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Thread: Debunking the Lancet Report

  1. #31
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    I'd be curious now to see if people will try to defend Roberts et al as passionately as before.

    washingtonpost.com

    New Estimate of Violent Deaths Among Iraqis Is Lower

    By David Brown and Joshua Partlow
    Washington Post Staff Writers
    Thursday, January 10, 2008; A18

    A new survey estimates that 151,000 Iraqis died from violence in the three years following the U.S.-led invasion of the country. Roughly 9 out of 10 of those deaths were a consequence of U.S. military operations, insurgent attacks and sectarian warfare.

    The survey, conducted by the Iraqi government and the World Health Organization, also found a 60 percent increase in nonviolent deaths -- from such causes as childhood infections and kidney failure -- during the period. The results, which will be published in the New England Journal of Medicine at the end of the month, are the latest of several widely divergent and controversial estimates of mortality attributed to the Iraq war.

    The three-year toll of violent deaths calculated in the survey is one-quarter the size of that found in a smaller survey by Iraqi and Johns Hopkins University researchers published in the journal Lancet in 2006.

    Both teams used the same method -- a random sample of houses throughout the country. For the new study, however, surveyors visited 23 times as many places and interviewed five times as many households. Surveyors also got more outside supervision in the recent study; that wasn't possible in the spring of 2006 when the Johns Hopkins survey was conducted.

    Despite reaching a lower estimate of total deaths, the epidemiologists found what they termed "a massive death toll in the wake of the 2003 invasion."

    Iraq's population-wide mortality rate nearly doubled, and the death rate from violence increased tenfold after the coalition attack. Men between 15 and 60 were at the greatest risk. Their death rate from all causes tripled, and their risk of dying a violent death went up elevenfold.

    Iraq's health minister, Salih al-Hasnawi, in a conference call held by WHO yesterday morning, said: "Certainly I believe this number. I think that this is a very sound survey with accurate methodology."

    Other experts not involved in the research also expressed confidence in the findings, even though, as with the earlier survey, the 151,000-death estimate has a wide range of statistical uncertainty, from a low of 104,000 to a high of 223,000.

    "Overall, this is a very good study," said Paul Spiegel, a medical epidemiologist at the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in Geneva. "What they have done that other studies have not is try to compensate for the inaccuracies and difficulties of these surveys, triangulating to get information from other sources."

    Spiegel added that "this does seem more believable to me" than the earlier survey, which estimated 601,000 deaths from violence over the same period.

    U.S. military officials yesterday pointed to the great disparity between the two estimates, noting privately that it underscores the potential for inaccuracies in such surveys. The Defense Department has not released any estimates of civilian deaths and has said often that the military takes precautions to prevent civilian casualties, while the United States' enemies in Iraq deliberately target civilians.

    "It would be difficult for the U.S. to precisely determine the number of civilian deaths in Iraq as a result of insurgent activity," said Lt. Col. Mark Ballesteros, a Pentagon spokesman. "The Iraqi Ministry of Health would be in a better position, with all of its records, to provide more accurate information on deaths in Iraq."

    Les Roberts, an epidemiologist now at Columbia University who helped direct the Johns Hopkins survey, also praised the new one. While both found a large increase in mortality, his found that much more of it was caused by violence.

    "My gut feeling is that most of the difference between the two studies is a reluctance to report to the government a death due to violence," he said. "If your son is fighting the government and died, that may not be something you'd want to admit to the government."

    The new study was conducted between August 2006 and March 2007 in all regions of the country, including the Kurdish northern area. Surveyors visited about 1,000 randomly selected geographic areas (called "clusters") and interviewed people in 9,345 households. They were asked whether anyone in the household -- defined as people living under the same roof "and eating from one pot" -- had died from June 2001 through June 2006.

    Each death was assigned to one of 23 causes. "Violent death" covered shootings, stabbings, bombings and other intentional injuries, and included civilian, military and police deaths but not suicides and traffic fatalities unrelated to roadside bombs.

    Danger prevented surveyors from visiting 11 percent of the chosen clusters. Deaths in those areas were estimated using the ratio of deaths in the region to deaths in other regions as found in the Iraq Body Count, a continuous count of reported and verifiable violent deaths of civilians kept by an independent, London-based group. (That count, which even its organizers agree misses many deaths, registered 47,668 deaths from the U.S.-led invasion through June 2006).

    Previous research has shown that household surveys typically miss 30 to 50 percent of deaths. One reason is that some families that have suffered violent deaths leave the survey area. Demographers think that as many as 2 million Iraqis have fled the country since the war began, and the 151,000-death estimate includes an adjustment for this.

    Calculating death tolls in Iraq has been notoriously difficult.

