Monday, April 23, 2012

Assange, The Professors, and The Taxi Driver

Scientific epidemiology meets Göran Rudling
Julian Assange might go down in History – specifically the History of Democracy - not only as the WikiLeaks founder that tried to rescue the historical record, but also, perhaps mainly, as one of the principle contributors to world peace. 
In truth, while I watched the first episode of Julian Assange's interview-series The World Tomorrow I was all the time reflecting on many of my generation  - who rotted in both nations of the Third World and Europe - and on the valuable role that Olof Palme played internationally, to which I can give testimony: Olof Palme did much for constructing peace because he was trusted broadly by people around the Third Wold and by many in Europe, in addition to having a significant influence in the international scene. 
 Journalist and publisher Julian Assange
In times when journalism is extremely biased in favour the establishment, would Hassan Nasrallah accepted been interviewed by any other than Assange who has  demonstrated such an uncompromising activist position in dealing with world powers?  Obviously not: the Hezbollah leader waited six years to find a worthy interlocutor. Is it important for the possibilities of peace in the region - for finding new strategies to solve military deadlocks or political stalemates - that such stigmatized voices be also heard? The answer to this was loud and clear in the interview, as BBC announced afterwards, “Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah chief, offers Syria mediation”.
In my opinion, advocating for Neutrality in geopolitics does not mean the opportunism of positioning oneself, or pretended positioning oneself as being “neutral” between two belligerent factions or powers. That it was what Sweden perhaps did in the past (before openly becoming full NATO vassal state), but not what Palme did as statesman, or even Carl Bildt did in his older role as peace searcher in the Balkan wars.  
Heroes of the world tomorrow will be those few that audaciously and creatively today put their position at stake in the line of political fire, to call or enable negotiations for peace, for that Tomorrow shall be true for many.
The choice by Assange of Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah, one of the principle figures in the Muslim world, was of course not well received by everybody and provoked in a few souls on the Internet much irritation. In Sweden the default mainstream media (MSM) comment that Assange is "paranoid" was instantaneously delivered, firstly this time in an editorial blog by Svenska dagbladet, SvD. Göran Rudling's Islamophobic blog followed suit and against this backdrop published in the context a new attack on Assange's legal defense. Ornamenting the article was a graphic consisting of the text "Only the paranoid survive" - motto of the Jewish-American businessman Andrew Grove. In previous entries, Rudling's blog has devoted long columns to slander research findings giving proof that, contrary to what he wants people to believe,  Muslims are found to have statistically significant underrepresentation in cases of family-related violence with women resulting in a fatal outcome in Sweden
Who is this Göran Rudling? For me he was practically unknown recently. I have never mentioned him and certainly have nothing against him personally or otherwise. I had the impression, based only through referred comments, that his "Internet detective" digging of twitters was once important in helping to clarify issues in the Assange case. His sudden attacks surprised me, not so much because they were directed against me (although it is the FIRST TIME ever in my long academic and research life that I read such virulent, nearly insane invectives about me personally or about my research or article writings), but because after reading it and other of his articles, there emerged a campaign pattern where: a) the target of his attacks are the few journalists or scholars who have provided some ongoing production of analyses or information flow about the SWEDISH factors in the case, especially the political aspects; b) the spreading in the social media is coordinated with the prolific production of propaganda attributed or "signed" by one or two same "trolls"; and c) Although this "spreading" is directed to all spheres in social media the "trolls" have tried to target Twitter accounts of WikiLeaks supporters, or Julian Assange and Bradley Manning supporters.

The effects of this campaign could be damaging only insofar as they can confound people regarding the actual positions that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks hold. One of these 'psyoperations' intended to portray WikiLeaks as channeling an "anti-feminist" narrative. That episode was rebutted already by Professors blogg in  Disclosing The Fifth Column.
The anti-WikiLeaks agenda of Göran Rudling has many assignments. One such assignment - as recently disclosed by email messages that have been published on the Internet -  consist in discrediting witness' statements presented by Assange's defense, to give the notion those documents were "made-up" or even forced upon the witnesses. Along the same lines and in a separate article, Rudling has slandered my research on Swedish MSM trial by media against Assange. It was about an analysis sustaining an off-court witness statement submitted by Julian Assange's legal defense to the UK judge. 

