Saturday, April 21, 2007

Spirit of '44

Random mass shootings are rare events, thankfully, but every single one of them makes the world news for days.

And stories like this one get buried in a fleeting appearance under "Oddly Enough":

Armed Miss America 1944 stops intruder
WAYNESBURG, Ky. - Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle's tires and stop an intruder. Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.

"I didn't even think twice. I just went and did it," she said. "If they'd even dared come close to me, they'd be 6 feet under by now."

Ramey then flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911.

"They've been stealing from me for years. Those good-for-nothing slobs," she said.

Curtis Parrish of Ohio was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Deputy Dan Gilliam said.
After winning the pageant with her singing, dancing and comedic talents, Ramey sold war bonds and her picture was adorned on a B-17 that made missions over Germany in World War II, according to the Miss America Web site.
How's an 82-year-old woman with a walker supposed to run away or defend herself from even an unarmed man, if he chose to attack her? If not for having a gun?

I often hear it derisively said that "guns are only for killing people" -- ok, but sometimes killing people, or threatening to do so, is necessary.

That may be unpleasant, but it's a fact.

Adorned a B-17 bomber with her picture!

Can you imagine celebrities of today lending their images in support of the war effort?

No, Harry Reid has declared the war is lost, and cannot be won militarily.

Lucky he wasn't in charge of D-Day, isn't it? Otherwise the Third Reich might still be with us today.

You know how they always say fighting back just makes more terrorists?

Why didn't killing Germans just keep making infinitely more Nazis?

Maybe because after killing 7.5 million of them, they were defeated and had to give up?

And maybe the Japanese empire also saw the wisdom of unconditional surrender after 2.5 million of them plus the prospect of losing a city every couple days?

And somehow we didn't "lose our soul" and "become just like them", did we? Or would an Axis victory really be indistinguishable from how things turned out?

But somehow islamists are different?

How many muslims have died in the war so far? 20,000? 50,000? And most of those are muslim-on-muslim! The most ridiculous inflated left-wing "estimate" is what, 600,000?

Guess what, 600,000 casualties was barely enough to knock France out of WW2.

Wake me when the enemy dead gets into the millions.

For all the moaning about this "war", clearly the war option hasn't even really been given a chance yet.


Blogger Manxome said...

"The most ridiculous inflated left-wing "estimate" is what, 600,000?"

I dunno...I think this number was derived from the Lancet study and though I don't know much about the study itself, the science as reported on "This American Life" seems sound to me..

What was funny (ironically) about the study was the media totally passed up reporting on it the first time around...

12:59 PM, April 23, 2007  
Blogger RDS said...

Yes, the Lancet study is what I was referring to. In general, I have found doctors to be not so good statisticians, especially when they publish outside their field; Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine have a history of questionable studies relating to guns, violence, and crime.

One obvious problem with it is that it is an extreme outlier; its estimate (based on a questionable sampling methodology) was more than ten times greater than any other independent count (including that of the UN and an antiwar charity).

The Times reports:
Several academics have tried to find out how the Lancet study was conducted; none regards their queries as having been addressed satisfactorily. Researchers contacted by The Times talk of unreturned e-mails or phone calls, or of being sent information that raises fresh doubts.

Many problems are detailed in the Times article. The study may actually be fraudulent rather than simply poorly designed; the authors are active politically against the war.

Here is more specific criticism of the Lancet study:
One critic is Professor Michael Spagat, a statistician from Royal Holloway College, University of London. He and colleagues at Oxford University point to the possibility of “main street bias” – that people living near major thoroughfares are more at risk from car bombs and other urban menaces. Thus, the figures arrived at were likely to exceed the true number. The Lancet study authors initially told The Times that “there was no main street bias” and later amended their reply to “no evidence of a main street bias”.

Professor Spagat says the Lancet paper contains misrepresentations of mortality figures suggested by other organisations, an inaccurate graph, the use of the word “casualties” to mean deaths rather than deaths plus injuries, and the perplexing finding that child deaths have fallen. Using the “three-to-one rule” – the idea that for every death, there are three injuries – there should be close to two million Iraqis seeking hospital treatment, which does not tally with hospital reports.

“The authors ignore contrary evidence, cherry-pick and manipulate supporting evidence and evade inconvenient questions,” contends Professor Spagat, who believes the paper was poorly reviewed. “They published a sampling methodology that can overestimate deaths by a wide margin but respond to criticism by claiming that they did not actually follow the procedures that they stated.” The paper had “no scientific standing”. Did he rule out the possibility of fraud? “No.”

If you factor in politics, the heat increases. One of the Lancet authors, Dr Les Roberts, campaigned for a Democrat seat in the US House of Representatives and has spoken out against the war. Dr Richard Horton, Editor of the Lancet is also antiwar.

Prof. Spagat's full site on the problems with this Lancet study.

1:19 AM, April 24, 2007  
Blogger Manxome said...


I'll head over to the Prof. Spagat's site.

Yes, it seems very odd that the numbers don't corroborate with even those other studies that would seem to have a bias toward higher numbers. The hospitals don't line up either.

I'n not sure what the definition, statistically, is of a "main street bias", but from the TAL broadcast, it seems that the sampling method was a computer-generated random set of GPS coordinates and the data collectors went to those coordinates and found the nearest 30 responding households to ask their questions. I have a hard time believing a location-based bias could be purposfully introduced in the sampling but it seems plausible that the sample collectors may have cherry-picked locations to draw upon.

The hospitalization numbers do seem to work against it as well.

Thanks for the update and info!

2:03 PM, April 24, 2007  
Blogger RDS said...

That's a good question. I believe Spagat uses diagrams to illustrate what "main street bias" means here and here.

The gist is, as I'm sure you've seen, is that they literally took sample points that began on "main streets" and major residential cross-streets, leaving many neighborhoods unchecked and biasing their sample to homes near main streets.

That methodology was originally developed for measuring disease and immunization rates, which are more uniformly (one would expect) distributed than violence, which happens more in small clusters and hence is much more susceptible to sampling bias.

Furthermore, even for standard practice with that methodology, their number of samples was relatively small.

A more rigorous study would have investigated how their results varied as the sample size was increased, and they should have kept increasing the sample size until their results reached a steady-state. No such sensitivity analysis was apparently performed, which makes the result meaningless.

10:47 PM, April 24, 2007  

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