Saturday, October 30, 2004

# Posted 1:47 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

CIVILIAN CASUALTIES UPDATE: For the second day in a row, the WaPo casualty count for Iraq has excluded the IBC data which provoked OxBlog's protest last Sunday. Then along came The Lancet and shunted aside that entire debate by insisting that there have been 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq.

I just came across the WaPo story on the Lancet study and thought it was rather interesting. In order to provide balance, the Post plays off The Lancet against a military expert at Human Rights Watch who describes The Lancet's figure as "inflated" and "a reach". Now how often do you get someone from Human Rights Watch telling you that civilian casualtiy figures have been exaggerated?

On the other hand, The Lancet's higher figure has given accidental credibility to IBC by suggesting that it's methods and conclusions are reasonable. Thus, the Post reports that
Previous independent estimates of civilian deaths in Iraq were far lower, never exceeding 16,000.
Actually, the Iraqi Human Rights Organization has been throwing around a 30,000 figure for a while, which got mentioned in the WaPo world opinion roundup. But that number will also pick up some credibility thanks to The Lancet. And the truth? Damned if I know.

UPDATE: Well, Fred Kaplan seems to know. (Hat tip: MF) He says The Lancet's figure is not just completely unreliable, but that the authors of the study have basically lied through their teeth to get publicity for their work.

So, you might ask, is Fred Kaplan biased? Of course he is. Here's what he has to say about whom he'll vote for next Tuesday:
Bush has done too much damage to America's reputation in the world. His view of the world is naive and, too often, wrong. His victory would mean a victory for the most cynical politics practiced by any president in my memory.
The one drawback to Kaplan's analysis of The Lancet study is his lavish praise of IBC. It looks like someone will be getting an e-mail from OxBlog...

UPDATE: ChicagoBoyz has more on The Lancet's primitive methodology. (Hat tip: LH) Um, so if the problems with this study are so obvious, how the hell did it get into a peer reviewed journal?
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