[Professors Blogg has in previous articles  (summary here) deconstructed the negative media campaign in Sweden regarding Wikileaks editor Julian Assange and examined how that campaign is necessitated by the fact that the Assange case in Sweden exposes to international scrutiny several facets of Swedish domestic laws considered unfair or undemocratic,  or government actions regarding international relationships  that damage irrevocably the image held internationally of Sweden as a neutral and just State.] 
Rudling is NOT- as he has led one or two WL supporters to believe - trying to assist in "proving" that "bad Assange lawyers" indulged in some "professional misconduct" and that his intentions would be to "help" Assange by exposing the practices of the law firm that formerly represented him. But a more plausible aim of his actions is to discredit the content of the witness statements as such and their validity, and consequently diminishing or inhibiting its usefulness in an eventual trial. For, which court would heed as tenable a "coerced" written witness testimony?  
A "troll" campaign on Twitter and on blogs has managed to present Rudling at the Internet as a notable “Swedish legal scholar”. In fact, as I learn quite recently, Göran Rudling is a taxi driver in Stockholm. Driving a taxi is a profession as noble as any. But this means he is NOT the “notable Swedish legal scholar” that the above-mentioned twitter and blogging campaign have us believe. Having lived during many years in central Stockholm (Styrmansgatan, in Östermalm) I had my share of driving through   streets at rush hours traffic. I can understand that the least insulting name-calling Rudling has used to refer supporters of the cause of justice for Julian Assange, including me, has been of the type of “the idiots John Pilger, Michael Moore, Bianca Jagger, and Marcello Ferrada de Noli” -- as he called us in “The Ruminants at Flashback - and at The Supreme Court” (3 February 2012). 
However, Rudling’s favourite number is name-calling, specifically calling his targets “liars”. In his recent post "The reason why Assange was not interviewed in England" (19 April 2012) he now accuses Assange's lawyers in England of having put forward "a damned lie" aimed to deceive the court and witness Brita Sundberg-Weitman and Sven-Erik Alhem about to influence what they have actually declared. For that he quotes remarks by lawyer Jennifer Robinson. Rudling concludes "What is it that makes (the English lawyers) believe they can win a case by hiding the truth
But what he was really after was another, more sophisticated smear, as was recently disclosed by an email-series published in the Internet. In those communications it becomes evident how he has been plotting to discredit witness statements presented by Assange's defense (by giving the notion they were  "made-up" or even forced upon the witnesses -see above). On 13 April he asked 'a troll' to contact witness Brita Sundberg-Weitman and try getting a supportive "evidence" for his plot. 
Rudling and the 'troll' were to face a  rotund disappointment. Brita Sundberg-Weitman, a Swedish judge and author, much respected for her integrity, replied 15 April:
"Sorry, I cannot help there. To be sure, AFTER we had met and talked they [the English lawyers] presented a rough draft for my statement, but they adjusted it to my observations and didn’t put anything in that I could not fully agree with. How could they make Rudling, Hurtig and Alhem sign something they did not agree with?"

She mentions thereafter, in separate sentence referring to another issue:

“. . .Besides, I think Göran Rudling is also stupid and aggressive at times”

Rudling's compulsion of calling any target a "liar" according to his agenda, can have a "mass expression" too; meaning not only individuals but also organizations can be accused by Rudling of "lying" on the basis of different opinions or interpretations. Recently, in an article sent to the Swedish State Television's SvD-debatt  on February 2012, Göran Rudling accused an entire trade union in Sweden of “lying” (see box at right). The accusation in the result of not taking (only according to Ruling) a hard enough stance against “illegitimate” or criminal workers in the branch --a branch were Middle East and African immigrants have become majority. Racist comments supporting his theses in the article were gladly published by  the Swedish State Television's SvD-debatt. Well, no surprise here, when the very Swedish Minister of Culture Affairs indulges in worst publicly racist acts.

Scientific research is not like driving a taxi, going wherever a passenger pays to be taken at his/her caprice or need. Scientific Epidemiology research is a serious  endeavour conducted with academic integrity and with the scientific method as its only compass. Public Health is paramount. As it is with Professors integrity and the academic procedures of their research appointments, the same rigour applies for the designation by the Swedish government of professors to constitute the Ethical Research Committee. These standards are serious business. It cannot be accepted that a simple troll, solely on the basis that he/she possesses a keyboard and has access to Internet, for whatever personal or political motivations indulges in an injurious public campaign with article-series aimed to defame professionally Swedish professors, through bizarre name-calling or gratuitous smear implying scientific misconduct. Constructive discussion and criticism of our work is more than welcome. It has always been. But slander based on ignorance, spurious information, character attack and biased  “analysis” devoid of logic is not constructive discussion or criticism, and it is unacceptable. 

Contents, Aims
In this analysis formulated as open letter to Göran Rudling, but aimed principally to the readers of Professors blog and the supporters of the cause of justice for Julian Assange, I describe a) the racist and flawed argumentation aimed to present Muslim immigrants, collectively, as culturally prone to the behaviour of "honour killing" members of their families! b), the rationale for my statistical significant finding on the actual underrepresentation of Muslims in cases of family-related violence with women resulting in a fatal outcome in Sweden, c) the possible reasons behind this coordinated campaign aimed, as disclosed recently in the Internet, to discredit WikiLeaks supporters with the purpose of ultimately splitting WL and weakening Julian Assange’s legal defense through “guilt by association”. This material was sent to Göran Rudling's blog, in response to his recent attacks on Professors blogg, but it was not published there. I include an Appendix with a previous rebuttal to Rudling published in his blog, and I publish also Rudlings's own text to which I am there replying.

A Rebuttal to Göran Rudling's slander in "Professor Marcello Ferrada de Noli and honour-related violence"

