Selective outrage update, take 2
. Globe and Mail article, Jan 31, page 10: "The father of a Canadian held in solitary confinement in a Saudi Arabian prison lashed out yesterday at Ottawa for raising concerns about prisoners at a U.S. naval base in Cuba but remaining silent about the conditions of his son's imprisonment... Mr. Sampson is angry with the federal government for not supporting claims that his 42-year-old son, William, was tortured before confessing to the crimes. He is also upset with Prime Minister Jean Chretien for not speaking out about his son being held in solitary confinement for 13 months byt expressing concerns about al-Qaeda prisoners at the naval base on Guantanamo Bay. "He [his son William] would be bloody lucky if he was being treated like those bastards," Mr. Sampson said
. A nation of Canadians eagerly awaits Heather "I'm against torture" Mallick's condemnation of the Saudis over this.
In praise of Marc Herold.
Many bloggers have voiced their wrath against Marc Herold, the University of New Hampshire professor of Economics Education whose tally of Afghan civilian deaths (more than 3,500 by mid-December 2001) were widely published
and immediately widely discredited both in major newspapers and by zillions of bloggers
. I beg to differ. Yes, his numbers are suspect. Yes, his method of deriving the numbers is absurd (a combination of "if the Taliban said it, it must be true" and "if each of 3 newspapers says 20 people died, then that makes 60 deaths
"). But Herold's analysis has provided a little-noted public service: it provides a great self-identifying attribute with which other commentators quickly betray their own agendas. Given the wide diffusion of both Herold's initial death count and the subsequent discrediting of his work, any current article or editorial that cites the Herold figures immediately identifies the author as more concerned with anti-U.S. rhetoric than with truth. It's as if the author were to jump up in a clown suit wearing an Uncle-Sam-with-skull-face Halloween mask. Once I see the uncritical reference to Herold's work, or an even-more inflated number (as in John "hey, I'll add the Herold and Human Rights Watch numbers together!" Pilger's recent article
, debunked by Kathy Kinsley here
), I know exactly how much credence to give anything else the author chooses to spew out. As a fellow economist, I wish to thank Herold for helping me to economize on my search and information costs during this very busy time!