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March 31, 2007

4000 excess deaths in Katrina period

Fascinating post by Robert Lindsay.


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» Katrina Death Toll Passes 4,000 from Robert Lindsay
Update: This post has been linked on the always-excellent blog Majikthise and criticized in the comments there. The comments question how the 2,368 excess deaths after Katrina (In a population reduced by 50% of all things!) can possibly be attributed... [Read More]


I read that post and it seemed dubious. It's not "4,000 period", it's a rough preliminary estimate:

"These anecdotal reports caused Stephens and a team to undertake a study to count the number of death notices in the New Orleans Times-Picayune and compare it to a reference year which would serve as a baseline...In the first six months of 2003, 5,544 deaths were counted.

In the first six months of 2006, 7,902 were counted, an increase of 2,358 deaths post-Katrina over baseline. Based on this, we can tentatively assign 2,358 deaths as caused by the accelerated death rates that occurred in New Orleans even long after the storm."

Emphasis mine. Without factoring in the cause of death in those obituaries for 2,358, this is speculation. It must be shown those deaths involved injuries, disease or deterioration of existing conditions directly linked to Katrina. Not to say the increase in deaths wasn't caused by Katrina, but a tentative estimate has no meaning until verified. And to present such a specific number as if it were real is disingenuous at best.

Robert strikes me as someone who applies the rhetoric of authority and hard data to guesses and theories.

Take the entry further down the page titled Millions Are Leaving Islam Every Year. A very provocative claim. Robert must have hard stats to back it up, right?

"Hard figures are difficult to come by, but my own admittedly flawed calculations came up with about 1.5 billion. This is in the normal range that is tossed around.

My figures were based on using an Atlas to write down population size of each country with significant Muslim population and dividing by the percentage of Muslims to arrive at a number of Muslims for each country. Research indicates that there about 2 million Christians on Earth. That makes Christianity significantly larger than Islam."

Leaving aside the big typo, Robert dubious methodology is lacking details necessary for credibility: The source of his Muslim population percentages, the atlas did he used and the year of its statistics, how he defined a lack of "significant Muslim population" and what countries he left out, etc.

This isn't "admittedly flawed calculations" it's a guess, a questionable one with no real statistical research. Were this some right winger, we'd be saying "thumbing through your World Book Atlas until you feel sure something is true isn't proof".

He presents a highly sensational and provocative theory without documentation or sources, just guesses and assertion and one link to a claim about converts trom the Russian government, which has an agendas about religion and Islam.

More importantly, this link is to, a site which has a bit of an agenda of its own:
"I accuse Muhammad of being:
a rapist
a pedophile (had sex with a child)
an assassin
a mass murderer
a ruthless torturer
a terrorist (I have been made victorious through terror)
a lecher
a misogynist
a narcissist
a thief and plunderer
a cult leader
a mentally deranged"

Why is Robert Lindsay making wild claims with no source but a website which accuses Islam of pedophilia?

If this was the dishonest global warming denier Michael Crichton, and claim he made using a similar "flawed calculation" or citation of such a nutty source would be rightfully scrutinized and mocked. We become justly furious when anti-choice pundits make false claims linking cancer and abortion using such unscientific quasi-research.

So why are you tolerating this from Robert Lindsay? I'm not saying intellectual rigor is required at all times - many times a vague feeling about this administration been proven correct - but a post which is headlined "period" implies it's a link to a finalized, tested and proven fact, but this is a tentative claim from a guy who blurs the line between broad theory and certainty.

I think you need to reassess this one.

It's a rough task ahead of us. Did anyone think they could get a correct account of anything, much less anything Katrina related, under the Dauphin?

Robert Lindsay has been doing good and consistent work on the Katrina death toll. I don 't regard the 4,000 figure as the definitive total. It's just another metric to assess the impact of the storm.

"It must be shown those deaths involved injuries, disease or deterioration of existing conditions directly linked to Katrina. Not to say the increase in deaths wasn't caused by Katrina, but a tentative estimate has no meaning until verified. And to present such a specific number as if it were real is disingenuous at best."

