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October 12, 2006

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Rick Ballard

From a left biased Wiki article:

Approximately 100,000 soldiers and marines from the United States, and 30,000 from the United Kingdom, as well as smaller forces from other nations, collectively called the "Coalition of the Willing," were deployed prior to the invasion primarily to several staging areas in Kuwait. (The numbers when naval, logistics, intelligence, and air force personnel are included were 214,000 Americans, 45,000 British, 2,000 Australians and 2,400 Polish.)
214 is actually "around" 225. Actually, using the Lancet study as a guide, I feel safe in declaring that there were 25 million American troops "really" in theater at the time of the invasion. It's a simple extrapolation based upon impeccable evidence.

Terrye

Well sam/anon will be happy to know that the John Birch Society agrees with them.

Extreme right and left copulate and produce some rather ugly offspring.

Pofarmer

We never occupied Japan.

Amazing piece of revisionist history that. Tell it to my neighbors that served their after the war.

TexasToast

I can describe it as a statistical fiasco. The ≈200K Cecil mentioned was the possible range for the first study, btw, which makes it even more outrageous. Roberts, who is not exactly non-partisan, can claim he was using a "the standard method" but his techniques have been thoroughly debunked by statisticians of nearly every ilk. When your model produces a range of possible deaths that could be as low as 8,000 or as high as 194,000, you don't just say, what the hell, and split the difference.

His purpose was not to produce a "number" by splitting the difference, it was to produce a range - which the study does. The point is the qualitative conclusion - not an exact number. I linked to this in my earlier post.

That qualitative conclusion is this: things have got worse, and they have got a lot worse, not a little bit worse. Whatever detailed criticisms one might make of the methodology of the study (and I have searched assiduously for the last two years, with the assistance of a lot of partisans of the Iraq war who have tried to pick holes in the study, and not found any), the numbers are too big. If you go out and ask 12,000 people whether a family member has died and get reports of 300 deaths from violence, then that is not consistent with there being only 60,000 deaths from violence in a country of 26 million. It is not even nearly consistent.

You go back to figure out where the hell you went so badly wrong. You certainly don't use the same model two years later, and then claim, as Roberts has, that your second survey confirms the accuracy of your first. This is unadulterated statistical bullshit. ... It's absurd on its face, but once again, the anti-Bush crowd have proven easy adopters.

This is the question to always keep at the front of your mind when arguments are being slung around (and it is the general question one should always be thinking of when people talk statistics). How Would One Get This Sample, If The Facts Were Not This Way? There is really only one answer - that the study was fraudulent.[1] It really could not have happened by chance. If a Mori poll puts the Labour party on 40% support, then we know that there is some inaccuracy in the poll, but we also know that there is basically zero chance that the true level of support is 2% or 96%, and for the Lancet survey to have delivered the results it did if the true body count is 60,000 would be about as improbable as this. Anyone who wants to dispute the important conclusion of the study has to be prepared to accuse the authors of fraud, and presumably to accept the legal consequences of doing so. [1] In the context of the 2004 study, I was prepared to countenance another explanation: that the Iraqis were lying and systematically exaggerating the number of deaths. But in the 2006 study, death certificates were checked and found in 92% of cases.

So your argument consists of (1) it doesn't make sense to me, therefore the study is fraudulent, and (2) ad hom attacks on the "easy adopters."

PeterUK

Terrye,
What do George Galloway,Respect,Richard Horton,Stop the War Coalition and Saddam Hussein have in common?.

Sorry denzins of Trolldom,but "All your biases are belong to us"

PeterUK

"If you go out and ask 12,000 people whether a family member has died and get reports of 300 deaths from violence, then that is not consistent with there being only 60,000 deaths from violence in a country of 26 million. It is not even nearly consistent."

Absolute nonsense in a country where there are huge interconnected families with clan connections.
The glaring loophole is the culture of compensation for deaths at the hands of others,if there is nothing for accidental or natural causes,what kind of answer would the man with the clipboard get.
There is also "me toism" in societies,amazing how many people know someone who has seen a flying saucer for example.
Anyone who has examined oral testimony concerning any event will tell you how wildly at variance they can be.

PeterUK

Terrye,
"Extreme right and left copulate and produce some rather ugly offspring."

Why did they all have to visit at once?

Terrye

TT:

I live in rural Indiana. If one were to use your reasoning we would not look at the death certificates and morgue records and actual burials to decde how many people died in Indiana and how they died, we would go to Gary and do our survey there and extrapolate the findings to cover the whole state. And then we would pay the families with the most dead.

It is still just a dumbass survey with nothing remotely resembling physical evidence to back it up.

Kind of like biased exit polls and the we was robbed crap we hear from the left every damn time they lose an election.

Terrye

Peter:

Misery loves company I guess.

Syl

anon, er juke (same MO)

In particular, the graph includes data for "attacks on civilians and government officials." Let me know if you have some magical criterion for defining those attacks as something other than "sectarian violence."

You haven't a CLUE and just proved your anti-muslim bigotry by conflating all attacks against civilians as sectarian violence.

Sectarian violence is the specific targeting of sunni by shia just because they are sunni, and vice versa.

The insurgency targeted coalition troops and government officials and anybody who got in the way, including civilians, just to make life miserable and destroy support for the occupation.

Al Qaeda killed anybody they could in order to stop democracy from taking hold and force the Americans to leave. Zarqawi didn't care if they were sunni, shia, or kurd, adults or children, Iraqi or non-Iraqi, government works, or civilians, or military. That is not sectarian violence.

"I already corrected my statement hours ago"

Uh, no. What you did is pretend there was no difference between what you said and what Terrye said.

BS. I noted I was refuting a different poll question.

TexasToast

Terrye

Extrapolating from Gary would produce a much broader range than a larger sample would, but it would still be a valid statistical sample.

There isn't a civil war going on in Indiana that I have heard about. You folks seem to be getting hung up on the number. What the study shows is that the "head counts" are severely underreporting the death toll of this war. More precise statistical methods are simply not available in a warzone.

boris

I described the second quote as follows: "a statement by another official referring to statements by Rumsfeld"

So you admit to assigning statements to Rumsfeld without quotes. The only one provided does not back up your claim.

SO Bush didn't say it and AFAICS Rumsfeld didn't either but you quote a "statement by another official" to back up YOUR CLAIM that Rumsfeld did. Ok you're not reading challanged you're just dishonest.

As in:

Ninny: Rumsfeld said out in 6 mo!

But Bush didn't and no support for that claim

Ninny: Here's the date, here's the quote!

The quote you provided about combat was true. The only statements you provided as backup for your claim were not by Rumsfeld. What's worse you seem to believe it counts against the claim that W never said "short and easy".

You can't back up your claim and your attempt was a transparant ruse.

Ninny: Rumsfeld said most troops would leave in six months or less.

Quote please. (liar)

Rick Ballard

"But in the 2006 study, death certificates were checked and found in 92% of cases."

Which does make the entire rationale of the "study" fraudulent. If death certificates are available for 92% of the deaths "counted" then they are the best evidence available. The existence of a certificate supposes an issuing authority and the authors of the "study" make no mention of any attempt on their part to review the records of any authority.

The study fails at the most basic level and provides proof of that failure within its own description of its methodology.


Syl

TT

Keep on supporting that study. It's a great litmus test as to whose arguments to pay attention to vs laugh at.

This study is what's called an outlier because it's so far off the chart compared to any other (except for its own previous study, of course). The U.N. comes in with figures 1/5 that of this study. Even the New York Times is skeptical.

If a study comes out saying only 5,000 civilians have been killed in Iraq since 2003, I will call THAT study an outlier as well.

PeterUK

"You folks seem to be getting hung up on the number. What the study shows is that the "head counts" are severely underreporting the death toll of this war. More precise statistical methods are simply not available in a warzone."
On the contrary Texas Taqiya,it is you who keeps banging on about 655,000 dead,a wonderfully precise figure,you must be a joy to your bank manager."More precise statistical methods are simply not available in a warzone." Exactly! What you have is a straw poll at best.
What areas did the poll cover? What criteria were used for those questioned? Who chose them,were they Iraqis or others? Was there a pre-conceived result that the pollsters wished to achieve?
Polls are like computers "Garbage in Garbage out".
All the study shows, is that if you ask people "Were you there" they will often say yes.

TexasToast

Rick

The fact that death certificates were available in the cluster sample does not in any way "make the entire rational of the 'study' fraudulent"
- it actually supports its validity by confirming the accuracy of the sample. This argument amounts to denying the validity of all polling.
The fact that the study has different results then the headcounts is the point.

Syl

The second, which I haven’t really seen anyone adopt yet, although some people looked like they might, could be called the “Outlier theory”. This is basically the theory that this survey is one gigantic outlier, and that a 2.5% probability event has happened. This would be a fair enough thing to believe, as long as one admitted that one was believing in something quite unlikely, and as long as it wasn’t combined with an attack on the integrity of the Lancet team.
Daniel Davies.
PeterUK

Well,at least one member of the Lancet teamRichard">http://www.respectcoalition.org/2006/news.php?ite=1178">Richard Horton
has spoken on George Galloway's Respect Party platform.Galloway, friend of Saddam Hussein,formed the party with the backing of the Muslim Association of Britain,which has links to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Socialist Workers Party an extreme left wing revolutionary party.All were also connected through the Stop the War Coalition.

What was that about,"as long as it wasn’t combined with an attack on the integrity of the Lancet team."

TexasToast

PUK

How does the ad hom change the math?

No one can point to how the study is "flawed" or "fraudulent". All I see on this thread is bald assertions that it is.

Rick Ballard

TT,

Perhaps you should make a little study of the difference between a poll and a survey. Death is a rather binary event (early brain death of liberals notwithstanding). If this were an actual "study" or a real survey then the best evidence available rests with the authority issuing the death certificates which the Lancet's political operatives proffer as "proof".

One might think that this top notch team could have visited at least one mortuary near one of their randomly selected clusters in order to validate their findings. That they didn't (or at least didn't report doing so) indicates considerable precooking of the results.

