I’m tweeting

I finally started tweeting from @Michael_Spagat

Please follow me!

I plan to do more than just robo tweets of my blog posts.  For now I’m expecting to cover the usual subject matter of the blog plus Trump and probably a little Brexit.   But we’ll see how it goes.


Data Dump Friday Returns!

Hello again.

I’ve loaded up the data page with more than 20 new public opinion surveys.  That’s the good news.

The bad news is that these are all surveys fielded in Iraq by D3 Systems and KA Research Limited.  So I expect them to be loaded with fabricated data.  Ultimately, I think the main value of these datasets will be that they will help people to refine their skills at detecting fabricated survey data.

I’ve now posted everything I have by D3/KA.

There is more D3/KA Iraq data out there but organizations like ABC News and Langer Research Associates are hiding what they have.  There have been some developments on this front which I will start sharing in a new regular feature of this web site which I will call Secret Data Sunday.

Stay tuned.


Mystics and Statistics Blogs on the Economics of Warfare

A while back I directed readers to the Mystics and Statistics blog which I continue to recommend.  Mystics and Statistics now returns the favour with interest.  Check out their series of posts on my Economics of Warfare lectures.

I’ve just been dumping these lectures onto my blog without comment.  So you should appreciate the way that Chris Lawrence highlights just a few key moments in each lecture. Chris is a real authority on the quantitative analysis of war (See this, this and this).  Moreover, he operates much more closely to the policy, as opposed to the academic, world than I do.  So his perspective complements mine nicely.

Have a look!

PS – I expect to do a lot more blogging now that I’ve stepped down as Head of Department (hurray!)


Interesting Articles on the 9/11 Anniversary

(Note for the confused.  I first made the mistake of posting this without a title and the only way I could figure out to correct the mistake was by trashing the first post and reposting with a title.   MS)

I happen to be in the US right now where you’d have to be unconscious to fail to notice the anniversary of 9/11 yesterday.

The good news is that here have been several interesting articles in the media over the last few days that are pertinent to the subject of casualty recording.

This one is about a first responder who was evacuated early in the rescue operation due to a serious injury.  Thus, he avoided some slow-burning health effects, many of which lead to death, that many of his colleagues suffered.  He now dedicates himself to helping 9/11 first responders and their families.

The article leads to  a list of names of fallen first responders engraved on this wall.

The Wall at the 9/11 Responders Remembered Park

Next, Jay Aronson gives us a teaser for his new book on the attention paid to and myriad controversies surrounding the 2,753 people killed in the Twin Towers. The official commitment to scientifically identify all of the human remains found near the site are beyond anything in previous forensic history. Yet, as Aronson explains, these policies for the treatment of dead bodies have evolved out of a long historical process.

This is the first time the blog has touched on forensic identification of human remains but it is a natural extension of the concept of casualty recording which is about listing names and other pieces of vital information about victims of armed conflict.  Forensic identification can contribute to making sound lists of victims but it is clear that this purpose was, at best, a small part of the motivation for all the forensic work on 9/11.  Rather, the forensics were about showing respect for the victims and their families as well as for signalling something to the perpetrators of the atrocity and their supporters.

Finally, here’s another good Vox article that dwells on the theme of overestimating and overreacting to the threat of terrorism.  This quote from Brian Michael Jenkins is interesting:

It becomes a forever war. It may be that we redefine war and get it out of the notion of a finite undertaking and have to view military operations in much the same way that we look at law enforcement. That is, while we expect police to bring perpetrators to justice, we don’t operate under any illusion that at some point the police will defeat crime.

In other words, we don’t expect the police to completely eliminate all risks of violent crime so why do we expect our governments to completely eliminate the (far lower) risks of terrorism?

Fair question.