Project Censored as censors?
October 20, 2008 4:29 AM   Subscribe

The unthinkable? Would Project Censored resort to censorship? Missing from Project Censored's #1 Story (on Iraq) is any mention of the body of science which contradicts their "over one million Iraqi deaths" headline. There's no mention of the studies which produced lower estimates (IFHS, CRED [pdf], ILCS, etc). And no mention of the leading demographers, epidemiologists and statisticians who disagree with Project Censored's figure: Beth Duponte Osborne [pdf], Debarati Guha-Sapir, Olivier Degomme, Mark van der Laan, Jon Pedersen, Paul Spiegel, Stephen Fienberg, etc.

I count at least five peer-reviewed studies casting doubt on Lancet 2006, but none corroborating it. (The ORB poll wasn't peer-reviewed science, and according to ORB's publicity literature [pdf], the person who conducted the ORB poll, Munqith Daghir, started his polling career in 2003, with no formal training or field experience).

I've always opposed the war (ie mass bloody slaughter) in Iraq, but if there's no scientific consensus over the "one million" figure, why is Project Censored presenting it as definitive (see their headline) and not mentioning the research which refutes it?
posted by internationalfeel (19 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: Metafilter is not an editorial stump, and (a) this post is selling itself pretty hard and (b) you're moderating your own thread way too aggressively. There may be a way to make a good post about this, but this isn't it. -- cortex



 
This word censorship.... does anyone know what it means anymore? Anyone?
posted by rokusan at 4:34 AM on October 20, 2008 [6 favorites]


I've always opposed the war (ie mass bloody slaughter) in Iraq, but if there's no scientific consensus over the "one million" figure, why is Project Censored presenting it as definitive (see their headline) and not mentioning the research which refutes it?

You might want to take this to Ask Metafilter, not Metafilter. Flagged.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:38 AM on October 20, 2008


It's a point expressed as a rhetorical question - so I don't think it would fit in Ask Metafilter. I'm providing information, not seeking specific answers (although I welcome comments).
posted by internationalfeel at 4:42 AM on October 20, 2008


wasn't this just on here?
posted by shockingbluamp at 4:52 AM on October 20, 2008


There is already a great deal of doubt-of-big-numbers being expressed in the existing media narratives. Project Censored is presenting the stuff you don't find there.
posted by DU at 4:54 AM on October 20, 2008


Censorship ≠ disingenuous presentation of data.
posted by The Michael The at 4:57 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


This word censorship.... does anyone know what it means anymore? Anyone?

I think Project Censored uses a broad definition (as critics have pointed out that some stories on their lists do get covered by the media, although not prominently).

On their What do we mean by censorship page, they say: "censorship refers to the intentional non-inclusion of a news story – or piece of a news story – based on anything other than a desire to tell the truth"
posted by internationalfeel at 4:58 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


aka spin
posted by infini at 4:58 AM on October 20, 2008


Terrible post.
posted by Space Coyote at 4:59 AM on October 20, 2008


This need to exaggerate the perfidy of the already villainous Bush administration is a symptom of some kind of psychological problem or soul-sickness. I would suggest that the accusers are projecting the wish to have what they imagine to be Bush's omnipotence, in particular what they seem to think is his ability to kill freely, at no risk to himself. It's not unlike the impulse (penis envy) that motivates some people to exaggerate data on campus rape.
posted by Faze at 4:59 AM on October 20, 2008


There is already a great deal of doubt-of-big-numbers being expressed in the existing media narratives

But not the research that I've mentioned in my post. It tends to be mostly IBC or Lancet that gets mentioned. IFHS is mentioned much less (it wasn't covered on BBC TV news, whereas the Lancet 2006 study received headline coverage on BBC1 and BBC2 main news). The other research (much of it from world-leading researchers) - eg from CRED, ILCS, etc - rarely even gets mentioned in the best "alternative" media.
posted by internationalfeel at 5:04 AM on October 20, 2008


As I said in the earlier post about this group: if they will misuse the word "censorship" to fit their agenda, then they will misuse the facts as well.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 5:07 AM on October 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


I had to ding you for this one, Faze. A little too obvious at the end and out of character at the beginning ("villainous Bush administration").
posted by DU at 5:21 AM on October 20, 2008


Histrionic editorializing over a contentious issue.

Misuse of the concept 'scientific consensus,' which, in the social sciences, does not require unanimity in data, but rather requires unanimity on methods. By definition, a moving target like a demographic in a conflict zone will not give directly reproduce-able results. This isn't Organic Chemistry.

Misuse of the word 'refute' to describe the many criticisms of the study. To refute the Lancet study would require an alternative study using methods with scientific consensus, of which there is none. I'll tell you what: you go into a war zone and question families about their dead loved ones. Make sure to match or beat the 1,800 households the Lancet researchers encountered. The UN group that did this hasn't been back since 2004.

The blog from which you've gotten most of your information is a very, very recent startup. Do you know the author?
posted by anotherpanacea at 5:42 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


God, I wish I had a big penis like Bush. I hate him.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:55 AM on October 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


How does knowing (or reporting) that the death toll is, or isn't 300,000 or 500,000 or 1,000,000 really change anything? Saddam himself could only manage between 5,000 and 20,000 dead a year.

How bad is bad? How wrong is wrong? What is the range of the 'democracy' factor d such that d*x deaths/year under a democracy is better than x deaths a year under a dictatorship?

> God, I wish I had a big [army] like Bush. I hate him.

Don't hate the playa, hate the game. He's a sock-puppet.
posted by Artful Codger at 6:09 AM on October 20, 2008


I don't see "scientific consensus" in terms of "unanimity" (which you rarely get, since it takes only one disagreeing party to negate "unanimity"). I see it more in terms of strong corroboration, on balance, by peer-reviewed studies.

There's a useful Wiki on the subject of "scientific consensus". It says: "Consensus is normally achieved through communication at conferences, the process of publication, and peer review. These lead to a situation where those within the discipline can often recognize such a consensus where it exists, but communicating that to outsiders can be difficult."

By that definition, it's clear that the "over a million" claim does not have scientific consensus. And Project Censored probably shouldn't be stating, as fact, a figure not supported by scientific consensus.
posted by internationalfeel at 6:09 AM on October 20, 2008


Blazecock Pileon: "You might want to take this to Ask Metafilter, not Metafilter. Flagged."

*CENSOR!*
posted by cjorgensen at 6:13 AM on October 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


To refute the Lancet study would require an alternative study using methods with scientific consensus, of which there is none.

Well, IFHS and ILCS both used the same methods as the Lancet study (cross-sectional cluster sampling) and they both used far bigger samples than the Lancet study.

Lancet study: 1849 households in 47 clusters
IFHS: 9345 households in 1086 clusters
ILCS: 21,000 households surveyed
posted by internationalfeel at 6:16 AM on October 20, 2008


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