Friday, April 20, 2007

Roberts Comments on ILCS and Politics

Les Roberts dishes some dirt against ILCS in this interview, starting at around 2:50. Calls Jon Perdersen a "great researcher out of Norway." One question on death with a couple of follow-on questions if a death had occurred. Survey was conducted by "Iraq governmental employees of Saddam's era." (Roberts employees that such people do not do high quality work. But were all his interviewers doctors (i.e., working for the government before the war) similar situated. Notes Pedersen's decision to re-sample on that question after the death rate came in too low. Roberts implies that, even with this correction, the estimated death rate is too low from UNDP/ILCS.

I haven't followed this dispute closely enough to comment. Roberts certainly believes that the ILCS results are consistent with his. Best part was the dialog on political views at around 5:50. Interview mentions an assumption about Roberts' politics, a concern that they did the study because they are opposed to the US/allied presence in Iraq.

Roberts: Well, that's just not true.

Interviewer: (incredulous) You're not opposed to the US presence in Iraq.

Roberts: Actually, the majority of the first authors I know were in favor of the invasion of Iraq.

Really? That would be deeply surprising to me. Burnham, at his MIT talk certainly gives the impression that he was opposed to the invasion (although I don't recall him addressing that point). Everything that I have read about Roberts suggests that he was anti-war from the start (although I can't find a good link right now). If those two were anti-war, then all three of the remaining authors (Riyadh Lafta, Richard Garfield, Jamal Khudhairi) would have to be pro-invasion.

Anyway, Roberts then goes on a riff about how public researchers are always "against" the thing that they study. No one who studies measles is pro-measles. Roberts is against death. "Full stop." Roberts says "A lot of people have died here and that is completely unacceptable."

Roberts does a great mocking of a US southern accent at the very end. Not nice!


Post a Comment

<< Home