Open letter to Göran Rudling

Dear Mr Göran Rudling, 
You might not be aware that you are downright embarrassing your self here, and your honourable profession of taxi drivers. In the professional level this is a discussion I took up with Uppsala University professors around an application at the Research Ethics Committee, and it is about cross-cultural injury epidemiology, my research speciality. [a] [b] In the political aspect is about whether Swedish cultural-racists have grounds or not for magnifying the qualification of Muslim honour killings in Sweden by promoting a notion of prevalence that is inaccurate. However for you, Mr Rudling, this is only an opportunity you took for implementing your announced campaign aimed to discredit Julian Assange legal's defense through your idea of "guilt by association"; with the peculiar characteristic that the "guilt" items you intended to associate were disclosed as fabrications. Such as your first number trying to depict Professors blogg as "anti-feminist", notion we demolished in Disclosing the Fifth Column.
But you also have demonstrated having some strong positions against some immigrants groups in Sweden. Racism, though, is not the only problem in this epidemiological discussion; there needs to be some understanding of the basics of what we are talking about.  
You have never previously in your own blog-writings yourself used the word “prevalence” before you saw it operational in the works by Traci Birge [c] or me in the Professors blogg. You obviously have not heard much either about the precise concept “incidence”. It is also a basic measurement in epidemiology, as prevalence, morbidity, etc. Well, you have been mixing up those different measurements outrageously. And – if not deliberately – that basic misconception would explain why you embarrass yourself in the Internet with this compulsive “mission” of judging my Prevalence calculation with the norm of a supposedly “Incidence study” that has never been MY design. 
Prevalence is NOT incidence
I give you here below a link where you can in the simplest way visualize the difference between the measurements of incidence and prevalence. [2] If you would like to learn a more in-depth illustration I give you also the reference of the basic reading literature [3] I recommend my students attending the introductory epidemiology lectures before getting into more advanced courses – there are many courses and several theses or academic degrees before they can obtain a PhD and call themselves researchers. At this time of the discussion I must finally ask you to tell me what academic qualifications or expertise training you have in these matters. It might be that I have been mistaken in my assumptions on this when I wrote my previous comments or email, as you are presented in the Internet as “Swedish scholar”; are you? Nevertheless, at this point, knowledge of your real scholarly preparedness on these issues is vital for me (and your readers) in order to find an adequate level in addressing methodological or scientific issues with you and avoid further misunderstandings. It is a matter-of-fact question, nothing personal.
You expressly said in a comment at your blog, addressed to me, “PREVALENCE is the number of cases in a population DIVIDED BY THE NUMBER OF INDIVIDUALS AT RISK in the population.”
But you are utterly wrong, what you refer above is “Incidence rate”, not “prevalence”. Read a simple definition quoted for you here: “An incidence rate is the number of new cases of a disease divided by the number of PERSONS AT RISK FOR THE DISEASE”. [From: “Basic Statistics: About Incidence, Prevalence, Morbidity, and Mortality - Statistics Teaching Tools”] [2]

And what is instead prevalence? “A prevalence rate is the total number of cases of a disease existing in a population divided by the TOTAL POPULATION.” [2, Idem]

In spite that the above “confusion” certainly gives totally different results in these investigations I will not call you a "liar" or a “cheater” for that, just that you are catastrophically wrong. But I will invite you to reflect that you still indulge in calling me names on the basis of your own errors. You say you praise men that can recognize when they have judged in mistake. Prove that Göran Rudling.

Moreover, in spite of several warnings, you kept on ignoring in this uninvited “review” of my finding the inclusive and exclusive criteria that was used for quantifying cases in the contingency table, as well as the rationale for the specific study period. All those aspects were explicitly given in my report of the significant finding. The N= cases you appeal correspond to a total you have yourself obtained adding study periods which is not the one of my design (1990-2004); this study period referred in my calculation was in its turn determined by parameters in the actual base-line data provided by BRÅ. [4]

My finding stands correct: The Observed/Expected Ratio = 0.2 indicated a clear underrepresentation of the Muslim cases among Family-related violence with women resulting in fatal outcome in Sweden during the period 1990-2004. Chi squared distribution: Chi squared equals 10.095 with 1 degrees of freedom. The two-tailed P value equals 0.0015 (
χ2= 10.095, d.f.= 1, p= 0.0015). Conclusion: Muslims found to have statistically significant underrepresentation in cases of family-related violence with women resulting in a fatal outcome in Sweden. 

Denial mechanisms in Demographic issues about Muslim immigrants
As to the estimation of the Muslim population, one main flaw is to equate the “cultural” Muslim category – used in research as an operational concept (a multifactorial research categorization comprising among other idiosyncratic, ethnographic and demographic factors) – with only Muslim-Religion followers.

A second error is considering only the statistics on foreign-born Muslim populations and discounting population figures represented by second-generation immigrants. Already in 2001, 25 per cent of all Swedes aged 0-17 were daughter or son of at least one foreign-born parent (N= 170,625). Statistics Sweden has made a table with data of the nine countries most represented among the individuals age 0-21 with immigrant background. [5] In the table were included only foreign-born children/youth and those born in Sweden having both foreign-born parents. Children/youth with only one parent foreign-born were excluded. I have computed that data and found the countries Iraq, Turkey, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Somalia, the former Yugoslavia, Iran and Lebanon constituted over the 80 per cent of that material. Chile and Finland were also represented in the cohort but constituting only the 5.4 respective 12.8 per cent. 

As a former Harvard Research Fellow I am acquainted with official U.S. statistics and have no reason to doubt their validity; whereas you have impugned the U.S. Sate Department analysis as unreliable source, and also untruly presented it as a local report from the Embassy in Stockholm. However – and in absence of official Swedish statistics addressing ethnicity-related variables - I use the source of the U.S. Department of Foreign Affairs particularly attending to the known aspect that U.S. possesses accurate information about Sweden – among other provided by Swedish government agencies. The U.S. State Department report estimates the actual Muslim population in Sweden of being 450,000 - 500,000 or 5 per cent of the total population [5]. Efforts such as you deploy, trying to ignore the magnitude of the actual “Muslim” population, appear more peculiar for every year, as the growing cohort of young Swedes of the second-generation immigrant continues to increase rapidly –you like it or not.