    Some people are kidnapped and disappear, and others turn up months or years later in mass graves. Some are buried or otherwise disposed of without being recorded. In particularly violent areas, local governments have effectively ceased to function, and there are ineffective channels for collecting and passing information between hospitals, morgues and the central government.

    One senior Health Ministry official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said there are detailed casualty numbers, but "we have strict instructions not to give them out." The U.N. human rights mission in Iraq has criticized the Iraqi government for withholding information on civilian casualties.

    Last month, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, provided a U.S. military chart on civilian deaths in Iraq between January 2006 and December 2007, but specific monthly tolls were not included. A rough estimate based on this chart, which synthesized Iraqi and U.S. figures, indicated that some 40,000 civilians had died in the past two years in Iraq.

    Jalil Hadi al-Shimmari, who oversees the western Baghdad health department, said the 151,000 total seems roughly accurate but is probably a "modest" one. "The real number might be bigger than this," he said.

    The study employed about 400 interviewers. Some were employees of the Iraq Health Ministry, and others were local health workers, such as pharmacists, midwives and nurses. Women surveyors were used to interview women in the households. Different religions and sects were represented.

    "They built up the trust of the community, especially in the difficult areas," said Naeema al-Gasseer, WHO's representative in Iraq.

    One Iraqi official working on the survey was killed in random violence on the way to work. A few interviewers were detained by local militia under suspicion they were spies. One surveyor was kidnapped and ransomed.

    "They did risk their lives. There was a determination to make it a success," Gasseer said.
    Here's a link to the actual study: NEJM -- Violence-Related Mortality in Iraq from 2002 to 2006
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  2. #32

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    Boston Globe Piles On

    Lancet Discredited

    Jeff Jacoby of the Globe states the plainly obvious loud and clear.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

  3. #33
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    Well this new report is nothing to crow about if you are a war supporter. It validates a higher death total than as ever been previously reported, except for the Lancet studies. It also shows a huge increase in the number of deaths before and after the invasion. The violent death rate went from .1 per 1,000 to 1.09 per 1,000 and 3.14 per 1,000 among men, up from .28 per 1,000 for the year before the war.

    So you have a fairly peaceful and fairly stable country that was torn apart by the violence unleashed by the invasion. Also a significant number of clusters from Anbar were not visited, so is the study still low-balled? Perhaps, but I still think it is a good study and more in-line with the actual number of dead than anything else out there. One good thing this report does is show that the Lancet was overly politicized, but still 150,000 dead civilians through violence puts it on par with the worst tragedies of the 21st century.

  4. #34
    Senior Contributor smilingassassin's Avatar
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    So 150,000 dead civilians over 4 years leaves you with 102/103 dead every day. Sorry I still think the count is way off and those deaths cannot be exclusively atributed to the U.S. or the co-allition of the willing dispite initiating the war. Theres that little bit about Al-Q doing much of the handywork. How many of those 102/103 deaths a day were from the normal crime rate that a large city certainly suffers from?
    Last edited by smilingassassin; 19 Jan 08, at 08:53.
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  5. #35
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    I slung this whole thang right in that dumbass timhaughton's face.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herodotus View Post
    Well this new report is nothing to crow about if you are a war supporter. It validates a higher death total than as ever been previously reported, except for the Lancet studies. It also shows a huge increase in the number of deaths before and after the invasion. The violent death rate went from .1 per 1,000 to 1.09 per 1,000 and 3.14 per 1,000 among men, up from .28 per 1,000 for the year before the war.

    So you have a fairly peaceful and fairly stable country that was torn apart by the violence unleashed by the invasion. Also a significant number of clusters from Anbar were not visited, so is the study still low-balled? Perhaps, but I still think it is a good study and more in-line with the actual number of dead than anything else out there. One good thing this report does is show that the Lancet was overly politicized, but still 150,000 dead civilians through violence puts it on par with the worst tragedies of the 21st century.
    I think this report is in line with what a lot of folks were saying. Roberts et al was an overestimate, IBC was an underestimate.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilingassassin View Post
    So 150,000 dead civilians over 4 years leaves you with 102/103 dead every day. Sorry I still think the count is way off and those deaths cannot be exclusively atributed to the U.S. or the co-allition of the willing dispite initiating the war. Theres that little bit about Al-Q doing much of the handywork. How many of those 102/103 deaths a day were from the normal crime rate that a large city certainly suffers from?
    None of the reports claim that all the deaths are attributed to the USA. As far as criminal responsibility (which contributes a lot more to the insecurity than is recognized IMO, but would not contribute much to the death totals), there would be some, but I wouldn't call it a "large city" effect. Rampant kidnapping for ransom with no payment = death is not common in the developed world.
    "So little pains do the vulgar take in the investigation of truth, accepting readily the first story that comes to hand." Thucydides 1.20.3

  8. #38
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Want to know how 'nonpartisan' The Lancet is?

