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(Worst) graph of the year

This (forwarded to me from Jeff, from a powerpoint by Willam Gawthrop) wins not on form but on content:

Really this graph should stand alone but it’s so wonderful that I can’t resist pointing out a few things:

- The gap between 610 and 622 A.D. seems to be about the same as the previous 600 years, and only a little less than the 1400 years before that.

- “Pious and devout” Jews are portrayed as having steadily increased in nonviolence up to the present day. Been to Israel lately?

- I assume the line labeled “Bible” is referring to Christians? I’m sort of amazed to see pious and devout Christians listed as being maximally violent at the beginning. Huh? I thought Christ was supposed to be a nonviolent, mellow dude. The line starts at 3 B.C., implying that baby Jesus was at the extreme of violence.

Gong forward, we can learn from the graph that pious and devout Christians in 1492 or 1618, say, were much more peaceful than Jesus and his crew.

- Most amusingly given the discussion of religious militancy, the above graph is itself an expression of religious fundamentalism! Look at that “Torah” line carefully. It starts in 1400 B.C.!

According to Spencer Ackerman, this presentation was shown as part of a training for FBI agents. Fortunately, “the views expressed in this presentation are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of any agency of the United States Government.”

Perhaps the same crew can arrange a presentation for the Army Corps of Engineers, discussing the techniques used in the parting of the Red Sea?

30 Comments

  1. “Most genocidal killing from the 15th century onwards has been part of Europe’s search for lebensraum.” – Arundhati Roy

  2. John Mashey says:

    Did we pay for this material to be presented to the FBI?

  3. idiot says:

    How do you define “pious and devout”? Or even “violent”/”non-violent”? Are we to assume that no pious and devout Jews and Christians are ever in army?

  4. zbicyclist says:

    Not even a bump the trend for the Nazi era? And perhaps the Troubles in Northern Ireland are rounding error?

    • Michael says:

      Dude, Hitler was severly anti-Christian. Way to uphold dubious stereotypes.

      And yes, compared to what the Arab Sudanese did to the Christian South Sudanese, No. Ireland is a rounding error.

      • Billy says:

        How about what the Christian Serbs did to the Bosnian Muslims? Also a rounding error? In any case, why would you take violence in civil wars as representative of a particular religion?

  5. Brad says:

    Crusades guys? Could we at least mention the crusades? This could have come out of The Onion.

    • Michael says:

      Yeah, it’s not like the Crusades were a reaction to three centuries of Muslim military invasion of Christian lands or anything.

      • Just wondering... says:

        By your logic, is Mumlim terrorism excused because its a “reaction” to Christian occupation of Muslim lands?

        • Michael says:

          So, exactly how many Muslim lands were “occupied” by Christians in 2001?

          • Just wondering... says:

            Besides Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, UAB, and all the lands occupied by Us supported Israeli forces… none. Or should we also count the Egyptian dicatorship which was merely propped up with billions in military aid from the US? Also, does maintaining a no-fly zone over a large portion of Iraq count? How about maintaining a strong naval presence in the Gulf?

          • Michael says:

            You apparently don’t know what the word “occupation” means.

            The US presence in all of those countries is a direct result of one Muslim nation invading a second Muslim nation and threatening to occupy a third. The latter two sovereign nations then voluntarily requested U.S. assistance. Also note that the local laws in those listed nations are some of the most extreme Islamist and anti-Christian of anyone. So no, none of those places has anything like a “Christian occupation”.

          • Just wondering... says:

            Tell that to Osama bin Laden (if you have a submarine handy). His “justifications” for all of his acts was the presense of US troops in the muslim holy land. In his mind, the Saudi royal family is nothing but a puppet propped up by the US, an unholy alliance that brought shame to Islam.

            You also never addressed Israel or Egypt. One has been occupying Muslim lands for decades, the other had a brutal dictatorship propped up by the US. Its enough to make one at least mildly upset at the west.