On the other hand, the participation possibilities of immigrants in the cultural and political life of Sweden are anything but prominent. Official “Integration” policies seldom leave the desks of governmental offices or the good wishes of one or another personality. A conservative sentiment of “us” and “they” is reputed to be rather strong among many Swedes. Added that to the discrimination exercised against immigrants with respect to work issues or in a variety of societal spheres, a result of it is that the presence of immigrants in Sweden tends to be “hidden” from the eye of the public as well the media, etc. I am sure that many would be very surprised to know that immigrants in Sweden - or individuals with foreign background as they are called statistically speaking - are in fact over the 26 per cent of the total Swedish population (2,450,537 individuals comprising 1,384,929 foreign-born immigrants and 1,065,608 born in Sweden of one or both foreign-born parents).
In that demographic context, disavowal of the figure of 450,000 first and second-generation immigrants ascribed to the operational concept Muslim culture may have a variety of causes. Failure to acknowledge the current socio-economic and cultural demographics is perhaps part of a defence mechanism by both individuals in denial that fundamental changes have taken place in the Swedish society, and effects of the crumbling social welfare infrastructure that is nowadays behind the times regarding the realities of Sweden.

This tendency to minimize the actual demographic presence in Sweden of Muslim-religion or Muslim-culture immigrant groups contrasts vividly with the magnifying of individuals' deeds, which are often deceivingly presented as a culturally expressive of the entirely Muslim group. Several attempts in this regard have been assayed in Sweden; the recent approval of the Research Ethics Committee in March 2012 of one of such “research projects” – and which motivated my article “Throw them all out” is one example. There are even more suggested investigation paths trying to demonstrate the collective guilt of the Muslim “cultural gen”.
“If the facts do not meet your theory, change the facts” (Einstein, in a Princeton joke)
This leads to your persistent request to me, via email, that I should do a calculation of honour killings based instead on a reductionist- sampling approach of the “population at risk” as you consider it.

• Firstly, I do not understand why you have not done that yourself and published it – that simple; why keeping asking me to do the calculation YOU are interested in and which is NOT relevant to the query in my design (limited to a nation-wide study of period-prevalence referring “honour killings among the MUSLIM POPULATION of Sweden”)?

• Secondly, that approach - for your purpose - is unrealistic, as you would never find a credible “final criteria” for subdividing the “Nation-wide” sampling.

• Thirdly, indications using incidence rates considering populations at risk is to also be accompanied with calculations of the “Relation Risk Estimate”, which demand a number of expected cases to be held as control cases.

The first population-base you talked about was to compare to only immigrants from respective immigrant-countries where honour killings are most prevalent. But again, that reflects only YOUR ideological aim or reductionist concern. My concern was different and was to find whether there was any evidence that the honour killings perpetrated by “Muslims in Sweden” (also referred as “Immigrants from the Middle East”) has in Sweden an ENDEMIC distribution.

After you dropped the above you started to talk about “only Muslim women” as cut-off criteria, assuming that honour killings affect only the “women” in the Muslim community, not the whole family (or that no male victim, or no female perpetrator is ever implicated); You fail to understand that this argument – for instance under the assumption that honour killings only have women as victims, whether that is tenable or not as hypothesis – is NOT relevant to the material I have studied or its calculations and results, because even if I would use as base population only Muslim women, I also would have to use for the Non-Muslim category only Non-Muslim women and the data will be paired in the contingency table. Summing up, the P value will be the same. This in view of two demographic aspects,

a) The gender ratio between foreign born immigrants in Sweden is even distributed, showing in fact a slightly increase in the number of women in respect to men; the representation of women in the different immigrant groups separately considered ranges from 60 per cent to 46 per cent, [6] Gender distribution is also generally paired in immigrant groups with a typical or high Muslim predominance. Somalis, for example – considered as having the highest Muslim composition – show a distribution of 49.54 per cent women and 50.46 men. Further, among other nationalities of known Muslim configuration such as Eritreans or immigrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, the representation of women is even over 50 per cent (52.3 and 50.7 per cent women, respectively). Foreign-born immigrants from Iraq or Turkey show a representation of 45.8 respectively 45.2 per cent women. [7]

b) The gender distribution among the second-generation immigrants follows the “normal” distribution observed in Sweden between genders. [4]
The cultural-racial notion postulates that Swedish population, by definition, cannot commit “honour killings”, because such behavior is per definition reserved to Muslims
Let us evaluate how you might subdivide your data set, which consists in the TOTAL POPULATION of somewhere around 5-8 incidents you refer over several years (including cases occurred out side the study period of my investigation) and come up with any statistically valid result. First comes your assumption that the study phenomenon may affect only “young women” in age to possibly have relationships with “unwanted” boyfriends; then – if you still do not reach the calculated rate figures you wish – perhaps you may suggest that only the nice looking girls should be counted because they are those constituting the “real” population at risk, as otherwise they are less likely they would have relationships with “unwanted” Swedish boys! Etc. etc. Not to mention that you would still like to have a further reduction in the size of the to-be-calculated population attending to only geographic areas where “most” of the cases were perpetrated etc., etc., and why not to look at the size of the shoes to obtain a further reduced population to divide the number of observed cases! So much for your idea of a nation-wide study designed to establish a nation-wide prevalence rate.

