Sunday, January 6, 2008

Lancing the Lancet

Neil Munro and Carl M. Cannon in the National Journal: Data Bomb.

Three weeks before the 2006 midterm elections gave Democrats control of Congress, a shocking study reported on the number of Iraqis who had died in the ongoing war. It bolstered criticism of President Bush and heightened the waves of dread -- here and around the world -- about the U.S. occupation of Iraq.

Published by The Lancet, a venerable British medical journal, the study [PDF] used previously accepted methods for calculating death rates to estimate the number of "excess" Iraqi deaths after the 2003 invasion at 426,369 to 793,663; the study said the most likely figure was near the middle of that range: 654,965. Almost 92 percent of the dead, the study asserted, were killed by bullets, bombs, or U.S. air strikes. This stunning toll was more than 10 times the number of deaths estimated by the Iraqi or U.S. governments, or by any human-rights group.

In December 2005, Bush had used a figure of 30,000 civilian deaths in Iraq. Iraq's health ministry calculated that, based on death certificates, 50,000 Iraqis had died in the war through June 2006. A cautiously compiled database of media reports by a London-based anti-war group called Iraq Body Count confirmed at least 45,000 war dead during the same time period. These were all horrific numbers -- but the death count in The Lancet's study differed by an order of magnitude.
Glenn Reynolds says, "This is a big deal story; it'll be interesting to see if it gets the attention it deserves." He mentions additional coverage at PJ Media and Bizzyblog. Neo-neocon has a thoughtful post with good comments, including this from Synova,
[…] it didn’t pass the smell test. You know, that step your math teacher tells you to do right after you’ve plugged in all the numbers in your equation and got the answer out? You’re supposed to ask yourself, does it make *sense* that my answer is that the car travels 1485 miles an hour?
who also has a post on the subject.

Speaking of bombs: Lancet. Lancet study. Lancet Iraq study. Lancet Iraq deaths study. Lancet Iraq mortality study.

Update: George Soros's hand in this is revealed. Thanks to GR.
Another update: More on Soros's involvement from TigerHawk.

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