655K Debunked

An op-ed piece showed up in the York (PA) Daily Record on May 20, 2007 dealing with the alleged 655K Iraqis killed during the war. It’s assumption base is ridiculous.

“Burnham’s numbers don’t pass the smell test. A 500,000 margin of error is itself indicative of error. Most critically, he used a pre-war Iraqi death rate of 5.5 deaths per 1,000 residents, which makes no sense. UNICEF’s Web site reports an Iraqi pre-war death rate of 8 per 1,000, which, if true, means Burnham’s numbers are 216,000 deaths too high even if his formula is correct. Again according to UNICEF, a 5.5 death rate is lower than in the United States (8), England (10), France (9), and Germany (10). You must believe, therefore, that you would have lived longer on average in Saddam’s embargoed Iraq than in the United States and Western Europe. Moreover, according to UNICEF and the Centers for Disease Control, Americans lived 18 years longer than Iraqis did before the war. How could Americans live longer but, according to Burnham’s and UNICEF’s death tolls, die at a higher rate?”

Read it all here:
http://www.ydr.com/op-ed/ci_5939770

118 Comments

  1. Thanks, Rich, for pointing this out. Of course, common sense suggests this whole thing was a sham right from the start. It’s been slightly over 4 years since US and British forces successfully deposed Saddam Hussein, yet in all that time this is the ONE and apparently ONLY source that has come up with this figure?

  2. ” Again according to UNICEF, a 5.5 death rate is lower than in the United States (8), England (10), France (9), and Germany (10). You must believe, therefore, that you would have lived longer on average in Saddam’s embargoed Iraq than in the United States and Western Europe. ”

    Just that tells me that the author of the piece doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    The US death rate is 8.26 deaths/1,000 population. Life expectancy at birth in the US is 78 years.

    The UK death rate is 10.09 deaths/1,000 population. Life expectancy at birth is 78.7 years.

    To quote wikipedia: “Note that the crude death rate as defined above and applied to a whole population of people can give a misleading impression. For example, the number of deaths per 1000 people can be higher for developed nations than in less-developed countries, despite standards of health being better in developed countries. This is because developed countries have relatively more older people, who are more likely to die in a given year, so that the overall mortality rate can be higher even if the mortality rate at any given age is lower.”

    The Pakistan death rate is 8 deaths/1,000 population. Life expectancy at birth is 63.75 years.

    There’s a small but perfectly formed example of how this works. The Isle of Man is a tiny semi-independent state attached to the United Kingdom. The death rate on the Isle of Man is 11.1 deaths/1,000 population. Life expectancy is 78.64 years.

    Why does the Isle of Man have a higher death rate than the UK – a higher death rate than birth rate, in fact, where the UK has a slightly higher birth rate than death rate?

    Because the Isle of Man is a favored place for rich retirees to move to.

    The notion that somone who thinks that a low death rate means a longer life expectancy is qualified to judge whether the Lancet numbers pass the smell test is ridiculous.

  3. From the article:

    The United Nations uses the same statistical data gathering techniques but collects much larger samples. Burnham admits his sample is small but remains satisfied with the results.But we must also ask how well interview-based statistical analysis works in a nation whose population has no experience sharing information freely and who remain justifiably fearful in doing so. Burnham necessarily used Iraqi data collectors for safety reasons. Since none of his core team was in the field, he lacked control of that operation. Garbage in, garbage out.

    Here’s the key of the whole research. It was not directly done by the Lancet, but relied on others since the research staff stayed in Baltimore. There appears to be no verification of the data, and the article does not say where the data was collected. If it were done in the immediate Bahgdad area, the study is invalid since other areas of the country like the Kurdish area have little trouble. Like the writer says, it’s a bogus research with bogus results.

    As an anology, it would be like collecting global temperature data from only one point and extrapolating the results to the world.

  4. The irony of it all, The Lancet is from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore where the murder rate is 42/100,000 which is the second highest in the country, and I bet higher than Iraq.

  5. I just finished reading “The U.N. Exposed”, and I now have a much clearer understanding of the sport of America bashing. China, Russia, and France made it easy for Saddam to get away with murder during the Oil for Food years. And they have been the America-bash leaders for quite some time. So it’s not surprising that everyone would look the other way when the Lancet publishes crap for statistics. It’s the world’s favorite pastime to blame America for everything. The scourge has now breached America’s shores as well.

  6. Yorkshire: It was not directly done by the Lancet, but relied on others since the research staff stayed in Baltimore. There appears to be no verification of the data

    False. “At the conclusion of household interviews
    where deaths were reported, surveyors requested to see a copy of any death certificate and its presence was recorded. Where differences between the household account and the cause mentioned on the certificate existed, further discussions were sometimes needed to establish the primary cause of death.” 92% of the deaths reported were confirmed by death certificate.

    and the article does not say where the data was collected.

    The article says the data was collected by surveying “50 clusters were randomly selected from 16 Governorates, with every cluster consisting of 40 households.”

    In more detail:

    As a first stage of sampling, 50 clusters were selected systematically by Governorate with a population proportional to size approach, on the basis of the 2004 UNDP/Iraqi Ministry of Planning population estimates. At the second stage of sampling, the Governorate’s constituent administrative units were listed by population or estimated population, and location(s) were selected randomly proportionate to population size. The third stage consisted of random selection of a main street within the administrative unit from a list of all main streets. A residential street was then randomly selected from a list of residential streets crossing the main street. On the residential street, houses were numbered and a start household was randomly selected.

    Except for the size of the sample (that is, it was much larger than usual to increase the reliability of the data) this is a standard procedure used in estimating fatalities.

    If it were done in the immediate Bahgdad area, the study is invalid since other areas of the country like the Kurdish area have little trouble.

    You haven’t actually read the article, have you? I’ve linked to it above. It’s a PDF file.

    Like the writer says, it’s a bogus research with bogus results.

    You’re entitled to your uninformed and bigoted opinion, but your attacks on the article would be more effective if you actually read it. Of course, the people who have read it, and who have the background in statistics to critique it, have not done so. The only “debunking” has been done by people with a political motive to argue that the figures must be wrong.

  7. Let’s try a little test of logic. This came out after the first 1000 days in Iraq. It would mean on average 655 people per day were killed by the US. The MSM here would salivate over a daily story like that. See how the MSM goes gaga over 10 people killed by homicide bombers. Just use the gray matter in your head for a logic point of view.

  8. I did the math slightly differently (had more than 1,000 days), but still came up with 503.8 deaths per day, on average. Yet, thus far, there has not been even one single day in which the media, from even one single source, has reported as many as 500 Iraqi deaths.

    Not once. J says that there’s evidence to corroborate the Lancet studies, but the solid evidence, in the form of casualty reports, a huge increase in the number of graves, mass graves of recent origin, or piles and piles of corpses have never been produced.

  9. “The only “debunking”has been done by people with a political motive to argue that the figures must be wrong.”

    Why is it that so many articles, (and commenters), submitting that the figures are right tend to leave out this little tid-bit of information? :

    “Burnham found that 75 percent of Iraqi deaths come by the hand of another Iraqi, not an American.”

    Think there’s a political motive here too?

  10. This came out after the first 1000 days in Iraq. It would mean on average 655 people per day were killed by the US.

    Yorkshire, you really need to read the damn article. Then you can make some coherent attempt at “debunking” it. At this point your idea of what’s in the Lancet report is so far out that your attempts to debunk it are just embarrassing.

    Dana: Yet, thus far, there has not been even one single day in which the media, from even one single source, has reported as many as 500 Iraqi deaths.

    Yes, you keep mentioning this as if it proves something. Bizarrely, it doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that deaths-reported-by-the-media is always going to be a small subset of actual deaths.

    Just a thought for you to consider, Dana: on average, 704 people die every day in the US. Were you to try estimating how many people have died in the US in the past year from media reports alone, what numbers do you think you’d be likely to come up with?

    Have you read the article in the Lancet, by the way? Or, like Yorkshire, have you only read political “debunkings” that don’t actually report accurately what the report says?

  11. Have you read the article in the Lancet, by the way? Or, like Yorkshire, have you only read political “debunkings” that don’t actually report accurately what the report says?

    The Lancet thing is pure fiction. Why else are the Left Wingers drooling over it? This satisfies their masturbatory fantasies, they Looove it every time an Iraqi dies, so they can beat off to it and blame it on that “Evil” George W Bush. It’s porno for Lefties, nothing more.

  12. Eric, why do you turn a conversation regarding the deaths of innocent people, which shows what we have been saying, THAT OUR BOMBS ARE MAIMING & CAUSING DEATHS IN THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS, AND NOT ACTUALLY BRINGING FREEDOM, as the right wing rhetoric goes, you have to turn it into a conversation about porno and “beating off” ? Grow up.

    The 655,000 number come to us from PROFESSIONAL STATISTICIANS. Why should we believe some rightwing person that just dislikes the fact that this war is not what it was presented as?

    It infuriates us as it should you. The deaths no matter what the number, should never have happened!

    ALERT: This was is about getting oil.

    I heard a soldier say that when he first got to Iraq, his commander fessed up to him, saying, “Look, we are not really here to find WMDs, and not really to get Sadaam Hussein, but for one reason and one reason only, and it is oil.”

