Friday, January 09, 2004


Meaningless comparisons.

From the Associated Press
The number of American troops who have died in Iraq since the war began last March is nearing 500, more than U.S. losses in many regional conflicts of the past several decades: the Gulf War, Lebanon, Somalia, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The meaninglessness of such statistics becomes clear if we make a few simple direct substitutions into the "logic".

The reason for this "statistics" can only be one of two. (A) You are presumed to be ranking Operation Iraqi Freedom among all the military operations executed by the USA in terms of casualties...or (B) spin to sensationalize the body count.

The unspoken "logic" says that any war is comparable to any other war, which is, of course, BS.

What happens if we use the same logic to, say, compare the cost of automobiles.

"The cost of the recently purchased HUMMER 2 is $45,000, more than we've paid for other 4X4 vehicles including the Ford Escape, the Kia Sportage and the Jeep Liberty."

Pointless. Unless you tell the uninformed that the Hummer is 3 times as big, has about 12 more cylinders, can climb the Eiffel tower, and can withstand potholes the size of the Grand haven't conveyed any meaningful information to the reader.

One can't compare based on the selection of one single variable unless all one wants to do is rank order the elements, by one isolated variable.

But that doesn't stop the AP from writing these stories.

Again...they aren't in the business to provide us with news...they are in business to make money. The provide the news that maximizes their bottom line.

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