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Statistical Suspicions In Iran's Election 512

Posted by kdawson
from the funny-smell dept.
hoytak writes "An expert in electoral fraud, professor Walter Melbane, has released a detailed analysis (PDF) of available data in Iran's controversial election (summary here). While he did not find significant indications of fraud, he does note that all the deviations from the predicted model are in Ahmadinejad's favor: 'In general, combining the 2005 and 2009 data conveys the impression that a substantial core of the 2009 results reflected natural political process... [These] stand in contrast to the unusual pattern in which all of the notable discrepancies between the support Ahmadinejad actually received and the support the model predicts are always negative. This pattern needs to be explained before one can have confidence that natural election processes were not supplemented with artificial manipulations.'" In related news, EsonLinji notes reports in the Seattle PI and other sources that the US State Department has asked Twitter to delay system maintenance to prevent cutting off Iranians who have been relying on the service during the post-election crisis. And if you would like to help ease the communication crunch, reader RCulpepper tips a blog post detailing how to set up a proxy server for users with Iranian IP addresses.
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Statistical Suspicions In Iran's Election

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:28PM (#28355273)
    ... when Barack Obama congratulated Ahmadinejad a week early.
  • The problem of time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:30PM (#28355303) Homepage
    There are a lot of issues with the data. But even before one gets to the statistical anomalies one has the basic problem of time. Iran uses paper ballots. In the past elections it has taken at least three days for Iran to count the votes. In this case, if the results are to be believed it took a matter of hours. That's just not plausible. Even if there were zero apparent stat problems, this would still be a massive red flag.
    • ...you know that a small random sample of the population tells you what the general population is like to a very high degree of certainty. A random sample of 10 percent of population is virtually guaranteed to be within the margin of error of the general sample. Now the early vote counts are not exactly random sample, but it's not unreasonable to announce the result of an election with a very small percentage of the vote counted.
      • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:55PM (#28355553) Homepage
        But they didn't just announce that. They even had a claimed final total shortly thereafter which Ayatollah Khamenei confirmed. That's not explainable by a "we have a representative sample".
        • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:03PM (#28356213)

          It is explainable by a "this is a Theocracy and I am the High Priest."

          I don't understand why people act as if they expect Iran to conduct an election like a Western democracy.

          Where does the assumption come from that Iran, of all countries, is even capable of a "fair election"? I really don't see how you can be surprised about this outcome *at all*, and I also don't understand what anyone thinks can be "done about it", if Iran's own "government" does not take action.

          • by geekboy642 (799087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @10:16PM (#28356829) Journal

            The Iranians apparently thought they deserved a fair election. This is not a tempest in a teapot, imagined up by the western world. Watch the videos, read the live feeds through twitter, listen to the chants of "Allaho Akbar" that shake the cities: it is very clear that Iran's leadership dramatically overstepped in this election.

            It doesn't matter one single bit that the country is an effective dictatorship. The people were promised an election to choose their own president, and no sooner had they made their choice than the government yanked the promise away from them. It doesn't even matter if a fair counting of every vote cast does indicate a win for Ahmadinejad; the blatant fraud, police brutality, and the arresting of the opposition has ruined the people's trust in government. I truly hope that Iran doesn't descend into civil war.

            • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @03:26AM (#28358593) Homepage Journal

              "I truly hope that Iran doesn't descend into civil war."

              A lot of uneducated, unsophisticated, even ignorant remarks in this thread. But, I pick this one. A nation doesn't descend into civil war. Things are already bad, and people have already hit rock bottom, long before they determine that they have to find the balls to pick up a weapon and use it. Civil war is the first step on the ladder back up out of the hole.

              I know - every bleeding heart on the freaking planet has tried to brainwash us that "violence never solves anything!" Bullshit. Violence solved Adolph Hitler, among other things. Pacifists just fed Hitler whatever he wanted.

              War isn't the worst thing that can happen to a nation, nor is death the worst thing that can happen to a man. Those who believe so clearly have no imagination, and have failed to study history.

      • by venicebeach (702856) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:57PM (#28355575) Homepage Journal
        It's not unreasonable to predict the results of an election with a random sample. For instance, if you are a news organization you may want to do this. However, the official results should not be based on a prediction, they should be the actual counted results. Statistical predictions have a chance of being wrong.

