Now This Log

Tuesday, 12 February 2002 : "Shuger on Cohen on Steele on Walker"

Shuger on Cohen on Steele on Walker: A while back Richard Cohen smacked Shelby Steele about his tarring of Marin County as a place which produces all sorts of America-hating children based on the anecdotal evidence of John Walker Lindh's choices, saying that surely more Marinites have joined the Armed Forces than joined the Taliban. Scott Shuger follows up:

The Few, the Proud, the Marins: A top conservative is wrong about John Walker [Slate]
How unlike a newspaper columnist to pose such a perspective-inducing question! But how like one not to bother to answer it!

Fortunately, enough data exists to show that Cohen has won this bout... According to the United States Army Recruiting Command, during fiscal year 2001, the time frame during which John Walker cast his fate with the Taliban ... eight people from Marin County joined the Army... I don't know how many more Marins are in the Marines, or in the Navy or Air Force -- maybe as penance Mr. Steele should have to chase around the Pentagon for those figures.

...But we now know that whatever moved Walker to take his drastic action wasn't in the local wine and (sparkling) water. And should that really be a surprise -- least of all to a conservative? Aren't they the ones who relentlessly downplay external circumstances in favor of personal responsibility?
Rah, I say. Rah.

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* It's a silly argument, but the response seems a misuse of statistics. If those numbers (1 boy joining the Taliban, 8 joining the US Armny) show anything, it's that the proportion of boys from Marin enlisting in the Taliban that year is 11% of all enlistments. That's substantially higher than the rate in the rest of the country, no?

Of course IT'S NOT STATISTICALLY SIGNIFICANT in any case. You can't argue from a single case to some overall conclusion about influences on kids in Marin. Well, you can, but you'd be wrong.

Posted by Mike Gunderloy @ 02/14/2002 09:06AM est

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