Here I must also address a very important fact that Traci Birge has pointed out clearly in her article [8] and that you have, through your own definition of honour killings, supported: The native Swedish population, by definition, cannot commit “honour killings”, because the very definition is reserved for the immigrant population that comes from a certain ethnic background. These reasons are the crux of why we say that we need to look at violence against women by close familial relations that result in death of women.
Further, we can only in science go as far as the existing data allows us --when we reach the limit of the data we have to acknowledge that. It is problematic to present as scientific data a category of “honour killings” that is not defined by law in Sweden, not treated consistently, and skewed by design. This is perhaps the most fundamental design flaw of your attempts at statistical analysis and compartmentalization of data for the purpose of obtaining an a priori result. I refer you again to the statistics textbooks for more on research design.

My last try here will consist in giving you two illustrations using another violent-death mode we study in Injury Epidemiology research, namely suicide. I will use here rates from the peer-reviewed published article “A cross- cultural breakdown of Swedish Suicide” I published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica while I was at Harvard Medical School [9]. Sweden had in the study period 1987-1991 a combined rate of definite and undetermined suicide [10] of 24. You have possibly heard that the suicide rate of different countries is internationally given by a rate per 100,000 of the population. If we would apply the same notions you wish to use in calculating honour killings, only a rate of populations at risk for suicide should be counted for the rates Sweden sends annually to the World Health Organization (WHO). Only this rate should be held as valid in representing “Nation-wide Suicide in Sweden”. Let’s see, what are the populations at risk for suicide in Sweden?

Generally speaking researchers are in agreement that the diagnosis depression is associated with the majority of suicide cases, or, using another formulation, that depression states are a risk for suicidal behaviour. Would this mean according to your epidemiological notions that the real rate of suicide in Sweden is that one corresponding to the rate among people with a depression diagnosis? Or perhaps better, the rate resulting of the calculation based in the population at risk of acquiring a depression-related diagnosis? One extra burden would be for you to find first what is the exact incidence of depression in Sweden or exact parameters for depression vulnerability.

Illustrating your confusion between Prevalence and Incidence rates
A clear-cut group of individuals at potential risk for suicide in Sweden are foreign-born immigrants. While the above-mentioned combined suicide rate was 24 per 100,000 for Nation-wide Sweden, the suicide rate in the period among immigrants was 31.7 and for native Swedes only 23.3. This means that immigrants are high significantly overrepresented (χ2 = 44.7, p= 0.0001) among the total cases of the period studied. So, being that the immigrants group is more at risk for suicide, why not present the 31.7 instead of 24 as the rate representing the total Swedish population?

And when discovered that among foreign-born immigrants the group with the highest O/E Ratio is the Finnish-immigrants cohort (O/E= 2.23, p= 0.0001), why not using the Finnish-immigrant rate of 53.7 instead as representative of the suicides in Sweden in the period? And then the majority of Finns suicide victims were men, and then among these men the majority in the age segment 40-44 years old. But of course, I should not forget the depression risk factor. Where would you do the population cutting for the nation-wide calculation of suicides in Sweden? Would you stop in the category Depressive-Foreign-born-Finnish-Immigrant-Men/aged 44-44? Judging for your comments both to Traci’s and mine investigations, I do not believe so --at least not if it the result still is contrary to what you want.

Now, we could potentially do research on the "Depressive-Foreign-born-Finnish-Immigrant-Men/aged 44-44" for the purpose of policy intervention (but these would not be the national statistics reported!), but only because the group has been identified systematically through prior research. What you are proposing in the honour killing debate is to take a flawed definition that a priori excludes the vast majority of the population and make assumptions that cannot be tested (data does not exist) about a supposed highest risk group that you yourself will define and redefine until you achieve the desired outcome, which regardless of your calculations cannot be statistically significant anyway because you will have (falsely) subdivided the data to death. This approach to science is like someone who has seen an anatomy book thinking they can do surgery --you will cause more harm than good to your patient!
Scientific research is not like driving a taxi

Mr Göran Rudling, I absolutely do not mean to offend you. In fact, I have nothing personal against you, never had. But at this stage of such an extreme disregard for academic ethics or procedures YOU have taken in this concerted PUBLIC campaign (now disclosed in the Internet) aimed “to stop WikiLeaks” linking my analyses - I am obliged to remind you of the following; and for your own best:

Scientific research is not like driving a taxi, going wherever a passenger wishes to be directed at his/her caprice or need. Scientific epidemiological research is a serious endeavour for Public Health Sciences and health policies including mental health and social medicine. The nomination of Swedish professors is done under public contest according to strict procedures regulated by Swedish National Agency for Higher Education (Högskoleverket). The same level of rigour applies for the designation by the Swedish government of professors to constitute the Research Ethical Committee. These standards and appointments are serious business. It cannot be accepted that an individual, solely on the basis that he/she possesses a keyboard and has access to Internet, for whatever personal or political motivations indulges in an injurious PUBLIC campaign with article-series AIMED to the professional defamation of Swedish professors with accusations of scientific misconduct and discrediting the above-mentioned academic procedures or investitures. As I have said before, constructive discussion and criticism of our work is more than welcome. It has always been. But defamation based on false information, character attack and wrongly or biased executed “analysis” is not constructive discussion or criticism, and it is unacceptable. You have to understand that. There are in fact laws in Sweden making authors of such defamations accountable. And as in any Penal Code, the criminal grading of the offense increases with systematic reiteration.

You would be wise to reflect how serious this legal issue is. I have no wish to litigate in court – I am not the type - but in your refusal to change your libellous expressions you might end in giving me no other choice than to file a police report regarding your defamation as evident in this, as well in your previous article, or in your comments in this blog that I have recently seen.

