Lies, damned lies….and statistics!

Its 2 a.m on Friday morning in Southern Africa, which means its 3 a.m. in Israel, and this is the hour when I do my pondering about life’s questions. Anything more than 4 hours sleep is a waste of life’s precious hours anyway, and sometimes 48 hour sessions are called for, or as I have said more times than I care to remember, “We sleep forever when we dead”….well our mortal remains do…

Max Price
Dr. Max Price – UCT Vice Chancellor

And after reading Dr Max Price’s response to the TOI article on the University of Cape Town BSD rumpus and Jewish students fears, I got to thinking about what the good doctor had to say. He gets an A+ for knee-jerk reactions regarding students needing vigorous debate, freedom of speech, and all the self aggrandizing waffle that “top” institutions of learning should embrace, being the visionary sausage machines they are.

University of Capetown
University of Capetown

Sadly, Dr. Price scores an F and clearly, by rational deduction, Dr Price doesn’t rate the “many students who identify with the plight of the Palestinians and are angry about the scale of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza” much higher than that “F”, especially when it comes to facts, research and not being gullible twats.

I am surprised that the good Dr Price failed to to mention he is Jewish,

given that he and his family were active members of Temple Emanuel in Johannesburg, prior to his move down to Capetown in July 2008, I guess it didn’t seem important to him at the time. Google is our friend Dr Price, maybe you should teach your angry students that. Research tool well worthy of use in the pursuit of higher learning.

Because the Uni I came out of (also in RSA) wasn’t ranked very highly amongst the South African Universities, I am surprised to learn that UCT allows students to make decisions based on media reports, without checking sources and facts, or using logical analysis of available data before taking a position on world affairs. My alma mater (latin for “nourishing mother”) taught me to question EVERYTHING presented, especially when it aroused emotions like anger, rage and knee jerk feel-good left-wing liberal responses like the SRC at UCT invoked in this issue. Then again, I am an engineer, logic and numbers form the bread and butter of my profession, whilst  I guess being a medical doctor as the good Dr Price is, the grey areas and assumptions are the faire of the day?

Now I know that the University of Capetown offers Maths and Statistical Maths as “majors”. All good actuaries need these two staples of the trade! So as I mentioned earlier, Google is our friend. I did just that, because I have become bored with hearing CNN, BBC, Sky  et al regurgitating the self serving figures issued  by the “Gaza Health Authority” with the unstated implication that these figures are civilian casualties. I wonder if it escaped the angry students of UCT that Hamas had no casualties, according to their Health Authorities reports?

For the sake of brevity I have liberated the images used below, and agree with the finds of the article I am summarizing. All credits to Joël for the links and images.

The CIA World Factbook (2013), a fine product of US tax dollars, gives the population distribution by age and gender, of the Gaza strip, as shown below.

Normal Population Distribution – Gaza  – December 2013

Now any mathematician will tell you that a death rate from untargeted (random) missiles, mortar, artillery and rifle fire would resemble the curves above. Its called natural distribution. The ever present Qatari based Aljazeera was kind enough to take casualty information from the Facebook and Twitter posts of one Dr Ashraf al-Qedra, a “Gaza health official”, and tabulated this nicely for us. For accuracy,  dumped the non gender, no age stated, entries from the list, and came up with the Casualty Distribution list graph below, based the list as at August 5, 2014.

Male Casualties - 5 August 2014

Now that doesn’t match the normal population curve, does it? Between the ages of 15 and 39, the casualties don’t show a deviation from the norm. I am not going into the maths on standard deviations, and deviations in general, the numbers are accurate, based on the sample population of 1322 casualties after removing the no gender, no age listings.


This casualty chart has abnormal distribution between the ages of 20 to 29. Whilst the 0-4 year old seems high, that figure is less than the male casualty rate for the same age. Putting the male and female casualty rates in one chart, we get the image below.


Now if Dr. Price’s angry students bothered to actually look for the information, they could have found this data, and using their G-d given intellect, realise those abnormal spikes are the ages one would expect combatants to be.

And if these angry students were unbiased, and rational in their search for truth, they would have found that Hamas launched over 3000 rockets into Israel. If Iron Dome didn’t exist, would they be protesting against the Palestinians for killing Israeli’s (Jewish and Arab) at random? Dr. Price, I was born at night, but not last night. We all know that this has nothing to do with reality on the ground in Gaza, but rather the skewed perceptions your students are making for themselves in a vacuum of truthful, logical information and analysis. Have any of them read and grasped the full stated and implied contents of UN Resolution 232, the Egypt Israel Peace agreement, the Israel Jordan Peace agreement, and the borders created by these documents? No, they have not. Dr Price, have you or your students ever seen a map of the State of Palestine? When they chant about BDS and occupation, do they have any idea what they are talking about?

Dr. Price, as an academic, you have a de facto obligation to impart knowledge and wisdom to your students. Mere knowledge is imparted by books, and practicals, wisdom is learned only by observing wisdom in action. And  sadly most learning institutions do not impart much wisdom, it takes people who care to do that. In terms that any student can grasp, knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing you don’t put it in fruit salad!

Whilst many around the globe scream for their right of free speech, they should realise that every right, carries an equally weighted responsibility. Free speech is your right, free speech under a state of ignorance is your liability. Free speech without substance is noise.

In closing, I pray that HaShem spread his protection and grace across the people of Israel in the middle of this time of uncertainty, praying and hoping for a solution to end the terror that has dogged the State of Israel since the day it was founded.

About the Author
A trained Electrical Engineer (retired), student of philosophy, avid reader, News channel surfer, adherent of Sun-Tzu's "Art of War" as applicable to life in the 21st century. Resident in Southern Africa. World traveler. A supporter of the State of Israel, Christian believer of the Jews as G-ds Chosen People.
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