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29128: Kondrat (response) re: Simidor (29138) and Dailey (29139) "critiques" of Lancet study (fwd)






from Peter Kondrat kondr8@gmail.com:
 <kondr8@gmail.com>


Daniel Simidor was kind enough to forward to me the link to the Lancet
study, which I have read in its entirety. (Not such a feat: it is only ten
pages or so.) What surprises me about Daniel's critique of the report, as
well as Peter Dailey's, is that they don't appear to have read it. They
claim the report does not address matters that are indeed addressed
thoroughly in the report.



Regarding kidnappings: Daniel says, "Any study of human rights or crime in
the post-Aristide era that doesn't take into account the wave of kidnappings
that began coincidentally in 2004 is essentially flawed." But even if you
only read up to the Summary, the first page of the report, you would see
this, under "Findings," fourteen lines into the report: "Kidnappings and
extrajudicial detentions, physical assaults, death threats, physical
threats, and threats of sexual violence were also common." Kidnappings are
mentioned throughout the report. This is just a silly and utterly baseless
criticism.  Presumably, Daniel was hoping that anyone who read his post
would be too lazy to read even the first-page summary of the study in
question.



Regarding methodology: the complaints that Peter voices are covered in the
study that I read  the issue of in-household abuse of restaveks, the matter
of varying density in different neighborhoods. In fact, both of these
complaints of Peter's would result in even higher projected numbers of dead,
raped and disappeared.



Regarding the alleged "UN slaughter"  Peter misunderstands what this type
of survey does and does not do. He thinks that because no household reported
a death due to the UN raid on Cite Soleil in December 2005, that the report
is claiming that the raid did not happen. That is not the case. The
methodology involves projecting based on randomly-generated GPS-determined
samples; it does not purport to document each incidence of violence. So of
course, it is very possible that none of the randomly selected households
had a household member killed in a given incident. The report does not list
victims for that reason.



Regarding "neighborhood variations"  here, too, Peter seems to have
misunderstood what the report claims, due perhaps to his unfamiliarity with
this type of research. In fact, the report states: "Because the sampling
method was not self-weighting, households in denser neighbourhoods might
have been undersampled. Reports suggest that a substantial proportion of
human rights violations occurred in the more densely populated regions of
Port-au-Prince. If more violations occurred in the denser communities, the
sampling method used in this survey could have resulted in an undercount of
violations." If anything, this sampling method resulted in an underreporting
of incidents.



Regarding overall credibility  neither Peter nor Daniel mention the fact
that the article was subjected to peer review, and was found to be sound by
the standards of the discipline. The article also lays out very clearly what
methods were used, how participants and interviewers were selected, and how
the data were collected in interviews. What Daniel calls "the name issue"
has no intrinsic relevance. One advantage of looking at data, rather than
just spouting opinions and rumors, is that the data are subject to
independent scrutiny and evaluation. If nothing else, the Lancet study
offers that great service to all those who care about Haiti: here are some
data that we can now examine. We don't have to depend on statements like
"Everybody in Port-au-Prince knows that . . ." or "My uncle's best friend's
sister-in-law said she heard that . . . " In fact, the kind of transparency
that a document like the Lancet study brings to the debate is just what is
needed to counteract those rumormongers and ideologues who prefer to lurk in
the dark shadows of subjectivity and innuendo.



It seems, sadly, that both Peter and Daniel are desperate to dismiss the
substance of the report because it raises uncomfortable questions about the
bloody result of the coup against Aristide, which they supported. In order
to state, as Peter does, "It is hard to see what value, if any, this study
contains," and to call the study a "hoax," as Peter does, one would have to
address seriously and substantively the study itself, and not simply hurl
epithets and unfounded allegations at its authors. It seems that Daniel and
Peter are betting that their ideological confederates, and other casual
readers, will follow their own lead and not bother reading the study. The
Lancet study is candid about its own limitations, but those limitations do
not diminish the power and the validity of the findings that it documents.



I urge all readers to have a look at the Lancet study for themselves, and
then make up their own mind about these scurrilous, politically-motivated
"analyses" and "critiques of the flaws" of the study that Daniel and Peter
have posted. You may register for free on the site at
http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140673606692118/fulltextand
read for yourself.