    The egregious horror of what our empirical operation is, and has done, just doesn’t compute with you and your rose colored glasses. You really ought to consider what this Republican has to say, a highly decorated general, brilliant and honorable. http://www.warisaracket.com

  13. I heard a soldier say that when he first got to Iraq, his commander fessed up to him, saying, “Look, we are not really here to find WMDs, and not really to get Sadaam Hussein, but for one reason and one reason only, and it is oil.”

    If that were the case, it would have made a lot more sense to invade Saudi Arabia. Sorry, but that’s just conspiracy theory nonsense, created by people who hate Bush so badly they want to smear him any way they can. Same for the phony Lancet numbers.

  14. If that were the case, it would have made a lot more sense to invade Saudi Arabia.

    No, it would have made more sense to invade Saudi Arabia if the objective had been to fight al-Qaeda.

    Partly it was the oil.

    It was also about giving al-Qaeda their “Mission Accomplished” – removing the US military Saudi bases, which was the primary goal of al-Qaeda since it was established.

    The US has been very, very helpful to al-Qaeda any time in the past six years. It’s almost as if Bush recognizes that he owes his brief time as a popular President to al-Qaeda’s attack on the US, and wants to express his appreciation by refraining from doing them any damage and giving them all the help they could want.

  15. Blu said…

    The egregious horror of what our empirical operation is, and has done, just doesn’t compute with you and your rose colored glasses.

    Empirical?

    Blu, try to think of one thing you know for sure. Quit internalizing things!

    Blu exclaimed…

    I heard a soldier say that when he first got to Iraq, his commander fessed up to him, saying, “Look, we are not really here to find WMDs, and not really to get Sadaam Hussein, but for one reason and one reason only, and it is oil.”

    So? Who cares? This commander might be a transvestite and have worms too. Try telling us one thing you know for sure.

    Blu do you believe space aliens abduct humans and give them anal probes?

  16. The US has been very, very helpful to al-Qaeda any time in the past six years. It’s almost as if Bush recognizes that he owes his brief time as a popular President to al-Qaeda’s attack on the US, and wants to express his appreciation by refraining from doing them any damage and giving them all the help they could want.

    Yeah, J, I’m sure that’s EXACTLY the situation. You are a genius [eye roll]

  17. Jes, we should be ever so grateful. Here we have individuals that are smarter than the professional statisticians. Wow.

    We also have those here that know (wow, they are smarter) than the CIA head, and CIA former and past of Valerie Plame’s (non?)covert status.

    Here we have amongst the right wingers the many that are smarter than the vast majority of world’s scientists that (those stupid scientists!) regarding the fossil fuel problem and global warming.

    Here we have one who knows more than the troops on the ground regarding the positive effects of the surge. (Stupid generals, and troops on the ground)

    Here among us, Jes are the smartest people on the planet, whose profound knowledge exceeds the professionals.

  18. Here we have amongst the right wingers the many that are smarter than the vast majority of world’s scientists that (those stupid scientists!) regarding the fossil fuel problem and global warming.

    Well, I suppose we’ll see about that. We’re not arrogant enough to claim to be “smarter than the vast majority (whatever that means) of [the] world’s scientists”, we just disagree (along with some pretty fine scientists in their own right). I hope that’s OK. I’d cerainly hate to be in trouble for disagreeing with the latest secular religious orthodoxy – anthropogenic global warming.

    I’ll wager my lifestyle is far more “carbon neutral” than Mr. Gore’s. Now if I can just remember where I left the keys to my Lear, I’ll jet on out of here.

  19. Except for the size of the sample (that is, it was much larger than usual to increase the reliability of the data) this is a standard procedure used in estimating fatalities.

    I’m not going to argue the Lancet/Johns Hopkins study methodology in general, but it is my understanding that the size of the sample – number of clusters – was far smaller than would normally be used by professional statisticians. Professional statisticians tell me that for a population the size of Iraq, approximately 1500 clusters would have been more appropriate.

  20. Just think, Harry, the places the statisticians went were probably the safer places to travel.

  21. Perhaps. I honestly don’t have a dog in this hunt. If the Lancet/JH numbers are correct then they are correct whether that comports with my notion of the truth or not.

    Knowing what I know about Iraq, the Lancet/JH casualty figures seem overstated but who knows? The death of one innocent is one too many. I do know that it is the stated and actual policy of our military to minimize civilian casualties and that these brave men and women place themselves at greater risk attempting to do so.

  22. One minor correction: the “statisticians” didn’t go anywhere in Iraq. Whether Baltimore is a “safer place to travel” depends, I suppose, on one’s choice of neighborhood.

  23. ALERT: This was is about getting oil.

    I heard a soldier say that when he first got to Iraq, his commander fessed up to him, saying, “Look, we are not really here to find WMDs, and not really to get Sadaam Hussein, but for one reason and one reason only, and it is oil.”

    As a soldier with 25 years in the uniform, you really must know that soldiers have a particular sense of humor that you as a civilian might find difficult to understand. I assure you that the “commander” wasn’t “fessing up” about anything. He was most likely expressing his personal, somewhat cynical and “soldierly humorous” opinion on the subject.

    What this “commander” was really saying to the soldier in question was not atypical of “soldierly humor” over the years. It’s really the modern equivalent of “old soldiers never die, … young ones do”, a rather cynical, convolution of Gen McArthur’s famous West Point speech.

    Don’t put too much stock in these tales from “soldiers” and the true confessions of their “commanders”.

  24. I’ll wager my lifestyle is far more “carbon neutral” than Mr. Gore’s. Now if I can just remember where I left the keys to my Lear, I’ll jet on out of here.

    Gore goes Gulfstream. He’s too fat to fit in a Learjet.

  25. Knowing what I know about Iraq, the Lancet/JH casualty figures seem overstated but who knows? The death of one innocent is one too many. I do know that it is the stated and actual policy of our military to minimize civilian casualties and that these brave men and women place themselves at greater risk attempting to do so.

    The Lancet thing is just pure bullshit. It breezily assumes that American troops have murdered over a half million innocent Iraqi civilians just for the hell of it. Pure garbage, in other words. The Lancet report is just Hustler Magazine for Lefties, namely, whacking material they can jerk off to, so they can self-righteously massage themselves while telling themselves what a beast George W Bush is.

  26. Google up some figures as to how many air assaults there are daily in Iraq. That doesn’t count the number that die because the maiming that happened, turned to death, because of an inability to make it to a hospital, or lack of medicines one may need on a regular basis, such as insulin, lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of ability to travel, the resulting crime rates from despair of lack of food, money, work.

    Well, Harry, you could be right regarding the confessions of the soldier, that maybe it was humor among them, but there was no humor in the soldier’s expression that told the story, and it perfectly coincides with this famous general’s statements made years ago. http://www.warisaracket.com

  27. Google up some figures as to how many air assaults there are daily in Iraq. That doesn’t count the number that die because the maiming that happened, turned to death, because of an inability to make it to a hospital, or lack of medicines one may need on a regular basis, such as insulin, lack of food, lack of clean water, lack of ability to travel, the resulting crime rates from despair of lack of food, money, work.

    Yeah, Blu, US Troops are just bayonetting Iraqi babies just for fun. And eating them, too. Bush is a Hitler and a Cannibal, in your mind. You hate him so much that you believe this shit.

  28. Harry: Professional statisticians tell me that for a population the size of Iraq, approximately 1500 clusters would have been more appropriate.

    Cite?

    I’m willing to wait on this: if what a “professional statistician” told you was based on standard practice, they must be able to tell you where this standard practice is written down. If they can’t, they’re just BSing. But I’ll keep reminding you.

    Because from what I know of such reports estimating mortality, this survey was larger than usual.

    Blu: Just think, Harry, the places the statisticians went were probably the safer places to travel.

    No, that’s not actually true. The data collection was done at random, throughout Iraq, not picking safer or easier places. The four co-authors of the report say one reason they delayed publication was because they had to give the people who’d done the surveying time to leave Iraq safely: they were deeply concerned for their safety.

  29. Harry Arthur Says:
    June 24th, 2007 at 11:29 pm e
    Except for the size of the sample (that is, it was much larger than usual to increase the reliability of the data) this is a standard procedure used in estimating fatalities.

    I’m not going to argue the Lancet/Johns Hopkins study methodology in general, but it is my understanding that the size of the sample – number of clusters – was far smaller than would normally be used by professional statisticians. Professional statisticians tell me that for a population the size of Iraq, approximately 1500 clusters would have been more appropriate.

    In Iraq, 47 clusters were used to extrapolate the effects on 27 million people. Whereas the same type study was done in Kosovo where 50 clusters were used to extrapolate data over 1.6 million. Guess where I would put my money?

  30. In Iraq, 47 clusters were used to extrapolate the effects on 27 million people. Whereas the same type study was done in Kosovo where 50 clusters were used to extrapolate data over 1.6 million. Guess where I would put my money?

    Let’s see, two reports, same methodology: either you believe both, or neither.

    Unless, of course, your politics permit you to accept the war deaths in Kosovo, but do not permit you to accept the war deaths in Iraq.

  31. Kosovo was a Civil War in which the USA decided to take sides. But using common sense (oh there I go again) someone studying 50 clusters to extrapolate a result on 1.6 million people has a much better chance of being correct than taking less samples extrapolated over 27 million people.

    But making a study that says 655K is correct give or take 250K people doesn’t instill confidence in me.

  32. J wrote:

    Let’s see, two reports, same methodology: either you believe both, or neither.

