Predicting the Size Distribution of Violent Events in War

I gave this presentation yesterday at the UK Ministry of Defence.  It is based on work in progress with my former student Stijn Van Weezel and Neil Johnson of the University of Miami.

This continues a long-standing research programme I’ve had with Neil and many other people for more than a decade.  The high points have been here and here.

The slides should be self explanatory.


D3 Responds but not on Substance

Natalie Jackson has a nice article for HUFFPOST POLITICS about the attempt by a survey research company (D3 Systems) to censor criticism of their work by threatening to sue me.


She quotes Matthew Warshaw of D3 saying:

“The only reason we went the legal route was because [Spagat and Koczela] sent their work to our clients first, before they sent it to us,” Warshaw said. “Why did it go to our clients first if the concern was to open a discussion about data fabrication issues?”

Notice that Warshaw does not defend his data at all.  Rather, he focuses exclusively on how he imagines we sequenced our requests for feedback on our paper.

In fact, on August 4, 2011  we sent the paper to D3, KA Research (D3’s field  partner), the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), InterMedia (part of the chain for the BBG polls)  and PIPA.  That is, we sent the paper simultaneously to all the organizations that conducted the polls we analyzed.

So D3’s “only reason” for lawyering up is factually incorrect.

Moreover, it is hard to fathom the argument for addressing critiques of survey data only to fielding companies while keeping all the other parties responsible for data quality in the dark.  PIPA and the BBG had ultimate responsibility for ensuring the quality of the surveys bearing their names.  So why exclude them from discussions about their data?  If someone thought she found serious problems in one of my papers I would want her to approach me directly, not just my research assistant.

Warshaw’s last sentence is impressively twisted.  He inferred from his false premise about timing that we did not seek to open a discussion.  So hired a lawyer to muzzle us.

Message to researchers – sincerely strive for open discussion or you too might be hit with a cease-and-desist order.

Censorship and Self-Censorship in Research on the Iraq War

I just set up a web page on the title theme for this post.

There you will find my paper “Censorship and Self-Censorship in Research on the Iraq War.”  It is short but if you only have five minutes to spare then just read the slides from the presentation I  made yesterday at the conference of the International Studies Association in Atlanta.

These documents tell the sad story about how a survey research company tried to muzzle me with a law suit:Mr-Burns-Irish-Water



Here is the paper they tried to suppress.  I wrote this way back in 2011 but am only releasing it now.  (I explain why I delayed so long in the censorship paper.)

Last but not least I have posted six datasets.  Please have a look at the data and tell me what you think.

That’s all for now but I’ll be back soon.