    Here's it's right-down-the-middle neutral editor, a man of science in an even-handed, non-prejudiced search for the truth, no ox to gore, no point to make, just an honest bloke that knows how to research a subject so that only the facts will be exposed to the light that shines on subjective Reality in its dark lair.

    What a TOOL.

  9. #39
    Senior Contributor smilingassassin's Avatar
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    I couldn't even watch the video past the first 10 seconds......
    Facts to a liberal is like Kryptonite to Superman.

    -- Larry Elder

  10. #40
    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by smilingassassin View Post
    I couldn't even watch the video past the first 10 seconds......
    ditto
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

  11. #41
    Banned Defense Professional Bluesman's Avatar
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    Steyn read the debunking, too:

    Mark Steyn: Some fictional horrors of war
    By MARK STEYN
    Syndicated columnist

    Have you been in an airport recently and maybe seen a gaggle of America's heroes returning from Iraq? And you've probably thought, "Ah, what a marvelous sight. Remind me to straighten up the old 'Support Our Troops' fridge magnet, which seems to have slipped down below the reminder to reschedule my acupuncturist. Maybe I should go over and thank them for their service."

    No, no, no, under no account approach them. Instead, try to avoid making eye contact and back away slowly toward the sign for the parking garage. You're in the presence of mentally damaged violent killers who could snap at any moment.

    You hadn't heard that? Well, it's in the New York Times: "a series of articles" that's right, a whole series "about veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have committed killings, or been charged with them, after coming home." It's an epidemic, folks. As the Times put it:

    "Town by town across the country, headlines have been telling similar stories. Lakewood, Wash.: 'Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife.' Pierre, S.D.: 'Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress.' Colorado Springs: 'Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.'"

    Obviously, as America's "newspaper of record," the Times would resent any suggestion that it's anti-military. I'm sure if you were one of these crazed military stalker whackjobs following the reporters home you'd find their cars sporting the patriotic bumper sticker "We Support Our Troops, Even After They've Been Convicted." As usual, the Times stories are written in the fey, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone that's a shoo-in come Pulitzer time:

    "Individually, these are stories of local crimes, gut-wrenching postscripts to the war for the military men, their victims and their communities. Taken together, they paint the patchwork picture of a quiet phenomenon, tracing a cross-country trail of death and heartbreak."

    "Patchwork picture," "quiet phenomenon." Yes, yes, but exactly how quiet is the phenomenon? How patchy is the picture? The New York Times found 121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan either "committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one." The "committed a killing" formulation includes car accidents.

    Thus, with declining deaths in the war zones, the media narrative evolves. Old story: "America's soldiers are being cut down by violent irrational insurgents we can never hope to understand." New story: "Americans are being cut down by violent irrational soldiers we can never hope to understand." In the quagmire of these veterans' minds, every leafy Connecticut subdivision is Fallujah and every Dunkin' Donuts clerk an Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

    It was the work of minutes for the Powerline Web site's John Hinderaker to discover that the "quiet phenomenon" is entirely unphenomenal: It didn't seem to occur to the Times to check whether the murder rate among recent veterans is higher than that of the general population of young men. It's not.

    Au contraire, the columnist Ralph Peters calculated that Iraq and Afghanistan vets are about one-fifth as likely to murder you as the average 18-to-34-year-old American male. Better yet, the blogger Iowahawk meticulously drew his own "patchwork picture" of another "quiet phenomenon": the Denver newspaper columnist arrested for stalking, the Cincinnati TV reporter facing child-molestation charges, the Philadelphia anchorwoman who went on a violent drunken rampage. As Iowahawk's one-man investigative unit wondered:

    "Unrelated incidents, or mounting evidence that America's newsrooms have become a breeding ground for murderous, drunk, gun-wielding child molesters?"

    Why would the Times run such a series? My columnar confrere Clifford May connected it to a notorious anniversary: Seventy-five years ago, in February 1933, the Oxford Union passed a famous resolution, by an overwhelming margin, that "this House would under no circumstances fight for its King and country." The Union was the world's most famous debating society, in a great university of the dominant global power; its presidents have gone on to serve as prime ministers at home and overseas, from Gladstone in the 19th century all the way to Benazir Bhutto in the 1990s.

    So the debate and its resolution sent a message to Britain's enemies: As Churchill saw it, the vote was a "disgusting symptom" of the enervation of the ruling elites. Clifford May sees that same syndrome today around the Western world, but, in fact, it's worse than that.

