A good face for radio

by Daniel on October 21, 2006

Here I am, talking about the Lancet study on “Counterspin”, the American radio program. Fans of incoherent mumbling, strangely reminiscent of the interviews that ended Shaun Ryder’s career, tune in. Or alternatively, copy one of my blog posts into Word and add the phrases “kind of”, “like” and “you know” every three words, to get a similar effect.



armando 10.21.06 at 11:22 am

I thought you did ok, though you probably didn’t emphasise clearly enough that the IBC estimate is an undercount, almost by design. And that anyone who doesn’t acknowledge that is either not competent to comment on the Lancet study figures, or dishonest.

Its an obvious point, but one I get the feeling isn’t being stressed as much as it should.

Having said that, the comparisons with NI and Jamaica are very convincing.


Ryan 10.21.06 at 11:27 am

Did you tell them the study is flawed due to ”main street bias and the authors don’t even know how their study was conducted?


Ryan 10.21.06 at 11:32 am


Kevin Donoghue 10.21.06 at 11:53 am

You sounded fine, though I did wonder how an American audience would react to a phrase like “consuming oxygen” in such a context.

I suspect you will have a bit of fun with the first of Ryan’s “devastating critiques” – at least the critics in question are numerate, which makes a change. They may even have a good point. The WSJ effort is crap, as one would expect.


dave heasman 10.21.06 at 12:10 pm

I was wondering where that voice came from. Did you see those Jake Thackray shows the other week?
Very similar voices, “blooontly” eh?


otto 10.21.06 at 12:36 pm

Here is the WINEP critique that Marty Peretz was promoting on the Spine:


engels 10.21.06 at 1:08 pm

Two devastating critiques

Um, no, Moore is a big, fat, stupid Republican hack and his “critique” has been ridiculed at sufficient length on a previous thread I believe.

The first one sounds more interesting. Does anyone know anything about it? (Nice picture of Spagat BTW, leering out at us over his Financial Times mouse pad.)


Kevin Donoghue 10.21.06 at 1:22 pm


So far all we have is a promise that a critique will be forthcoming. They give some hints here but it will be a few weeks before it’s ready. But no doubt there will be cheapo versions circulating in the meantime.


Brendan 10.21.06 at 1:45 pm

And what about Shaun Ryder’s critique, eh, eh, eh? Doesn’t anyone find it suspicious that the author of ‘Wrote for Luck’ and ‘Fat Lady Wrestlers’ wasn’t consulted as to HIS opinions on the Lancet study? Why? Cos the Communist Islamo-fascists who run the media are scared. Scared I tell you.

Actually wingers are probably far more worried that any comment Ryder has to make will doubtless be more coherent and cogent than Moore’s ramblings.


shaun 10.21.06 at 2:01 pm

Dont know what you saw, but you know its against the law
And you know that you want some more
Ive heard it all before
Gonna buy an airforce base
Gonna wipe out your race
Get stoned in a different place
Dont you know I got better taste
Do what youre doing, say what youre saying
Go where youre going, think what youre thinking
It sound good to me


engels 10.21.06 at 2:07 pm

Thanks Kevin. I should have noticed that Spagat is an economist, so that explains the mouse pad, although it does not excuse it.


harry b 10.21.06 at 2:50 pm


this is a case of you being excessively aware of the flaws in your own presentation. Listen to the greatest living Irishman for a few minute, and then again to yourself. You’re not as good as him — but he is the greatest, and he is not trying to say anything complicated. You did great, mate.


Doormat 10.21.06 at 4:49 pm


otto 10.21.06 at 5:08 pm

Managed to get the MP3 to work – thought DD’s interview was more coherent mumbling than incoherent mumbling…


Ryan 10.21.06 at 6:05 pm

Doormat, that is certainly the weakest of Tim Lambert’s counter spin efforts. Even worse than his rather poor job on the wall street journal piece. Is it just my imagination or does he completely misread a quote from the Lancet study to say something it doesn’t?


Leo 10.21.06 at 7:32 pm

It’s your imagination.


david 10.21.06 at 8:23 pm

I thought you did a very good job overall, and that, in particular, there were very few ‘um’s and ‘you know’s.