    Uhhh, no, not quite.

    Actually, a college statistics course (of which I took exactly one) would hold that the extrapolation of data from an accurate sample leads to only minimally less confidence over a significantly larger population than a smaller one. And working from the other side, once a sufficient sample size has been achieved, multiplying the sample size does not multiply confidence in the result by anywhere close to the same factor, until you get very close to a sample size of 100%.

    However, all of that is dependent upon whether the survey questions were valid and the sample was properly taken. Errors in those quickly undermine the results derived.

    The Lancet study was an attempt to “score” a real world event, the number of casualties caused by the war in Iraq. Those real world events happen to produce real, physical evidence, which, in this case, would be dead bodies; the Lancet study is a calculation of how many there ought to be.

    So, what happens when the physical evidence the Lancet study purports to estimate is in no way close to the numbers predicted? Are we to continue to believe the study, or are we to believe the physical evidence?

    And that’s where the Lancet study fails. In a country with very little cultural reliance on cremation for the final handling of the dead, we should be seeing an extraordinary surge in new graves, a surge which would verify the accuracy of the prediction.

    But we don’t.

    In a situation where there is a lot of media opposition to American policy, and a country in which the insurgent opponents of American policy have a real, vested interest in verifying the Lancet numbers with the physical evidence, there has been no such tabulation of them, no one, not even the parties who have a vested interest in verifying the Lancet numbers, have come forth with any such evidence at all.

    An additional source of confirmation could be the credible reports of the various news media in Iraq. Some of them are genuinely adhering to what we would consider reasonable journalistic standards, and some are clearly partisan. For the Lancet numbers to have been accurate would have required slightly more than 500 war casualties, on average, every single day of the war. Naturally, some days would be above the average, and some days below it, but for the average to be realistic, we’d have to see at least some daily casualty accounts over 500.

    Yet we never have, not even once, and not even from sources with a bias against American policy and a less than strict adherence to what we would regard as normal journalistic standards, seen a daily casualty account that reached as high as 500. Nor even 400. Nor even 300.

    We hear worst day reports of about 150. Not average day reports, worst day reports. At some point, this lack of casualties reported ought to lead even the most ardent supporter of the Lancet study to ask a simple question: why don’t such reports exist, why have we never seen the kinds of real world evidence that the study says must exist?

    I would guess that J will never question the Lancet numbers, never be open to the possibility that they might be wrong. But we have quiet evidence that others have questioned them, including organizations which are not friendly to the Bush Administration policies. In solid, if leftward-leaning journalistic organizations such as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, ABC News, NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, we no longer see the Lancet numbers used as anything serious.

    If Jesurgislac wishes to cling stubbornly to the Lancet numbers, we are very unlikely to change her mind here. But the people whose journalistic reputations are important (which is why I excluded CBS from the list above, even though CBS doesn’t use the Lancet numbers either), organizations which depend on people believing that they have journalistic integrity, have all (rather quietly) dropped any use of the Lancet numbers.

  33. Did you know that the Lancet people who did the field interviews regular jobs are registering people to vote for ACORN?

    OK, OK, these Lancet cats knock on a door and say “Mr. and/or Mrs. Iraq citizen anybody die round here?” Then if it is a yes they say “We gonna need to see the dead person’s death certificate to find out cause of death.”

    All is cool there ‘cept there has been about 500,000 death certificates issued to families but they were not officially recorded. Now it has been establish for all to see that I am just an illogical and ignorant hillbilly but how does that work?

    These same completely through and resplendently anal British (sorry redundant) Lancet cats got all this info as carnage and conflagration was raining down upon them but they failed to get like names and other stuff ya know? Oh wait, don’t tell me, they did but they cant let the info out cause GWB’s secret agentman guys will kill em?

    If you want cites go ahead and make my day.

  34. J said…

    The four co-authors of the report say one reason they delayed publication was because they had to give the people who’d done the surveying time to leave Iraq safely: they were deeply concerned for their safety.

    That is neat J! In spite of my joke above did you know my dear J that the people that conducted the interviews were Iraqi doctors? Can you please cite where the authors said that and then cite any evidence that supports their claim.

    These Iraqi interviewers/doctors somehow covered 40 households in a 10 hour work day. These energetic and spry Docs did this in 55C heat (Just so you don’t need to convert) at a 15 minute per interview clip. These extremely quick Docs (is that possible?) not only managed to convince war terrorized civilians to trust them during these short interviews but ask them a series of questions. They also got looks (and copies of too?) at death certificates that everybody seemed to have ready and they got signed release forms (but no names to release). This 15 minutes also counts walking between each household and dodging the mean and cruel American death squads.

    In response to whether this was possible the author’s response was that it took the interviewers 20 minutes for each interview.

    Their methodology aside, they just lied!

    Cites provided upon request.

  35. Well, Harry, you could be right regarding the confessions of the soldier, that maybe it was humor among them, but there was no humor in the soldier’s expression that told the story, and it perfectly coincides with this famous general’s statements made years ago.

    Blu, there are a great number of subjects about which I only enough to be “dangerous”, as I am sure I have adequately demonstrated here on more than one occasion. However, the profession of arms ain’t one of ‘em.

    I was a soldier for 25 years of my adult life. I know how soldiers think and what they mean when they make offhanded comments such as the one you “quoted”. I also know that young enlisted soldiers almost never know what they think they know about “the grand scheme of things.” Take it from me, this was the military equivalent of “small talk”. The “commander” who made the comment was certainly expressing no more than his somewhat cynical opinion and perhaps just making “small talk” with a subordinate.

    Jes, statistics are another subject about which i know enough to be dangerous. Sorry, no citation, so you are free to ignore the comment. This was a criticism that was made to me by a friend who does understand statistical analysis and who is no supporter of the Iraq war. As I said, feel free to call BS if you wish. I was merely attempting to add something to the discussion. Having said that, a 38% margin of error seems like a couple of standard deviations from the mean to me – unusually high.

    OT on a personal note. Was in Memphis over the weekend regaining currency in the DC-10 simulator. Had a great time and actually reconnected several dots. Flying skills did not erode as significantly as I had expected given that it’s been a year and I spend most of your time in front of a computer creating training programs. Anyway, here I am in the Atlanta airport delayed by thunderstorms. Seems that our flight from Memphis was delayed by an hour so I missed the connecting flight from Atlanta to Dulles. Now the airplane coming in from New Orleans to Atlanta on which I’ll be riding to Dulles is delayed from what was originally 21:15 to 23:15 and now to 01:15. I may get to Dulles sometime tomorrow. It may be a pain, but we have a saying in the aviation business: “It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were in the sky than in the sky wishing you were on the ground.”

  36. Harry: statistics are another subject about which i know enough to be dangerous. Sorry, no citation, so you are free to ignore the comment. This was a criticism that was made to me by a friend who does understand statistical analysis and who is no supporter of the Iraq war. As I said, feel free to call BS if you wish. I was merely attempting to add something to the discussion. Having said that, a 38% margin of error seems like a couple of standard deviations from the mean to me – unusually high.

    Fair enough.

    My understanding of cluster sampling is that the lower the number of clusters, the more likely it is that a survey will underreport the figures. (If you think about it, I’m sure you’ll see how this works: you are throwing rocks into a minefield to find out how many mines there are.)

    To avoid going in the other direction, because in the first Lancet report one of the clusters fell within Fallujah, the data from that cluster was excluded from the calculations.

  37. Dana, comment in moderation.

    pgwarner: These Iraqi interviewers/doctors somehow covered 40 households in a 10 hour work day. These energetic and spry Docs did this in 55C heat (Just so you don’t need to convert) at a 15 minute per interview clip. These extremely quick Docs (is that possible?) not only managed to convince war terrorized civilians to trust them during these short interviews but ask them a series of questions. They also got looks (and copies of too?) at death certificates that everybody seemed to have ready and they got signed release forms (but no names to release).

    What you’re overlooking, pgw, is that the first question would have been “Has anyone in your household died in the past five years?”

    If the answer was “no”, the interview would then have been fairly brief and the interviewers would have moved on to the next household in the cluster. The notion that the timescale was impossible, or even implausible, is false.

  38. But if you have 655k dead, you wouldn’t have too many households saying “no” to your question, would you? Or at least, you probably wouldn’t have enough households to make up for the amount of time necessary to document all those thousands and thousands of deaths without graves.

  39. But if you have 655k dead, you wouldn’t have too many households saying “no” to your question, would you?

    Somehow it doesn’t surprise me that you’re critiquing the Lancet report without reading it, Sharon. I mean, not even the first page.

    Three misattributed clusters were excluded from the final analysis; data from 1849 households that contained 12 801 individuals in 47 clusters was gathered. 1474 births and 629 deaths were reported during the observation period. Pre-invasion mortality rates were 5·5 per 1000 people per year (95% CI 4·3–7·1), compared with 13·3 per 1000 people per year (10·9–16·1) in the 40 months post-invasion. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654 965 (392 979–942 636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2·5% of the population in the study area.

    Out of 1829 households interviewed, they reported a total of 82 deaths from before the war, and 547 deaths from after the war. Even if you assume precisely one death per household, it still follows that for approximately 2/3rds of the households interviewed, the interview time would be very short.

  40. Why is it that the fact of the Lancet study having been peer reviewed means nothing to you all trying to discount it?