        Furthermore, the idea of "random" sample is pretty far-fetched when you are counting votes from certain locations and the proportion of votes for each candidates varied by location. Once you have enough information to take a truly random sample you also have enough information to actually count the votes.
      • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:15PM (#28355783)

        That's correct. But the opposition candidate, Mousavi, said that he received a phone call at 2am the evening of the election indicating that he had won. When the results were announced later, it was Ahmadinejad by a landslide.

        Additionally, A'nejad officially had consistent support all across the country and all through demographics. He officially did equally well in cities vs. rural areas. Mousavi was heavily favored in cities. A'nejad officially did equally well among sexes, age groups, class levels, ethnic groups, everything. Mousavi was heavily favored among young students. It's too uniform to be plausible. For example, A'nejad even beat Mousavi in Mousavi's home Azeri province, Iranian Azerbaijan. That was compared to Obama losing the African-American vote to McCain, it's just very suspect and highly improbable.

        In addition to that, the other 2 candidates each officially received less than 1% of the total. In the pre-election polls each of those candidates had much higher support.

        CNN has done an absolutely terrible job at covering this, the line that CNN is reporting is essentially the government's spin being reported as truth. Fox seems to be the only US network with the balls to show much protest video. The BBC's coverage has been among the best outside of Arabic media, which is difficult to receive in a lot of places. The most up-to-date information about this can usually be found in whichever fark.com thread people are currently posting in, they've gone through 9 or 10 now with several thousand posts in each. Needless to say, any respect I had for CNN has essentially evaporated. Their international coverage used to be among the best in the US, now they might as well be the US-based Iranian spin machine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by peragrin (659227)

          CNN repeatably has stated that they are going on second and third hand information. That they are watching German and british news sites for information.

          It is in all their articles.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bigpat (158134)

      The analysis relies on one glaringly suspect assumption.. that the 2005 election was free and fair and can be used as a baseline. That election was also suspect from what I heard on the radio today. So what does a trend analysis from one fraudulent election to the next really show? All it would show is that the fraud was committed with some consistency with the previous fraud.

      For all we know it could very well be the case that both elections went through honestly, but the people that voted are talking to

    • No problem of time (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Capsaicin (412918) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @10:38PM (#28356983)

      Iran uses paper ballots. In the past elections it has taken at least three days for Iran to count the votes. In this case, if the results are to be believed it took a matter of hours. That's just not plausible.

      As someone who lives in a country which uses paper ballots, I find no lack of plausibility in the speed of the result. We usually know the result of the election within 4-6 hours of the booths closing. Although it takes longer to get final figures (especially if recounts are triggered) it would have to be an extremely close election to have to wait for the final figure to know who won (and indeed for the loser to conceed).

      Given no significant statistical problem has been identified, and given that independant telephone polling prior to the election indicated that A'jad enjoyed a 2:1 lead over his rival, the most parsimonious explanation might simply be that A'jad actaully does enjoy the overwhelming support of the Iranian population.

      Until such time that some plausible evidence of irregularities is presented, that should be the presumption we work on. The question of whether we personally want A'jad to have won or not, ought not to colour our intepretation of the results.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mevets (322601)

      Canada, with paper ballots, 1/2 the population and 7x size has achieved this for at least 40 years. Does Iran lack Canadas 1970 technology? I doubt it.

      This isn't a red flag, at best a pale beige. They might have a little better communications infrastructure, for an obvious explanation.

      No offence to OP's analysis guy, but CNN-style instant analysis has a very odd smell, a bit like napalm in the morning.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @10:59PM (#28357139)

      So what if they did manipulate the election. What is anybody going to do about it? What has anybody done about the last dozen suspicious elections around the globe?

  • by MichaelSmith (789609) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:32PM (#28355329) Homepage Journal

    the US State Department has asked Twitter to delay system maintenance to prevent cutting off Iranians who have been relying on the service during the post-election crisis

    What does the US State Department have to do with an election in Iran? By all means they should use their normal channels to express their views. But for me, asking twitter to keep operating for this reason is a minor example of the way other countries have long been interfering in Iranian politics.

    • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:39PM (#28355405) Homepage
      This isn't electoral interference. It is an attempt to prevent censorship and aid people who are being oppressed and persecuted. This is exactly the sort of intervention that countries should be doing: helping allow more people to talk to each other. Democracy comes most easily not when imposed by a military invasion but when people are simply given the tools necessary to talk to each other and to those from other countries. Dictators always try to censor and control communications for a reason. I'm not that happy with how the Obama administration has done things (especially in regards to civil liberties issues) but this is precisely the correct reaction. Actions that undermine censorship are very rarely the wrong thing.
    • by oneirophrenos (1500619) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:40PM (#28355407)
      I don't think it's an example of electoral interference. That would be if the US tried to influence the outcome of the election. In this case they're trying to enable Iranians to communicate with each other, regardless of what that communication includes. I may not agree with a lot of things the US government does, but this is a good thing.
    • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:41PM (#28355427) Journal

      What? The US wants to make it easier for the protesters to organize. How is that interfering with Iranian politics? Was the rest of the world interfering in US elections by allowing ex-patriots to communicate with other Us citizens stateside ?

      Also, if the protesters have to rely on Twitter uptime ... They're pretty much screwed.

    • What does the US State Department have to do with an election in Iran? By all means they should use their normal channels to express their views. But for me, asking twitter to keep operating for this reason is a minor example of the way other countries have long been interfering in Iranian politics.

      Meh, The US State Department talking to a US company that provides a services that some Iranians use is hardly a particularly good example of external political influences in the middle east. If anything the big story would be if somebody actually managed to persuade Twitter to keep operating. :) But seriously, when you look at things like Operation Ajax, you can see that the US just trying to make sure Iranians have a convenient way to speak for themselves is extremely hands-off, and probably a very appropriate way to avoid having unclean hands in the situation. The previous administration would have loudly and openly run their mouth about the situation, and inadvertently marginalized the reformist element in Iran by trying to support it. Trying to make sure they can speak for themselves is probably about the best thing America can do right now.

      • Well, there are rumours that the DoD has comissioned for a rewrite of Twitter in ADA with an Oracle backend. And it seems that the programmers already did the code, stress tested it and it could make twitter work.
        But, the formal review and inspections process will take at least 6 months, that is, 6 months *after* the developers manage to write at least 5000 pages of documents, print them, sign each page and submit the work as done.
        Reports says the rewrite was really easy, after the 3 programmers learned how to dodge the meetings, by convincing the 230 Program and Project Managers that humble programmers shouldn't be allowed to go to meetings so important to the success of the project.

  • by Drakin020 (980931) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:45PM (#28355467)

    I'm proud to see these young people stand up for their rights and for what they believe in. It's good to see these kids fighting the good fight. (Morgan Freedman anyone?)

    I'm hoping this will come to a peaceful end, but any government that steals an election should be punished, and it seems the people of Iran will have none of it.

    Keep fighting guys, I only wish I could help fro way over here.

    • by radtea (464814) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:55PM (#28355559)

      Keep fighting guys, I only wish I could help fro way over here.

      You can help: by keeping out of it.

      Even my progressive American friends are all flag-waving and drum-beating over this. The last thing the world needs is for anyone in the United States to do anything other than say, "We really hope the Iranian constitutional democratic process works this out. As a fellow-democracy we understand that elections can be contentious, but we also understand that the Iranian people and the Iranian people alone need to decide the outcome here, without interference by any other sovereign power."

      Imperialism has taken such deep root in the American mind that even the progressives take it for granted that whatever happens anywhere Americans should be taking a hand. Do you think the Swiss--a much older democracy--are doing so? I doubt it. They are probably shaking their heads and saying, "Yes, it was like that here in 1500, but we got over it and so will they."

      • by Liquidrage (640463) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:10PM (#28355715)
        "We really hope the Iranian constitutional democratic process works this out. As a fellow-democracy we understand that elections can be contentious, but we also understand that the Iranian people and the Iranian people alone need to decide the outcome here, without interference by any other sovereign power."

        Why would the US pretend that Iran is a democracy? The US has, and accurately so, been on the record as noting that the President has no real authority in Iran and is a hand picked figured head. Iran is anything but a democracy.

        I remember before the US election the US military saying it would put down any attempt at "change". Oh, wait, no that was Iran and that was last week. The only reason the clerics even allow anything resembling freedom in Iran is because they have to to empower the scientific community in hopes of gaining military and economic power. Hey, look, it's not like power is bad. It's just all these good intentions in posts like yours disappear when asked the question of whether you would be OK if the US and Iran switch places in regards to military power? I'm sure the world would be just swell in that case. I know I'd love to be forced to turn to Mecca a few times a day.
        For all the hate the US gets I still can't recall a single nation having as much power (and let's be fair, compare nations to peers of the time) and wielding it so fairly. Sure, you can bitch about the current Iraq war, and some support and aid for some overthrows you might now agree with. Boo hoo! It's all-n-all pretty damn good. And still trying to get better.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by copponex (13876)

          You're so right. Look at all the democracies we promote. Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Syria, Egypt... USA! USA!