I don’t know what the audience of the show was, but your comments were pitched at a very high level. I’m not sure how much of it my mother would have followed. I don’t know if you’ll be doing this again, but if so, you might want to dumb it down a bit–especially concerning your claims that this is standard methodology, and that the Iraqi body count is not an estimate of total deaths but rather just a count of the reported deaths. (I liked when you say of the Iraqi body count, “It is well respected, but it isn’t an estimate of total deaths.”) Also, I would play down the point about the 650,000 number being inexact. Dwelling on it might leave people who don’t follow what you are saying with the wrong idea.

Anyway, this random guy on the internet thinks you did a good job.

And I’ll second the comment that the comparison to Jamaica and NI was very helpful.


Walt 10.21.06 at 9:24 pm

Ryan, Lambert completely pwned you. At least have the self-respect to admit it.


Tim Lambert 10.21.06 at 9:35 pm

Silly me, I should have followed Ryan’s example and dismissed Spagat and co’s critique as “the weakest yet” without offering any reasons.


nick s 10.21.06 at 10:32 pm

Well, that was a devastating takedown of Ryan.


Donald Johnson 10.21.06 at 11:10 pm

I’ve just done a devastating takedown of you, nick s, but unfortunately this website doesn’t have enough bytes to support it.


otto 10.22.06 at 4:07 pm

By the way, one of the alternative criticisms of the Lancet study is that whatever the number of deaths, the US can’t be held responsible for the carnage, because the bombers etc are the ones who are setting the bombs etc. But if you cause a general break down in law and order you are responsible for the chaos that results. If you are prison governor and you don’t keep order, you are responsible for the carnage resulting from the riot. By breaking a more or less functioning state apparatus and substituting nothing, as a glance at Hobbes will tell you, you create a war of all against all.


Cryptic Ned 10.22.06 at 5:00 pm

As Rumsfeld has taught us, when you create freedom, you create a war of all against all, and wars of all against all are messy. Do you hate freedom?


Z 10.23.06 at 2:11 am

I thought you did a very good job (it was a pleasant surprise to see a commenter from my favourite blog on my favourite radio show) but was thunderstruck by your accent. My God, we foreigners forget how English can vary.


Functional 10.23.06 at 10:11 am

Here’s a better defense of the Lancet study:


Did you every do a Lancet study people

Before I get onto talkign about the implemications Lancet study (650000 extra Arab’s deaths from are bomb’s), we need to take a step back. Because of recent I was shock to saw some bloggers questioning the results and thinking about whether there right or wrong. Folks thats totally unscientific. This is a study. A Lancet study. Did you every write a Lancet study(didn’t thing so). So how you can even talk. You can’t that’s how. Did you even read the article. No. (Thought not) So how can you even raise a single question as to its veractiy. When you haven’t even read a single page of it(how pathetic BWT) let alone all 24 or 47 or however many pages it actually is(can someone in comment’s find the study to check how many pages it is pls. I think its in Nature or some journal like that).

When theres a study publish you have to say its true until you can prove otherwise. Because however many page’s it is its PEER REVIEWED people. Peer reviewed. Say it with me. (Peer reviewed). Guess what that means its right and your wrong. Please stop talking/thinking about it your just embarrass yourself. PEERS IS ALREADY REVIEWED IT. That’s the way we make decide whats right and whats not. Is when a journal article is submitted and than peers sign of on it acceptable for publish. This is not jsut aThis is the process treied and true and once a paper is through that process well thats it. Its all true in it(the paper). You can’t go off to a library or wherever and think about the contents of the paper after that or something(I cracked myself up just now just thinking about this that I got Powerade all over ROFTFLFL). Hey buddy check the history- there was peer review so its a done deal. Just take the number on face value and eat it. Bam there it is (6555000).