PeterUK

Explain the math Texas Taqiya,"Garbage in Garbage out"

It is incredible that you do not find that one of the "Lancet Team" is associated with an apologist for a mass murdering tyrant,further,is associated with someone implicated in the Oil For Food swindle.That this team member speaks on a platform with known supporters of Islamofascism and extreme left wing revolutionaries,that there is a connection to the Stop the War Coalition.All of the above have very strong motives for exaggerating the Iraq death toll.
If all you can say is the Math are right,without questioning the motives or methodology,the you probably believed Heydrich's figures on contented re-settled Jews.

boris

change the math?

There's no math. I know math. Math is a friend of mine. That's not math.

Cecil Turner

Hmm, looks like I missed the statistics discussion. Darn. (Full disclosure: I took a good look at the last Lancet study and it was ridiculously flawed . . . so unless someone can point out something that piques a mathematical interest, I won't be wasting any more time with the current one--it certainly is not useful as a reliable casualty estimate.)

Meanwhile, on point, Tony Snow spoke directly to the issue at yesterday's Press Briefing:

. . . we're not trying to outsource the President's job as Commander-in-Chief. The President continues to receive information and opinions from a wide variety of sources, and I think there's an assumption that this is an outfit that, when they're finished, will present something, the President will duly follow its course. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but he'll do it on the basis of his judgment. The Iraq Study Group was created pursuant to an act of Congress, and certainly we'll want to hear what the Democrats and Republicans on the bipartisan panel have to say.

But the President also listens to a lot of other voices, and he's going to do what he thinks best pursues the aim that we have always said we want to achieve, which is a democratic Iraq, an ally in the war on terror, that is able to sustain, govern and defend itself.

So maybe panicking on this particular issue is a little premature.

Syl

TT

The study confirmed 80% of the deaths via death certificates and accepted them. Then why is counting deaths by death certificate deemed so inconclusive by this study? This study purports five times the number of deaths the U.N. does which used death certificates.

Why not just 20% more than the U.N. figure?

Explain that in easy math.

PeterUK

"This study purports five times the number of deaths the U.N. does which used death certificates.

Why not just 20% more than the U.N. figure?

Explain that in easy math."

Easy Syl,It is a nice round figure which one can chant easiliy,no straggly,hard to remember digits at the end .Since liberals are innumerate accuracy is unimportant,chantability is all.

Barney Frank

TT,

Jurors are frequently instructed that if a witness is caught lying in one instance they should consider the rest of his testimony suspect. I think that is the quite sensible reasoning being applied to the Lancet "statisticians".

TexasToast
In this category, but surprisingly and disappointingly common in online critiques, is the attempt to use the IBC numbers as a stick to beat the Lancet study. The two studies are simply not comparable. One final time; the Iraq Body Count is a passive reporting system[4], which aims to count civilian deaths as a result of violence. Of course it is going to be lower than the Lancet number. Let that please be an end of this.
[4]That is, they don’t go out looking for deaths like the Lancet did; they wait for someone to report them. Whatever you think about whether there is saturation media coverage of Iraq (personally, I think there is saturation coverage of the green zone of Baghdad and precious little else), this is obviously going to be a lower bound rather than a central estimate, and in the absence of any hard evidence about casualties there is no reason at all to suppose that we have any basis other than convenient subjective air-pulling to adjust the IBC count for how much of an undersample we might want to believe they are making.

Syl

All the headcounts are lower bounds.
Everyone else - ad hominem abusive and bald assertion do not an argument make.

Cheers!

Back on topic.
Ah but Cecil - there are lots of hints and trial balloons. Frist on Afganistan, Frist's retreat on Afganistan, the British Army Chief of Staff, John Warner's statements, etc.

They are looking for a way out from under their own rhetoric.


PeterUK

"All the headcounts are lower bounds.
Everyone else - ad hominem abusive and bald assertion do not an argument make."
Neither does what you are quoting,it is a personal opinion of a blogger,nothing else.
If you think asking families,in a former totalitarian state,or one with and insurgencey and murderous criminal gangs,any question and expecting an honest answer you are naive.
No Texas Taqiya you cannot declare victory and walk away declaring these these bogus figures bogus figures correct.
You cannot ignore the Lancet's editor and his connection to Saddamite,Islamofascist and Leftist groups as if this had no relevance to the findings,but you have to ignore this and bang on about the Math.
This is not an ad hominem,this is a fact and as such casts serious doubt on the authenticity of the results.
This poll has as much veracity as the production figures in the old USSR.

anon

I have yet to see any of the Lancet story's supporters explain where the 500-800 bodies per day (average) are, especially since over half of them are supposed to have been killed by violent means. Were there a few attacks that caused thousands/tens of thousands casualties in one fell swoop that I've missed?

Also, given that there's usually 3-5 times as wounded casualties as there are KIAs, there should be 2-3 million war-injured Iraqis based on this study. Wouldn't someone notice if 10% of the Iraqi population was hospitalized with gunshot wounds?

Perhaps the Lancet study is completely internally consistent on its own terms. Its faulty premises, faulty methodology, and faulty data collection would yield faulty -- but internally consistent! -- results. However, most people won't take it seriously since it's not externally consistent with data and events in the real world.

Cecil Turner

Ah but Cecil - there are lots of hints and trial balloons. Frist on Afganistan, Frist's retreat on Afganistan, the British Army Chief of Staff, John Warner's statements, etc.

Your "hints and trial balloons" look a lot like wishful thinking. Especially since General Dannatt's quote "was actually rather largely taken out of context" (as he puts it), and actually referred to troop levels in sectors they were trying to hand over to Iraqi forces. With reference data like this (and the Lancet study), it's little wonder the lefties can't come up with a coherent game plan.

I have yet to see any of the Lancet story's supporters explain where the 500-800 bodies per day (average) are . . .

Yeah, that's a bit of a problem, eh? And just out of curiosity, did you also post these two commments, or should I assume JBG or a fellow traveler has sunk to a new low in trollery?

PeterUK

Cecil,
General Dannatt's comment should be seen in the larger political picture.Whilst Blair has been willing,nay eager,to commt troops to a large number foreign theatres,his government has been quietly dismantling the military.Regiments are being abolished,the military budget cut,equipment is inadequate,for example many casualties in Afgahnistan have bee the result of unarmoured transports.Blair also signed up the International Criminal Court sand has even tried British soldiers for war crimes instead of the Courts Marshall system.Rules of engagement are so strict that the Army cannot do its job.
Dannatt's words were "overstretching the Army in Iraq could break it".What we have here is a shot across the bows of the government by a professional soldier,reminding it that it only gets the military that it supports and funds,that there cannot be budget cuts,troop reductions and expanded operations.
This game has been going on for some time as successive governments have reduced the armed forces.

JM Hanes

anon:

"I have yet to see..."

Afraid you've got an anonymous anon impersonator treading the boards here (on more than one thread). The difference is pretty obvious from this end; I only hope it's just as easy for you to distiinguish which replies are aimed at the poseur and which are not.

boris

abusive and bald assertion do not an argument make

Self parody alert. The Lancet numbers are blatently false. If the method produces ridiculous results it's not up to critics to point out the flaws.

anon

Pick the false premise:
Premise 1: The mortality data in The Lancet study should be trusted because death certificates were reliably issued (in ~90% of all cases).
Premise 2: The mortality data from Iraqi officials cannot be trusted because death certificates are not reliably issued (in ~10% of all cases).
Premise 3: The small set of mortality data chosen for use in The Lancet study is an accurate representative sample of mortality data across all of Iraq.

It is not logically possible for all three premises to be true.

Rick

Well, we neo-con warmongering thugs might hope some of the great number of deaths attributed to coalition action might be accurate, because with civilzation's forces' precision munitions and conservative rules of engagement, that'd mean the Caliphatemongering recruits that we're supposedly creating by the legion are getting chopped right good. IOW, the military front against the so-called jihad is succeeding in grinding the bad guys fine.

So many clay pigeons, these 10' tall "minutemen" are.

Cordially...

SunnyDay

Afraid you've got an anonymous anon impersonator treading the boards here (on more than one thread).

I feel like I'm in an 8th grade study hall.

Terrye

anon:

Were there death certificates for 90% of the 650,000 people they said were killed by suicide bombers and gunfire and air strikes or were there death certificates for 90% of the 547 people in their subject group?

People die everyday everywhere, that does not mean they were all murdered.

TexasToast

Anon

They were probably not reported. Those in the sample were.

Ironically enough, the same journalists who will question this study will accept without query the estimates for deaths in Darfur, e.g., which are generated by exactly the same techniques, and which are almost certainly not as solid.

The study concludes that an average of 470 Iraqis per day have likely died as a result of political violence since March 19, 2003, though the number could be as low as 350 per day if the margin of error skewed to the low side. United Nations estimates based on figures from Iraqi morgues are more like 100 per day.
....
First of all, Iraqi Muslims don't believe in embalming or open casket funerals days later. They believe that the body should be buried by sunset the day of death, in a plain wooden box. So there is no reason to expect them to take the body to the morgue. Although there are benefits to registering with the government for a death certificate, there are also disadvantages. Many families who have had someone killed believe that the government or the Americans were involved, and will have wanted to avoid drawing further attention to themselves by filling out state forms and giving their address.
Personally, I believe very large numbers of Iraqi families quietly bury their dead without telling the government of all people anything about it. Another large number of those killed is dumped in the Tigris river by their killers. A fisherman on the Tigris looking for lunch recently caught the corpse of a woman. The only remarkable thing about it is that he let it be known to the newspapers. I'm sure the Tigris fishermen throw back unwanted corpses every day.

Not to mention that for substantial periods of time since 2003 it has been dangerous in about half the country just to move around, much less to move around with dead bodies.


Juan Cole

Rick

Tex,

Thank ol' Juan--noted uber-genius that he is--for the point: even more bad guys need killin,' so while the OIF mission was accomplished, the nation building work in still in progress.

Cordially...

Terrye

TT:

Juan Cole?????????

Ya know every now and then I think that maybe I will go back to the Democrats but then there is a day when I know it can not happen. This is one of those days. Les Roberts and Juan Cole are both full of it. If you do not know that then why should anyone even talk to you?

Lancet made the claim, they have the responsibility to back it up. Having some terrorist loving lefty like Juan Cole come up with some crap about how these simple little brown people bury their dead quietly and so there is no record blah blah blah when he has absolutely nothing to back that up is just one more freaking lie to add to the big one.