On the contrary, an excess mortality study does not look at causes of death. It only studies statistics - death rates before and after. Generally, there is one condition that is of greater significance to which the death rate change can be largely attributed. The burden falls upon pointing out increases in mortality that can be attributed to something else.

You can legitimately argue that all manner of excess mortality is due to Katrina. Suicides can be due to catastrophic loss. Deaths from fires can be due to destroyed water or road infrastructure. Homicides can result due to the destruction of criminal records which allowed criminals to avoid jail time.

To make a significant dent in his numbers, you'd have to find significant deaths that could be cleanly separated from Katrina. For instance, a jet liner crash in the county, or people dying of an epidemic that would have hit pre-Katrina New Orleans just as hard.

I've never read Lindsay's blog before, so could someone please tell me whether his post of March 26, "We Killed Jesus and We're Proud of It," is typical, and whether it's serious or satirical.

I'm not even sure why I'm asking; just hoping against hope, I guess.

Wow, yeah, he seems to have seriously ended a post with:

I agree it is wrong to hate and attack Jewish people at large for killing Jesus, something that happened 2000 years ago. But if Jews really want to end the deicide charge once and for all, why don't they apologize on behalf of their ancestors?

But that's not the Jewish way - never has been. Along with "never forgive" and "never forget", let us remember, is "never say you are sorry". And so the sorry cycle continues.

This doesn't mean he's wrong about the death toll from Katrina, of course, but I don't think I'll be inviting him over for tea.

Lots of ad hominem in the comments here. If you want to talk about the death toll, Robert Lindsay's thoughts about Israel are completely irrelevant. And softdog's discussion of Robert Lindsay's calculations on a completely different issue are also irrelevant. Indeed, they serve as a nice example of ad hominem argumentation.

(BTW, I found it very confusing to see a commenter refer to Lindsay as 'he' before I realized he was talking about Robert Lindsay and not Lindsay Beyerstein.)

Anyway, Njorl is correct that it is completely reasonable to look at the gross statistics and draw a conclusion without needing to go through a thorough accounting of every death, as softdog would require. Indeed, I think the figure cited is an underestimate, as it only counts deaths in the local area reported in the newspaper, and not unreported deaths or deaths of people who became refugees and left the area (and there are many of them).

My comment was a tangent, but not an ad hominem, since I didn't attack Lindsay in any way. Neither did Anon, who correctly noted that Lindsay's discussion of the Katrina death toll should stand or fall on its own merits. I don't have anything, pro or con, to say about the Katrina numbers.

I do want to point out, Rick, that there's a difference between "Israel" and "Jews." The post I cited expressed many opinions about Jews, but none specifically about Israel.

Sorry for not keeping strictly to the topic. I'm sure I'm the only person commenting on this blog ever to have done that.

Hi thx Rick and Njorl. I agree with Rick that the count is an underestimate. The period ends at June 2006 and we do not know if excess deaths are continuing. Further it is unknown how many excess deaths occurred in the last 3 months of 2005.

As Rick notes, we also do not know about excess deaths among refugees scattered around. We also do not know about excess deaths in Mississippi. Mississippi says there have been no post-Katrina deaths and no deaths among refugees!

I don't know if I should be discussing the Israel stuff here, but here in the US criticism of Jews (or any race or ethnic group) is pretty restricted and all such criticism gets called racism. Cultural critique is not racism, although the lines get awfully blurry. Liberals are among the worst offenders here.

But there is a fine Marxist and Leftist tradition of such things (that is receding with the insanity of Identity Politics). I assure you you can find a lot of Jewish self-criticism in the Israeli press, especially in the Hebrew language stuff. The comment quoted above mirrors Gilad Atzmon, ex-Israeli jazz musician.

I've also criticized a lot of other ethnic groups on my blog. And I've throw two guest commenters off the blog for gross anti-Semitism.

I'm sorry, guest columnists, not guest commenters, were thrown off for gross anti-Semitism.

That's a very impolite and scathingly libelous thing to say, 注册香港公司.

There is in fact no discernable difference in taste beteen finely groung fresh Ginger and grated Ginger that's several days old. You should be ashamed.

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