          No one believes that load of crap you just spewed, at least no one who's taken a cursory look at the list of countries we've overthrown and vandalized [wikipedia.org]. Especially Iran, where we not only overthrew their democratically elected government in 1953, but may have even fomented the Iran-Iraq War in 1980.

          I'm sorry, comrade! I did not mean to be unpatriotic and dare criticize our motherland, which is

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Liquidrage (640463)
            We promote? That's a silly statement. The US doesn't promote those places. It tolerates them. It uses them as they can for their own interests. The US is like every other nation in the world in that the primary goal of the US is itself. Every other nation takes care of itself first. Should the US just nuke Syria off the planet? Egypt?

            The US plays the same game every other country plays. The US just has more power and influence then any other country right now. You don't think the US would love to have a
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by twostix (1277166)

          I cannot stomach this sort of moral relativist BS anymore.

          We're talking about Iran here, the same Iran that had a functioning democracy that the "fair" US Of A decided it didn't like so fully funded, armed AND trained a group of radicals specifically to overthrow said democracy and install a radical and brutal dictator. Resulting in a decade of the worst most brutal treatment of the citizens of Iran out of any secular nation in modern history. 100% morally, financially and politically backed by the "fair"

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:45PM (#28355473) Journal
    The Washington Post did an independent poll [washingtonpost.com] before the election showing that the majority of the public DID support Ahmadinejad by nearly two thirds, even among Mousavi's native ethnic group, the Azeri. It seems that the only group that DIDN'T support Ahmadinejad was the internet connected (a small minority of the country), which explains why they feel the election was stolen: when everyone you talk to agrees with you, it is easy to believe that the whole world agrees with you, not just the people you talk to.

    Other interesting points: most people don't agree with Ahmadinejad's policies. Quote:

    more than 70 percent of Iranians also expressed support for providing full access to weapons inspectors and a guarantee that Iran will not develop or possess nuclear weapons, in return for outside aid and investment

    That warms my heart. I really don't want Iran to get nuclear weapons (for purely selfish, self-preservation reasons. Don't respond to this saying, 'it is their right' because I don't care). Apparently most people voted for Ahmadinejad not because they agree with his policies, but because they consider him to be a stronger negotiator, and more capable of getting favorable concessions from the US, China, and Russia.

    If these results do turn out to be accurate, Obama should call and congratulate Ahmadinejad. After all, there are things we can agree on: we want Iran to be a strong, capable, functioning member of international society, not one that tries to destroy it (of course, our views on how they should reach that goal are different, but we can work on that).

    • by Clandestine_Blaze (1019274) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:45PM (#28356053) Journal

      The poll was done by Terror Free Tomorrow: The Center for Public Opinion and New American Foundation. The Washington Post merely did an article on the findings from the poll.

      From the survey [terrorfreetomorrow.org] linked to in the article:

      TFT and KA use telephone interviewing instead of face-to-face research in Iran because of the political and social constraints inside Iran. Face-to-face interviewing in Iran can be difficult for interviewers who risk possible prosecution and imprisonment. Face-to-face interviewing also poses issues related to access to households and respondents due to social considerations. Access to female respondents across the Middle East can be challenging.

      I'm not sure how much better over-the-phone polling is in Iran. Many in Iran are leery of being called by random strangers over the telephone asking them political questions. Whenever we call our relatives in Iran, we are extremely careful with what we say over the phone. More to the point, when you have a brutal regime and some random person calls and asks: "Who will you vote for in Presidential Elections?", I wouldn't be surprised if they answer in one way and vote in another.

      I won't dismiss the findings of this survey outright - they did conduct a scientific polling, something that I haven't done. It's just difficult taking the survey very seriously when what you see happening in real life - thousands and thousands of bloodied protesters taking the streets and demanding change - and compare it with a polling sample of 1001 Iranians, as stated in their Methodology section on page 25 of the pdf document. I'm also thinking back to both the entrance and exit polls in the 2004 U.S. elections, where John Kerry was said to have won by a large margin, only to find that the opposite had happened.