We have thousands of people die in this country every day, of everything from disease to car wrecks to murder to just plain accidents. We have hundreds of thousands of people just vanish every year. Are we occupied?

It is as if someone is arguing that the earth is flat and the people who do not think the earth is flat has of yet to really disprove the methodology by which some moron came to the conclusion that the earth is flat.

People die everyday whether the US military is around or not. The question here is how many died as a result of violence stemming from the invasion? And how many died before? Of course the people who did this stupid little survey would not have been allowed to go into Iraq and do such a survey when Saddam was in power, not without a minder up their butts so there really is no comparison. Lancet made certain claims. Such as 14% died because of suicide bombers. That is over 84,000 people. Did no one notice? Over 300,000 of gun shot wounds, over 200,000 in air raids. And where and when did this happen? What about the wounded? details details. What a load of crap. No one will believe this. It is just too ridiculous.

The truth is that you do not care how many Iraqis die. You only care if their deaths are useful to you. If Saddam wanted to wipe half his population out he could do so with your blessing.

We have ample evidence of what Saddam was, it is in mass graves all over that country but the left could care less. They would rather invent dead people they can use than deal with the legacy of the real dead.

anon

Alright, then, TexasToast, I'll put you down for a #3, since both you and Juan Cole recognize that the 90% rate of death certificate issuance makes it incredibly unlikely that the sample households chosen for the Lancet study were representative of Iraqi households in general.

anon

Pick the false premise, round 2:

Premise A: The mortality rate reported by the Iraqi government is far too inaccurate to be trusted (because of shoddy record keeping, non-centralized reporting, a tradition of not reporting deaths to government agencies, etc.) so we need The Lancet study to see the true excess mortality rate.
Premise B: The mortality rate reported by the Iraqi government is accurate enough for The Lancet study to use as its baseline so it can calculate the true excess mortality rate.

Again, it is not logically possible for all of these premises to be correct (but note that I've made things easier this round by only listing 2 premises).

anon

By the way, TexasToast, you might not want to put too much faith in the "Middle East expert" who cited the April 2002 Jenin "massacre" as one of the root causes of the 9/11 terrorist attacks which occurred the previous year.

Barney Frank

Juan Cole on Iraq = Walter Duranty on the USSR.

PeterUK

Juan Cole! That Texas Taqiya certainly knows how to tell them!

maryrose

don:
two ex-wives Huh?
I wonder why?
Texas Toast- The current numbers on Iraqi deaths are incorrect-deal with it.

TexasToast

When someone dies, you get a death certificate from the hospital, morgue or coroner, in your hand. This bit of the death infrastructure is still working in Iraq. Then the person who issued the death certificate is meant to send a copy to the central government records office where they collate them, tabulate them and collect the overall mortality statistics. This bit of the death infrastructure is not still working in Iraq. (It was never great before the war, broke down entirely during the year after the invasion when there was no government to send them to and has never really recovered; statistics agencies are often bottom of the queue after essential infrastructure, law and order and electricity). Therefore, there is no inconsistency between the fact that 92% of people with a dead relative could produce the certificate when asked, and the fact that Iraq has no remotely reliable mortality statistics and quite likely undercounts the rate of violent death by a factor of ten.

Davies again.

Cole attempts to explain why some might not have death certificates - when 92% of those in the study could produce them. But that is really a side issue (which I regret bringing up because he is such a tempting target for ad hom). The more important point is that the local data isn't getting into the official statistics. "The official statistics document that the figures for civilian deaths in Anbar province in all of July, 2006 was exactly zero. Nil. Nada. Zip. The UN assumed this was because any figures were impossible to retrieve under the current conditions there, and footnoted the numbers they cited in their report accordingly."

Zero. In Anbar?

boris

A method that produces ridiculous results is worse than incomplete real data. It's hardly surprising that the GW true believers don't want to use that basic rule of logic.

Dale in Atlanta

Texas Toast: if you are quoting Juan Cole, and relying on him, you're in a lot more trouble than you care to admit!

Juan Cole is a convert to Bahai'ism, a 19th Century Persian Religious Cult, whose underpinnings are moral relativism, moral equivilency, and socialims; thereby making it the PERFECT religion for an Anti-American, Leftist "Academic" like Juan Cole!

Bahai'ism was the precursor to today's Holloywood fad of converting to Scientology!

Singing duo Seals and Crofts, in the 70's for example were major converts; listen to their songs, it says it all! I do love their music by the way, no matter how misguided they were!

Regardless, Juan Cole being the card-carrying anti-American socialist Academic that he is, is the PERFECT convert to Bahai'ism, and it shows in his so called "academic research" as well...

Bahai's because they had the temerity to believe that their "God" was just another manifestation of "Allah", Jesus, etc., earned the rath of the majority Persian Shi'ites Muslims, for daring to EQUATE Allah with any other "god", and they have been RELENTLESSLY persecuted since the founding of the Cult in Iran.

Thus, Cole, operating on his natural Leftist philosophical leanings, buttressed by his Religious conversion and beliefs, if a Muslim apologist, especially for the Shi'ites in Iraq and more especially Iran!

He apparantly believes, that if he proves his anti-Americanism hatred to the Iranians, adn the Shi'ites in Iraq, he'll help protect his fellow Bahai's in Iran!

The irony is, that Israel, over the past 70 years, has become a major center of the Worldwide Bahai Cult!

And Juan Cole, is a card-carrying Anti-Semite, to boot!

Which just goes to show, his natural Leftist and Religious tendancies to surrender in the face of adversity, are no balm for his racist tendancies as well!

boris

A big part of making a living for me is math and coming here is escape from work, not an excuse to engage in it.

The Lancet numbers are so obviously bogus that analyzing a screwed up method to expose flaws is a waste. But ...

If the claim made public is that the study was able to verify 75% of sample deaths with a Death certificate then something is clear. There should be .75 x 650,000 death certificates on file. If there aren't about 500,000 countable death certificates in Iraq then the Lancet study is one big scam because that's not a complicated statistical extrapolation.

So, wanna not be a frakin joke? Count up those 500,000 death certificates and you can have the extra 150,000 on credit.

Syl

TT

Just because there weren't government figures, does NOT mean there were no figures from morgues and hospitals. It only means that the morgue and hospital figures never made it to the government agency responsible for collating the data.

IOW, even the UN got figures from morgues and hospitals in Anbar. That would be for Ramadi, Fallujah, and Haditha for example.

I'd say there were probably few reliable figures for the tribal areas close to the Syrian border and the tiny towns there. Except for a couple of assaults, we didn't spend much time in that area.

-------

Another thing, before we invaded, there was a school of thought that said, yes, Saddam was a bad actor and he should go. BUT we should not be the ones to do it. We should encourage the Iraqis to do it themselves (like that worked so well after Gulf War I--but I digress).

Wouldn't it be more realistic to compare these inflated civilian deaths figures with the civilian death figures that would occur if we had encouraged rebellion rather than taken out Saddam ourselves?

The alternate history the left plays is always whatever makes their so-called arguments look the best...and usually involves change vs stasis. Af if nothing would have happened other than the status quo in 2003.

Why are you guys so afraid of change? Everything you do is to maintain the status quo, whether it's forms of socialism, protecting tyrants, protecting trees from controlled prophylactic burning, or not allowing the caribou in Anwar a pipeline to keep them warm in winter, like little children afraid to grow up and go out into the real world.

I find it very puzzling.

PeterUK

Syl
It is puzzling,however Richard Horton is one of them.

Syl

PUK

Urk. Time for change. LOL

So Orwellian. We're affecting change in Iraq and they want us to stop.

Just like I said.


JM Hanes

TexasToast:

Per Cole, "Personally, I believe very large numbers of Iraqi families quietly bury their dead without telling the government of all people anything about it. "

I find it hard to fathom why you'd be quoting Juan Cole on this point if you've actually worked your way through the study itself [which, for convenience, I'll refer to as Lancet's study here]. The authors note the unusual importance of obtaining death certificates in Iraq. Contra Cole's 'belief,' there are, in fact, compelling reasons "to expect them to take the body to the morgue." In addition to the specifics cited in the study, the traditional system of compensatory payments to victims' families makes Cole's fanciful notions of furtive burials and large scale dumping in the Tigris all the more absurd. Not that it never happens, but why is it even an issue here, when 503 of Lancets 547 deaths are apparently supported death certificates?

"So your argument consists of (1) it doesn't make sense to me, therefore the study is fraudulent, and (2) ad hom attacks on the 'easy adopters.'"

If that's all you got out of my post on the subject, I'd have to wonder about your reading comprehension, but since you substituted an ellipsis for the actual point I made about why even a superficial reading of the stats raises reasonable questions about accuracy, I have to assume you're deliberately ignoring the substance of my argument as well as patently mistating it.

"His purpose was not to produce a "number" by splitting the difference, it was to produce a range - which the study does. The point is the qualitative conclusion - not an exact number."

Well if the folks who have started touting the study were bringing up a range of numbers, you might have a point. Even your own comment was predicated on single number not a span:

"Further, how can one deny disaster in the face of the enormous civilian casualties? I don’t know how one can describe 650,000 additional civilian deaths (per the Lancet study) as anything other than a humanitarian disaster."

The range concept only shows up at the end of the quote you supplied as a caveat against attacks on the study. It has almost nothing to do with your initial point, and what's more, it's an editorial opinion; the emphasis you're taking as gospel is non-existent in the study itself. You also miscast the findings as additional "civilian" deaths, when they include all death by violence.

Now everyone knows that sectarian violence has been steadily rising; the idea that we should ignore Lancet's actual numbers in favor of that "qualitative conclusion" -- when the whole purpose of doing the survey was to attach real numbers to qualitative assumptions -- is pure sophistry. It's intended to immumize the survey from technical examination, which seems to be exactly what you're trying to accomplish yourself. Statistically -- and ironically -- speaking, the "range" of numbers produced by Lancet has nothing to do with identifying the upward trend, as Fig. 5 in their report demonstrates.

