Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Real Problem in Iraq

This is from
A very long assessment of the ISG report was published in al-Mada, written by `Adil `abdel Mahdi, the Iraqi vice president. `Abdel Mahdi tried to take a balanced approach towards the report, claiming that its recommendations have to be examined individually and not accepted or attacked as a package. He wrote copious comments on most of the report’s recommendations, but in a political introduction, he pointed that his main criticism of the report, and of the American behavior in Iraq in general, is the faulty knowledge Americans have on Iraq. He pointed out the report’s own admission that there are few Americans with enough knowledge of Arabic and that information-gathering practices have been less than stellar. `Abdel Mahdi added that he believes that much of the information in the report is based on ‘hearsay’ from suspicious sources, hinting that this may have tainted the report’s conclusions. (emphasis added)
This really smarts. How many of you out there are scientists or work in an information based job? I bet almost all. The most important thing in science and medicine is the integrity of the data.

Over and over again we see the mighty fall because of inaccuracies in the data. The list starts at the prewar intelligence of WMD in Iraq, to the recall of pharmaceuticals (e.g. Vioxx), to Dobson's spouting of inaccurate data on gays.

All public persons should have a practice that is now common in the surgical setting: before the operation proceeds, there is a "time out" so that everyone is on the same wavelength as to what is being done and, for instance, what leg or testicle is being removed.

Why shouldn't politicians have the same "time out" before they speak or, more importantly, invade a country based on faulty data? It might save a lot of headache, not to mention lives.

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