Regarding the new escalation in your insults and your resumption of name-calling here in your blog: I remind you – I should have done so in the first place - that you gave me your word just a couple of days ago that you will cease doing that. In fact, besides the apology you sent to me in a private email, you wrote exactly these terms which you published in your blog the 15 April 2012: “I am sorry if I have offended you . . . FOR THE FUTURE I WILL NOT USE ANY OFFENSIVE EXPRESSIONS”. Don’t you realize that when you gave your word you have made yourself accountable for that in a matter of honour? You should reflect on that seriously. Word of honour is a most important issue in many cultures, including Sweden. For some, it is a personal and cultural ethic more important than the law. There is an old Latin saying from the Romans time that as the bull is worth for its horns so is the man by his word.

Your real position about Julian Assange’s legal defense in disclose
The questions for many people at this stage are. A) Why is it that you started to harass me and other people writing FOR the cause of justice of Julian Assange while never criticizing authors vilifying that cause? B) Why are your attacks coordinated with exactly similar attacks by an erratic Internet troll using - in public communication with you - your “draft articles” you have sent to her and other materials she re-publishes far and wide in the Internet? C) Why are you so “passionate” in producing libellous writings in the Internet against us, yet have not said a word about Swedish and other feminists that have put forward the SAME thesis as Traci and I on these issues of “Muslim” honour killings? D) Why after the historical interview Julian Assange performed with one known Muslim leader you reacted by writing a new virulent attack on Assange and the credibility of his legal defense? E) What does your campaign to discredit through disinformation have to do with the attempts to discredit by association the people and causes we support, such as Julian Assange’s defence against the multiple attacks and survival risks you refer to as only born in our “conspiracy-minds”? Finally, why do you think the perpetuation of false information that defames specifically the Muslim immigrant community is beneficial to the cause of reducing and eliminating violence against women?

As for the very important matter, about legal issues, you should be yourself seriously concerned:

According to the screenshot I received you have made the following statement in your blog “” the 17 of April referring concretely to the Muslims in Sweden:

“The truth is that honour killings in the Muslim population is by far over-represented. “ (Göran Rudling).

a) As the full sentence you stated reads, “
The truth is that honour killings in the Muslim population is by far over-represented. Not under-represented as you state in your articles.” b) As what I referred in my articles was specifically the under-representation of Muslims in cases of family-related violence with women resulting in a fatal outcome in Sweden:
Are you aware that this is a straightforward racist statement against the Muslim immigrants in Sweden as a group, and that it constitutes a criminal offense? To accuse Muslims publicly in the Internet that they are “far over-represented” in a distinct criminal behaviour without possessing a reliable proof for such an accusation is what would be criminal in this case, according to the Swedish law; For you just do not have a scientific published calculation of statistical significance regarding such purported overrepresentation; neither can you refer to any such publication done in a scientific journal because that simply does not exist. In this context your public statement is not only slander; it is “Hets mot folkgrupp”, [11] which constitutes a criminal offense. You will have to face the fact you have self-advertised such racist position in your own blog; and face the fact you will be referring accordingly.

I have taken now time to explain to you and your readers the rationale of the epidemiological aspects taken up in my blog to demonstrate there is no whatsoever ground for your libel. I decided this attending the last email you sent to me. I hope you will receive this for your own best in a positive spirit. People are entitled to actually have different opinions about issues, and different hypotheses or different designs, according to own scientific interests or methodological profiles. But you do not have the right to falsely slander persons just because they do not think like you, or insult ethnic groups just for not being born in the same culture as you.


Marcello Ferrada de Noli, PhD
Professor emeritus of Public Health Sciences especially Epidemiology

[a] Formerly, Head of the Research group International and Cross-cultural Injury Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute, Department of Social Medicine
[b]  Medicine doktor i ämnesområdet psykiatri, Karolinska Institutet 

[c] Traci Birge is a PhD candidate with a solid research background both in the social and natural sciences. Among other merits, she holds peer-reviewed and expert scientific publications. She is also a guest contributor in the Professors blog (see articles-index in column at left). I thank Traci for the English proofread of this material.


[2] “Basic Statistics: About Incidence, Prevalence, Morbidity, and Mortality - Statistics Teaching Tools”

[3] Rothman K J & Greenland S (1998), Modern Epidemiology. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Phil. 2nd ed.

[4] Utvecklingen av dödligt våld mot kvinnor i nära relationer. RAPPORT 2007:6 Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå)

[5]. Source: Statistics Sweden, Records On Total Population 2001

5. U.S. Department of State (2009), Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. International Religious Freedom Report 2009, Report on Sweden.

