Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Glenn Greenwald contra Michelle Malkin

There are many days when I am convinced that the book How to Lie With Statistics should be required reading. Opinion poll data can be used or misused in many ways. Malkin (and others of similar fascist persuasion) is among those who enjoys abusing opinion poll data. Much was made of the apparent 13% of Muslim Americans who believe attacks against civilians is justified at least under some circumstances, with Malkin et al. screeching about this being a wake-up call. However, truth be told, the general American Zeitgeist has been at least open to the use of violent attacks against civilians. To wit, as the above figure shows (found over at Greenwald's blog), less than half of Americans are against the use of violence against civilians under any circumstances. Almost 1/4 of those surveyed felt it to be often or sometimes justified. Add those who believe violent attacks against civilians are "rarely" justifiable, and we have a whopping 51% who could potentially be persuaded that a military attack that ends up killing and maiming a bunch of moms and kids is perfectly fine and dandy. Personally, I'm not too worried about my Muslim neighbors waging jihad. It's my white-bread "good American" neighbors I'd be a bit more concerned about.

By the way, compare the American polling data in the above figure with that of a comparable sample of Iranians. I'd suggest not being too worried about Iranians as a threat either (though they have damned good reason to be concerned about Americans).

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