Daniel Davies, whom you quote so freely, btw, is a stockbrocker who posts at Crooked Timber, so pardon me if I'm not inclined to give his assessment more weight than my own -- especially when he starts out by baldly asserting that "attempts to rubbish the Lancet study" are "devious hack-work." He follows up with this gem:

Anyone who wants to dispute the important conclusion of the study has to be prepared to accuse the authors of fraud, and presumably to accept the legal consequences of doing so.
Critique this study at your own risk? This is intellectual voo doo.

I've noted that one of the survey's authors is less than non-partisan, but I have hardly accused anyone of fraud. My quarrel is with models, methodology and lack of rigor. The "range" that Lancet produces is only as useful as it is accurate. The variance in the second study is not ≈200K. The range here goes from 426,369 to 793,663. When your differential (367,294) verges on one of your totals, you've got a serious statistical problem. In the first study, the problem was even more obvious, as the differential dramatically exceeded even the average itself.

The fact that even Lancet's low end figure is so much higher than any other estimates is not the same sort of red flag, but it is certainly reason to take second, closer look. The report itself notes:

Other than Bosnia, we are unable to find any major historical instances where passive surveillance methods (such as morgue and media reports) identify more than 20% of the deaths which were found through population-based survey methods.
If you multiply the IBC's upper number by the requisite 5, you end up with 243,195. I am not for a moment suggesting that the number obtained that way is reliable. I am, however, pointing out the fact that even using Lancet's research, the IBC number ends up being more in line with other estimates than with Lancet's own.

In sum, there are sound technical reasons for questioning Lancet's results, whether politically movitvated or not. I suspect the fundamental flaw rests in assigning the number of clusters as a function of population when the violence affecting Iraq not been evenly distributed at all, and when that pattern has, in fact, changed considerably between pre & post invasion Iraq. For example, most of the mass killing and deprivation related death in pre-war Iraq occured outside of Baghdad and the Sunni triangle, while it's quite the opposite in the post-invasion period. In other words, the preponderance of clusters assigned per population to Baghdad, for instance, may very well be skewing the pre-war figures downward and the post-invasion numbers up simultaneously. Such discrepancies are exponentially magnified by extrapolation on the order required here to arrive at a final numbers (or range of numbers!) for the population as a whole.

As to whether "easy adopters" constitutes an ad hominem, let's just wait and see how many people brandishing the survey refer to some 600,000+ deaths, and how many talk about qualitative ranges.

anon

cecil

You can be counted on to ignore important questions. So here it is one more time. We deposed a secular thug, who had questionable terrorist ties, and installed an Islamist thug instead, who has unquestionable terrorist ties. How does this make us safer?

jmh

"No, in fact, you didn't [cite someone who is there who thinks you're wrong]"

This is how you reacted to the Lancet study: "it's absurd on its face."

This is how Zayed reacted to the Lancet study: "the methods used by the study are valid, but ... I feel that the study should have been done differently. 654,965 excess civilian deaths is an absurd number. My personal guesstimate would be half that number ... ."

If you agree with his bottom line ("half that number"), then I agree that you're right, it's wrong for me to claim that he thinks you're wrong. If so, I withdraw that claim and apologize for making an incorrect assumption. But did I make an incorrect assumption? It would be helpful if those who rejected the study indicated if their own personal assessment was closer to 30,000 or 300,000 (the former is what Bush once said and the latter is what Zayed is saying).

"you also didn't notice that the BBC article you offered up earlier confirms my take on the numbers"

The article cites Iraq Body Count figures which are lower than the Lancet figures. There are good reasons for this, and they have been discussed in this thread and elsewhere.

anon

anon

(Cool name.)

"the system of peer review is biased"

Peer review is like democracy. The system sucks, but it's still far better than whatever's in second place. A similar statement could be made about the Lancet study.

"Richard Horton ... 'Time to Go' tirade"

You should take a moment to consider the possibility that his scientific observations have influenced his political choices, rather than the other way around. Try to avoid projection, in other words.

terrye

"The poll I linked to made several points ... for instance the Iraqis want foreign troops out ASAP, no surprise there, but then again not before their own military is ready to take control of the country"

This statement of yours is not supported by the poll we've been discussing (pdf). Nice job making shit up, as usual.

"there is no indication that the US has deliberately and for the sheer nasty fun of it buried hundreds of thousands of Iraqis under the rubble without anyone noticing"

We didn't do it for "the sheer nasty fun of it." We did it because we went there to kill "terrorists," and dropping lots of bombs is a good way to do that.

And it's not true that no one noticed. The Iraqis noticed. That's why they want us out.

"Note how few experts on statistics have actually come out and endorsed this study. In fact many of them consider public health people to be a joke"

It would help if you could give an example of a statistician who considers "public health people to be a joke." It would also help if you could give an example of a statistician who advocates some method other than cluster sampling as being both more reliable and more practical in these circumstances.

"A Professional's opinion on Lancet"

Your "professional" is an anonymous blogger with highly uncertain credentials. That means her ideas have to stand on their own merit (rather than be credited as the expert opinion of a "Professional"). Trouble is, her ideas are the same sewage that's already plentiful in this thread.

anon

puk

"IT IS MUCH EASIER TO ABIDE BY THE DOCTRINE OF ADEQUATE FORCE,THUS BEING ABLE TO OLACE THE RIGHT SIZED WARHEAD WHERE PEOPLE ARE NOT"

It's true that our modern precise weapons give us the ability to blow things up "WHERE PEOPLE ARE NOT." But having that ability doesn't mean we're using that ability. We're not primarily there to blow things up. We're there to kill "terrorists." There's good reason to think we've been very effective. Or, rather, "effective." One small problem, of course, is that the "terrorists" and civilians are not clearly labeled as such. On the contrary. And whatever labels exist, such as they are, are especially difficult to discern while flying by at high speed.

"500,00 TONS IS A MUCH REDUCED USAGE OF ORDNANCE"

Aside from your very strange difficulty typing numbers (you made that exact mistake twice), you're grossly misinterpreting the numbers. The figures for Germany-WWII and Vietnam (2.7 and 6.7 million tons, respectively) are totals. The figure I mentioned for Iraq (500,000 tons) is a minimum. You're completely glossing over this fundamental distinction. Consequently, your assertion ("MUCH REDUCED") is dead-wrong.

Our government does not seem eager to tell us a total for Iraq. If anyone can find such a thing, I'd love to see it. However, we do have a report of the bombs dropped by one unit, as of 11/10/04. That unit did not arrive in Iraq until 2/04. In other words, we have a figure (500,000 tons) that reflects the activities of one unit (covering just part of the country) over a period of just nine months (the period of 2/04 to 11/04).

This one unit, in that nine-month period, was dropping, on average, 2,000 tons per day. By the way, this figure passes a reasonability check, since 3rd MAW has about 200 aircraft, and each one has a total payload of roughly 8.5 tons. So 2,000 tons per day can be achieved if each aircraft flies about one mission per day. We also know that 3rd MAW flew about 75,000 hours in 13 months. This works out to about one hour per aircraft per day, which seems consistent with the idea of one mission per aircraft per day. (All the above figures, aside from payload, are found in, or can be derived from, the two cited sources. The payload figure is easy to find elsewhere.)

So if 500,000 tons were dropped in nine months, what's a reasonable estimate of what was dropped in 42 months (the interval since the invasion)? Answer: 2.3 million tons. And keep in mind this estimate is only for part of Iraq. 3rd MAW's mission was not to cover the whole country.

In short, 500,000 tons is not the total we've dropped. It's the minimum we've dropped. A conservative estimate of the total we've dropped is 1-4 million tons. In other words, the total tonnage we've already dropped on Iraq is comparable to the total tonnage dropped on Germany during WWII. Germany suffered this many civilian deaths: 3.6 million (h/t: Geek). Given that we have dropped roughly equal tonnage on Iraq, killing "only" 300,000 civilians would mean that our modern weapons are 10 times more effective at sparing civilians. Sounds about right.

By the way, I realize that many things killed German civilians besides Allied bombs. But it's also true that many things are killing Iraqi civilians besides Coalition bombs. In both cases, I think explosives falling out of the sky were a major factor.

By the way, even if we dropped only 500,000 tons on Iraq (a known minimum figure), that still works out to about 40 pounds for every person in Iraq. In other words, we have surely already dropped enough to kill absolutely everyone, if applied efficiently. If 97% of the people managed to duck (which is what is suggested by the Lancet study), that's pretty miraculous, relatively.

"YOUR RACIAL SUPREMACIST IGNORANCE IN BELIEVEING A HIGHLY DEVOUT CULTURE DOES NOT OR COULD NOT BURY ITS DEAD"

Carrying on with standard religious practices becomes more difficult when friendly foreigners are dropping explosives on your country at a constant rate of 50 pounds per second. (That's what you get when you evaluate 500,000 tons over nine months. And this is putting aside the fact that this figure is only for part of the country, not the whole country.)

Aside from that, the primary hypothesis is not that these people are unburied or undocumented. The hypothesis is that there is no central authority that is collecting these documents and numbers. That seems to be more than a hypothesis; it seems to be a fact.

boris

some method other than cluster sampling as being both more reliable and more practical

If as the study claims, 75% of deaths can be verified by death certificate, count up 500,000 death certificates before claiming 650,000 deaths.

JM Hanes

anon:

"This is how you reacted to the Lancet study: 'it's absurd on its face.'"

Wrong again! This is what I called absurd on its face:

The first Oct.'04 survey posited 98,000 excess deaths from the outbreak of hostilities. Spread over ≈18 mos., that would be a yearly rate of 65,333. Yet if you believe his new numbers, that rate soared to 276,000 in 2005 & 2006. On a monthly basis, that represents a change from 5,444 to an astronomical 23,000 per month.

It sounds like you have not reached my last post in the thread yet. I think the ballpark multiple I provided of the IBC number is probably supportable, though I'd hardly call that particular figure statistically reliable either. Perhaps it's worth pointing out, however, that just because I don't find Lancet's latest figures credible, doesn't mean that I'm in denial about the upward trend, because I also believe their earlier survey was overstated.

I did not have the IBC numbers in mind when I referred you back to the BBC article you posted, although I realize I didn't make that clear. The insurgent attacks graphic, along with other information provided in the article, reinforces my argument that the magnitude of the leap between Lancet's first and second surveys is not supported by other statistics which should parallel their findings.