6. Source: Statistics Sweden, Foreign-born population 2011

7. Statistics Sweden, Population (2010) according to background

8. Birge T, Debating a Taboo: Gender, Honour Killings and Fear of “the Other” (2012). In Professors blog

9. Ferrada-Noli M, Dept of Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School (1997). A Cross-Cultural Breakdown of Swedish Suicide. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 96 (2): 108-16

10. “Undetermined cases of suicide (UMSA) are those in which it cannot be inferred with a reasonable degree of certainty that the injury ultimately responsible for the person's death was not only intentionally self-inflicted, but also specifically intended to bring about the person’s own demise.” Ferrada-Noli M, Postraumatic stress disorder and suicidal behaviour in immigrants to Sweden, Karolinska Institutet 1996/2003

11. "8 § The one that in speech or any other communication that spreads threatens or expresses contempt for a national, ethnic or other such group with allusion to race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to imprisonment not exceeding two years or if the crime is petty, to a fine." (Swedish law, Penal Code -- brottsbalken 16 kap. 8 §)

License note: Statistical calculations are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
For Attribution form see

Uppdate 30 April 2012


[Texts from GR's blog]
Göran Rudling on April 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm said:
Dear Marcello Ferrada de Noli,
This is the first of my comment on errors in your article “Throw them all out.”
Your usage “Muslim” population in Sweden
    1. First of all I disagree with your claim that in Sweden the general opinion is that Muslims are regarded as the sole perpetrators of honor-killings and the only ones that embrace an honor-related violence culture. I think the general view in Sweden is that honor-killings are committed by immigrants that originate from countries where honor-killings occur. I do not consider Jenny Westerstrand’s or Eva Lundgren’s opinions in any way important.
    2. The Swedish Prosecution Authority’s manual; “Honour-related violence”. You claim that the manual slanders Muslims. I cannot find any mentioning of Islam or Muslims in the manual. The manual simple states that the people responsible for honor-killings and honor-related violence originate from countries where honor-killings occur. Statements that actually support my argument in the previous paragraph.
    3. The size of the Muslim population in Sweden. You claim that the population is 450 000 people. You base your claim on a report that originates from the US Embassy in Stockholm from 2009. I don’t think that is accurate.
      My estimation of 250 000 is from Leif Stenberg ”Islam in Scandinavia”. See Wikipedia article,
    4. The relevant number to use in calculations for honor-killings should be the number of people that originate from countries where honor-killings occur. I have compiled the number of immigrants, and children born in Sweden by immigrants, that originate from countries where honor killings occur. (Afghanistan, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, UAE and Yemen).
      According to Statistics Sweden (SCB) the total number is 486 028 (31 Dec 2011). I think that you will agree with me that it is likely that 450 000 is a high estimate for the average number of immigrants and children for the period 1986-2010 and the period 1990-2006.
    5. Your connection of Muslims to honor-killings. You are the person that makes a connection between Muslims and honor-killings. In this respect you are no different that the national party, Sverigedemokraterna. I dislike the connection since it is not true. Honor-killings are not connected to a specific religion as you yourself state. Best proof of that honor-killings are not a Muslim thing is the fact that in the country with the largest Muslim population exists, Indonesia, honor-killings are extremely rare (virtually non-existant). In a separate post I will try to explain why that is.

