Last week, it was CBS jiggling the numbers to bash the war in Iraq by stating Veterans had a suicide rate of 18, much higher than the civilian population’s rate of 11 (ignoring that it was only slightly higher than the suicide rate for men, which was 17, and a heck of a lot lower than the rate for doctors, which is 30/100 000 per year).
This week the headline is “Army Desertion rate up 80%”.

The problem? the number “80%” implies a huge increase. But in statistics, if you start with a small number, it doesn’t take a large number to get a huge increase.

So the actual numbers are an increase from 0.7 % to 0.9%. For those of you who are numerically challenged, both those numbers are less than one percent:

According to the Army, about nine in every 1,000 soldiers deserted in fiscal year 2007, which ended Sept. 30, compared to nearly seven per 1,000 a year earlier.

Many of the desertions are soldiers who don’t want to go back to a war, but many are about soldiers with family problems. Many wives and families are severely stressed by their husband or wife going overseas, and sometimes soldiers just disappear because their families need them more than the Army. Often they report in later, and get an administrative discharge. The article implies the majority are war protesters and says that Canada no longer welcomes them, but the article does not give hard data on this.
Many just don’t like the Army, and it has nothing to do with the war. This NYTimes article notes that the number who actually deserted the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan was 109 (out of the 1 million military who served in these areas since 2003). The real worry is that some of the deserters are not anti war as much as suffering from post traumatic stress syndrome and cannot face staying in the military. Others have family problems, such as spouses theatening child custody or divorce. The military is sensitive to these problems, and tries to work out helping the soldier rather than punishing him or her.
As a comparison, the article admits that during Viet Nam, the desertion rate was 5%, and many were for being against that war.

Finally, if you go down to the end of the article, you find the desertion rates for the Navy, Marines, and Air Force are either stable or have gone down.

Nope, can’t publish good news, folks, let’s just move along…

Yup….just ignore the headline.

The war in Iraq is going well, so we have to find bad news to report…..

But just wait a week. Christmas is coming and the MSM will start their annual deluge of articles explaining why Christ was just a myth and Christians are delusional.

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Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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