The UnAustralian

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

As mentioned in my post below, Windschuttle's work has a significant number of flaws. I've been commenting on this over at the Armadillo, and I thought it would be interesting to see what the consequences would be if Windschuttle was right about the Tasmania Aborigine population, but Willis was correct about the number of Aboriginal deaths.

About here, I should point out that this post is heavily based off the work of Mark Finnane and H. A. Willis, whose papers are linked to in the post below this one.

To replicate Finnane's work, with Willis's numbers we get the following result:

Assuming a constant population of 2000 from 1803 to 1834, we get a death rate of about 300 - 540 /100,000 (Willis allows for considerable uncertainty in the accounts).

This compares with Finnane's figure of around 190 / 100,000 for the same time period.

Now what happens when we look at the 1828 to 1834 period (where Windschuttle assumes that the population had shrunk to around 500).

With this time period we get death rates of 3700 - 4900 / 100,000 (this compares to the Finnane figure of around 2000).

Now, it's important to note that these figures are very biased towards low death rates for two reasons.

* Not all deaths would have been recorded, and
* These calculations assume a constant population - as the population was declining, the average population over the time period is significantly lower than the population at the start of the time period.

So with these conservative figures in mind, how do they compare with some other numbers:

The United States general has a murder rate in the region of 9 - 10 / 100,000.
Medieval historians are surprised when the murder rate reaches the 10 - 60 / 100,000.
Assuming that Australia had a population of around 5 million in 1914, and suffered 60,000 deaths in World War I, the death rate would be 240 / 100,000.
According to the Cambodian Genocide Project, during the Khmer Rouge regime, about 1.7 million died out of a population of 8 million. This gives a death rate of about 4300 / 100,000.

Disclaimer: These calculations were a rush job, so I haven't checked them yet, I'll do this later. Quote at your own risk.

Update: After a 30 second review, I've spotted my first error. It's now corrected. Once again, buyer beware with these numbers.

Update2: I just realised another point. Windschuttle also argues that many Aborigines had very contact with settlers. This would imply that the death rates above are a significant underestimation, for the Aborigines who were in contact with Europeans. It doesn't seem unfair to state that Windschuttle explanation of what happened to the Aborigines has collapsed under it's own weight.
| 7:09 PM