Marcello Ferrada de Noli on April 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm said:
In the same order of your items above on my article “Throw them all out”:
A. You say that I have claimed there: “In Sweden the general opinion is that Muslims are regarded as the SOLE perpetrators of honor-killings and the ONLY ONES that embrace an honor-related violence culture”. I have never written or claimed what you attribute to me. What I wrote instead was:
“The Development Centre of Gothenburg, an institution of the Swedish Prosecution Authority led by Chief prosecutor Marianne Ny, states in the public document “Honour-related violence. Manual” that the explanations for such criminal behaviour – ascribed in Sweden by the media exclusively to immigrants from the MIDDLE EAST – are to be found in these two models . . .” In another part I wrote that honour-related violence in Sweden “is usually attributed mainly to ‘Muslim CULTURE’ individuals”
Besides, from the perspective of the Swedish law against discrimination, it is equally criminal to collectively slander religious groups of foreign origin (such as “Muslims”), as it is to slander ethnic groups of foreign origin (such as “Kurds”, or “Iraqis”, etc). This is what the law says: “”8 § The one that in speech or any other communication that spreads, threatens or expresses contempt for a national, ethnic or other such group with allusion to race, color, national or ethnic origin, religious belief or sexual orientation shall be sentenced for ethnic agitation to imprisonment not exceeding two years or, if the crime is petty, to a fine.” (Swedish law, Penal Code – brottsbalken, 16 kap. 8 §).
B. You say you “cannot find any mentioning of Islam or Muslims” in the above-mentioned manual of The Swedish Prosecution Authority.
Again, it can mean that you have not read carefully: The fact is that “Muslims” are expressly mentioned in the manual. See for instance Section “What Ethnic Background Do the Implicated Ones Have?” in page 53. There the manual states that regarding religious faith only a handful cases are Christian but in some more cases “have to do with Muslims”. Further, the manual makes reference, directly or indirectly, to Muslim populations. In the first place, the countries predominantly mentioned in the manual are known for having Islam as main religion (and culture). Example of cultural-racial slander in the Manual can be found in “3.3.5. Honour as economic capital”, text which I also posted in reference 3 in “Throw them all out”.
C. You say, about the Muslim population figures I used and that you ascribe the U.S. Embassy: “I do not think that is accurate”. But you do not give any rationale or fact-argument at all as to why you “think” is not accurate. Further, it is not consistent that you refer me to the same Wikipedia source which you have, unsubstantiated, criticized me of using as “the only source” for my statistical calculations (accusation which is also groundless; see among the 26 source items in the Reference section of “Throw them all out”). Göran, you announced you would be discussing factual “errors” about my article but here you are just telling what you “prefer” as source. Where are the facts?
D. You say, “The relevant number to use in calculations for honor-killings should be the number of people that originate from countries where honor-killings occur.” Well Göran, that cannot be more equivocal from the perspective of epidemiological procedures. How could one put together a valid contingency table allocating such queries? It is really beyond comment. But provided you really believe so, why don’t you assay that “significance calculation” yourself and publish it? In any case that is your problem to solve, not mine. My inquiry was to estimate the period prevalence of the MUSLIM honour killings in SWEDEN. I have already told you that if you wish to comment on my article “I invite you to reread my text, keeping in mind that I HAVE ADDRESSED A DIFFERENT QUESTION than what you have put forth in your criticism here.”
E. You say that I would be “the person that makes a connection between Muslims and honor-killings” Wrong Göran, I just studied the prevalence of honour killings among the Muslims in Sweden. As regarding the political implication of it you are way far wrong, it is exactly the opposite of what you present. I am the one who is reacting against the cultural-racist notion that Muslims are “culture-bound” prone not only to “honour” kill members of their family but also that those killings are highly represented in Sweden. I have demonstrated that this is a fabrication and that, in fact, Muslims are underrepresented (statistically significant result: (X2= 10.095, d.f.= 1, p= 0.0015) in the cases of family-related violence with women resulting in a fatal outcome in Sweden. That is all I say in terms of significant findings.
Secondly, about your pointing out that “0.1 of 10 000 is not 0,0001 percent. . .It is 0,001 percent”. That was a misspelling error – or “just an error of carelessness” as you called it in your email – which does not affect at all the relationships of statistical significance between the variables analysed. After I checked my notes I conclude it was not a calculation error (as the main per 10 000 rate was written correctly = 0.1) but a misspelling of the equivalent percentage in the text at the post. I have of course corrected that in my text (“Throw them all out”, Section III) and I thank you for that mention.
Finally, as I told you before, putting together a couple of separately published independent twitters – of 140 characters each including the link to my article – will never make a “research conclusion” text. First I would have to write that Conclusion section, before to have it commented.
On the rest of your points in your texts above, and also in your email, although some of them are interesting views, they are not applicable to what I have actually put forward in my article. Some views, which you present as debating items with me, are in fact issues with which I agree and even have already stated in my own texts.
Your views I commented above, added to your personal opinions or characterizations ad hominem you have published, are not relevant to the statistical finding in my series that Muslims are underrepresented in the cases of family-related violence with women resulting in a fatal outcome in Sweden. That is a fact, and its statistical significance established.
Disappointedly, further dialogue is NOT possible, for the reasons I explain here below.
I wish now to clarify to you a very important issue.
In my previous comment I wrote to you (I capitalize instead of underline), which I thought it was clear enough:
“Of course we are entitled in Sweden to have any opinions we like — provided the opinions ad hominem we publish WOULD NOT FALL UNDER THE “ÄREKRÄNKNING” PARAGRAPH (slander). Some of your expressions do not suit a gentlemanly or legal-scholar fashion one could expect from your otherwise valuable contributions. Perhaps YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER THE PUBLICATION of such offensive personal expressions. That is one of the advantages we bloggers have; WE CAN DECIDE what to publish but also, as I announced above, TO CORRECT OUR TEXTS IF NECESSARY.” And “PROVIDED THAT academic regard, I am happy to publish and respond to criticism of my texts on my blog and will correct any mistakes that are found if the mistake and correction are specified clearly.”
You answered 15 April 2012 via my private email and wrote:
“I am very sorry if I have offended you with the un-gentlemanly expressions. Please accept my apology.”
I wrote back to you and accepted your apology but also, as I concomitantly wrote, that I expect you to replace those offensive terms: “I sincerely hope you will find the opportunity of replacing such expressions you published in your Swedish and English materials in accordance to the spirit of our dialogue”
As I see it now, on the one hand you have in words extended an apology for the offensive expressions used against me in your blog articles; but on the other, in real terms, you persist in keeping those very same offenses published in your materials.
Seriously, that you first ask for an apology for publishing in the Internet injurious expressions, and then – by not changing any of such published offensive expressions or printing a retraction of your slander – you in reality persist in the same behaviour for which you are asking an apology; that is “incomprehensible”.
I will have no further comments until you honour your apology with facts, including retractions and corrections of your defamatory expressions.
There are further such materials made public in your name earlier on the Internet by another individual. In the opinion of my legal advisers, such expressions, as well as those referred before, also constitute clearly slander, libel and character defamation or Ärekränkning, according to the Swedish Criminal Code, 5 kap. 1 § Brottsbalken).
Lastly, you even added to your apology in the said email of 15 April: “My hope was that I could create some kind of reaction.” Göran, even small children are taught that to made up things and name-calling for the purpose of “being provocative” to “getting someone’s attention” or the “public’s attention” is unacceptable behaviour.
Something in me says that you would understand me in this, and would agree that a dialogue under such terms is unacceptable.
I wish you well
Prof. Marcello Ferrada de Noli PhD
Med. dr. i psykiatri. Professor em. folkhälsovetenskap/epidemiologi

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting reading.Especially as my knowledge of "muslim honour killings in Sweden"is miniscule. Mr Rudeling's views are seemingly not peer reviewed. To the laymen his views in this instance may look impressive but needed to be analysed and put right in meaning and detail.(Impressively accomplished by Professor Ferrada de Noli.)
By the way, there seem to be a "peer review" of sorts in Flashback, theme Assange, page 3240, #38870,38871,38878 and maybe also #38881, 38882. These items help me regard Mr Rudling's views, generally speaking, to be of questionable value.

Yours etc