      I think it is evident that I am quite anti-Ahmadinejad and anti-Mullah and especially anti-Arab when it comes to my ancestral country. But I will concede that he won if more information is released and it points in favor of his victory.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phantomfive (622387)
        Yes, I agree, the protests on TV can look impressive.

        As for people being afraid to talk on the phone, you might be right, but the pollsters addressed that claim:

        Some might argue that the professed support for Ahmadinejad we found simply reflected fearful respondents' reluctance to provide honest answers to pollsters. Yet the integrity of our results is confirmed by the politically risky responses Iranians were willing to give to a host of questions. For instance, nearly four in five Iranians -- including most Ahmadinejad supporters -- said they wanted to change the political system to give them the right to elect Iran's supreme leader, who is not currently subject to popular vote. Similarly, Iranians chose free elections and a free press as their most important priorities for their government, virtually tied with improving the national economy. These were hardly "politically correct" responses to voice publicly in a largely authoritarian society.

        Also, they were only able to ask people who had telephones, which may have skewed the results.

        Regardless, it shows that the results shouldn't have been completely unexpected, for people who were paying attention.

    • by tksh (816129) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:57PM (#28356157)
      There's a serious omission in that op-ed that misrepresents that 2:1 ratio.

      Namely, that Ahmadinejad only had the vote of 34% of the those polled while Mousavi had 14%. So yes, technically that's 2:1 where the the sum total of both figures is less than 50%. Read the actual report [terrorfreetomorrow.org] linked to in the article, they highlight this rather important qualifying information by the big red text on page 3.

      And if you look at the actual tallies for that question on page 52, question 27, you will see it's 34% for Ahmadinejad, 14% for Mousavi, 27% (!) don't know and 15% (!!) who refused to answer. Both of those are non-trivial percentages that can swing either candidate for a landslide win. This undermines the implication that there is strong support for Ahmadinejad, by a ratio of 2:1 to his closest rival. Seriously, that's an incredulous omission to make, nevermind the fact that the poll itself was conducted a month ago. It is in these past two weeks that voter's opinion would better reflect their voting preferences, you know, after the actual presidential debates.

      Fivethirtyeight.com has a good write up [fivethirtyeight.com] of these points, explaining why the opinion expressed in the editorial is not supported by the report it cites. Juan Cole [juancole.com] has another good explanation as well.

      (The most interesting question on the survey for me BTW, was the question that asked about developing nuclear energy. A full 83% responded with 'strongly favour' while 11% said 'somewhat favour'. That's 94% combined.)
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vitaflo (20507)

        Seriously, that's an incredulous omission to make, nevermind the fact that the poll itself was conducted a month ago. It is in these past two weeks that voter's opinion would better reflect their voting preferences, you know, after the actual presidential debates.

        Also, in Iran you get only 30 days to actually campaign. This poll was taken right at the start of campaigning. Of course the current Pres will fare better in the polls then, more people are familiar with his platform.

  • by V50 (248015) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:57PM (#28355585) Journal

    As a PoliSci student, I've spent a ton of time looking at election data for many countries, over the past hundred years or so. I see a lot of people jumping to conclusions based on some evidence, and not all necessarily means the election was tampered with.

    Oddly, I've found a lot of people take the demonstrations in the street to be indication of fraud. What it is is indication of the belief in fraud. I'm pretty sure some people protested after Kerry lost the 2004 US election, that doesn't mean the election was tampered with (and yeah, I know I'll get some conspiracy nut reply to that with an essay.)

    Several other stuff looks at odd vote shifting patterns, specifically the almost total abandonment of this one candidate in favor of the President. That is unusual, and calls to be looked into, but it's far from unprecedented. Quebec, in particular, has a history of some pretty wild swings from one party to another.

    Another thing is the "rule" that as turnout goes up, the reformers do better. I've seen countless "rules" made in politics, only to be broken, because voters can act weird sometimes. It would be bucking the trend, but again, not definitive proof.

    Overall, there is some evidence to suggest there may have been fraud, but as of yet, I've yet to see any "smoking gun". I saw similar analysis "prove" Kerry really won in 2004, and that didn't really amount to anything.

