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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 JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:39PM (#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 @06:40PM (#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 @06:41PM (#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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:41PM (#28355429)

    They didn't ask so that the US could twitter Iran and demand answers. They are asking that they delay maintenance be delayed so that people *in* Iran can express their views. The US will be listening to, not sending messages. So the US is interfering by requesting lines of communication stay open during a time when mass riots and demonstrations are going. Last I checked, more communication was a good thing.

  • Re:It happens (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Knara (9377) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:43PM (#28355449)

    Except that, amongst other issues, the turnout in this election is 60%+, and the differences weren't a few votes

    Also, Ahmadinejad won in *all* his opponents' home provinces and amongst *all* his opponents' ethnic groups, which is unlikely, to say the least.

  • 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.

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:50PM (#28355513)

    Except that you have good transit systems and are counting around 30M fewer votes.

    Counting paper ballots is an embarrassingly parallelizable task. If you get enough people doing the counting, you could count 400M votes and sum up the results in half an hour.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:55PM (#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 venicebeach (702856) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @06:57PM (#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 vux984 (928602) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:03PM (#28355641)

    Except that you have good transit systems and are counting around 30M fewer votes.

    1) The counting and reporting is done right from the polling stations. Checks and rechecks, and additional audits might benefit from being able to move the ballots around efficiently, but the initial counting and reporting is very efficient.

    2) The number of ballots being counted is completely irrelevant, and would make no difference in how long it takes. We allocate polling stations and staff them on a per capita basis. So if our population doubled it wouldn't take twice as long, we'd just have twice as many polling stations and staff.

    (And it would cost twice as much, but there would be twice the population paying for it, so it all works out the same whether its 30M or 300M people.)

    The only effort that goes up, is summarizing results, but:
    a) that is largely done using computers
    b) the amount of effort grows logarithmically so 300M ballots would only require a handful more staff than 30M ballots.

    Really, people who think you can't run an efficient paper ballot system with a large population aren't really thinking.

  • by V50 (248015) * on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:04PM (#28355647) Journal

    Except that you have good transit systems and are counting around 30M fewer votes.

    From what I understand, Iran has a good, or at least decent, transit system, (they aren't a third world country) and a decent communication grid.

    Having 4x more votes means nothing. They could easily have 4x (or more) counters.

    The US could hand count over 100m ballots in the same time frame, if you only had one election at a time, like Canada. Because you have a FREAKING CRAP TON of elections (President, Senate, House, State Senate, State House, DA, Judge, School Board, Official State Dog Walker) and often several referendums all at one time, hand counting becomes impractical. BTW, I am not bashing having so many elections, just pointing out that it is the major reason why hand counting is impractical in the US.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:08PM (#28355691)

    What? The US wants to make it easier for the protesters to organize. How is that interfering with Iranian politics?

    By making it easier for protesters to organize. Consider the impact on public opinion towards protesters in Iran if they find out the protesters are being in any way aided by the US.

    Well public opinion in Iran seems to be sharply divided now into supporters of Mousavi and supporters of Ahmadinejad.

    I'd suggest that the opinion of the supporters of Ahmadinejad regarding supporters of Mousavi is already pretty low. I'd further suggest that they're already inclined to believe the supporters of Mousavi are influenced by Americans, the Jooooos, and the Debil Hisself.

    So the State Department asking Twitter to delay maintenance downtime somewhat so that it isn't right when the Iranian protesters need Twitter the most is probably pretty low on the hierarchy of "influencing."

  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:08PM (#28355693)
    How about we compare what can be compared instead of comparing Iran to Canada? Iran has had paper elections before, how about we compare to how long it took them then to do it? Nowhere near as fast? And they didn't change anything to the way they count votes?
  • by artor3 (1344997) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:11PM (#28355733)

    I think the story was that they announced the victory after they had counted some portion of the votes and seen that Ahaminejad had a significant lead.

    Right. After all, Khamenei's vote is "some potion of the votes."

  • Ya, that's sorta the point of democracy. You have to have enough faith in the system to tolerate peaceful protest, otherwise you're just a military dictatorship pretending to be a democracy. But most democracies are.....

  • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:15PM (#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.

  • by sexconker (1179573) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:16PM (#28355795)

    But what we have here are non-results.
    Those are, by definition, not results.

    (Yes, it was rigged, what is anyone going to do about it? Riot for a bit, get beat like hippies, then cry? Yup.)