Do you even know what how airtighted Peer Review is. I mean it’s not like you can just anyone make a paper and than send it in and then the paper get’s publish without the peers saying comment’s as applicable. Heck even I, each time I tried to get a article in some Journal I had to get all these FREAKING ANNOYING email’s out of the way first from the Journal saying that the peer reviewists wanted me to make Minor Corrections or whatever there call. And ONLY AFTER I did the Correction’s and resubmit the new PDF”s did the paper’s get out there. Every time. So what are you talking about even. To think that after my papers got through that stirct process there might of been someone out there who actually read them and said(after the Peer Review mind you) “this is full of crap/bunch of unsupported fluff” or whatever other negative with no regard to the fact that it ALREADY GONE THROUGH Peer Review just make’s me cinge with irate at the unscientific attitudes of some ignorant peoples.


Alex 10.23.06 at 11:31 am

Ah, the Internet. Makes the people who shout at you in the street look coherent, a major contribution to social solidarity.


bi 10.23.06 at 1:51 pm

Well, Ryan certainly uses the word “devastating” in a sense that’s different from what we use. And Functional uses a strawman sockpuppet to make a point! And it’s a devastating point too, if I may say so myself!

Here’s a theory I have: perhaps, if we understand what’s Ryan’s understanding of the word “devastating”, it may be a crucial first step towards National Civility(tm). After all, they are the experts in “devastation” — while “we” were happily running off to pursue namby-pamby things like science, maths, and history, our Bush-supporting brethren were laying down the theoretical foundations of the construction of Writings of Mass Devastation (WMD). When it comes to devastation, they clearly are the experts, and we should definitely defer to their opinion.


bi 10.23.06 at 1:55 pm

Seriously. I want to know what they mean by “devastating”.


Jake 10.24.06 at 11:10 am

From the WSJ’s debunking of Lancet:

“What happens when you don’t use enough cluster points in a survey? You get crazy results when compared to a known quantity, or a survey with more cluster points. There was a perfect example of this two years ago. The UNDP’s survey, in April and May 2004, estimated between 18,000 and 29,000 Iraqi civilian deaths due to the war. This survey was conducted four months prior to another, earlier study by the Johns Hopkins team, which used 33 cluster points and estimated between 69,000 and 155,000 civilian deaths–four to five times as high as the UNDP survey, which used 66 times the cluster points.”

Taken as a whole, that appears to be a refutation (and more evidence that it might be true: the usual marxist scum is slinging ad homs against Moore and the WSJ writers). Now, are the various soccer-mommy liberal sites–like Holbo’s little pop manga site–to be held responsible for promoting such rubbish? Javoll.


engels 10.24.06 at 11:54 pm

the usual marxist scum is slinging ad homs against Moore

“Scum” is a little over-the-top, isn’t it, Jake? But I’m sorry if I offended you by calling Moore a “big, fat, stupid Republican hack”: I’ll admit I’m not certain that he’s fat.


abb1 10.25.06 at 3:11 am

2004 UNDP survey of Iraqi living conditions reported 24K war-related deaths in Iraq, which is, of course, not at all the same as excess deaths reported by Lancet.


Lopakhin 10.25.06 at 5:16 am

Why not, abb1? Isn’t it the claim of proponents of the Lancet/JHU surveys that all the excess deaths are related to the war?


bi 10.25.06 at 5:31 am


Given the number of ad hominem attacks that have been flung at the Lancet study, you’d think that this proves that they’re very very very very very correct indeed.

But wait, when “they” do it, it’s not an ad hominem attack, it’s being patriotic.


abb1 10.25.06 at 5:48 am

According to http://iraqmortality.org/iraq-mortality

The [UNDP] estimate is a measure of all deaths (civilian, military and insurgent) that are ‘war-related’ in the narrowest sense. The choices in the section of the questionnaire devoted to ‘mortality’ are: ‘disease, traffic accident, war-related deaths, during pregnancy/childbirth/within 40 days of childbirth, other (specify)’

Lancet study, otoh, counts everything – ‘disease’, ‘crime’, ‘other’ – all together – and then compares the current death rate with the pre-war death rate. It’s simply a different characteristic.


brooksfoe 10.25.06 at 6:28 am

Dear Daniel Davies,

you have no business attempting to participate in public media discourse. Your arguments are rational, coherent, and based on an adequate knowledge of the subject at hand. Nobody is going to listen to stuff like that.

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