In his letter “Men needed: front and center,” (July 21) Dr. Sidney Williams stated “Recent polls reveal 25 percent of U.S. Islamics are willing to participate in bombings.”

He then used this statistic to speculate “By extrapolation of the estimated 1,000 Islamic adults in Stillwater, 250 could become willing suicide bombers.”

In his letter “Eyes wide shut” (Sept. 1) Williams modified the statistic, now claiming a Pew Research Center poll “shows 26 percent of U.S. Muslims feel suicide bombings against civilians are justifiable.” He used this statistic to conclude “At that rate 500,000 U.S. Muslims feel this way.”

The Pew poll actually broke the question into four categories. One percent of U.S. Muslims said suicide bombings of civilians are often justified. Seven percent said they are sometimes justified. Five percent said they are rarely justified. Seventy-eight percent of U.S. Muslims said they are never justified. Nine percent chose not to respond.

This is no small discrepancy. The actual statistics are a far cry from the 26 percent “across the board” statistic Williams quoted. It appears Williams doesn’t just manipulate facts, he also manufactures them.

It would be foolish to suggest groups like Al Qaeda don’t pose a threat to society, but using fraudulent statistics to exaggerate peril is irresponsible and amounts to fear mongering.

Credibility is a fragile thing. Ask Dan Rather or the little boy who cried wolf. Williams would be well advised to verify the authenticity of facts and statistics before his letters are published.

Joel Moore


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