    Why is it that the fact that other professional pollsters support the methodology used by Gilbert Burnham means nothing to you?

    Because the resulting hell from this unjustified, illegal war based on lies, has nothing to do with bringing anything benevolent to Iraq. The smoke and mirrors are starting to become exposed, but, you are angrily in denial, still.

  41. Sharon: Why is it that the lack of graves doesn’t bother you?

    What makes you think that the casualties of the war in Iraq were all cremated? Have you surveyed Iraq for fresh graves? Has anyone?

  42. Jes, I have admittedly not read the report thoroughly enough to speak authoritatively on its contents (while it appears you’ve studied it in depth) so my question is also admittedly based on some level of ignorance. Having said that, does the study in any way address whether some percentage of these deaths were due to direct combat operations against “insurgents”, “terrorists”, “old regime holdouts” or whomever we might otherwise call “bad guys”?

    Please read my question in the context of a genuine desire on my part to understand what it is that the study measured and attempted to measure and not to simply pick a fight with you. As I said earlier, I don’t have a dog in this hunt. The truth is whatever it is and I am willing to accept the truth once I’m convinced as to the veracity of whatever number we’re discussing.

    Blu, I’m sorry you feel the way you do about our questions in general but I for one am not ready to simply believe that this study was done properly and says what it says without asking questions. There are other studies that suggest the magnitude of deaths is magnitudes lower. As a responsible citizen it is my duty to ask questions and to doubt. Please re-read your comments and apply them to the data we all received from the intelligence organizations and the government prior to the invasion. You believe we were lied to because the preponderance of the data we received was at best overstated, and at worst downright wrong. Yet we were assured by “professionals” that all was in order. Unless you simply wish to believe your preconceived notions, your own standards stated above demand that we apply the same healthy scepticism to this study that we should have, and maybe didn’t, apply to the assurances we all received prior to the war. You can’t have it both ways.

    My question derives from a “criticism” I’ve read and discussed with friends that the distribution of deaths does seem to indicate that there is a fairly large percentage of of men compared to women and children. This is important, if true, because one might expect a fairly equal distribution if the deaths were due to “random” deaths due to combat operations that cause civilian casualties, assuming that the current distribution of men, women and children is consistent with that prior to combat operations.

    What I’m trying to discern is whether the study has taken into account that we’ve intentionally killed a fair number of, for lack of a better term, “bad guys” and yet we’ve undoubtedly also killed some number of “innocent civilians” accidentally and generally unavoidedly due to the combat operations in and around civilian populations.

    In short, I’m trying to get my brain around the difference between “accidental” and “intentional” combat deaths due to our presence if some attempt has been made to differentiate.

  43. Sharon wrote:

    Why is it that the lack of graves doesn’t bother you?

    Well, the lack of graves certainly doesn’t bother me, because it means that far fewer people have been killed than teh Lancet study projected. You’d think that Jesurgislac would find the idea that fewer people were killed to be good news as well, but apparently she does not.

  44. J wrote:

    What makes you think that the casualties of the war in Iraq were all cremated? Have you surveyed Iraq for fresh graves? Has anyone?

    Arab tradition normally avoids cremation; burial is by far the most common disposition of human remains.

    But J is arguing from the bass-ackwards position that if we haven’t proved a negative (the graves aren’t there), then the positive (the graves are there) must be true. Sorry, wrong answer; such is never considered to be scientifdic proof.

    And I find it rather stunning that, with all of the groups opposed to American policy in Iraq, that none of them have performed any kind of survey to verify the Lancet numbers.

    Or maybe they did, didn’t find the results they wanted, so they kept their mouths shut.

  45. Blu stated with confidence…

    Why is it that the fact of the Lancet study having been peer reviewed means nothing to you all trying to discount it?

    Show me these favorable peer reviewed studies. These positive peer reviewed studies can not be moonbat sites or a general article/statement favorable to the Lancet article. Those are not legitimate peer reviews.

    Show them to me Blu. Come on lead the way.

  46. J seriously offered?…

    What you’re overlooking, pgw, is that the first question would have been “Has anyone in your household died in the past five years?”

    If the answer was “no”, the interview would then have been fairly brief and the interviewers would have moved on to the next household in the cluster. The notion that the timescale was impossible, or even implausible, is false.

    J, I wonder why the authors did not come up with that? Maybe cause they knew the “no” people were not counted in this critique. If you count them it gets more impossible. You are funny! Where did you pull this out from?

    Hey, thanks for helping me prove my point.

    Are you going to address my other points? Oh, when you get that cite ready about the interviewers leaving the country I will be happy to read it.

  47. This quote from Desmond Tutu sums up what our Iraq mission has been. Replace the word Democracy with the Bible.

    “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible, and we had the land. They said ‘Let us *pray.” We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible and they had the land.”

    *Prey is a more appropriate word, I’d say.

  48. Blu…

    The author of the study answers questions in link below. He has stated it is peer-reviewed.

    What? I dont care what he said! They call it peer review cause it is peer reviewed! There is nothing in this article except his ramblings. Show me an actual peer review, the document say! Jeez

  49. Anyone who thinks that “how” this study was conducted (their methodology) is central to whether this report is accurate is simple wrong.

    The authors are all extremely experienced with surveys of this type. They are without exception world renowned experts.

    The answer does not lie down J’s rabbit hole of clusters. The authors simply lied.

    From The Times (this hillbilly heard this is a paper in London, England)
    March 5, 2007
    From their article “Could 650,000 Iraqis really have died because of the invasion?”…

    The implication of the Lancet study, which involved Iraqi doctors knocking on doors and asking residents about recent deaths in the household, was that Iraqis were being killed on an horrific scale. The controversy has deepened rather than evaporated. Several academics have tried to find out how the Lancet study was conducted; none regards their queries as having been addressed satisfactorily. Researchers contacted by The Times talk of unreturned e-mails or phone calls, or of being sent information that raises fresh doubts.

    Positive peer review my big fat hairy…

    Hey J in case you care about the twenty minutes stuff, from the same article…

    Professor Burnham says the doctors worked in pairs and that interviews “took about 20 minutes”. The journal Nature, however, alleged last week that one of the Iraqi interviewers contradicts this. Dr Hicks says: : “I have started to suspect that they [the American researchers] don’t actually know what the interviewing team did. The fact that they can’t rattle off basic information suggests they either don’t know or they don’t care.”

    Got to go but will have more for you tomorrow.

  50. This quote from Desmond Tutu sums up what our Iraq mission has been. Replace the word Democracy with the Bible.

    “When the Americans came to Iraq, they had the democracy, and we had the land. They said, let us vote. We closed our eyes. When we we opened them, we had the democracy and they had the land.”

    Interesting. So we “have the land” now in Iraq? Nice to know. So we have the oil now in Iraq? Nice to know. So they have democracy now in Iraq? At least we’re getting somewhere with that one.

    Good grief, Charlie Brown …

  51. One last point: Burnham found that 75 percent of Iraqi deaths come by the hand of another Iraqi, not an American. GIs certainly are not killing thousands of Iraqi children, as Terlazzo insultingly and baselessly accuses them.

    I was finally able to link to the article in question. If true, this does shed some light on the “we’ve killed 655K Iraqis” claim.

    While we may hold some culpability for the fact that we’ve failed to control the violence in Iraq, it’s one thing to suggest that we’re largely directly responsible for the massive death toll of 655K people due to combat operations, and another to suggest that we’re largely responsible because we weren’t able to protect Iraqis from each other.

  52. Well if you want to read the study itself, you can find it atlink below. There are numerous references at the bottom of the study.

    Also, Ronald Waldman of Columbia University supported it, when speaking to the Washington Post. Look it up yourself. It’s there. I’ve got other things to do right now.

    Also, a Rebecca Goldin from George Mason University stated:

    “While the Lancet numbers are shocking, the study’s methodology is not. The scientific community is in agreement over the statistical methods used to collect the data and the validity of the conclusions drawn by the researchers conducting the study.”

    There was someone at the Wall Street Journal by the name of Steven Moore that discounted it. He probably had some relevant credentials as well, discounting it. Any wonder why the WSJ is often called the War Street Journal? I don’t believe him.

    I’m sure you’ll find it all with a simple googling. Do I need to do all the research myself?

    Here is the Lancet study itself. It’s on Adobe Acrobat.

    http://www.thelancet.com/webfiles/images/journals/lancet/s0140673606694919.pdf

  53. Some interesting excerpts:

    Most deaths (n=485; 77%) were in males, and this was true for both periods, but more pronounced in the pre-invasion period (57 of 82 deaths pre-invasion vs 428 of 547 deaths postinvasion). The male-to-female ratio of post-invasion deaths was 3•4 for all deaths, and 9•8 for violent deaths (all deaths: 144 female, 485 male; violent death: 28 female, 274 male). In general, deaths by age group followed the expected J-shaped demographic curve; however, by contrast, most deaths in males were in the middle age groups .

    Violent deaths that were directly attributed to coalition forces or to air strikes were classified as coalition violent deaths. In many other cases the responsible party was not known, or the households were hesitant to specifically identify them. Deaths attributable to the coalition accounted for 31% (95% CI 26-37) of post-invasion violent deaths. The proportion of violent deaths attributable to the coalition was much the same across periods (p=0•058). However, the actual number of violent deaths, including those that resulted from coalition forces, increased every year after the invasion. Deaths in men of military age, defined as 15-44 years of age, were disproportionately high and accounted for 59% (52-65)of post-invasion violent deaths, despite this subgroup accounting for only 24•4% of the Iraqi population.16 No difference in the proportion of violent deaths in men of military age was noted between deaths attributed to the coalition or other/unknown sources (p=0•168).

