1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

The Lancet Iraqi Study - Utter Garbage?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Evil Bastard (aka Chris_L), Oct 16, 2006.

  1. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Yeah, Chris and I.

    You can't support a ridiculous number so you want us to shut up. Sorry, doesn't work that way.

    But just to humor you, here's a portion of the AP story that spnited linked yesterday.

    "Iraqi deaths also are running at a high rate. According to an Associated Press count, 708 Iraqis have been reported killed in war-related violence this month, or just over 44 a day, compared to a daily average of more than 27 since the AP began tracking deaths in April 2005."

    That's hardly the 520 a day every day for 3 1/2 years you need to get to the study's claim of 650K. So when that was thoroughly discredited, Fenian tried to claim 300K, but you'd need 250 a day every day for 3 1/2 years to get to that number. You guys thought you had a number to hang around the administration's neck. Anyone capable of simple math knocked it down without even breathing hard. And you guys can't let it go. What little credibility you guys had is dripping away.
  2. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    And going back to what the article I originally posted:

    There will be a concerted attempt to persuade people that the statistical issues involved in this study are difficult. They aren't. The correct way to think about this is as follows:

    First, don't concentrate on the number 600,000 (or 655,000, depending on where you read). This is a point estimate of the number of excess Iraqi deaths - it's basically equal to the change in the death rate since the invasion, multiplied by the population of Iraq, multiplied by three-and-a-quarter years. Point estimates are almost never the important results of statistical studies and I wish the statistics profession would stop printing them as headlines.

    The question that this study was set up to answer was: as a result of the invasion, have things got better or worse in Iraq? And if they have got worse, have they got a little bit worse or a lot worse. Point estimates are only interesting in so far as they demonstrate or dramatise the answer to this question.

    The results speak for themselves. There was a sample of 12,801 individuals in 1,849 households, in 47 geographical locations. That is a big sample, not a small one. The opinion polls from Mori and such which measure political support use a sample size of about 2,000 individuals, and they have a margin of error of +/- 3%. If Margaret Beckett looks at the Labour party's rating in the polls, she presumably considers this to be reasonably reliable, so she should not contribute to public ignorance by allowing her department to disparage "small samples extrapolated to the whole country". The Iraq Body Count website and the Iraqi government statistics are not better measures than the survey results, because one of the things we know about war zones is that casualties are under-reported, usually by a factor of more than five.

    And the results were shocking. In the 18 months before the invasion, the sample reported 82 deaths, two of them from violence. In the 39 months since the invasion, the sample households had seen 547 deaths, 300 of them from violence. The death rate expressed as deaths per 1,000 per year had gone up from 5.5 to 13.3.

    Talk of confidence intervals becomes frankly irrelevant at this point. If you want to pick a figure for the precise number of excess deaths, then (1.33% - 0.55%) x 26,000,000 x 3.25 = 659,000 is as good as any, multiplying out the difference between the death rates by the population of Iraq and the time since the invasion. But we're interested in the qualitative conclusion here.

    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.
  3. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    And since Chris doesn't apparently read any of the links I post, here's an outtake from the editor/publisher link:

    Critics of the survey -- from the president all the way down to National Review Online -- have continually cited the much lower number numbers gathered from press accounts and mortuaries, which is known as “passive surveillance.” The Johns Hopkins study notes: “Aside from Bosnia, we can find no conflict situation where passive surveillance recorded more than 20% of the deaths measured by population-based methods

    In several outbreaks, disease and death recorded by facility-based methods underestimated events by a factor of ten or more when compared with population-based estimates. Between 1960 and 1990, newspaper accounts of political deaths in Guatemala correctly reported over 50% of deaths in years of low violence but less than 5% in years of highest violence.”

    Yet Richard Nadler, writing at National Review Online, complained that "the Hopkins researchers don’t record 655,000 extra casualties -- they extrapolate them." Nadler, I’d bet, rarely attacks the validity of U.S. opinion polls which base their findings on interviews with about 1,000 Americans – in a country of 300 million

    The point is, Chris's only "source" is IBC whose methodology has been proven to be faulty. The other one is standard statistical gathering which anyone learns in Stats 101.

