Eric A. Brill’s Arguments

I have foretold the final result of last year’s presidential election in Iran already early in May 2009. I wrote at that time,

“Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei can’t help but only endorse ‘his’ president Ahmadinejad. And when he is going to do that, he will be elected. Such are things in dictatorships.”

I have also pointed at fraudulent reporting about alleged election fraud in western media immediately after the election, see here.

I have expressed my opinion about possible election fraud on my blog and on several other blogs numerous times.

There is a highly quoted analysis by Eric A. Brill which is published at a blog web site and which might have had a certain impact in the discussion. However, in that analysis there are serious flaws. A major flaw is that Brill, not an academic, apparently doesn’t know that his very detailed analysis, supplemented with valuable footnotes, should only be amended if it was clearly indicated where that was done, when and why. He had altered the text (without amending his conclusions, though) numerous times since April 2010, when he had created the web page. See the 7 October 2010 version of his work in progress here.

Brill is a lawyer who is located in San Francisco. As for any lawyer, for him no evidence for a crime would relieve the culprit: in dubio pro reo. But, according to scientific method, no evidence of fraud does not mean that there is evidence of no fraud. I have pointed to that in many discussions on other blogs. Does Brill cautiously formulate such a conclusion? No, he doesn’t. So, sorry to say, he seems to be an apologist and a useful idiot for the regime in Tehran. (He mainly posts comments on the web page launched by notorious Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett, a blog assembling all kinds of regime representatives and apologists.)

In the absence of international election monitors, and due to the fact that matters that no original ballots (or, more precisely, Form 22s at each ballot station, signed by opposition monitors) are stored somewhere for checking, whatever has been released from the Iranian Ministry of the Interior is meaningless. What always amazed me is the fact that the published ballot box counts more or less (albeit not perfectly) follow Benford’s Law. Benford’s Law, a powerful means of detecting election fraud, is only dealt with in Brill’s blog entry in the last chapter. He dares to call it esoteric, so he doesn’t have a clue. But in the absence of international election monitors that would be the means how to convict the culprit. Forget about ballot stuffing, ethnic anomalies, North Tehran, South Esfahan, the countryside, more than 100% turnouts in certain provinces. Forget also about election monitors from opposition groups which have been intimidated, threatened, and eventually effectively silenced in the meantime.

If, what most believe, the Ministry had doctored/fabricated the results a couple of days before election day, they did it carefully. However unlikely, it’s possible. Don’t get me wrong, there is no proof that there was fraud. I am afraid that, in the absence of international election monitors, it would be impossible to prove fraud (or the opposite). I have pointed to that on other blogs.

I am afraid Brill’s piece would be chopped into pieces if submitted to a reputed journal. Reviewers would certainly entertain at least some of my arguments.

Last modified October 22, 2010.

This entry was posted in Academics, Iran and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Eric A. Brill’s Arguments

  1. Reza Esfandiari says:


    You don’t know what you are talking about regarding electoral forensics.

    Sorry pal


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