Error is an inevitable part of life

Everett Marc Lautin, M.D. 

215 East 95th Street (Apt. 20J) 

New York, NY 10128-4084 

April 11, 1999

Letters to the Editor 


The New York Times 

229 West 43rd Street 

New York, NY 10036

Re: April.11.1999 The Way We Live Now (page 17)

An interesting piece on war, war movies, and the remoteness of the post Vietnam generation from massive conflict.  I find however, one area of conflict in the sidebar to the article, "Casualties of Peace: DATA." 

The cliché, death is an inevitable part of life, is no less true even in the peacetime military and it is gratifying to know it is decreasing.  It would be informative to know how the figures in the table compare with a comparable civilian population.  

The error in the sidebar arises from the conflict of two statements, "But the rate has been dropping steadily over the years - in 1998 the number of deaths per 100,000 soldiers was half of what it was in 1980." Versus "Casualty figures are down, in part, because the total number of U.S. soldiers has dropped from 2.1 million in 1988 to 1.4 million in 1998."  A "rate per 100,000" should not be affected by the size of the population, as long as the population remains large.  Error is another inevitable part of life.