  4. We have proven, again and again, that you've never argued with a actual Communist in your life. (I have and, believe me, more cynical people are not to be found outside the Cheney household.) So stop pretending that your world view extends further than it actually does, OK.
    There isn't a serious statistician alive who believes these books are as cooked as you believe they are, and you're not one, either. There isn't an epidemiologist alive who doesn't believe in this method of demographic research, which is why the results in the Congo and in Darfur were never questioned by anyone, not even by the innumerates who have declared themselves experts in the field on their blogs when it comes to their pet war.
    A sample base of 12,000 people in a war zone is a huge sample and, as the person who JR cites put it, given the size and demographic diversity of the sample, 60,000 makes even less sense than 600,000 does.
    And, by the way -- you can have Not As Many People Have Died As These Guys Think as an argument, or you can have Don't You Know There's A War On?, but you can't have both. Either you care or you don't, and it's quite clear that there isn't an ounce of sympathy in you for a single Iraqi caught up in Fredo's Excellent Tantrum. You don't even want to count them, using a technique that is accepted as state of the art.
  5. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Yet even you realized the number was so ridiculous that you started claiming 300K when the "methodology" said 650K. Your 300K number requires 250 a day every day for 3 1/2 years. The 650K number requires something like 500 a day EVERY DAY for 3 1/2 years. And you know that's neither of those are right, but you keep clinging to it.

    Let me repeat that for you: 500 a day, every day, for 3 1/2 years. And no one's noticed it? And you can bet some days were drastically lower, so some had to be drastically higher. And adding to the ridiculousness of the claim, the actual troop-to-troop combat ended after six weeks. Use your head just once. You're substituting ideology for "methodology."
  6. BTExpress

    BTExpress Well-Known Member

    Let me repeat something for you: Billions of dollars sent to Iraq are unaccounted for.

    And no one noticed where it went?

    That's kind of hard to imagine, too.

    But it happened.
  7. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Tony, instead of shooting off your mouth about something you clearly know nothing about, read the articles and the stufy. I know it'll tax your brain and all but give it a shot. Otherwise, put a sock in it.
  8. dog428

    dog428 Active Member

    old tony: supporter of pedophilia, champion of racism, king of cluelessness.

    You think the 400,000 Iraqis that might or might not be dead are really concerned about this study or the SportsJournalists.com debate over the study? You don't think that maybe those people -- at least the ones who might be alive -- have better things to concern themselves with?

    That's my point, dipshit. It doesn't matter. No matter the actual number, a shitload of Iraqis have been killed during this march of freedom. If it makes you feel better to think that only 300,000 are no longer around, fabulous. But it doesn't make this war any less wrong. And if 600,000 have been killed, it doesn't make the war any more wrong.
  9. ink-stained wretch

    ink-stained wretch Active Member

    I love numbers. You can make them say anything you want.

    Words, surprisingly, are more powerful. Three quotes for you methodolgists. Guess who said them. Don't cheat. Don't Google. Just guess.

    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children . . . Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

    "A professional soldier understands that war means killing people, war means maiming people, war means families left without fathers and mothers. All you have to do is hold your first dying soldier in your arms, and have that terribly futile feeling that his life is flowing out and you can't do anything about it. Then you understand the horror of war. Any soldier worth his salt should be antiwar. And still, there are things worth fighting for." (Boom should get this one)

    And a dead giveaway
    "It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation."
  10. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    I'm a Methodist, not a methodologist.
  11. sportschick

    sportschick Active Member

    The last one's part of Sherman's "War is hell," quote. I think it might replace Padme in my sig shortly.

    "I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell."
  12. I've consistently brought up a few points that neither Fenian nor JR have attempted to answer.

    1. The Lancet study explicitly says that 92% of the claimed deceased have death certificates. Where did these certificates come from because it has been made clear by the official Ministry of Health numbers that they do not match up with the government numbers? If the certificates are not to be trusted doesn't that bring into question the entire study? What incentive did the interviewed people have to fabricate death certificates? It would be easy to say that the Lancet people had the incentive of making the desired outcome meet the collected facts as their incentive.

    2. The Lancet used baseline numbers provided by Saddam Hussein's government but uses their expolated numbers via their vaunted methodology for the rest of the years. I have pointed out that the UN and UNICEF used the same methodology as used in the Lancet study for pre-war numbers. If these UN numbers gathered with the same methodology are used as the baseline then it can be argued that the war has decreased the numbers of expected dead in Iraq.

    I leave you with two common sense statements of fact.

    1. Lancet was not able to get the researchers into Iraq before the war because it was too dangerous. However now that there is greatly increased freedom - the Lancet study is trying to show that it is more dangerous now than it was before the war (when it was too dangerous for the Lancet people to even be in the country). This defies logic.

    2. Fenian keeps spouting on about a broken countryand civil war and mass bloodshed but the net immigration for Iraq is 0 per 1,000. I can understand people not wanting to go into the country but can anyone explain why people aren't fleeing the country if the bloodshed and civil war is as great as Fenian and his ilk would have you believe?
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page