Deo volente.

Lancet Debunking Redux

This Lancet crew … they have a limited bag of tricks. For what it’s worth, I had an argument on Eric Raymond’s now nearly defunct site here about the October 29, 2004 BBC article talking about the original Lancet study.

From the 2004 article:

Dr Les Roberts, who led the study, said: “Making conservative assumptions we think that about 100,000 excess deaths, or more, have happened since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

“Violence accounted for most of the excess deaths and air strikes from coalition forces accounted for most of the violent deaths.”

He said his team’s work proved it was possible to compile data on public health “even during periods of extreme violence”.

The sample included randomly selected households in Baghdad, Basra, Arbil, Najaf and Karbala, as well as Falluja.

Lancet editor Richard Horton said: “With the admitted benefit of hindsight and from a purely public health perspective, it is clear that whatever planning did take place was grievously in error.”

Odd, no? that Fallujah and Baghdad were included at random. That is a very nuanced “random.”

On Eric’s site, I mentioned this link from LogicTimes, and it is an excellent, precise fisking of the shoddy moralism and methodology exhibited by the Lancet authors.

From the article:

There is indeed a mind-blowing story about collateral damage that needs to be told, but that story is one in which we honor the extraordinary achievement of the United States military: two years of combat since the fall of Baghdad, much of it urban warfare, with less than 1,000 civilians killed as a result of U.S. action:

And it’s backed up with statistics, methodology … all the stuff missing from the Lancet report. Good stuff.

Day by Day Update:

More after the bump …

More …

This study reports 24,865 civilian deaths in the first two years of the Iraq War, an apparent ringing endorsement of the “Iraq in chaos” position. But a curious statistical anomaly jumps right off page one: over 81% of the civilian casualties are men. Even stranger, over 90% of civilian casualties are adults in a country with a disproportionate percentage of the population under 18 (44.5%). This contradicts a basic tenet of the civilian casualty argument, namely that we are describing collateral damage during a time of war. Collateral damage does not differentiate between male and female, between child and adult. A defective smart bomb falling in a marketplace, stray bullets ripping through bedroom walls, city warfare in Fallujah – all these activities should produce casualties that reflect the ratio of men to women or adults to children that prevail in Iraq as a whole.

This was my point from a different direction: “civilian casualties” are a little hard to count when you are fighting an assymetrical war against non-regular troops. From my post in June on Eric’s site:

There is an additional problem here that was similar in Vietnam. There are a significant number of non-traditional combatants (non-uniformed) involved in the conflict. It’s a judgement call as to whether they are civilian or threat.

I would ammend that. Given the displayed precision of our weapons that is statistically backed up by the LogicTimes article, I would say that it’s probably not a judgement call – I’d say we got it right 90% of the time. Remember when the media keeps talking about the growing insurgency? Well, if they’re a growing force and they seek to fight, they categorically lose. In the media’s calculus, I guess that means “civilian casualties.” But they can’t have it both ways.

The low level of actual casualties, developed and explained in the Appendix below, is stunning. Over the course of the Iraq invasion and “occupation,” only 14.8% of reported fatalities represent actual civilian fatalities caused by U.S. action. Even more remarkable, since the fall of Baghdad the U.S. has been directly responsible for only 3.8% of fatalities reported, as many deaths over almost two years as Saddam averaged in 10 days.

I would imagine that the Logic Time’s article applies equally well today.


Hot Air’s Allah has some perspective. Another update from HA … 2006 Lancet study on the web.

Appletree completely ignores the logic and replies with … conjecture and consensus. Brilliant (in the same manner as a Sony Lithium Battery).


October 11, 2006 - Posted by | Battle of Iraq, GWOT

1 Comment »

  1. […] Analog Kid […]

    Pingback by appletree » Blog Archive » Wingnuts Attempt to Debunk Iraq Deaths Survey | October 12, 2006 | Reply

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