JM Hanes

anon:

"Carrying on with standard religious practices becomes more difficult when friendly foreigners are dropping explosives on your country at a constant rate of 50 pounds per second."

Have you even read the Lancet study? Not only have deaths they attribute to the action of coalition forces declined, the overwhelming preponderance of violent deaths are caused by gunshots. Your assumptions about tonnage & collateral damage are not just wrong, they're irrelevant.

anon

terrye

"Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot ... Chavez and Castro ... These guys never face justice, not in this life anyway. But Bush?"

As expected, you're overlooking this salient fact: it's good for us to be concerned about all criminals, but we have a special duty to be concerned about the criminals on our own payroll.

rick

"From ... Wiki ... deployed ... to several staging areas in Kuwait ... 214,000 Americans"

You're trying to defend this specious claim you made: "Troop levels in March '03 were around 225,000." Trouble is, we're not discussing troop levels in Kuwait. Or Dubai. Or Germany. Or Okinawa. Or Missouri. We're discussing troop levels in Iraq, which were never "214,000."

Nice job doing the usual righty thing: rewriting history.

Aside from that, Wiki doesn't give the slightest clue where the number came from, and I can't find it anywhere else.

Think of all the time and space that would be saved if folks referred to standard excuses by number, sort of as follows:

Excuse #1 for making shit up: "I read it on a blog somewhere."
Excuse #2 for making shit up: "I heard it on the news, but I have no clue where."
Excuse #3 for making shit up: "I saw it in Wiki, and I swallowed it whole even though there's an utter absence of corroboration."

I think examples of all three can be found right here in this thread.

anon

syl

"conflating all attacks against civilians as sectarian violence"

Your concept seems to be as follows: civilian found with hole in head, in 2004. Must be a victim of the "insurgency!" Civilian found with hole in head, in 2006. Must be a victim of "sectarian violence!"

Sorry, I find that a little hard to follow. To a great extent those terms are invented by the Pentagon for the express purpose of giving us the impression that it's not just same shit, different day. We're supposed to be comforted by the idea that it's different shit, different day.

"Sectarian violence is the specific targeting of sunni by shia just because they are sunni, and vice versa."

Obviously you asked the dead person about the motivation of the person who installed the hole in his head.

By the way, this goes back to this statement of yours: "There was no, at least very little, civil strife AT ALL in Iraq until the bombing of the Golden Dome last spring BY ZARQAWI."

As usual, pure nonsense supported by nothing.

anon

boris

"you admit to assigning statements to Rumsfeld without quotes"

Uh, no, but nice job doing the usual thing and making shit up.

Here I cited Rumsfeld. And I quoted someone else who described statements by Rumsfeld. If that's too hard for you to follow, just try reading the words slowly.

"The only one provided does not back up your claim"

Both citations I provided do indeed back up my claim.

"AFAICS Rumsfeld didn't [say it] ... The only statements you provided as backup for your claim were not by Rumsfeld"

Uh, no. Here I cited this statement by Rumsfeld. Since you seem to have severe difficulty clicking-through, I guess I'll have to spoon-feed you and be more explicit:

... it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months.

After that, we have a responsibility as a country ... to see that what is left after that regime is gone becomes a state ... that would not threaten its neighbors ... that it would be a single country and not broken into pieces ... The number of people that that would take is reasonably predictable ...

So I would see this buildup going up, lasting for a period, and the last choice is war, but if that is necessary, a period where that takes place and then a drawdown. And you would find people moving back out and some residual number staying there...

It's true that Rumsfeld is describing a "war" or "conflict" followed by an occupation. It's also true he doesn't make a claim about the duration of the occupation (an early hint that we intended to stay forever). However, he does tell us how many troops the occupation would require: a "residual number," which is "reasonably predictable." He also tells us when the war would end and the occupation would begin: within "six months." In other words, he's telling us that within six months, there would be a "drawdown," and we would reduce our troops to a "residual number."

If you have some other way of interpreting his words, you should let us know what it is.

This interpretation is utterly consistent with the other official statement I already cited:

The Secretary of Defense has right along said that he thought that fighting was likely to last weeks, not months. And I've told you that we do foresee an end to the conflict within the six months, and the beginning of withdrawal of troops ... Six months, as I say, contemplates a conflict, a period of stabilization in Iraq, and the phased withdrawal of a large number of American forces within that six-month window. 3/24/03

"What's worse you seem to believe it counts against the claim that W never said 'short and easy'."

What's worse is you seem to believe that Bush is not responsible for what his people say.

anon

rick

"The existence of a certificate supposes an issuing authority and the authors of the 'study' make no mention of any attempt on their part to review the records of any authority."

The core issue is that there are local authorities but no reliable central authority (with regard to the task of accurately collecting death records on a national basis).

The authors did in fact "review the records of" local authorities (for the sample that was in the study) and found death certificates. These certificates were issued by local authorities and were in the hands of family members. If this process could be repeated across the country with every family, to cover 100% of the population rather than just a sample, that would be nice, and superior to what we have. Please let us know how you make out.

In the absence of a central authority that is functioning for this purpose, the applied methodology of sampling is the best available tool.

"the study fails at the most basic level and provides proof of that failure within its own description of its methodology."

Your criticism fails at the most basic level because it completely fails to grasp this core distinction between local authority and central authority.

syl

"This study purports five times the number of deaths the U.N. does which used death certificates."

Did you somehow develop the impression that the UN has its own people running all over the country collecting complete, accurate stats about death certificates being issued, in every city, town and village? That's very humorous. I suppose it's something you read on a blog somewhere.

They don't. They rely on figures provided by the Iraq Ministry of Health. There are various indications that this is very far from a perfect, complete, unbiased source.

The recent UN report is here (pdf). See the table on page 4. The UN is simply passing along "Reported killed by Ministry of Health."

sam

"In your dreams Bush will end in front of the ICC. It is interesting how the left has no desire to go after the Butcher of Baghdad. No..he is their hero. They will overlook and excuse and pretend not to notice his tens of thousands of documented crimes against
humanity."

Scum bags like you were supporting Hussein in a war agaist Iran that killed 800,000+ not me. Your tactics are childish. Grow up.

sam

It is obvious from the comments above that none of you righties slamming the peer review process have ever published an article in a scientific peer reviewed journal. If you had you would have great respect for the gauntlet that is run in geeting a paper to-press. Some crap sneaks by of course. This happens in particular when an author is publishing work that will not be widely read. This of course not the case with the Lancet paper in general. Man you guys really do argue like children here.

anon

cecil

"especially since General Dannatt's quote 'was actually rather largely taken out of context' (as he puts it)"

There you go again, making shit up. How boringly predictable.

What you present in the form of quoted text ("was actually rather largely taken out of context") appears nowhere in the article you cited.

The article does indeed report that two people claim that Dannatt was "taken out of context." Those two people are Blair and Snow. Dannatt does not claim, in this article or elsewhere, that he was taken out of context. But that's exactly what you asserted ("as he puts it").

The fact that you invented a quote could be overlooked if you had attributed it to Blair or Snow, since it's a fair paraphrase of what they said. But you specifically attributed the phony quote to Dannatt, even though it's not a fair paraphrase of what he said.

Anyway, it's no surprise that you're respinning the spin that is coming from the usual suspects. If you're interested in a clearer picture of Dannatt's own follow-up comments, they can be found here. His backpedaling is very minimal:

[Dannatt] later [said] that when he talked about pulling out of Iraq "sometime soon", he meant "then when the mission is substantially done we should leave ... We don't want to be there another two, three, four, five years. We've got to think about this in terms of a reasonable length of time."

He said the view that the presence of UK troops "exacerbates" the problems was "not right across the country", but in parts of it.


sam

The US launched a "preemptive" war against Iraq. A PREMPTIVE WAR! What did it preempt? NOTHING?

Morons like you have exposed the limites of our military making us look weak to the world.

Idiots like you have gone on a spending spree that we will be paying off for decades to come.

You piss on our constitution.

You wipe your butts with Habeus Corpus.

You help send hundreds of thousands to their deaths for nothing.

Whole chapters of highschool text books will be devoted to how idiots like you f'd our country.
Don't bother responding I wont be back.

revisionism

1998

...JIM LEHRER: Has there been any contact between the United States - directly or indirectly - with Saddam Hussein or the government of Iraq since these attacks began yesterday? Do you -

SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: No. Let me correct that. In New York, we have informed Ambassador Hamdoon of what we are doing, and obviously, Ambassador Hamdoon is in the Security Council meetings where we are also.

JIM LEHRER: Is there anything that Iraq could do say in the next 24 hours or whatever to stop these, or is it beyond that point?

SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Well, this attack is going to go through its completion, and what Saddam Hussein can do after it is to comply. He can let UNSCOM back in - a real UNSCOM that can do its work. And he can let it do what it's supposed to do, and then we'll go into a comprehensive review. That's what he can do.

JIM LEHRER: All right. Madam Secretary, thank you very much.

SEC. MADELEINE ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

JIM LEHRER: After that interview was taped, the State Department announced that the Russian ambassador to the United States has been recalled to protest the U.S. action against Iraq.

North Korea? Iran? Anyone? Yeah...Albright.

topsecretk9

SAM: Don't bother responding I wont be back.

Another liberal lie.

anon

anon

(Cool name.)

"Premise 2: The mortality data from Iraqi officials cannot be trusted because death certificates are not reliably issued ..."

Here's what you're missing. It is perhaps the case that death certificates are reliably issued. They are issued by local authorities. Nevertheless, however, "mortality data from Iraqi officials cannot be trusted" because currently no one is in a position to properly aggregate, at a national level, the data from local officials. The "Iraqi officials" at the Ministry of Health who are reporting aggregate data to people like the UN are not in a position to assure us that this data is complete and unbiased.

Aside from all that, there is reason to understand that under certain circumstances family members would decline to ask local authorities for a death certificate.

anon

terrye

"We have ample evidence of what Saddam was, it is in mass graves all over that country"

As long as you use the word "ample" very loosely. Such "evidence" is dramatically less "ample" than the effort put into the Lancet study.

