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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Ari Berman Has Fun with Numbers

Thank you Mr. Berman.

After a long weekend in Vegas there's nothing better than an easy post. Fortunately I'm a leading scholar in the study of the "Ari Algorithm"; in layman's terms:

Ari Berman + Polls or Statistics = Newsweek caliber reporting.
Rather than spend a paragraph ridiculing him, let's cut to the chase. Ari's article argues for an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and cites popular support from the public as one of the reasons:

"The majority of America must then be liberals, judging from recent public opinion polls. Iraq tops the list of American concerns in the latest Gallup poll, with three-fourths of those respondents advocating an immediate withdrawal. Sixty-four percent of conservative Democrats in a Pew survey want the troops brought home as soon as possible. "
His first point, that three-fourths of American's advocate withdrawal is an outright lie, painfully twisted from actual data. I'd go into it here, but someone was helpful enough to do it in the comments section of his article. Rather than beat the horse Ari left to die, I'll take up point two.

I have a hard time even wrapping my head around this one. If you remove his first point, the paragraph reads as such: "The majority of America is liberal (by which he means anti-war) because 64% of conservative Democrats want the troops brought home". That's akin to saying the majority of America is pro-lynching because 64% of the KKK supports it. And even if you can follow Ari's tortured logic, the poll he's referencing explicitly contradicts his reasoning. The nationwide poll (the total of all the broken down interest groups) shows that a majority of Americans support staying in Iraq, but maybe he didn't count that since it includes right-wing extremists.

Here's the damnedest thing of all, something that's going to require further study of the equation; in this case Ari is so wrong, he's actually right. The poll reports that 52% of liberals support staying in Iraq as well, so to summarize: the majority of America is liberal, they both support keeping troops in Iraq. To paraphrase the old cliche "From the pens of morons..."

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