Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The best lies, darn lies and statistics

While this is clearly a story today, the fact that "curveball" has admitted to making up stories about Saddam Hussein's alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction deserves more attention. It barely registers in the US newspapers as a lead story and that's disappointing.

"Politicians in Iraq have called for the permanent exile of the Iraqi defector, codenamed Curveball by his US and German handlers, who admitted to the Guardian he lied about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction (WMD).

Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi said he invented stories about Saddam Hussein's non-existent bioweapons programme in order to "liberate" Iraq."

Do you think we could get our $775,000,000,000 back now? Or justice for our 4,000+ service personnel that made the ultimate sacrifice? How about the thousands of injured service men and women in Iraq? Not to mention, the thousands of civilian casualties in Iraq all because of an individual source that lied. Just terrible.

Oh, remember the story of the FBI investigation that seemed to finger an anthrax research, Dr. Ivins which ultimately led to him taking his own life? Well, about that........

" The National Academy of Sciences has reviewed the FBI's scientific work on the anthrax, and today, Dr. David A. Relman, the vice chair of the NAS panel, said, "One cannot arrive at a definitive conclusion about the origins of the anthrax."

The review by the NAS concludes that while the anthrax in the letters was "consistent with" the RMR-1029 flask, that flask was not the "immediate source" of the spores used in the letters.

The NAS found that one or more growth steps would have been required to produce the spores used in the letters. The NAS found that "the data did not rule out other possible sources" of the anthrax."

I continue to act surprised by such admissions but like my friend says "You have to realize that everyone lies all of the time."

Here's one of the better lies circulating now "Fannie and Freddie caused the financial crisis!!!!".

That fits the political leanings of some in the US, but the problem is that it doesn't match the data. Courtesy of the Big Picture this chart shows the % of the mortgage backed security market owned by Fannie/Freddie, private issuers, and the gov't.

So, private issuers (those with loose lending standards, etc) saw their proportion of the market jump from 20% to 55% at the height of the boom. Hmm, I wonder if there if there is a connection between that and the housing bust?

This is kind of sports specific comment, but while reading a dated version of Sports Illustrated at the gym yesterday I was struck by what a remarkably bad prediction this was.....

From Sports Illustrated July 2011 "The relative quiet of Vick's comeback was shattered around 2am on June 25 outside a Virginia Beach nightclub, where he'd been celebrating his 30th birthday, and where his codefendant in his dogfighting case, Quanis Phillips, was shot. Vick's role that night is so far unclear at best (surveillance video has demonstrated inconsistencies in his story) and his career in the NFL appears near its end."

Mike Vick only went on to lead his team to the playoffs, become an MVP candidate and secure a franchise tag (ensuring a $20 million salary next year).

I guess sports writers can be as wrong as equity analysts and weather forecasters :)

1 comment:

sharonwue said...

I think I am suffering from outrage fatigue. The stuff just makes me sad, now.