Moving statistics

Winston Churchill noted that one mark of an educated person is the ability to be moved by statistics.

I would add that a mark of an over-educated person is the inability to be moved without them.

Via Cursor, I find this BBC report on this study by the British medical charity Medact, which "estimates that between 22,000 and 55,000 people — mainly Iraqi soldiers and civilians — died as a direct result of the war."

Here, for those who need such statistics, is a big round number.

The imprecision of the statistic remains unsatisfying. It presents a death toll that ranges from more than seven times to more than 18 times that of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. And like those attacks it is indiscriminate — lumping combatants and noncombatants together.

Further study would likely help to clarify this statistic, to tighten up its rather loose 33,000-human margin of error.

At this point, the only thing that can be said with certainty about the death toll of the war in Iraq — for soldiers and civilians on all sides — is that it is still rising.

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  • Jamais Cascio

    “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths is a statistic.”