Thursday, June 3, 2010


While the NY Times continues its obstinate refusal to publish my pithy comments, I have managed to inflict some collateral damage on this venerable paper. My notice to them earlier this week of an egregious math error in one of their editorials (see below) resulted in the following correction notice (see below below) in this morning's edition of the Times.

MY COMMENT: 'The Great Unknowns' (5/31/10) contains a math error of significance. Mr. Poole writes of the Civil War having an astounding number of more than 2 in 5 who went to their graves without being identified. The accompanying Rumors chart shows 622,000 deaths of which more than 150,000 were unknown soldiers, and lists this as 'approximately 41%' of the total amount.

Either the chart is wrong, or the math is inaccurate. If the unidentified was about 250,000 (not 150,000) then the calculations would be closer to matching. If the Rumors figure is right, then this is more like 1 in 4, (or 25%) not 2 in 5. Please let us know where the truth lies, as these numbers are the central focus of this piece. This calculation should not be your Great Unknown.

THE CORRECTION: 'An Op-Chart on Monday, about the number of service members who died in American wars and whose bodies were unidentified, referred imprecisely to the number of unknown soldiers in the Civil War. The number of Union unknowns is 150,000 or 41 percent of the Union dead and 25 percent of the total dead: the figure does not include Confederate unknowns, whose number is a matter of dispute'.

MY COMMENT TO THE CORRECTION- "Imprecisely". Even this correction needs a correction. Is "imprecisely" double-talk for "we made a mistake"? The editorial was inaccurate and the attempt to admit it was not much better. If I cannot be a contributing writer, I can at least serve as an unofficial public editor. I am watching.


PickleBiz said...

You Sik-'em...grrrrrrr!!!

Unknown said...

Makes you wonder if anyone else notices these things. Way to get back in the Times, pop!!

Pam said...

I had great confidence you would work your way back in.....