The empire destroys its own

Get a load of this:

WASHINGTON — A record high number of Army suicides are linked to an increasingly "permissive" environment in the service where soldiers take personal risks in their lives by using alcohol and drugs, committing crimes and refusing to get psychological help and do not enough to curb the behavior, according to a sweeping internal investigation released by Army officials today.

Internal investigations by government agencies always seem to turn out this way. It's not the multiple deployments, the stress of fighting in a conflict where you can't tell who wants to kill you until they're doing it, the moral burden of shooting at innocent people, the vagueness of the goals of the conflict, or any of that. In other words, it's not the essential part of what soldiers do these days.

It's that, for some reason, without any causes, soldiers are engaging in risky behavior, and their commanders are just too darn earnest about prosecuting the war to notice.

I know that someone involved in this investigation realized how insultingly stupid this conclusion was, but I also know that mainstream American political consciousness is so pro-war that most people won't be insulted.

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I dunno....

In seeking to explain a statistical anomaly, the first place to look is at the sample. Here, we face a serious selection bias problem.

After all, having experienced nearly a decade of constant deployment, who do you think keeps joining and re-enlisting in the military? I don't imagine it's a random sample of Americans; rather, I imagine the sample skews heavily toward the risk-lovers. These would also be people who are more prone to experiment with drugs. And, lo and behold, we find corroborating evidence in the data regarding rampant drug use -- legal and otherwise -- in the military.

Risk lovers are also people who are disproportionately likely to commit suicide. Case closed? I don't know if selection bias explains the whole phenomenon, but it seems like a good start. As a control group, it would be interesting to follow a sample of people who tried to enlist in the military but were excluded, and track their rates of suicide.

In contrast, evidence shows that the soldiers who are most likely to kill themselves are soldiers who have have ZERO or ONE deployment. Soldiers with multiple deployments are much less likely to do the deed. This undermines the "essential part of what soldiers do these days" thesis.

AGREE!!!!!

The voluntary military sorts itself and the remainders are those who are best suited for killing people and breaking things. Maybe that is the reason the crime rate in the lower 48 has been dropping. Our best killers and breakers are kept outside the US.

In contrast, evidence shows

In contrast, evidence shows that the soldiers who are most likely to kill themselves are soldiers who have have ZERO or ONE deployment. Soldiers with multiple deployments are much less likely to do the deed.

Where does one find this evidence?

The New York Times sez ...

"The report, released Thursday at the Pentagon, found that it was not only the stress of repeated deployments over nearly a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan that has driven the Army suicide rate above the civilian rate for the first time since the Vietnam War. Significantly, the report said that 79 percent of the soldiers who committed suicide had had only one deployment, or had not deployed at all."

Interesting point, but even

Interesting point, but even taking that one clause out of what I wrote earlier, there are still several factors that would push a psychologically normal human being over the edge.

Could be that it takes a

Could be that it takes a specific intrinstic sense of purpose to be directly involved in this type of combat and not get pushed over the edge are the ones selected fo rmultiple deployment?

I'm not sure that it is necessarily surprising that individuals that have self-selected to enter directly into this conflict (be it for reasons of serving others, hatred, or simply the need for income/educations), are trained, and then must cope with the cognitive dissidence between the civilian world as it is and the world they've experienced/been trained for without having the distraction of constantly defending one's life tend towards mind altering substances and suicide at a higher rate than the average population or someone that is actively using that training directly in the conflict.

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I think it is pretty stupid of Randall McElroy to say what he did.

It is entirely possible that what he said specifically is true. Just as it is entirely possible that what the army said is true. I shall not attempt to claimt that one or the other is so.

But he is guilty of the very thing he is accusing others of. Saying a load of bullshit by claiming that there is NO WAY the other side is right. Seriously? Are you 5 years old? How about 3? You seem to have an absolute disrespect for truth here.

Disrespectful and Dishonest

I think it is pretty stupid of Randall McElroy to say what he did.

It is entirely possible that what he said specifically is true. Just as it is entirely possible that what the army said is true. I shall not attempt to claimt that one or the other is so.

But he is guilty of the very thing he is accusing others of. Saying a load of bullshit by claiming that there is NO WAY the other side is right. Seriously? Are you 5 years old? How about 3? You seem to have an absolute disrespect for truth here.