Military Numeracy is to Numeracy What…

When I was lad I served a term as security guard at a ship repair firm. Navy guys my age told me tales of rural recruiters’ lies: they’d expected to be learning useful radio technology skills while romancing exotic ladies in foreign ports, instead they were cleaning toilets in South Boston, counting down the weeks. Verbal contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on, as PT Barnum (or somebody) is said to have said. Now Jeremy’s caught a recruiter admitting to including an untrue statement in his recruiting pitch (“More Outright Lies from Your Hometown Military Predator“). Can the kids he’s recruited opt out now? Didn’t think so.

The lie (“Join the US army – because Iraq’s far safer than Miami“):

‘I tell them straight up. Miami is the biggest war zone we’ve got,’ he said. ‘Every time you turn on the TV we see someone shot.’ Bass uses simple figures. Nine people from southern Florida have died in Iraq, compared with 338 murders in the Florida region last year: ‘They have a better chance in the army than on the streets of Miami.’

The way I figure it, there are about 300M Americans and about 150K of them are in the military and stationed in Iraq. That means that about 1 of every 2000 Americans (and probably Floridians) are in Iraq. If the murder rate were equal in Iraq and in Florida, there should be about 2,000 times as many murders of Floridians in south Florida. According to the recruiter’s numbers, however, there are only 38 times as many murders in Florida (That is, 338 divided by 9). Iraq is, then, about 50 times more deadly for Floridians than is south Florida (since 2000 divided by 38 = 53).

July 12, ’04 Update:

Christopher Draco writes in:

The quote “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on” is from Sam Goldwyn, though it could easily be one of his publicity department’s fabrications. Goldwyn himself tired of the popular Goldwynisms, as reported by Garson Kanin in his book Hollywood: “Don’t bother me with Goldwynisms–if you want to hear Goldwynisms, talk to Harry Cohn.” So he really did make them all the time.

Author: Sam Koritz

I like cheese.