  • by Parthian (1535117) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:26PM (#28355881)
    Please note people are using this opportunity to riot against the government as whole and not only because of the election results. Let's say the people riot, who is going to take control if Ahmadinejad is overthrown? Mousavi? Who was approved to candidate for presidency by Khamenie? They are all the same shit. People are being fooled. Regime change is the only solution, go away Islamic Republic. Please come democracy or/and constitutional monarchy.
  • by glwtta (532858) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @07:52PM (#28356105) Homepage
    Your fear is of Iran, not nuclear weapons, and has more to do with the "they're different to us" Arab stereotyping than it does to any element of fact.

    There's a non-trivial amount of irony in that admonition.
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:03PM (#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 sbeckstead (555647) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:08PM (#28356245) Homepage Journal
    Wow pretty much why the "Camel Jockeys" dislike us so much. Mealy mouthed cowards here in the good Ol US. Put your name behind it and say it again moron.
  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:09PM (#28356251)

    >Right. After all, Khamenei's vote is "some potion of the votes."

    It would be "legitimate", in the sense that it would be consistent with Iran's law, for Khamenei to simply appoint the President setting aside any other considerations (such as elections.)

    The Ayatollah's word is absolute law, constrained only by natural consequences -- say, if the protests grow to the point where they represent an actual rebellion.

  • by bigpat (158134) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:18PM (#28356319)

    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 one another and unless everyone is lying to one another then they have figured out that more people voted for the other guy than is being reflected in the counts. It isn't about statistical analysis, it is about what you are going to believe. Are you going to believe the people on the street who voted or are you going to believe the guy that was supposed to win.

  • by carlzum (832868) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:23PM (#28356359)
    Thank you for such an informative and helpful post, obviously you've been contributing to this cause long before it hit /. We're always griping about threats to free speech and fair elections, but here's something a person with some technical skill can do to combat it.

    Also, this has nothing to do with the election results. Even if Ahmadinejad received more votes, silencing the opposition is a major injustice. The fact that everyday joes can thwart his efforts with a PC and internet connection is pretty amazing. The power of the Internet has been subject to a lot of hyperbole and BS, but this is an example of how it really does change history.
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:35PM (#28356463) Journal

    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.

  • by Chris Burke (6130) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @08:55PM (#28356659) Homepage

    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 behavior.

    When the previous results -- culturally insular tribes voting for their own candidate, a pattern repeated in many similar environments for many years and elections -- has such a good, non-random explanation, resorting to serendipitous random happenings to explain away a complete reversal of everyone's educated guess requires some reasoning behind why that guess educated by basic human nature and history is wrong.

    It'd be like if Obama had won every state from Texas to Georgia, though in some ways so much more so since our country has racism but has never really had tribalism. You couldn't just shrug and say "weird things happen". At, least, not and say something useful or meaningful.

    Yes, it's possible it's just a random fluke. There needs to be a better explanation than that. The Iranian people deserve a better explanation than that, and the reformers at least are just as surprised as I am so what does that tell you? Basically at this point I consider your "random chance" hypothesis to require evidence as much as the "rigged election" hypothesis. This isn't isn't chemistry or physics, the Null Hypothesis is not the default choice.

    There is a very real possibility that the announced election results were fairly accurate.

    Yes. There is a real possibility the results are genuine. I readily admit that. And there's an even more real possibility the results were decided well in advance. You should admit that too. If you can't admit that shit is suspicious and that there are real questions that need to be answered, with "well it doesn't necessarily mean anything" NOT being an acceptable answer, then I don't think you're looking at this rationally.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:04PM (#28356731)

    When did hippies become the quintessential example of victims of government abuse? Why not, say, civil rights protesters?

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:05PM (#28356755)

    >The greatest safety will be when we both realize that we can accomplish more by working together than by fighting with each other.

    There are some powerful people in this world who do not desire "safety" or "accomplishment" because they fundamentally believe that the end of the world is a desirable, richly anticipated event, and whose greatest wish is to have the world's end arrive during their own lifetime.

  • by geekboy642 (799087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:16PM (#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 Capsaicin (412918) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:22PM (#28356867)

    QED. The null hypothesis was not rejected, therefore your study determined nothing. Speculation is not science.

    Yes, yes, but that's not the point. The point is that the election didn't come out the way we wanted and it didn't come out in the way the minority of Iranians with internet access wanted. Do we really need to be scientific when questioning the credibility of a result we don't like and which (if it isn't the result of manipulation) reflects the views of the under-educated rural religiouly conservative masses?

  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:28PM (#28356907) Journal

    Like the US has never spread FUD to undermine a regime they disapprove of.

    Whatever the truth of the situation, I find that more and more news these days smells like propaganda.