An official US site still carries this statement by Blair:

We've already discovered just so far the remains of 400,000 people in mass graves

Oops:

PM admits graves claim 'untrue' ... Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.

The claims by Blair in November and December of last year, were given widespread credence ... including in the introduction to a US government pamphlet ...

Downing Street's admission comes amid growing questions over precisely how many perished under Saddam's three decades of terror, and the location of the bodies of the dead. ... serious questions are now emerging about the scale of Saddam Hussein's murders.

It comes amid inflation from an estimate by Human Rights Watch in May 2003 of 290,000 'missing' to the latest claims by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, that one million are missing.

At the heart of the questions are the numbers so far identified in Iraq's graves. Of 270 suspected grave sites identified in the last year, 55 have now been examined, revealing, according to the best estimates that The Observer has been able to obtain, around 5,000 bodies. ...

And while few have any doubts that Saddam's regime was responsible for serious crimes against humanity, the exact scale of those crimes has become increasingly politicised in both Washington and London as it has become clearer that the case against Iraq for retention of weapons of mass destruction has faded.

The USAID website, which quotes Blair's 400,000 assertion, states: 'If these numbers prove accurate, they represent a crime against humanity surpassed only by the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s, and the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.'

It is an issue that Human Rights Watch was acutely aware of when it compiled its own pre-invasion research - admitting that it had to reduce estimates for the al-Anfal campaign produced by Kurds by over a third, as they believed the numbers they had been given were inflated.

Hania Mufti, one of the researchers that produced that estimate, said: 'Our estimates were based on estimates. The eventual figure was based in part on circumstantial information gathered over the years.'

A further difficulty, according to Inforce, a group of British forensic experts in mass grave sites based at Bournemouth University who visited Iraq last year, was in the constant over-estimation of site sizes by Iraqis they met. 'Witnesses were often likely to have unrealistic ideas of the numbers of people in grave areas that they knew about,' said Jonathan Forrest.

'Local people would tell us of 10,000s of people buried at single grave sites and when we would get there they would be in multiple hundreds.'

On 9/6/03 our government said this:

Officials said the 3,000-plus bodies the mass grave contained are just the tip of the iceberg. In the Mahawil area alone, officials estimate that 15,000 Iraqis probably are buried. In all of Iraq, some officials estimate Saddam killed more than 350,000 Iraqis since he took power in 1979. Other estimates put the number at 500,000, and still others at 1.3 million.

On 11/8/03 our government said this:

We believe, based on what Iraqis have reported to us, that there are 300,000 dead and that's the lower end of the estimates

Oops:

Tony Blair and others claim 300,000 bodies have been found in Iraqi mass graves. In fact, there have been no official exhumations - or count ...

We now know that the public was misled over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. But have we also been misled over the even more emotive issue of Iraq's mass graves.

There are without doubt many mass graves in Iraq, into which the bodies of thousands of Iraqis killed by the Ba'ath regime were dumped over the past 25 years. Coalition officials have claimed that they contain the bodies of 300,000 Iraqis. In November last year, Sandra Hodgkinson, then head of the coalition's mass graves action plan, told the press that 260 grave sites had been located, which contained the bodies of "at least 300,000".

In comments and speeches, Labour ministers and MPs have repeated this figure time and again....

Some journalists took such comments as evidence that thousands of bodies had already been retrieved. In a press conference with a senior US official on November 20, a journalist asked about Blair's claim that "400,000 [sic] bodies have been exhumed from Iraq". The US official said: "We've seen numbers that are in the hundreds of thousands. It's certainly absolutely at least 300,000 or more; it could be as high as ... 500,000."

For pro-war commentators, claims that there were at least 300,000 bodies in mass graves became the trump card in debates about the war, overriding the anti-war lobby's concerns about the failure to find WMD or the chaos caused by the coalition's military intervention. "According to the latest estimates, the mass graves in Iraq contain the remains of at least 300,000 people, but we're still arguing about whether the war was 'justified'," wrote Mark Steyn in the Daily Telegraph.

So what is the coalition's evidence to substantiate the numbers cited? The coalition's claims are based less on investigation and excavation than on guesswork.

Blair stated that the graves of 300,000 have already been found. Yet when I asked Joanna Levison of the US state department how many bodies have been exhumed, she said: "Through official procedures? None." Levison, who has taken over from Sandra Hodgkinson as head of the coalition's mass graves action plan, says that more than 270 grave sites have been reported and over 50 confirmed. At some of these there have been "community-led exhumations", where Iraqis have desperately dug around for the remains of loved ones, "but no coalition-led exhumations".

Jonathan Forrest of Inforce, the International Forensic Centre for the Investigation of Genocide at Bournemouth University, also says that no bodies have been exhumed, except unofficially by Iraqi communities.

Inforce is one of many teams of scientists from Europe that has carried out initial forensic tests on grave sites, to verify that they are graves and to estimate how old they might be. Forrest's team worked in Iraq for five months last year. "I do not believe that any forensic scientists have exhumed any bodies in Iraq at all," he says. With no evidence by way of officially exhumed bodies, how did the coalition arrive at the estimate of 300,000 buried in mass graves? Levison says there is an "international consensus" that this number of Iraqis perished under the Ba'athists.

Forrest believes that he might, inadvertently, have played a part in giving prominence to this figure. He says journalists in Iraq constantly asked his team how many were in the graves. "So we adopted the Human Rights Watch figure of 290,000, and rounded it up to 300,000."

Yet HRW's figure is an estimate for the number of Iraqis who disappeared under the Ba'athists, "many of whom are believed to have been killed" - not for the number buried in mass graves. HRW itself refuses to use its figure of 290,000 as an estimate for the number of bodies in mass graves. The group's senior researcher in Baghdad says: "How can we conclude that they are all in mass graves? We won't know that until there have been full-scale exhumations of the grave sites. There have been no official exhumations yet."

The estimate of 300,000 Iraqis killed by the Ba'athists also includes deaths for which the western powers arguably bear some responsibility. According to the US state department, most of the graves discovered to date correspond to five major atrocities committed by the Saddam Hussein regime: the 1983 attack against Kurds of the Barzani tribe; the 1988 Anfal campaign against the Kurds, for which estimates of the numbers killed vary from 50,000 to 180,000; chemical attacks against Kurdish villages from 1986 to 1988; the 1991 massacre of Shia Muslims during their uprising at the end of the Gulf war; and the 1991 massacre of Kurds who fought for autonomy in northern Iraq after the Gulf war.

Saddam's brutal attacks on the Kurds in the 1980s occurred as part of the Iran-Iraq war, during which the Reagan administration supported and armed his regime. When that war ended in 1988 Saddam sought to consolidate his rule at home; in the Anfal campaign he sent forces to quell the Kurdish uprising in the north (supported by the Iranians), again with US consent. The massacre of the Shias in 1991 took place after they were encouraged by the first Bush administration to rebel following the first Gulf war, and then abandoned to their fate.

anon

anon

(Cool name.)

"Premise B: The mortality rate reported by the Iraqi government is accurate enough for The Lancet study to use as its baseline so it can calculate the true excess mortality rate."

You're implying something that's not true. The Lancet study did not use a "mortality rate reported by the Iraqi government" to provide a baseline. The study took into account death certificates which were issued by local authorities and were in the hands of family members.

boris

"If there aren't about 500,000 countable death certificates in Iraq then the Lancet study is one big scam"

Perhaps there are "500,000 countable death certificates in Iraq." But good luck counting them, except on a cluster sampling basis, because they are not in one place, and reliable data about them is not in one place.

Here's the core issue, as concisely put by TT: "the local data isn't getting into the official statistics."

anon

syl

"Why are you guys so afraid of change? Everything you do is to maintain the status quo"

You have no sense of irony. Definition of "conservatism:"

disposition in politics to preserve what is established ... a political philosophy based on tradition and social stability, stressing established institutions, and preferring gradual development to abrupt change ... the tendency to prefer an existing or traditional situation to change

Now even the dictionary is helping the terrorists. Things are bad.

PeterUK

"But having that ability doesn't mean we're using that ability. We're not primarily there to blow things up. We're there to kill "terrorists." There's good reason to think we've been very effective. Or, rather, "effective." One small problem, of course, is that the "terrorists" and civilians are not clearly labeled as such."

Area bombardment is not used to kill small groups of people,be they terrorists or regular military,simply because it is inaccurate and inefficient.That is why smart boms are used when the target is located,that is how Zarkawi was killed.


""500,00 TONS IS A MUCH REDUCED USAGE OF ORDNANCE"

Aside from your very strange difficulty typing numbers (you made that exact mistake twice), you're grossly misinterpreting the numbers. The figures for Germany-WWII and Vietnam (2.7 and 6.7 million tons, respectively) are totals. The figure I mentioned for Iraq (500,000 tons) is a minimum. You're completely glossing over this fundamental distinction. Consequently, your assertion ("MUCH REDUCED") is dead-wrong.

Shame about the typo,I don't type very well,but then again I don't have to,but if it makes you feel superior,anything to lighten your load.

So the bomb loade on Germany 2.7 million tons and Vietnam 6.7 million tons were totals but the figure for Iraq 500,000 dropped on Iraq is a minimum? The number is of course itself a total,and it is very obvious that it is a lower total that the other two,you can see that can you not?
So go away and revise your figures providing a maximum so that there can be a proper correlation,OK?

"By the way, even if we dropped only 500,000 tons on Iraq (a known minimum figure), that still works out to about 40 pounds for every person in Iraq. In other words, we have surely already dropped enough to kill absolutely everyone, if applied efficiently".

I just love mathematical games like this.With the total area of Iraq being 438 320 km²(figures vary slightly)it works out at 0.87664 tons per square kilometer.The population of Iraq is 26,074,906(again figures vary) so I think for your plan to apply 40 lbs to each person "effiently",if we bear in mind that the bombs don't come in neat 40lb packages,some re-arrangement of the population would be required first.Perhaps you could get them to stand in neat groups.

