Maths

Sometimes it’s a better idea to simply calculate things through instead of going for first impressions. There’s this website called ‘the religion of Peace’, which actually tracks all violent attacks perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam since 9/11. The point they want to make is quite clear from even a passing glance: ‘There is something deeply, deeply wrong with Islam’ in their own words, ‘If peace is defined as being free to live one’s life as one pleases and allowing others to do the same, then Islam is as far from peace as it can possibly be.’

As I’m writing this (on 9/22/2008 ) 2,568 days have passed and according to ‘the religion of Peace’ more than 11,904 violent attacks by Muslims were perpetrated in the name of Islam. That’s roughly 4.6 per day. Seems impressive? Look again.

Estimates of the total Muslim population of the planet range between 1 and 1.8 billion. Let’s start with the lower number and take out half for all women: 500 million Muslim men. Say half of that is either too old or too young to partake in the jihad that ‘the Religion of Peace’ sees happening everywhere. That leaves 250 million adult Muslim men to wage that war. What do those numbers say about how violent actually existing Muslims are? I prefer to look at real Muslims instead of Islam. ‘Islam’ is too fuzzy a concept.

Suppose we need ten Muslims for every attack, that’s ten unique Muslims per attack. No single Muslim ever participates in more than one act of violence. It artificially raises the number of violent Muslims a bit, but it makes calculating the results a lot easier. Then those 11,904 attacks mean 119,040 violent Muslims. That’s 0.0476% of the 250 million adult Muslim men. That would mean 99.9524% of all adult Muslim men never participate in violent attacks in the name of Islam.

Think I’ve massaged my data? Fine, let’s assume we need ten times as much Muslims for an attack: a hundred. That would still mean a ratio of 0.4762% violent Muslim men against 99.5238% non-violent ones. Still think I’m not using the right figures? OK, one thousand unique Muslims per attack then. It still leaves 4,7616% of violent Muslim men against a 95.2384% non-violent majority. But didn’t ‘the Religion of Peace’ say there were more than 11,904 attacks? Fine, double the number of attacks if you want. It still gives you a non-violent majority of over 90% (90.4768% to be precise).

One of my teachers once taught me a rough estimate was better than a long description. I think he was right.

3 Responses to “Maths”

  1. Brilliant analysis! That really puts things into perspective. After the Columbine school shootings in the US, a friend used a similar approach to argue there was nothing systematically wrong with our schools — i.e. they were not systematically promoting violence. Of course these kinds of analysis get lost in the outcry whenever some event occurs.

  2. I am sorry to see your range of interesting blogs disrupted by this faulty analysis, albeit with a sympathetic conclusion. Reason: you take all women out of the analysis. This is a flaw in your reasoning for at least two reasons: women are violent given the chance (we did see some attacks by female suicide bombers); for some Muslim women the burka is the ideal way to obsucre everything, including bombs, kalashnikovs etc.
    Another flaw is that you lump all Muslims. How would you like to be lumped as one of those whites (waging war on e.g. Iraq), catholics (condemning everything pleasurable) or men (rapists)? Right.
    While I condemn all religion as a folly (“it makes people do foolish things”), I think you should discuss it with proper reasoning.

  3. shirhashirim Says:

    I agree, hippo1st, but your comment misses the point.
    As I said: a quick and dirty estimate is better than a long description. My post is one of those ‘quick and dirty’ estimates. It’s not an ‘analysis’ and as such it’s not ‘faulty’, it’s what I said: just a ‘quick and dirty estimate’. Why use ‘proper reasoning’ when a quick and dirty estimate suffices? ‘Proper reasoning’ would only lead to a long description and wouldn’t make for a good blog.

    To the point: the exclusion of women. I did that to diminish the number of muslims ‘quickly and dirty’. The vast majority of attacks are perpetrated by men, women are an exception, so divide by half. That’s quick and dirty I know. But I wanted to calculate as best as I could against my own conclusion. If you’d include the women, the percentage of muslims that do ‘foolish things’ because of their religion would only drop below the already ridiculously low rate that I calculated.

    Lumping together? It depends. I certainly wouldn’t mind being lumped together with other whites, men and catholics a priori. Lumping is one of those techniques that may get you a quick and dirty estimate. I have no problem with lumping for the right purposes. As long as nobody refers to my post as a thorough analysis (which it indeed isn’t), anyone may lump me at will…

    But yes, sure, I agree. Any quick and dirty estimate can be specified, refined and made both less quick and less dirty by looking at the facts and figures closer. I wonder though if it would seriously affect my conclusions.

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