  • by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:39PM (#28356993) Homepage
    Not at all comparable. You are making a classic mistake, confusing the medium with the message. Anyone, including Ahmadinejad can use the Twitter system. That's distinct from your example which makes a specific content item on the cell phones in question.
  • by quenda (644621) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:46PM (#28357041)

    Like the US has never spread FUD to undermine a regime they disapprove of.

    But at least the American citizens have the decency to remain calm when their own presidential elections are rigged.
    None of this yelling and fighting in the streets. It doesn't even stop them voting him in for real in the next election.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @09:59PM (#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 BeardedChimp (1416531) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:05PM (#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 Liquidrage (640463) on Tuesday June 16, 2009 @11:19PM (#28357607)
    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 truly free and democratic Egypt? That the US plays "enemy of our enemy" is no secret, isn't shocking, and should be easily understandable. The alternative is for the US to use military force.

    No one that realizes we don't live in Utopia gives a crap about that over idealistic crap you just spewed.

    Oh noes! The US has, and continues, to try and use it's influence to benefit the US. Even in situations that are less then ideal. The overwhelming majority of times the US does not actually "Dresden" other countires to do it even though it can. It doesn't even threaten to. The US has tons of issues with the Saudi's, Pakistan and Syria. The US has had major conflicts with Egypt and continues to have major differences. And that's "promoting" them? Maybe only in your bias viewpoint where honesty means nothing to you.

    At the end of the day all the US wants is security for itself and allies, while wanting its companies to be able to exploit local workers for profit. But while the US does it honestly also would prefer freedom over dictatorship and does promote those values. Where as many other world powers, or even those that are not very powerful, clearly couldn't give a damn about freedom.
  • Oh my fucking God. Are you seriously blaming the Jews for Iran's stolen election and revolution?

  • by rve (4436) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @12:37AM (#28357993)

    Whether or not the elections were stolen, it seems that in Iran there is a significant difference in political views between the major cities and rural areas. Maybe there was a selection bias in the media?

    In 2004, to outsiders it looked as if everybody but an insignificant few right wing nut jobs hated George Bush, and he didn't have any chance of being reelected. After his fairly comfortable victory, it turned out that people in the major urban districts more likely to be interviewed on TV or in the papers indeed voted against Bush, but the rest of the country had supported him.

    Could a similar effect have happened in Iran? Iran is one of the few places in the region where women and minorities have the right to vote, and where a president normally steps down after losing an election. The only major difference between the Iranian and western democracies seems to be that their version of the senate is not elected by the people, but by a religious council.

    Of course it's possible the elections were stolen, but maybe this is another example of people voting for a politician for entirely local reasons, without really caring what the rest of the world thinks of him? In fact, has there ever been a democratic election anywhere, where foreign opinion played a significant role?

  • by twostix (1277166) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @12:49AM (#28358039)

    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" US. All purely for a corporations interest.

    You say "support" in the hope of diminishing the US's real role in the evil it perpetrates when it overthrows a country. I hate to break it to you, but the "support" isn't just a few bucks and an angry letter. It's boots on the ground, free tanks and planes and millions of dollars in weapons, (all to be paid off by the citizens once they are subjugated of course). Flying radicals into the USA and training them in methods of torture and propaganda is not the actions of a "fair" country.

    Just because the "fair" US didn't like the democratic governments choices for it's people.

    You give us a glimpse of your complete moral bankruptcy when you describe the torturing, murderous tyrannies that the US creates then supports 100%
    with guns, money and weapons as "some overthrows".

    Did you know the CIA set up SAVAK - the most brutal secret police in modern history. Did you know that the CIA trained SAVAK agents in methods of torture?

    Are you aware in that little pathetic insular world of yours, that the US was flying *400* SAVAK agents a year onto US soil to be trained? The same agents that tortured children in front of parents by poring boiling water up their rectums and pulled their fingernails out because their parents had the gall to stand against the US installed dictator?

    Who gives a shit though ay? Just one of a couple of "overthrows" boo fucking who for the tens of thousands of Iranians tortured to death by the US trained, funded, equipped and actively supported secret police.

    Do you even care?

    I doubt it. Anything that happened more than five years is meaningless to the likes of you, anything your country does is diminished "well we're not as bad as them". Well actually yes you are - the average Iranian would have been NO WORSE OFF becoming part of the soviet block rather than letting the "fair" US get their claws into the country.

    You are a complete moral void.

    Iran is a damaged mess now 100% because of the US's actions. Just like Iraq is.

    Accept responsibility for your countries fuck ups, or you are *worse* than the worst.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @02:26AM (#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.