            I love that you think the Crusades were just a righteous reaction by the otherwise peaceful European Christians to muslim encroachment. Never mind that they were a convenient outlet for pent up military, political and religious tension between Christians in Europe. Never mind the economic factors. Never mind things like the 4th Crusade, where the mighty Christian avengers took out their wrath… on the Christians of Constantinople, by sacking their city and slicing their empire in 2, having never even made it to the holy land! It was a crusade of Christian against Christian! How does that work into your theory?

          • Michael says:

            Just because UBL (or for that fact, a significant minority of the Muslim world) believes something doesn’t make it true. As a matter of fact, that is a major point of Mr Gawthrop, that a large part of the Islamicist worldview is based on a set of simply inaccurate facts that are more widely believed than most of us would care to acknowledge.

            And Israel is Jewish, not Christian. There are zero Christian troops occupying any of Egypt, Israel or the PA, and the dictatorships in Egypt long predate any US “support”.

            You’re right, the Crusades aren’t “simple”. But they weren’t unprovoked either, and the Arabs weren’t innocent, isolationist nor pacifist. If only the Muslim world was as honest and self-critical about its history as the West.

          • Just wondering... says:

            So the Saudi government isn’t in bed with the US? The US didn’t and does not maintain tons of troops in the Muslim holy land, and all over the middle east?

            You are saying that all Israeli’s are Jewish? Even if they were, it would invalidate the graph. You’re saying it doesn’t matter that the majority Christian US empowers and fund the oppression of Muslims, as long as the people actually holding the guns aren’t technically Christian? How “Christian” is it to spend your money to build and deploy armies and machines of death on the other side of the world?

            Come to think of it, how “Christian” was it to eradicate tens of millions of people and then enslave tens of millions more purely out of greed? How does that work with your chart? I don’t see any deviations in the line for those little incidents. And it won’t do you any good to come back with the “other people did it too” excuse. I thought Christians were supposed to set a good example and not behave in evil ways.

            The west is honest and self critical about its history? HAHAHA! Trying bringing up some ugly truths about American history at any GOP fundraiser or fundamentalist Christian church, and see just how “honest” and “self critical” they can be!

          • Just wondering... says:

            And the Crusades are somehow justified because they were provoked? What happened to “turn the other cheek”? “Blessed be the Peacemakers”? All that hippie Christian crap that Jesus preached?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Also, Judaism seems to be represented by little crescents. All out of stars of David? Or are Jews just non-violent Muslims?

  7. ali says:

    Has anyone a clue what the big star could stand for? Godless anarchists? Last slide?

  8. John N-G says:

    The big black star is probably when the Sun goes supernova and the world ends. Good thing too, because if one extrapolates those straight lines out another hundred years or so many of us move right past non-violence to…what? Non-breathing?

  9. [...] Changes in militancy of religions across time. Worst graph of the year? [...]

  10. C Ryan King says:

    There are stars of David if you look at the high-res version; they just didn’t copy well. I assume the crescents in both clusters are to indicate the existence of non-violent Muslims.

  11. C Ryan King says:

    The big star is probably communism; it looks vaguely like a red star.

  12. [...] Gelman of Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science brings us the “(Worst) graph of the year.”It’s a graph that purports to show the tendency toward violent militancy of [...]

  13. [...] sentance of the week: “The line starts at 3 B.C., implying that baby Jesus was at the extreme of violence” (h/t: Ezra [...]

  14. [...] Andrew Gelman found this graph from the training: [...]

  15. A lot of organizations, not just the FBI, seem to me to have a tension between the technocratic element and the ideological alignment element, and the latter is cut a lot of epistemological slack.

    Even so, it’s hard to imagine a graph that nutty surfacing in an environment where a signifcant fraction have graduate degrees from accredited universities. I’d really like to see the microsocial circumstances of the display and discussion of that graph.

  16. Jeffrey Davis says:

    Somebody didn’t read The Book of Joshua. Men. Women. Children. Animals. (Imagine Yahweh as Gary Oldman in Leon. “EVERYTHING!”)

  17. Dave X says:

    Oh wow…looking at the pdf link shows that this wasn’t just one slide–the entire presentation was 10 slides building up elements into this blivet.