, you will discover that nearly 16,000,000 Iraqi deaths may be expected in a year (30 x 60 x 24 x 365 = 15,768,000). That's about a World War I per year...hmm, might be time to cut our losses here...nice work, Professor!...

UPDATE 7:17 pm central: Don't take my word for it...this fellow Austinite, a physicist, is a Juan Cole fan, and he thinks the reasoning is suspect, as well, suggesting at least a five-day moving average (though I suspect the more important statistical measure in Iraq at the moment would be a trend line)...

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