  • In 1979, after the Iranian people overthrow the despot whom the Americans supported, the Iranians immediately established a brutal, authoritarian theocracy.

    Because the despot whom the Americans supported had previously crushed on all opposition until the gang around Khomeini was the strongest, and such became the obvious leader of the opposition. After the opposition had won the revolution, the strongest party then turned on the others. Not because it had the majority behind them, but because it had violent force.

  • by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @03:22AM (#28358859)

    You mean aside from the bizarre statistical anomalies? I'm starting to get a distinct "la la la I can't hear you"

    You're absolutely correct, once I read "did not find significant indications of fraud" I cannot hear anyone talking about statistical anomalies. Well no, not absolutely correct, there's no "la la la" about it. It's just the same cold uncompromising "I can't hear you" a Judge will give if you attempt to submit irrelevant evidence.

    You clearly either haven't read the stat breakdown on the official results, don't understand what they mean, or are a lvl 23 Erudite Troll.

    Hey FU buddy, I'm at least a lvl 30! ;) You're probably correct about my lack of understanding, so maybe you can help me with this. Quoting from TFA:

    ... a statistically sharp approach to statistical testing--taking the multiple testing into account--fails to provide evidence against the hypothesis that the second digits are distributed according to Benford's Law. Tests based on the means of the second digits also fail to suggest any deviation from the second-digit Benford's Law distribution ...

    I've taken on board the fact that hetrogeneity of the data might obscure local problems, but that's not really relevant since the onus of proof clearly lies with those alleging fraud anyway. I've also taken on board that the non-sharp approach (ie looking at one of the candidates results) might lead one to another conclusion. As to the other (non-significant) anomalities in his modified conclusion Mebane observes:

    In general, combining the 2005 and 2009 data conveys the impression that a substantial core of the 2009 results reflected natural political processes. ... These natural aspects of the election results stand in contrast to the unusual pattern in which most of the notable discrepancies between the support Ahmadinejad actually received and the support the model predicts are negative. ... It appears that the specification using the two conditioning variables ... does not fully capture the baseline support for the candidates or the pattern of new mobilization. ... It is not possible given only the current data to say whether this reflects natural complexity in the political processes or artificial manipulations.

    I admit I lack the confidence with stats (1978 was the last time I had to look at stats in any deeper way than merely applying tests of significance), to make a call on non-significant results. I get nervous when statisticians talk about "impressions" in place of "significance." Perhaps you can educate me here and convince me why I should draw conclusions based on non-significant results?

    I'm not sure where you're coming from on this issue. ... What, in fact, is your deal?

    I avidly opposed to theocracy as a form of government, a fortiori a nuclear armed theocracy. I am opposed to the Iranian regime even though I don't live there (some might point out it is none of my business). I don't consider A'jad to be entirely a sane man (though by the standards of his culture he may well be). I would dearly have loved to see him defeated (and he may still be, extra-democratically).

    However I also endorse an evidence based view of reality, and I don't think it is valid to construe the world in a way which lacks evidence merely on the basis that I might like it to be that way. I believe that, unpalatable though we may find it, we might have to accept that a majority of Iranians disagree with us. Moreover, in the absence of clear evidence to the contrary (eyewitness, statistical, or whatever), I strongly believe the only (rebuttable) presumption we are entitled to draw (upon evidence-based criteria) is that the election result reflects the will of the majority of Iranian voters. To draw any other conclusion in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary is, IMHO, to fall victim to the trap of believing in one's own propaganda.

  • I don't agree with the GP, but people need to stop immediately assuming any mention of Israel equates to Judaism. You can talk about Israel without ever intending to discuss Judaism. Yes, even when being critical about things.
  • by Parthian (1535117) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:29AM (#28359423)
    Who do you want to take the power then if Ahmadinejad leaves? Mousavi who is worse than Ahmadinejad? People have been stealing elections since 1979 in Iran - where were you then? Where were you when Islamic Republic were founded in Iran and started suppressing the Iranian people?
  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @05:35AM (#28359445) Homepage Journal

    Suggesting that violence caused Hitler, one has to look around, and wonder what causes other monstrous human beings. Is there some clear correlation between violence in youth, and violent adults? No, there is not. The socioligists would like us to think so.

    There was much, much more at work to form Hitler and his party, than the violence of WW1. The Great Depression, more than anything else, created the atmosphere in which such a man would be able to build his empire. People who are desperately hungry are much more willing to follow someone who tells them pleasing lies, than are people with full bellies and secure homes, and the leisure to consider those charismatic speeches.