    Mortality rates from violent causes have increased every year post-invasion. By mid-year 2006, 91 violent deaths had occurred in 6 months, compared with 27 post-invasion in 2003 and 77 in 2004, and 105 for 2005, suggesting that violence has escalated substantially. The attributed cause of these deaths has also changed with time. Our data show that gunfire is the major cause of death in Iraq, accounting for about half of all violent deaths. Deaths from air strikes were less commonly reported in 2006 than in 2003-04, but deaths from car explosions have increased since late 2005. The proportion of violent deaths attributed to coalition forces might have peaked in 2004; however, the actual number of Iraqi deaths attributed to coalition forces increased steadily through 2005. Deaths were not classified as being due to coalition forces if households had any uncertainty about the responsible party; consequently, the number of deaths and the proportion of violent deaths attributable to coalition forces could be conservative estimates. Distinguishing criminal murders from anti-coalition force actions was not possible in this survey.

    Across Iraq, deaths and injuries from violent causes were concentrated in adolescent to middle age men. Although some were probably combatants, a number of factors would expose this group to more risk, eg, life style, automobile travel, and employment outside the home. The circumstances of a number of deaths from gunshots suggest assassinations or executions. Coalition forces have been reported as targeting all men of military age. [yet only 31% of violent deaths were "attributable to the coalition" so perhaps we're not doing a very good job of "targeting".]

  54. Taking the report at face value, here are a few of the relevant findings that jump right out at me on my first read-through (highlighted above):

    1. Deaths attributable to the coalition accounted for 31% (95% CI 26-37) of post-invasion violent deaths, although in fairness, the number of deaths and the proportion of violent deaths attributable to coalition forces could be conservative estimates.

    2. Deaths in men of military age, defined as 15-44 years of age, were disproportionately high and accounted for 59% (52-65)of post-invasion violent deaths, despite this subgroup accounting for only 24.4% of the Iraqi population.

    3. Gunfire is the major cause of death in Iraq, accounting for about half of all violent deaths.

    4. Deaths from car explosions have increased since late 2005.

    5. Deaths from air strikes were less commonly reported in 2006 than in 2003-04.

    6. Distinguishing criminal murders from anti-coalition force actions was not possible in this survey.

    7. Across Iraq, deaths and injuries from violent causes were concentrated in adolescent to middle age men.

    8. Coalition forces have been reported as targeting all men of military age, presumably by the polling participants who may or may not have a reason to suggest to an official conducting a poll that their dead male relatives were participating in the insurgency. If the coalition is targeting men of military age we seem not to be doing a very efficient job of it.

  55. The number of people dying in Iraq has continued to escalate. The proportion of deaths ascribed to coalition forces has diminished in 2006, although the actual numbers have increased every year. Gunfire remains the most common cause of death, although deaths from car bombing have increased.

    Of the 302 violent deaths, 274 (91%) were of men, and within this group, deaths concentrated in the 15-29 and 30-44 year old age groups. Most violent deaths were due to gunshots (56%); air strikes, car bombs, and other explosions/ordnance each accounted for 13-14% of violent deaths. The number of deaths from gunshots increased consistently over the post-invasion period, and a sharp increase in deaths from car bombs was noted in 2006.

  56. Here’s the bottom line as I see it based on reading the entire report thoroughly and assuming the Lancet numbers are accurate as given:

    Of the 426,369 to as many as 793,663 post-invasion deaths due to violence, between 40,974 and 223,892 (31% of 91%) were of men concentrated in the 15-29 and 30-44 year old age groups, whose deaths were attributable to coalition action.

    The remaining 9% of violent deaths of women and children, attributed to coalition action, account for between 11,896 and 22,143. Not insignificant but considering the violence our military is capable of delivering, very measured.

    Finally:

    Aside from violence, insufficient water supplies, non-functional sewerage, and restricted electricity supply also create health hazards. A deteriorating health service with insecure access, and the flight of health professionals adds further risks. People displaced by the on-going sectarian violence add to the number of vulnerable individuals. In many conflicts, these indirect causes have accounted for most civilian deaths.

    All of which says nothing to lesson our responsibility for having started this conflagration in Iraq. It does, however, suggest that the analysis is not entirely as simple as “we’ve caused 655K deaths.”

  57. oops. I realized I’d typed that Desmond Tutu quotation wrong above. It is:

    “When the missionaries came to Africa, they had the Bible, and we had the land. They said ‘Let us pray.’ We closed our eyes. When we opened them, we had the Bible, and they had the land.”

  58. Harry: Having said that, does the study in any way address whether some percentage of these deaths were due to direct combat operations against “insurgents”, “terrorists”, “old regime holdouts” or whomever we might otherwise call “bad guys”?

    I was going to respond to this query but it looks like you’ve read and responded to it yourself. But thank you for asking a good and intelligent question that depends on the actual report, rather than (as pgwarner et al seem to be doing) rubbishing it by what they’ve read about it.

    From interviews with the researchers, the data gathering teams were not asked to inquire into who killed the people who had died in that household – that kind of question might have got them into dangerous trouble. Fairly obviously, we can be sure that someone who was killed in an airstrike was killed by the US: someone who was shot on the street may have been killed by any of the sides in the civil war, American or Iraqi: someone who was killed by a car bomb was killed by an Iraqi.

    But the responsibility for all those who were killed in the resistance to the US occupation that has become a civil war, lies with the US, who invaded and occupied without giving any consideration to how this could be done without starting a civil war. This is legally as well as morally true: the Geneva Conventions require the occupying power to take responsibility for keeping the peace in the country they are occupying.

  59. What makes you think that the casualties of the war in Iraq were all cremated? Have you surveyed Iraq for fresh graves? Has anyone?

    Who said anything about casualties being cremated? Dana said specifically that cremation is not the norm in the Middle East, which means if there really were 655k dead you’d see a lot of graves. Where are they?

  60. Dana said specifically that cremation is not the norm in the Middle East, which means if there really were 655k dead you’d see a lot of graves. Where are they?

    In Iraq, where else?

    Are you claiming you have evidence that there aren’t a whole lot of new graves in Iraq? Cite, please.

  61. But the responsibility for all those who were killed in the resistance to the US occupation that has become a civil war, lies with the US, who invaded and occupied without giving any consideration to how this could be done without starting a civil war. This is legally as well as morally true: the Geneva Conventions require the occupying power to take responsibility for keeping the peace in the country they are occupying.

    That’s a reasonable and fair comment. It is also certainly legitimate to question whether we entered this war, and particularly what should have been the “peace” afterward, with adequate planning between the DoD and DoS as well as the other entities within our government, to ensure that we could keep the peace.

    At a minimum we failed to anticipate the “rope-a-dope” tactic employed by Saddam as it became clear to him that he couldn’t win the ground war and that he didn’t have the chemical munitions with which to counter attack that his own generals assured him were available. We also clearly underestimated the deep ethnic and sectarian distrust and enmity present in Iraq, though this is understandable at some level given that Iraqis in general are among the most highly educated people in the ME and that their society (under Saddam) was one of the most secular.

    Whether we should have listened to Gen Shinseki’s suggestions and criticisms is a topic about which we could certainly disagree and most general officers did so in the runup to the war. We could also spend considerable time contrasting Gen Shinseki’s suggested troop strengths in both Afghanistan and Iraq, vis-a-vis, Gen Franks’ for instance.

    I’d also suggest that one of Mr. Bush’s failings has been that in many ways he is too loyal to subbordinates. Mr. Brown is likely one example, Amb. Brenner may be another, and Mr. Rumsfeld and others are likely candidates as well, for the list of people who probably should have been replaced for less than stellar performance during their tours of duty, although we could certainly also find contrary arguments, particularly regarding Mr. Rumsfeld.

    As I indicated above, it’s somewhat more complicated than simply “we’ve caused 655K deaths.” That we’ve had considerable “help” from Iraqis and other foreigners killing Iraqis and that we’ve gone to great lengths, including the current escalation of our military and diplomatic efforts, to reduce the carnage, does muddy the moral, and for that matter, the legal water somewhat.

    One major point that I have come away with from the study, whether the numbers are accurate or not, is that my brothers and sisters in the military have, on balance, done a pretty outstanding job in attempting to avoid innocent civilian casualties. With very few exceptions, we should admire them for that.

  62. Blu, I am very sorry and I apologize to you. You do not know what the term “peer review” means, just forget about.

  63. J stated…

    I was going to respond to this query but it looks like you’ve read and responded to it yourself. But thank you for asking a good and intelligent question that depends on the actual report, rather than (as pgwarner et al seem to be doing) rubbishing it by what they’ve read about it.

    J, I read the thing and have read what is on the net from the authors themselves. Understand this please, I do not feel the need to argue whether the “actual report” itself used proper methodology when the “actual report” itself is a fraud. I take from your statement that you are not going to address the few questions I raised so far? On one I just asked where you got the info from. I do want to thank you for the one explanation that was contradicted by one of the author’s own statements.