    Looking at the whole situation, my gut tells me that there probably was some tampering, either deliberate or systematic, most likely in the process of actually voting. Basically, I think the strange results are most likely, if anything, the result of intimidation, either direct (guy waving around AK-47) or indirect (ie, Ahmed the voter chose the president because of a climate of fear).

    It's very possible that Ahmadinejad won legit, even if his vote total was padded due to intimidation or result tampering. It's also very possible that there's a climate of fear in Iran, that essentially prevents a truly fair and free election from occurring. I honestly don't know much about Iran, so these are just my thoughts from being a (mostly Canadian) politics geek.

    In case it's not clear, I'm not defending the Iranian results, only suggesting that I've not seen any "smoking gun" type proof, only "unusual" results, which can still happen in a free and fair election.

    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:13PM (#28355755) Homepage

      "Precedent" really has very little to do with it. Quebec isn't Iran. So something happening there for understandable reasons isn't validation of something odd happening elsewhere.

      Explain how Ahmadinejad won areas that have never voted for anyone but their local ethnic candidate, with the same percentage of the votes as Ahmadinejad got everywhere else.

      "Doesn't necessarily mean" and "doesn't prove" is a cop-out. Nothing necessarily means anything and nothing definitively proves anything because our basic axioms of the universe could be wrong. We can't prove that there is a universe at all.

      This is nothing like Kerry in 04. We're not talking about some counties shifting a couple percentage points one way or the other in an election decided by fractions of a percent. We're talking about areas going from essentially zero support for the President to handing him a landslide victory. You can't just waive your hands and say it doesn't necessarily mean anything. That needs to be explained.

      We can't get a "smoking gun" because the only possible "smoking gun" proof would be held by the Iranian government, and I would think their reaction after the election indicates how willing they would be to hand said proof over.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phantomfive (622387)

        Explain how Ahmadinejad won areas that have never voted for anyone but their local ethnic candidate, with the same percentage of the votes as Ahmadinejad got everywhere else.

        That statistic sounds impressive, but it's not like there's much precedent. Iran has only had six presidents, and only for the last two has there been any real contest. When you only have 30 years of voting history to go on, big 'unexplainable' changes are bound to pop up once in a while. There is a very real possibility that the announced election results were fairly accurate.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Chris Burke (6130)

          Iran has only had six presidents, and only for the last two has there been any real contest. When you only have 30 years of voting history to go on, big 'unexplainable' changes are bound to pop up once in a while.

          In other words its just serendipity. That's great. You do realize that while statistics operate under the assumption that variance is random, that's just a way of predicting mass behavior and does not mean that the actual result is itself random, in particular when we're talking about human behav

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by V50 (248015) *

        I actually pretty much agree with what you've said. My post was pretty much a jumbled collection of my thoughts. The basic idea that I was saying is that there's a lot of circumstantial evidence of tampering, but nothing I haven't seen in legit elections. I think there was some degree of tampering, either in outright fraud, or intimidation, but I hate jumping to conclusions, and (even with Iran) I prefer to take an "innocent until proven guilty" approach.

        I'm not speaking as an expert on Iran. I don't know a

    • by BeardedChimp (1416531) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @12:05AM (#28357537)
      This is a pretty bad post even by slashdot standards.
      You start out by proclaiming "As a PoliSci student, I've spent a ton of time looking at election data for many countries", which as an argument to authority is trying to show how your opinion counts more than other posters (it does not).

      This is then followed up by a false analogy "I'm pretty sure some people protested after Kerry lost the 2004 US election". The vast differences between these elections renders the analogy meaningless. Never the less you decide to throw in an ad hominem "and yeah, I know I'll get some conspiracy nut reply to that with an essay" just to reinforce it.

      Time for some red herrings:
      "Quebec, in particular, has a history of some pretty wild swings from one party to another."
      "I've seen countless "rules" made in politics, only to be broken"
      "I saw similar analysis "prove" Kerry really won in 2004, and that didn't really amount to anything."

      All divert attention towards other barely related topics.
      You end by stating that you are "only suggesting that I've not seen any "smoking gun" ", which places an unfair burden of proof upon the opposition. The incumbent (Ahmadinejad) controlled every step of the elections, the smoking gun you are looking for is just not possible with this level of control.

