Saturday, September 20, 2008

Dishonest Science

John A. Agnew is a liberal liar. Harsh? Well maybe a little. But look at his picture. He's tilting left. And wearing a stupid grin, as if to say, "I'm even tilting to the left in my faculty picture and you people are too stupid to discern my bias." He's making a statement. Either that, or he's tilting because he's drunk in the middle of the day on campus property.

Well, OK, maybe it's a stretch to get all that from one picture. But get a load of what he can tell from a few pictures: He says that nighttime pictures of Baghdad show that the Surge didn't better Iraqi lives. And that violence went down because of "a total loss of Sunni population and a successful Shia strategy of `pacifying' those areas in the city hitherto most hostile to Iraq's largely Shia government."

He says:

We started with the hypothesis that the US military surge in Baghdad should have led to an improvement in the quality of everyday life as indicated by an increased or stable nighttime light signature of the city. If we take the US government at its word, the surge was supposed to create better material conditions in Baghdad and thus contribute to the political reconciliation widely believed to augur a successful outcome of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. Yet, as other Iraqi cities experienced just such an intensification of their nighttime lights, Baghdad had the opposite experience. We interpret this change as indicating that violence has decreased in Baghdad not because of an overall improvement in material conditions or because US troops have imposed a Pax Americana on the city but because large parts of the city have been emptied of their existing populations and sometimes replaced with coreligionists, thus reducing the local stimulus to violence emphasized in the Jones Report (2007). If during the period of the surge something has worked, therefore, in the sense of decreased violence during a given period, it may have had little to do with the surge itself.

I'll say this for the guy. He talks a good game, makes a pretty graph. You might be tempted to argue that electrical supply is spotty in Iraq. Or that just the presence or absence of nighttime lights doesn't indicate who has the lights on, what their religion is, or how and why they came to be turning on the light. But you don't have to. The people who ache to say that the Surge didn't work won't listen to you anyway. I mean look at the map. The lights in some Sunni areas were down by over 50%. This proves the surge didn't bring prosperity:

Figure 4. Proportion of change in nighttime lights in Baghdad between
20 March 2006 and
16 December 2007. (Image and data
processing by NOAA's National Geophysical Data Center.

DMSP data collected by the US Air Force Weather Agency.)

I realize that arguing with a stuck-in-the-sixties academic is futile. Ditto the liberal blah-blah blogs that are eating this stuff up. They just know the surge didn't work. It doesn't matter though. Elsewhere in his "study" Agnew documents his dishonesty:

Extensive archive searches of the DMSP-OLS F16 datasets resulted in comparative cloud-free nighttime light imagery under low moon conditions and time of night over Iraq for four time periods: 16 November 2003 (9 PM), 20 March 2006 (9 PM), 21 March 2007 (9 PM), and 16 December 2007 (11 PM). These dates correspond to time periods after the US invasion of Iraq, before the US surge, and after the US surge (Jones, 2007).

See it? 9:00, 9:00, 9:00, 11:00. Wait a minute. What date was the 11:00 PM data taken from? Oh, 16 December 2007? The night that showed the population not prospering? Yup, you dishonest hippie, the night that showed everyone driven out, ethnic cleansed, and forced not to prosper. Either that, or they had turned out the lights and gone to bed. Because it was two hours later than the data you compared it to.

I'm not inclined to chalk this up to stupidity or sloppy work. John Agnew's other writings show a predisposition towards condemning Imperialist Amerika. No, this is dishonest leftist douchbaggery. But, you could have discerned that from his picture.