  64. Actually, my assumption was that it meant other professionals of his same field (peers) reviewed it, and gave it credibility or not. That is why I found references. I mentioned the references below the report also, but that is my assumption of the term “peer reviewed”. If someone is willing to prove me wrong, I’m willing to listen.

  65. Sharon asked in #62…

    Who said anything about casualties being cremated? Dana said specifically that cremation is not the norm in the Middle East, which means if there really were 655k dead you’d see a lot of graves. Where are they?

    J demanded in #63…

    Are you claiming you have evidence that there aren’t a whole lot of new graves in Iraq? Cite, please.

    Tell you what J, I will help you demand from Sharon and Dana a cite if you get me the cite I asked you for!

    You know what since you have asked twice J, the first time in #43…

    What makes you think that the casualties of the war in Iraq were all cremated? Have you surveyed Iraq for fresh graves? Has anyone?

    I am going to help you. You will probably dismiss my source on this as it comes from a PBS (the GWB mouth-piece)interview with a L.A. Times (a conservative rag)reporter but I am going to try…

    BORZOU DARAGAHI: Well, we think — the Los Angeles Times thinks these numbers are too large, depending on the extensive research we’ve done. Earlier this year, around June, the report was published at least in June, but the reporting was done over weeks earlier. We went to morgues, cemeteries, hospitals, health officials, and we gathered as many statistics as we could on the actual dead bodies, and the number we came up with around June was about at least 50,000.

    And that kind of jibed with some of the news report that were out there, the accumulation of news reports, in terms of the numbers kill. The U.N. says that there’s about 3,000 a month being killed; that also fits in with our numbers and with morgue numbers. This number of 600,000 or more killed since the beginning of the war, it’s way off our charts.

  66. In Iraq, where else?

    Are you claiming you have evidence that there aren’t a whole lot of new graves in Iraq? Cite, please.

    J, give the citation for all these new graves. Link to stories telling us about all these new graves.

  67. Blu said…

    Actually, my assumption was that it meant other professionals of his same field (peers) reviewed it, and gave it credibility or not.

    A peer review is commonly considered to be when your peers review your work and do a study on it or at least a scholarly paper. It does not consist of “book review” type comments made by people no matter how eminently qualified those people may be.

    I do seriously owe you apologies as you do argue from what I believe are heartfelt positions. I have been sarcastic and harsh in this thread.

  68. Pg, not to worry, harsh is part of political discourse. After all, it is about policies which determine the lives of many, and in the case of Bush’s policies, it has brought the unnecessary deaths of many, many hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings, from infants to the elderly, and many tortured that were innocent. I speak with harshness myself.

    I am not sure it is always good to speak like that, but on the other hand, it might undermine my effort to communicate the facts.

    Should the folks that walked in to discover the mess that Charles Manson and his bunch left at Sharon Tate’s, speak politely about it? Was it justified that Manson did such a thing? No. It is unjustified that Bush has left such a mess in Iraq. More innocent people, far more, and just as ugly! It was a lie that made it happen. It is about conquering Iraq’s resources. It hasn’t changed through the centuries. Conquest is the despicable game of empire.

  69. We estimate that as of July, 2006, there have been 654 965 (392 979–942 636) excess Iraqi deaths as a consequence of the war, which corresponds to 2·5% of the population in the study area.

    Well, there you have it. “We estimate”. i.e., no actual science and minimal evidence, just an “estimate”. That’s like looking up at the moon and saying “I estimate that it’s a long way away”. Nice reasoning there. Next, I guess, they’ll “estimate” that fire is hot, and water is wet. New, amazing revelations to follow …

  70. Well, the lack of graves certainly doesn’t bother me, because it means that far fewer people have been killed than teh Lancet study projected. You’d think that Jesurgislac would find the idea that fewer people were killed to be good news as well, but apparently she does not.

    Nah. This is whacking material for Lefties, political porno, nothing more. They can rejoice in all the alleged deaths in Iraq (Leading to the most, and really only part, that matters, namely, blaming it all on America.) And if the alleged deaths (all murdered on the orders of the evil Bush & Cheney) were two or three times higher, their orgasms of joy would be all the greater!

    Left wingers – The moral equivalent to sewer rats.

  71. J, give the citation for all these new graves. Link to stories telling us about all these new graves.

    Heh. Sharon, you’re claiming that a serious and scholarly study of the casualties in Iraq since 2003 is wrong because, you say, there are not enough graves.

    So: justify your claim. Show me the survey that you’re using that covers all the graveyards in Iraq that demonstrates the number of casualties is just wrong.

    PGwarner, that’s not a bad response: got a link to showing that the LA Times covered the entire country, just as the Lancet report did?

  72. Heh. Sharon, you’re claiming that a serious and scholarly study of the casualties in Iraq since 2003 is wrong because, you say, there are not enough graves.

    No, you’re saying that a study that isn’t used by anyone because of its seriously flawed total doesn’t have to show evidence of its total. Back that up with photos, stories, anything which would verify that there are 655k bodies in Iraq. Shouldn’t be hard for you to do.

  73. No, you’re saying that a study that isn’t used by anyone because of its seriously flawed total

    *takes out popcorn, sits back*

    Now explain what evidence you have to show that the total is “seriously flawed”?

    Dana I think first suggested inspecting the graveyards, and lacking any ideas of your own, you’ve naturally picked up his. I agree with Dana that a scholarly and scientific cluster-sampling survey could also be done on graveyards – bearing in mind that this would tend to under-report, since it would tend not to pick up casualties buried in mass graves. OTOH, it would avoid the underreporting from the Lancet survey where households where everyone was dead or the rest of the family had left the country would count as zero because there was no one there to respond.

    But in order to claim the graveyards of Iraq as evidence, you have to do the survey. Or cite a survey someone has already done.

    Without that, all you’ve got is a temper-tantrum at figures that show, for sure, that the US war on Iraq has killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

    *chews popcorn, watching Sharon*

    (Of course, if cluster-sampling the graveyards also turns up figures that are too high for Americans to enjoy, those too will be ignored, for the same reason…)

  74. You’ve already had links to stories showing that the Lancet numbers are flawed. Nobody uses them because they are so outlandish.

    Look, Jes. I don’t mind you believing in fantasy. But do you have pictures or stories that back up the 655k figure? Or are you just going to continue saying “Well, the tooth fairy left me a dollar, so it must be true!” whenever you are asked for corroborrating evidence?

  75. Look, Jes. I don’t mind you believing in fantasy. But do you have pictures or stories that back up the 655k figure? Or are you just going to continue saying “Well, the tooth fairy left me a dollar, so it must be true!” whenever you are asked for corroborrating evidence?

    Here’s an interesting scenario. Imagine it turns out the Lancet numbers were just plain wrong, off by, say, 80% or so. What do you suppose would be the reaction of the Left Wingers? Would they be gladdened and overjoyed that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whom they thought were dead were instead alive and well?

  76. You’ve already had links to stories showing that the Lancet numbers are flawed.

    I’ve seen links to political attacks on the Lancet study figures – lots of them, ever since the 2004 report was published. No one has linked to any scientific criticism invalidating the study, either the data or the methodology.

    Look, Jes. I don’t mind you believing in fantasy. But do you have pictures or stories that back up the 655k figure?

    Do you mean can I link you to a website that shows pictures of each and every one of the 655 000 0000 Iraqis killed, with an obituary, just like the New York Times published for each and every one of the people killed in the WTC?

    No, Sharon, I can’t. If you think that somehow invalidates the Lancet report, you, not I, are living in fantasy land.

    Or, if you didn’t mean you want pics of every single Iraqi casualty in order to believe that they exist, what on earth do you mean?

  77. Eric: Here’s an interesting scenario. Imagine it turns out the Lancet numbers were just plain wrong, off by, say, 80% or so. What do you suppose would be the reaction of the Left Wingers? Would they be gladdened and overjoyed that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis whom they thought were dead were instead alive and well?

    Yes, Eric.

    Now, here’s an interesting scenario for you.

    Suppose that a lot of genuinely anti-abortion/pro-life politicians are elected in the US and, determined to minimize abortion throughout the US, institute reforms in the education and health system along the lines of the Netherlands.

    Suppose that after 15 years or so of these thoroughgoing reforms, instead of 1.293M abortions per year in the US, the figure was down to 144 000. Per year. Across the whole of the US.

    Would the pro-life lobby be gladdened and overjoyed that the Netherlands reforms had prevented at least a million abortions each year? Or furious at the health and welfare reforms that make having a baby a less problematic choice for single women, easy and free access to early abortion, free and accessible contraception for all, an end to abstinence-only education and the mandatory requirements for comprehensive sex education even for the home-schooled?

    (I realize this is a terrible threadjack, but seriously, folks: Sharon is off in lala land, and Eric has tried to threadjack discussions of the casualties in Iraq off on to his favourite topic before…)

  78. Well, let’s see: you’d reduce abortions by the Netherlands’ method (or so I assume by your mention of that country)) of legalizing child rape; that’s such a good plan!

  79. Well, let’s see: you’d reduce abortions by the Netherlands’ method (or so I assume by your mention of that country)) of legalizing child rape; that’s such a good plan!

    So you can cite Netherlands legislation which makes it legal for a man to have sex with a child against the child’s will? That is – child rape?

    No? You’re just making it up?

    Thought so.