""YOUR RACIAL SUPREMACIST IGNORANCE IN BELIEVEING A HIGHLY DEVOUT CULTURE DOES NOT OR COULD NOT BURY ITS DEAD"

Carrying on with standard religious practices becomes more difficult when friendly foreigners are dropping explosives on your country at a constant rate of 50 pounds per second. (That's what you get when you evaluate 500,000 tons over nine months. And this is putting aside the fact that this figure is only for part of the country, not the whole country.)

Wonderful anon,simply wonderful,are thes 50lbs per second landing in the same place,evenly distributed over the whole of Iraq's 438 320 km²,including water,desert,mountains,farmland etc?

Ah so now the 500,000 tons is only over nine months and now only part of the country,which part?
As I said earlier,go away and produce accurate figures instead of parsing your self in ever decreasing circles.

anon

jmh

"if the folks who have started touting the study were bringing up a range of numbers, you might have a point"

If the folks who condemn the study would lift a finger to state their own position on the likely number of deaths, that would be exceedingly helpful.

"let's just wait and see how many people brandishing the survey refer to some 600,000+ deaths, and how many talk about qualitative ranges"

Refer to what I said above regarding claims about mass graves. The issue is very much the same, except the mass-graves number was essentially pulled out of a hat. It's not just that we often heard about a single-point claim (rather than a range). It's that the claim itself was a wild guess. There was no point trying to criticize the science or methodology behind the claim because there was no science or methodology to be found.

"If you multiply the IBC's upper number by the requisite 5 ... I am ... pointing out the fact that even using Lancet's research, the IBC number ends up being more in line with other estimates than with Lancet's own."

You're acting as if 20% (a 5:1 ratio) is typical, when comparing passive surveillance methods against population-based survey methods. But that's not what the report said. The report said that 20% was the highest ratio it could find ("unable to find ... more than"). In other words, you're grabbing what they offer as a best case (from the perspective of your argument), and you're treating it as the typical case. Not valid.

"the fundamental flaw rests in assigning the number of clusters as a function of population when the violence affecting Iraq not been evenly distributed at all ... most of the mass killing and deprivation related death in pre-war Iraq occured outside of Baghdad and the Sunni triangle, while it's quite the opposite in the post-invasion period"

That doesn't matter. If lots of non-Baghdad folks are now having a gloriously safer life, the overall population weighting would take this into account, and this would be reflected in the results.

"It sounds like you have not reached my last post in the thread yet"

You can probably see that I try to be thorough, and also to take things in order. I realize this sometimes creates a kind of chronological confusion. Sorry about that.

"I think the ballpark multiple I provided of the IBC number is probably supportable"

This is the kind of bottom-line statement I've been looking for. It tells me that your view on this point is not radically different than mine.

"I did not have the IBC numbers in mind when I referred you back to the BBC article you posted"

OK, thanks for clarifying that. I was making an assumption.

"The insurgent attacks graphic, along with other information provided in the article, reinforces my argument that the magnitude of the leap between Lancet's first and second surveys is not supported by other statistics which should parallel their findings"

That's a helpful clarification. You're making an interesting point about comparing the trends. I hadn't thought of looking at it that way. I agree that we should expect to see a similar profile to the trend.

I know you don't agree, but I think this is one possible explanation: the first Lancet study was understated.

"the overwhelming preponderance of violent deaths are caused by gunshots"

I'm well-aware that this is what Lancet reports.

"Your assumptions about tonnage & collateral damage are not just wrong, they're irrelevant."

I understand why you're saying this, but I'm trying to make a different point. I'm putting the Lancet study aside for a moment, and just taking a look at the number of bombs we've dropped. The result of looking at this is to conclude that it's highly plausible that we've killed a lot of people this way. In other words, I'm just taking an alternate path to arrive at the same conclusion: a lot of people died there recently.

Lancet says about 13% of the deaths are from air strikes. Figure that's about 85,000 people. At the very least, I'm using alternate data to show that this sounds highly plausible. That's about 70 people/day. I showed that we've been dropping 2,000 tons/day. That means that roughly 30 tons of explosive is causing the death of just one person. Sounds remarkably conservative to me. I find it hard to imagine that much explosive doing less damage than that.

The appalling bottom-line is this: it's possible that the civilian death-toll (by violence) in Iraq for the last 42 months exceeds the total for the prior 24 years under Saddam. This would exclude the people who died fighting his wars for him (small consolation).

Even more appalling: it's possible that the number of Iraqi civilians killed directly by us exceeds the number killed by Saddam.

And it's not nearly over.

anon

jmh

"Your assumptions about tonnage & collateral damage are not just wrong, they're irrelevant."

I realize you've neglected to point out what it is about my "assumptions" that are "wrong."

Your claim about "irrelevant" I understand, and I responded to that.

puk

"The number is of course itself a total"

The 500,000-tons number is a "total" for one unit (not the entire country), and for one nine-month period (not the entire war). You insist on failing to see how this is fundamentally different than the figures for Germany and Vietnam, which represent the entire country and the entire war.

"it is very obvious that it is a lower total that the other two,you can see that can you not?"

If my income for one month is less than your income for an entire year, I have "a lower total" than yours, by your logic. But nevertheless you are most definitely not in a position to conclude that my salary is lower than yours. You can see that can you not? I guess not.

Do the knobs on your amplifier go to 11?

"Perhaps you could get them to stand in neat groups."

What is highly convenient from the perspective of people who want to use bombs for killing is that humans do tend to congregate.

"bombs don't come in neat 40lb packages"

They don't need to, because humans tend to congregate. Group delivery is quite practical. Individual servings are not needed.

"are thes 50lbs per second landing in the same place,evenly distributed over the whole of Iraq's 438 320 km²,including water,desert,mountains,farmland etc?"

Obviously not. Likewise, the humans are not "evenly distributed over the whole of Iraq's 438 320 km²,including water,desert,mountains,farmland etc." They tend to gather in certain places. Those places have a tendency to attract bombs. Places like "water,desert,mountains,farmland etc" have a tendency to not attract bombs. The people who spend our tax dollars on this sort of thing exert a certain minimal care to not be wasteful.

Keep working at it. Eventually it will start to sink in.

"so now the 500,000 tons is only over nine months and now only part of the country,which part?"

Not "now." Always. It's just that "now" is when you finally happen to be catching on to those very material facts. I'm sorry I didn't make it simple enough for you the first time around. Next time I'll see if I can do something for you with crayons.

"Which part" of the country? If you need to satisfy your irrational curiosity, look it up. It's in one of the citations I offered. I didn't bother to mention the region, and I'm still not bothering to mention the region, because it doesn't matter much. Do some deep thinking and try to figure out why.

Here's a suggestion: do what some folks do and stick with vapid puerile insults. When you try to reach beyond that into the domain of facts and reasoning the results are embarrassing.

PeterUK

""The number is of course itself a total"

The 500,000-tons number is a "total" for one unit (not the entire country), and for one nine-month period (not the entire war). You insist on failing to see how this is fundamentally different than the figures for Germany and Vietnam, which represent the entire country and the entire war.

That was not your original statement,you merely stated 500,000 tons,now you are parsing it down to one unit for a nine month period,something you never claimed.
Your second claim was that it was a minimum.As I said go away a get the total figures for the Iraq war to date.It looks like you can't,else you would be trumpeting them here.

"Which part" of the country? If you need to satisfy your irrational curiosity, look it up. It's in one of the citations I offered. I didn't bother to mention the region, and I'm still not bothering to mention the region, because it doesn't matter much. Do some deep thinking and try to figure out why."

You didn't bother to mention the region,how convenient,a wonderful cover for your ignorance.
Material facts,anon,you don't have any in that acned little head of yours.

"do what some folks do and stick with vapid puerile insults. When you try to reach beyond that into the domain of facts and reasoning the results are embarrassing."

You mean like this?

"Do the knobs on your amplifier go to 11?"

Yes ,that I think qualifies as vapid and peurile,BTW you missed out the comma,vapid,peurile.

Sue

After the leak of the NIE, I take a step backwards when anonymous sources are used to produce the following:

draft policy options shared with The New York Sun by commission officials.

The product of being burned too many times by newspapers. Put a name on the source or I am skeptical.

boris

Perhaps there are "500,000 countable death certificates in Iraq." But good luck counting them

So the "logic" is, elections and counting votes are no problem even though its a big number scattered throughout the country, but ... death certificates can't be counted because ... why ?

anon

By the way folks, I'm going to be around for as long as the checks keep rolling in from the PR folks at Fenton Communications.

They ordered a media blitz to positively hype the Lancet's October surprise conveniently timed but politically disinterested medical study, and I'm going to make sure they get their money's worth.

anon

Boris, don't be stupid. It would be too hard to go around Iraq and sample death certificates at the local level to get an accurate representation of the mortality rate.

That's why they sent out people to sample random households at the local level instead.

You wingers are clueless on how this science stuff works.

boris

It would be too hard to go around Iraq and sample death certificates at the local level to get an accurate representation of the mortality rate

So THAT'S how that science stuff works ! Don't measure, just guess and BS !

PeterUK

"It would be too hard to go around Iraq and sample death certificates at the local level to get an accurate representation of the mortality rate.

That's why they sent out people to sample random households at the local level instead."

On the one hand it is too hard to sample death certificates "at the local level" but possible to "sample random households at a local level instead.

Why is it easier going to random households than going to official centres for information? Surely the former is more risky?
You have extraordinary mental processes anon,does it hurt?

"You wingers are clueless on how this science stuff works!".

Spoken like a true Art School pupil.

PeterUK

Boris,
Going to households would also leave the choice up to those gathering information,where were they from,the Baghdad University?

Bob

That's why they sent out people to sample random households at the local level instead.

You wingers are clueless on how this science stuff works.

That has got to be the funniest thing I've read in while... this must be the same "junk" science that Al Gore and moonbats are using!

Oh and PeterUK, your beating your head against the wall with this idiot. Liberals have no means of analytical reasoning... it just ain't in their core competency.

boris

Perhaps there are "500,000 countable death certificates in Iraq."

Then again perhaps not. Perhaps there are only 50,000 countable death certificates in Iraq. Avoidance of actual measurement in favor of subjective guessing looks more like politics than science.

PeterUK

Bob,
"Oh and PeterUK, your beating your head against the wall with this idiot."