      I apologise for pointing out the logical fallicies because usually posts like this annoy me in that they don't address (and therefore dismiss) the arguments but the post had too many problems to ignore.
  • by bersl2 (689221) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:59PM (#28355597) Journal

    The point is that enough of the people of Iran find the results incredible and are in general angry enough about their present conditions that they have lost faith in the current government and desire significant reforms. This won't go away, ever. Even if a complete do-over of the election is performed, the fact that peaceful assembly was denied and communications have been disrupted, among many other things, makes this a moot point.

  • Modammad Asgari knew (Score:4, Interesting)

    by fsiefken (912606) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:05PM (#28355661)
    tweet: unconfirmed: Mohammad Asgari,a system administrator in the interior ministry (in charge of securing election LAN) was killed #iranelection
  • Proxy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by scarolan (644274) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:07PM (#28355687) Homepage

    I did go ahead and set up a squid proxy - how do I get the IP address to Iranians who need it without the government seeing it? I've asked this question on twitter several times over the last day, and my messages seem to just get drowned out by all the other information flooding in. Is there a trusted source who can pass the server address on to Iranian users who need it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nebulious (1241096)
      Send your proxy to me@austinheap.com. This guy is responsible for one of the best keep list for Iranians. He's the one in the final link of the story.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:15PM (#28355785)

    There were several of the more liberal districts around Tehran where Pat Buchanan won.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:27PM (#28357303) Journal

    It's amazing how easily people are manipulated by the media. I'm going to paste some accurate analysis from Stratfor about the reality of politics in Iran, and why as Westerners we are getting a distorted picture (above and beyond the fact that the CIA would like to see the government of Iran overthrown).

    ----

    Stratfor

    WESTERN MISCONCEPTIONS MEET IRANIAN REALITY

    By George Friedman

    In 1979, when we were still young and starry-eyed, a revolution took place in Iran. When I asked experts what would happen, they divided into two camps.

    The first group of Iran experts argued that the Shah of Iran would certainly survive, that the unrest was simply a cyclical event readily manageable by his security, and that the Iranian people were united behind the Iranian monarch's modernization program. These experts developed this view by talking to the same Iranian officials and businessmen they had been talking to for years -- Iranians who had grown wealthy and powerful under the shah and who spoke English, since Iran experts frequently didn't speak Farsi all that well.

    The second group of Iran experts regarded the shah as a repressive brute, and saw the revolution as aimed at liberalizing the country. Their sources were the professionals and academics who supported the uprising -- Iranians who knew what former Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini believed, but didn't think he had much popular support. They thought the revolution would result in an increase in human rights and liberty. The experts in this group spoke even less Farsi than the those in the first group.

    Misreading Sentiment in Iran

    Limited to information on Iran from English-speaking opponents of the regime, both groups of Iran experts got a very misleading vision of where the revolution was heading -- because the Iranian revolution was not brought about by the people who spoke English. It was made by merchants in city bazaars, by rural peasants, by the clergy -- people Americans didn't speak to because they couldn't. This demographic was unsure of the virtues of modernization and not at all clear on the virtues of liberalism. From the time they were born, its members knew the virtue of Islam, and that the Iranian state must be an Islamic state.

    Americans and Europeans have been misreading Iran for 30 years. Even after the shah fell, the myth has survived that a mass movement of people exists demanding liberalization -- a movement that if encouraged by the West eventually would form a majority and rule the country. We call this outlook "iPod liberalism," the idea that anyone who listens to rock 'n' roll on an iPod, writes blogs and knows what it means to Twitter must be an enthusiastic supporter of Western liberalism. Even more significantly, this outlook fails to recognize that iPod owners represent a small minority in Iran -- a country that is poor, pious and content on the whole with the revolution forged 30 years ago.

    There are undoubtedly people who want to liberalize the Iranian regime. They are to be found among the professional classes in Tehran, as well as among students. Many speak English, making them accessible to the touring journalists, diplomats and intelligence people who pass through. They are the ones who can speak to Westerners, and they are the ones willing to speak to Westerners. And these people give Westerners a wildly distorted view of Iran. They can create the impression that a fantastic liberalization is at hand -- but not when you realize that iPod-owning Anglophones are not exactly the majority in Iran.

    Last Friday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected with about two-thirds of the vote. Supporters of his opponent, both inside and outside Iran, were stunned. A poll revealed that former Iranian Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi was beating Ahmadinejad. It is, of course, interesting to meditate on how you could conduct a poll in a country where phones are not universal, and making a call once you have found a phone can be a trial. A poll therefore would

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