    I guess that’s the answer, Eric: Dana would hate it if in 15 years there were fewer than 200 000 abortions each year in the US. He’ll even make up stupid lies about child rape being legal in the Netherlands…

  80. J wrote:

    So you can cite Netherlands legislation which makes it legal for a man to have sex with a child against the child’s will? That is – child rape?

    No? You’re just making it up?

    Thought so.

    Well, J, you made the point for us, when you informed us that the age of consent in the Netherlands is twelve. Are you really enough of a fool to believe that a twelve year old can consent to sex with any knowledge or appreciation of the impact on his life or the potential consequences such brings?

    Sorry, but while the law in the Netherlands says that a twelve year old can legally consent to sex, as a practiacl matter, he can’t — and that makes sex with a twelve year old rape, regardless of whether he “consented” or not.

  81. J desperately shifted gears…

    Now, here’s an interesting scenario for you.

    Kind of early to switch to abortion to get out of supporting the unsupportable isn’t it J? I am still waiting for my answers (don’t worry; I need the lesson in patience).

    Anyone recall the old joke about how all links eventually lead you back to a lesbian chatroom? All blog threads eventually (de)evolve into a discussion about abortion.

    J, I do have to hand it to you and Blu, you both have more stones than some.

  82. Would the pro-life lobby be gladdened and overjoyed that the Netherlands reforms had prevented at least a million abortions each year? Or furious at the health and welfare reforms that make having a baby a less problematic choice for single women, easy and free access to early abortion, free and accessible contraception for all, an end to abstinence-only education and the mandatory requirements for comprehensive sex education even for the home-schooled?

    What this sounds like is a manifesto for Left Wing nuttery and fascism. What you’re revealing here is a desire to force your agenda on children, not end or even reducing abortions in the least. The term “mandatory requirements” just smacks of Big Brother tactics.

    Besides, this is (as usual) a clever dodge. If it turned out the Lancet numbers were way wrong, and that hundreds of thousands of allegedly “dead” Iraqis were really in fact alive, would your heart be gladdened? Or would you be infuriated because there’d be a lot less ammo to use against a man you hate, George W Bush

  83. Dana: Are you really enough of a fool to believe that a twelve year old can consent to sex with any knowledge or appreciation of the impact on his life or the potential consequences such brings?

    Are you really enough of a fool to believe that it’s better to deny kids that age access to information, advice, medical help, and contraception? If a 12-year-old is having sex, she needs all the help and support she can get.

    Proportional to the size of the population, the US has over nine times the number of girls aged 14 or under getting pregnant than the Netherlands does. You can squirm all you like, Dana, but it’s self-evident that making those girls criminals is not helping them.

    Eric: If it turned out the Lancet numbers were way wrong, and that hundreds of thousands of allegedly “dead” Iraqis were really in fact alive, would your heart be gladdened?

    Yes. If it turned out that the Iraqi Body Count (for example) is right, and the numbers of dead are no worse than twice the number IBC counts, that would be a wonderful relief.

    But I see that, from your response, and Dana’s, that if changing policy in the US to “Left Wing nuttery” reduced abortions in the US to less than 200 000 a year, thus saving (in your eyes) over a million lives each year, your heart would not be gladdened: you are indifferent to policies that save lives, when those deaths are of such political value to you.

    (Which is, pgw, my real point: Eric and Dana do not actually give a damn about human lives.)

  84. If a 12-year-old is having sex, she needs all the help and support she can get.

    If a 12 year old is having sex, then someone should go to jail. I’m sure you’d at least agree with that!! Any child that young either has serious psychological problems or else she is the victim of major parental neglect and/or abuse. NO 12 year old with a healthy mind and soul wants anything to do with sex.

  85. But I see that, from your response, and Dana’s, that if changing policy in the US to “Left Wing nuttery” reduced abortions in the US to less than 200 000 a year,

    But using Police State tactics by forcing an agenda even on homeschoolers won’t accomplish that in the least. Sex ed where kids are taught to put rubbers on bananas is a waste of time in any event. Far better to teach the kid values. Values like, if I have don’t sex before I’m physically and emotionally ready for pregnancy, then it’s far less likely I’ll ever need an abortion. Unfortunately, this flies in the face of Left Wing dogma.

  86. If a 12 year old is having sex, then someone should go to jail.

    If a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl are having sex with each other, which of them should go to jail? Both of them?

  87. No, Sharon, I can’t. If you think that somehow invalidates the Lancet report, you, not I, are living in fantasy land.

    Well, the fact that you don’t have either pictures or stories that show the massive increase in demand for graveyards would indicate that there aren’t 655k deaths in Iraq. Unless you’re saying there’s a thriving underground business in transporting all those bodies to some other country for burial.

    And you can always tell when Jes runs out of argument. That’s when it shifts into its ridiculous abortion argument that if we just make screwing at any age legal and hand out contraceptives (and I guess have monitors to make sure those 30-year-old women who have the most abortions use the contraceptives correctly) that there would be no more abortion. *eye roll* Go get your own blog or better yet, go find a blog that hasn’t seen you lie, hijack, and mischaracterize before.

  88. If a 12-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl are having sex with each other, which of them should go to jail? Both of them?

    How about their parents? Raising children who think it’s OK to behave this way is de facto child neglect/abuse. I’d say the same of parents who let their kids think it was OK to snort coke, except the latter is probably actually safer for them!

  89. Well, the fact that you don’t have either pictures or stories that show the massive increase in demand for graveyards would indicate that there aren’t 655k deaths in Iraq.

    …..

    Boy, are you stupid.

    In 1 in 3 households in Iraq, everywhere in Iraq (we know by the Lancet report) has lost someone because of the Iraq war in the past four years.

    If you think this translates to a sudden “demand for graveyards” you really haven’t thought things through.

    People die. When they die, they are buried. If hundreds of thousands of people are killed all at once (as happened in Saddam Hussein’s massacres, back when he was Ronald Reagan’s favorite dictator) you have a mass grave situation (as you do in major attacks in Fallujah). But, when casualties are spread out over the whole country and over several years, you might just as well claim there’s no evidence that 1.2 million abortions are carried out each year in the US because there are no mass graves near every hospital.

    That’s when it shifts into its ridiculous abortion argument that if we just make screwing at any age legal and hand out contraceptives (and I guess have monitors to make sure those 30-year-old women who have the most abortions use the contraceptives correctly) that

    …you might just succeed in getting the number of abortions in the US, per year, down to the same abortion rate as in the Netherlands. And every time I present this idea, that if you don’t like abortion you might want to try preventing abortions using methods that have proved to succeed, all those people who were claiming they rilly, rilly CARED about “the babies being killed” suddenly change their tune: they don’t care nearly as much about preventing abortions as they do about not handing out free contraceptives, not encouraging people to use contraception unless they want to conceive, and of course not supporting single mothers and children.

    In short, for conservative “pro-lifers”, the big talk about saving the babies is fake: there’s no gladdening of the heart (as Eric put it) at the thought that by changing social policies, over a million abortions each year might be prevented. None at all.

  90. there’s no gladdening of the heart (as Eric put it) at the thought that by changing social policies, over a million abortions each year might be prevented. None at all.

    I’m all for “changing social policies”. Change Sex Ed from rubbers and bananas to something useful, like Values Ed. In short, instill values like Self Respect, and you’ll have far fewer teen pregnancies. And a lot less abortions, too. It’s an idea even you could support!

  91. Boy, are you stupid.

    Hey, I’m not the idiot claiming there are 655k dead people without graves, buddy. That’s the definition of stupidity.

    In 1 in 3 households in Iraq, everywhere in Iraq (we know by the Lancet report) has lost someone because of the Iraq war in the past four years.

    Well, no, we don’t know this because the Lancet study’s numbers are so skewed no one uses them. No one. Ask yourself why nobody is interested in trumpeting these numbers if the methodology were so sound.

    People die. When they die, they are buried. If hundreds of thousands of people are killed all at once (as happened in Saddam Hussein’s massacres, back when he was Ronald Reagan’s favorite dictator) you have a mass grave situation (as you do in major attacks in Fallujah). But, when casualties are spread out over the whole country and over several years, you might just as well claim there’s no evidence that 1.2 million abortions are carried out each year in the US because there are no mass graves near every hospital.

    Boy, you really are stupid. Nobody argued that there were 655k deaths in a single place. But there should be evidence of a huge number of graves, both single graves and mass ones.

    And as for abortions, they aren’t considered people, remember? You don’t bury “a clump of cells.”

    You need to work on your arguments. A lot.

    …you might just succeed…

    Yes, we know you think these things lower abortion rates. But it’s not germaine to the conversation. Not that you stick to the topic of a thread.

  92. Hey, what pictures of the dead have you even seen on media? Almost none. So, I guess almost none have been killed????????

    Back when Sadaam was in power, our country with sanctions of chlorine, caused a half million or so deaths, mostly to children with immune systems that were underdeveloped. Then, we had random bombings over Iraq periodically too, during those years between the first Gulf war (Bush I) and this recent blood-bath/train-wreck/hell-hole compliments of GWB.

    Oh, yeah, we are such a benevolent force in Iraq. (NOT!)

  93. God, Sharon, that’s awful.

    It’s sickening, too, that your only feeling, looking at these dead bodies, is a sticky triumphalism that these poor people, killed in a civil war the US started, were killed by Iraqis rather than by the US.

    Where is your compassion, Sharon? Where is your human feeling? It’s a tragedy that these people died. This is the rotting face of war.