    The Oxford debate took place a decade and a half after the worst carnage in human history. World War I cost the lives of some 20 million people. Do you remember in 2004 when Ted Koppel devoted one episode of "Nightline" to reading out the names of everyone killed in combat in Iraq? If he'd attempted a similar task with the British Empire's war dead in 1919, the half-hour episode of "Nightline" would have had to be extended to 10 months or longer if Ted took bathroom breaks. The war reached into the smallest English hamlet and culled a generation of young men. It swept through the glittering palaces, too: The brother of Queen Elizabeth (the mother of the present queen) was killed on the Western front in 1915.

    It would be a statistical improbability to have been at that Oxford Union debate in 1933 and to have come from a home in which on some mantle or bureau there was not a photograph of a son or uncle or fiance forever young. It would be as if millions upon millions had been slaughtered in the first Gulf war, and, 15 years later, Harvard or Yale were debating whether we should do it all over again.

    In other words, we don't have their excuse. Our war has one of the lowest fatality rates of any war ever, and, when they get so low that even Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid temporarily give up the quagmire bleating, the Times invents bogus stories to suggest that the few veterans lucky enough to make it out of Iraq alive are ticking time-bombs ready to explode across every Main Street in the land.

    A few days before the Times series began, The National Journal published the latest debunking of a notorious survey: In 2006, the medical journal The Lancet reported that the Iraq war had killed over 650,000 civilians, over 90 percent victims of the U.S. military. That's 500 civilians a day. Which is quite a smell test. The figure was over 10 times the estimates even of hard-core anti-war groups. Who are these 500 daily victims? Why aren't there mass riots by Iraqi civilians protesting the daily bloodbath?

    Because it's fake. It didn't happen.

    Yet it's indestructible. I picked up a local paper in New Hampshire the other day, and a lady psychotherapist was twittering about our "mentally wounded" troops returning home after killing gazillions and bazillions of Iraqi civilians.

    In 1933, the debaters at Oxford were horrified by the real cost of war. In 2008, the editors of the Times, our college professors and Hollywood celebrities, are horrified by a fiction. Faced with a historically low cost of war, they retreat into fantasy. Who's really suffering from mental trauma? Who needs the psychotherapy here?

  12. #42
    Lord High Hullabalooster Senior Contributor dalem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herodotus View Post
    Well this new report is nothing to crow about if you are a war supporter. It validates a higher death total than as ever been previously reported, except for the Lancet studies. It also shows a huge increase in the number of deaths before and after the invasion. The violent death rate went from .1 per 1,000 to 1.09 per 1,000 and 3.14 per 1,000 among men, up from .28 per 1,000 for the year before the war.

    So you have a fairly peaceful and fairly stable country that was torn apart by the violence unleashed by the invasion. Also a significant number of clusters from Anbar were not visited, so is the study still low-balled? Perhaps, but I still think it is a good study and more in-line with the actual number of dead than anything else out there. One good thing this report does is show that the Lancet was overly politicized, but still 150,000 dead civilians through violence puts it on par with the worst tragedies of the 21st century.
    Please list five other "tragedies of the 21st century" for comparison.

    -dale

  13. #43
    Herodotus
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalem View Post
    Please list five other "tragedies of the 21st century" for comparison.

    -dale

    1.) The Ache earthquake and subsequent tsunami, leaving 210,000 dead in a few days would probably be the worst, given the large number in a short time frame.

    2.) Darfur, 200,000-400,000 though most killed through starvation from 2003-present.

    3.) The War in Afghanistan what 15-25,000 from 2001-present

    4.) Bangladesh Cyclone in 2007---15,000

    5.) Earthquake in Iran---30,000

    You could throw in the tail-end of the Congo War, if you want but I would count it as a 20th century tragedy.

    As tragedies I would count natural disasters, war, and famine, and the death tolls resulting from them.


    Iraq War: 151,000 killed (through violence only) in 2003-2006 per this study. Millions left homeless, conflict still ongoing, unknown number died through disease and starvation.

  14. #44

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    Herodotus Reply

    "...still 150,000 dead civilians through violence puts it on par with the worst tragedies of the 21st century."

    Ninety-two years remaining. Give it time. Unlimited possibilities there yet.
    "This aggression will not stand, man!" Jeff Lebowski
    "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you're uncool." Lester Bangs

  15. #45
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    At the end of the day, regardless of what the actual number really is, there was bad planning from day one, and more civilians died than there should have. We should never had invaded Iraq.

    Our current leadership was arrogant and ignored history lessons, and should had made sure that they finished the job in Afghanistan first and delivered Bin Laden's head on a plate by now.

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