    If our current economic crisis isn't cured soon, we might expect echoes of Hitler to surface around the world in the next few years.

  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @06:36AM (#28359777) Journal

    The greatest trick the Israeli government ever pulled was to convince the world that to be Jewish is to support Israel and that to criticise Israel is to be anti-semitic. There are plenty of jews who either object to the Israeli government's behaviour or simply don't care about it. People are not their ethnicity and nobody gets to speak on your behalf because you share some ancestory with them.
  • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:12AM (#28359997)
    Well, I would assume that him nearly returning blind from WW1 due to a poison gas attack might have changed his outlook on life a bit (however, much of his ideology comes from living in student dormitories, where antisemitism was rather popular at the time). Also, reparations for WW1 exacerbated the impact of the global economic crisis and gave the receiving countried a bad image in Germany.

    As always, it's a mix of causes, in this case with violence as much among them as economic trouble. One cannot take any single cause and make meaningful predictions based on that. To get back at my original statement, though: Without WW1 the Great Depression wouldn't have occurred like it did (as it was instigated by sudden overproduction after the war), Hitler wouldn't have been like he was and he wouldn't have had the chance to rise to power like he did. So I do think that one can say that violence was an important factor in making that man anything other than a failed artist.
  • by FriendlyLurker (50431) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:37AM (#28360191)

    many commentators are now levelling the accusation of fraud because that suits the purposes of much of the West...
    so it is essentially Mousavi's supporters who are a smaller faction trying to undermine democracy with violence. If they get anywhere (and whatever you think of the GP, covert Western support or promises of support for his followers is extremely plausible), then it would just push Iran back to a more totalitarian state because they certainly wont win whatever the West would like to pretend. They don't have the support of the common people and, quite frankly, they appear to have lost the election.
    Mousavi - good or bad (and he's no angel, just more amenable to Western interests), you can't just allow democracy when it elects the people you want elected.

    In light of past US and British government/corporate behavior when it comes to securing rights to Iranian oil (i.e. Operation Ajax [wikipedia.org]), the many fraud claims being thrown about reek of self-interest propaganda similar to that used in the plot to depose Mosaddeq [wikipedia.org] - which any way you slice it was a very evil deed to secure oil rights. Anyway, today there is to much shit flying about (even more than in the Bush in Florida 2000 elections [scoop.co.nz], at least on the international news circuit) to really know what the truth is. Best to step back and look at the big picture [wikipedia.org] and Iran's history time line [historycommons.org] to put the current propaganda "news" into the context it deserves.

  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @07:46AM (#28360257) Journal

    Actually, an Iranian friend of a friend who lives in the USA remarked when Bush won (the first time) that if this had happened in Iran, there would be riots in the streets and she asked why no-one was rioting in the USA over the Florida debacle. My US friend replied that everyone was too busy paying off mortgages.

    If you could mod up comments in real life, that would have got a +5 Insightful in no time. :(
  • by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@da[ ]et ['l.n' in gap]> on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @08:10AM (#28360493)

    Canada also has 200,000 volunteers, and representatives from every major political party present at ballot counting. At least three people must agree on the content of the ballot for it to be counted.

    Canada's system works well because it is -extremely- transparent, and works through volunteers.

  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Wednesday June 17, 2009 @12:01PM (#28363175)

    The police raided Tehran university, beat, robbed and killed students who were speaking their mind or taking pictures. This was not unexpected. Not at all unexpected. It already happened before, it's why the university was gated and controlled by private security.

    When people live in fear of being beaten or killed for kissing or holding hands, and everyone knows that they can bribe the police to get off the charges, it doesn't create a proud society, it creates unrest.

    I don't think the election has to do with foreign politics at all. It's too dangerous to express disenting opinions about foreign politics in Iran. Nobody gets foreign news without feeling watched. People just want to live their lives and not be in fear of being attacked by the government.

    I think the election was rigged, but the results might have been the same without the rigging.

    I think this rigging was a catalyst to get a lot of people who were afraid, working way too hard and dealing with difficult living conditions in Tehran to stand up together and protest the terrible behaviour of the government and the religious police.

    The police are killing and beating people, the media is cut off and people are afraid to use their real names when speaking to people outside the country.

    And you think they're just poor losers? People are really f-ing scared that if they stop protesting, the police will silently round up identified people and beat them or kill them.

    I have no idea how it could be fixed or how this will end. This could be a civil war or a bloodbath which will result in the entrenchment of an extreme, oppressive power. If members of the provinces could see this as an improvement in the Islamic revolution, then maybe the police would lose their will to enforce the orders of their corrupt leaders. No doubt, they're scared too.

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