    And all you can think of is to make your partisan point that these casualties – part of the unseen hundreds of thousands that the Lancet reported were dying in Iraq – were killed by other Iraqis, not the US.

    You disgust me.

  94. Comment in moderation, Dana.

    And as Sharon has – as so often before – just sent my disgust-meter through the roof, I may just quit this blog for the moment. The spectacle of Sharon rubbing her hands in glee over the dead she denied existed is just too repellant for me to deal with right now.

  95. It’s sickening, too, that your only feeling, looking at these dead bodies, is a sticky triumphalism that these poor people, killed in a civil war the US started, were killed by Iraqis rather than by the US.

    That wasn’t my feeling. But I did think about the fact that you try so diligently to make America out to be the slaughterer of millions instead of focusing on the people actually killing Iraqis: terrorists. So, I gave you pictures of actual Iraqis and actual graves. Interesting that instead of being horrified at the acts of Al Qaeda you turn it into yet another personal attack on me. Good riddance.

  96. And as Sharon has – as so often before – just sent my disgust-meter through the roof, I may just quit this blog for the moment. The spectacle of Sharon rubbing her hands in glee over the dead she denied existed is just too repellant for me to deal with right now.

    Wow, even Jes’s supposedly last comment (it won’t be) is a lie. Why am I surprised?

    I wasn’t “gleeful” about Iraqis dying. But 655k is such a hugely inflated figure as to be unused by any reputable source. And you couldn’t find pictures of grave of all those supposedly dead people, but, instead tried to turn the tables and say anyone pointing out the ridiculousness of the Lancet study figures had to “find” the absence of graves. A stupider statement is hard to find.

    So, let’s see. Jes shows up six months ago after I quit allowing it to lie and mischaracterize continuously on my blog. So what does it do? Lie, mischaracterize and misdirect at this blog for six months. Where will it go next? Hopefully its computer will blow up and it won’t be able to irritate anyone else in the near future. What a pathetic jerk.

  97. Why is it that professionals that have come to this number, can be disputed by non-professionals in the field of statistical analysis? Because you have to see what is painful, that which you supported. It’s not too late to just sign on with reality, ya know!

  98. Why is it that professionals that have come to this number, can be disputed by non-professionals in the field of statistical analysis? Because you have to see what is painful, that which you supported. It’s not too late to just sign on with reality, ya know!

    Because most of realize a strawman can be constructed to come to the outcome you wanted. It’s done with polls, statistics and in politics all the time.

  99. Why would ANYone WANT that number to be real? The only thing we on the Left WANT is for all of you to acknowedge this is not one big happy war. We would like you to remember that Iraq did not attack us, could not attack us, and the innocent civilian population is getting the slaughtering. Why is that okay with you? That makes you callous beyond anything that I would or could call a fine example of American values. That makes you soulless.

    It is uglier than you want to believe. It has caused misery you can’t fathom. We only want it to STOP. If you acknowledge the horror, MAYBE, just maybe, you’ll join with us, to make it STOP. You’ll vote with us. Maybe you’ll feel with us the tragedy, and injustice of it. Maybe you’ll acknowledge the fact that IRAQ HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH 911. Why do you ignore that fact? WHY? Why are you okay for more soldiers and more Iraqis to keep dying. If we showed some decency, and regard for their plight, we’d not be as hated. Our policies are why those in other countries hate us. Now the rest of the world (almost) hates us. Really! Zogby polls indicate that.

  100. Why is it that professionals that have come to this number, can be disputed by non-professionals in the field of statistical analysis? Because you have to see what is painful, that which you supported. It’s not too late to just sign on with reality, ya know!

    We would love it if you’d come to reality, blu. Really. And the reason non-professionals scoff at the numbers is because there are no graves to back up the claim.

    Why would ANYone WANT that number to be real?

    Because it makes the President and the U.S. look like monsters. It furthers the left’s political agenda.

  101. Oh, for God’s sake, Sharon, in a war zone, burials are not something that can happen, as in normal life. And, have you overseen Iraq, by an aerial view? No, I didn’t think so. There is something that happens called DECAY, ROTTING bodies, the stench of war, is something that those in war describe as an ugly aspect of it, that they can’t ever forget. This, you have offered up as a counter argument for the professional conclusion of the 655,000 dead is a lame as anything I’ve ever heard, and shows desperation, for something new to go up against the professionals’ conclusions.

    There is a fellow, by the name of Dhar Jamail (google him, please), and American, that had been over in Iraq, for the first few years, until it was much too dangerous, and he’s left now, but he tells of confirming the deaths, by going to hospitals, and going to their freezers, and also, just talking to the doctors. He has photos, and I really DON’T think you want to see them. The reason he decided to take on the dangerous task of reporting from Iraq is because of the thoroughly INEPT job the American media was doing, the dishonesty. In fact, he admits that the numbers are at least as bad as the 655,000. There are other reports from some that say that the 655,000 number is an UNDERESTIMATION!!!

    Please see the reality of the horrid injustice of this misery put upon an innocent peoples. They are fighting back, the same as would we, if we were bombed, for no good reason. You would, Sharon. I know you, as would I defend our country, if we were in the same circumstance. I know you love our country. I’m sorry you have been so misinformed by the war-profiteering media.

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  103. Blu, 655k dead don’t rot overnight, and it’s highly doubtful that if there WERE dead bodies everywhere, the Left would have gleefully provided pictures of it by now.

    And, as we see yet again, Pinocchio continues earning its moniker.

  104. Sharon,

    So, have you seen any aerial views of Iraq? No, I didn’t think so. You just bask in your perspective regarding the Iraqis that have died, and dismiss the PEER REVIEWED report of PROFESSIONALS. Why? Because you can’t see it.

    This argument is going nowhere. You just don’t believe the professionals. You believe the Republican pundits. Because that is your preference, not engaging of your capacity for analytical thought. You can’t admit that you were in error, supporting this fiasco, so your insulation of the painful reality is to find some, any reasoning we’re “wrong” to hang your hat on.

    Despite the proven lies that are steadily pumped out of the whole Republican-Conservative machine, you keep looking into that direction, for comfort to maintain your insulation from the facts, covering the raw nerve that the truth hits. Because your pride bypasses your logic.

    I had to admit I was wrong when I originally supported this war, and had to go through a shameful realization that this injustice, this horror, this bloodbath, was a grave violation of humanity, and aquisition of resources was the underlying reason, despite the lines “of WMDs”, then, to get “Sadaam Hussein”, then to “bring democracy-to help” the Iraqis, while bombing them to kingdom come.

    I found comfort in my attempts to bring realization to those supporting this war, this horror, based on proven lies.

    While you are safely comfortable in your home, you can dismiss and ignore it, but you are in denial. You have abandoned you own ability of discernment. Your spirit has diminished and darkened by standing by the corporate war profiteers, that reside in the Whitehouse.

  105. And, as we see yet again, Pinocchio continues earning its moniker.

    It’s feelings got hurt because everyone, well not really everyone it just seemed that way, assaulted it with horrifically vociferous women hating and Iraqi hating arguments.

    I would go on, but I don’t want to whine and be pathetic. Kiss my big, fat hairy…

  106. Blu, I don’t “bask in my perspective” just to do so. I asked a question: where are the graves? Your side cannot prove the 655k figure. Do YOU have aerial photos? I didn’t think so.

  107. Well, Sharon, whoever can find the graves gets to win the argument, until then, we will just have to depend on the professionals that did their job according to the standards used by all professional statisticians. How are we going to go find the graves. You are outrageous, Sharon. If it weren’t a war zone, maybe there could have been a methodology, approved by the right wing with each and every body counted, and buried. According to the statisticians, though, most of the families that acknowledged a family member had been killed, held a document stating that. Some did not. Of course, in the case of bombs, having a body to even recognize as a loved one might prove difficult.

    Other statisticians respected the methodology used by Burnham, Sharon. But, since it is such a disheartening number, and certainly exposing the fact that this war is uglier than those of you, who are for the war would like to think, every attempt has been made to discount it. You cannot! Not a single justifiable argument disputes the professionals. Just the pundits, and the president, who lies, like he breathes. But, so do the pundits, those on FOX (the organ of the state).

    The war has prevented many from even travelling, for fear of being killed. Some don’t even make it to the hospital. To expect a different methodology is absurd. Just staying alive during the statisticians’ assignment in Iraq, as you might imagine, (why can’t you?) would be precarious, to say the least.

    You will continue to disagree with those of us on the left that have respected the professionals’ work, but I know it, and maybe sometime you’ll admit, you deny it, because it doesn’t feel good to recognize it. The war is doing more harm than any possible good. That is what you have trouble with.

    All other studies of the war, beyond the numbers of those having died, show it is just a bloody catastrophe, long having been lost, due to Bush’s arrogant dismissal of the war professionals-the generals, at the onset of the war. It is a tragedy that no words sufficiently express, the hell that has been created in the previously most populist state in the middle east, now having been turned into a civil war among Muslims with differing perspectives, when they used to tolerate eachothers’ differences.

  108. Well, Sharon, whoever can find the graves gets to win the argument, until then, we will just have to depend on the professionals that did their job according to the standards used by all professional statisticians.

    If it disagrees with Sharon’s conceptions, it’s wrong – by definition.

    I have to wonder what her view on evolution is…

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