No Bob,I'm beating the idiot.One day when it hits puberty,perhaps has children of its own,all this will still be on the web.Savour it my friend,in all the delightful possiblities.
"Mommy,were you really a Moonbat,how can you complain about my grades whrn you were so dumb?"

Cecil Turner

There you go again, making shit up. How boringly predictable.

Hey Juke, still making stupid assumptions and failing to check them, I see. (Gee what a shock.)

What you present in the form of quoted text ("was actually rather largely taken out of context") appears nowhere in the article you cited.

Ah, and that means? Ever consider that perhaps it's quoted in another, different source? (And that I might not've felt it needed a cite, because it's already cited above?)

And don't you get tired of outing yourself with stupid rhetorical tricks? Or that your favorite approach is so obvious that it remains distinctive despite your feeble attempts to hide it? Or that failing to escape detection through changing handles, you need to imitate some other poster in hopes of remaining viable for a few more posts? Or that your needy attempts to demonstrate some sort of (mental?) "superiority" with dishonest debating tricks in fact redound to the discredit of both yourself and those Kossites you represent? Just curious (in an amateur forensic psychologist sort of way).

Bob

OK PeterUk... just don't hurt yourself! I hear it can take years before it gets through their thick skulls. Try using smaller words with fewer syllables!

Rick Ballard

A methodical rebuttal of the Lancet "study" methodology.

Short version - GIGO.

TexasToast

JMH

Re Cole - I agreed with you on the practical irrelevance of Cole's observations about death certificates a few posts above yours. His post that I linked has some interesting anecdotal evidence, but the "death certificate" issue is far more easily explained by the breakdown in the official statistical reporting system.

Yep, a superficial reading of the stats causes everyone to go "Huh?!?!". They don't pass the "common sense" smell test - but neither does quantum mechanics, particle physics, or compound interest. You would be amazed at the disbelieving look on peoples' faces when they see the magic of compounding - much less "claims" that matter can have the properties of a wave and a particle at the same time. The reality is counter intuitive - but that doesn't make it fantasy.

You are obviously one of the few posters on this thread who have actually read the darn study abstract.

Everyone else can't seem to get past the cognitive dissonance. But is is really inconceivable that over roughly 1200 days in a country of 26 million people there were 500 to 600 excess deaths per day? That's only 4 to 5 deaths per day in the major cities outside of Baghdad. Cole's anecdotal evidence is relevant here. How can our casualty rate be so low and the Iraqi casualty rate be so high? Part of the answer is the quality of our military - they really are good at what they do. Part of the answer lies in the fact that 26 million is a good bit larger 140K. But I think the primary reason is the fact that we are not the sole actor. This is a civil war going on and we are merely players.

I agree that putting the studies side by side raises real questions of consistency - but I think the explanation lies in the fact that the ranges of both studies are so large, and the intensity of the insurgency and civil war has vastly increased. The qualitative result of both studies, however, is consistent - in both cases the actual deaths from all causes far exceed the official statistics and probably the excess is a number that is greater than a multiple of 5.

Finally, the use of the "number" instead of the range is, of course, inaccurate because this study does not have the precision that a single point implies. I ask you though, how many people talking about poll results really stress the margin of error or the confidence interval? Very few. The single point number makes the result more understandable in a "common sense" way at the cost of precision - but imprecision is not hyperbole.

Syl

JukeBoxGrad

Your concept seems to be as follows: civilian found with hole in head, in 2004. Must be a victim of the "insurgency!" Civilian found with hole in head, in 2006. Must be a victim of "sectarian violence!"

You, who have an 'answer' for everything, don't have an answer to me beyond your mischaracterization of what my 'concept' is.

All you have is your bigotry against muslims, assuming all they care about is whether someone is a sunni or shia and assuming they are all willing to kill each other because of it. Thus you believe those hateful Iraqis don't deserve our support. Then why do you even care how many have died?

The fact is you don't care one bit about the death of any Iraqi.

The sectarian violence only became a huge factor after the bombing of the Golden Dome and you have nothing, nada, nil to refute that.

Syl

TT

Read Rick's link.

The problem isn't in the methodology per se, it is in the fact that the sample isn't truly random.

ISTM some cheating was going on concerning which households they said they were surveying vs which households they actually surveyed.

TexasToast

Syl

Sample error cuts both ways; i.e., it is equally likely that the sample underreports the deaths from all sources - which means that "cheating" is a charge of fraud.

Rick's link essentially makes this argument and the "death certificate" argument. Everyone agrees that a study using a methodology resulting in more precise results would be preferable - unfortunately, under current circumstances, that doesn't appear to be very practical.

Cecil Turner

Yep, a superficial reading of the stats causes everyone to go "Huh?!?!". They don't pass the "common sense" smell test - but neither does quantum mechanics, particle physics, or compound interest.

More to the point, they disagree with other figures to a ridiculous extent--and this is just counting bodies, not quantum mechanics (further, those other figures are based on actual counting, rather than "cluster" estimates, so which to believe?).

For example (using one of Rick's favorites), the Brookings Institute totals those killed in multiple-fatality bombings as 8831. Comparing that to the study results (car bombs alone account for 13% of the violent death figures, which would sum about 78,000) shows a discrepancy of at least 10:1, with no logical explanation other than the survey being wrong.

Syl

TT

Everyone agrees that a study using a methodology resulting in more precise results would be preferable - unfortunately, under current circumstances, that doesn't appear to be very practical.

So they just make shit up.

BTW, I do call this study fraudulent. If there were security concerns which caused them to substitute any other households for the ones in their random sample setup, and they did not include details in the report, nor analyze the difference it made, then shame on them. And shame on anyone claiming this survey is valid.

PeterUK

”That these two surveys were carried out in different locations and two years apart from each other yet yielded results that were very similar to each other, is strong validation of both surveys.”

This quote is from the companion document to the 2006 Hopkins study into excess mortality in Iraq. The authors are referring to the correlation with the excess mortality uncovered in the earlier, 2004 study, for the first 18 months of the war (Mar 03 – Sep 04).

The first study estimated 98,000 excess deaths as the confidence interval mid-point for the period March 2003 – September 2004. This is comprised of roughly 57,000 violent deaths and 41,000 non-violent deaths. The second study projects a figure of 112,000 for the same period. In fact, as the second study projects a decrease in non-violent death for the first 18 month period of the war from the pre-invasion baseline, the extrapolated excess mortality for the first 18 months of the war is conservatively above 130,000 (it’s impossible to say exactly, as the breakdown data isn’t available for the first 4 months of the second period in the 2006 study). The fact remains, every single one of the estimated (112,000) or extrapolated (130,000) deaths in Lancet 2 are due to violence. Non-violent deaths have gone negative to the tune of approximately 20,000, down from 41,000 in Lancet 1, whilst deaths from violence have doubled.

So whilst the headline figure for Lancet 1 and the Lancet 2 equivalent are relatively close, the composition of each could scarcely be more different. If you’re sent to the shop to buy an apple pie and come back with steak and kidney, do you get a pass because it’s still a pie?

And is it credible, given everything we were told and assume about the impact of the war on civilian infrastructure within in Iraq during those first post-invasion months that non-violent deaths actually decreased? Even allowing for this, how can the two studies be described as mutually corroborating when the composition of deaths for the first 18 month period are entirely contradictory?

Notwithstanding the above, it is clear the many tens of thousands of Iraqis have died since the start of this conflict. Those of use who supported the war should question our decision to do so every day. To support a war whilst remaining ignorant of the direct cost paid by others is an uncomfortable position in which to find oneself, yet until our governments undertake to conduct their own investigation into post-invasion mortality rates in Iraq, this is precisely where we are. An inability to quantify the level of sacrifice made by Iraqis undermines our moral legitimacy as supporters of the war. An unwillingness by the coalition to undertake such an exercise displays a contempt for the dead that shames us all.

===
“Hat tip” wouldn’t do it justice. All information gleaned from the comments thread at Tim Lambert's blog where commenter “Mike H” is asking all the relevant questions. Check it out, starting with his comment on October 13th at 09:15am. He later sums up the Lancet 1 and 2 differences thus:

2004 study - approximately 278,000 total deaths (180,000 baseline + 98,000 excess) for the first 18 months of the war, 218,000 from non-violent causes and 60,000 from violence (3,000 being pre-invasion).

2006 study - approximately 310,000 total deaths (198,000 baseline + 112,000 excess) for the first 18 months of the war, approximately 178,000 from non-violent causes and approximately 132,000 from violence.

Discussion also ongoing at Crooked Timber, where the latest explanation for the violent-non-violent discrepancy is that the study respondents were lying in Lancet 1. To be fair, this is not in the least an irrational argument, but what it does for credibility of the figures is another matter.

Harry's Place.

JM Hanes

As noted by Instapundit, Iraq Body Count responds to the Lancet study:

Reality checks:
some responses to the latest Lancet estimates

Hamit Dardagan, John Sloboda, and Josh Dougherty

Summary

A new study has been released by the Lancet medical journal estimating over 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi mortality estimates published in the Lancet in October 2006 imply, among other things, that:

1. On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms;
2. Some 800,000 or more Iraqis suffered blast wounds and other serious conflict-related injuries in the past two years, but less than a tenth of them received any kind of hospital treatment;
3. Over 7% of the entire adult male population of Iraq has already been killed in violence, with no less than 10% in the worst affected areas covering most of central Iraq;
4. Half a million death certificates were received by families which were never officially recorded as having been issued;
5. The Coalition has killed far more Iraqis in the last year than in earlier years containing the initial massive "Shock and Awe" invasion and the major assaults on Falluja.


If these assertions are true, they further imply:

* incompetence and/or fraud on a truly massive scale by Iraqi officials in hospitals and ministries, on a local, regional and national level, perfectly coordinated from the moment the occupation began;
* bizarre and self-destructive behaviour on the part of all but a small minority of 800,000 injured, mostly non-combatant, Iraqis;
* the utter failure of local or external agencies to notice and respond to a decimation of the adult male population in key urban areas;
* an abject failure of the media, Iraqi as well as international, to observe that Coalition-caused events of the scale they reported during the three-week invasion in 2003 have been occurring every month for over a year.

In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy.

The extended reply is available in both HTML & PDF at the link above.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Wilson/Plame