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October 13, 2006

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The Lancet claims can't hold water. Too full of holes.

When you estimate you look at and set end conditions, you study natural delimiters. And most of all you correlate with other studies, and methods, and if you vary widely, then how were you so correct and they so wrong.

Others will pick these numbers apart, as has already been started.

I think that Lancet should consider this an embarassment.

The idea that anyone would question the refugee flow is just madness. The influx of refugees is a huge reality in Jordan -- Jordanians are furious at being priced out of the housing market by rich Iraqis at the same time they are pushed out of low skilled work by desparate poor Iraqis. The Jordanian government makes it difficult for the refugees, but they keep coming because the alternative is death.

In June we asked the US Embassy in Amman what they were doing to help Jordan deal with what we had seen and the response can be accurately characterized as "blub, blub, blub..." The best they could do was say that Iraqis could join the queue to apply for a visa to the US.

Estimates are estimates even empirical lab data has a tolerance on the report. We know the Cheney administration is going to give us the low range, perhaps this is the high range. If the truth lies anywhere near the mean, this is a disaster and misrepresentation of epic proportions. The one thing we know for sure is that this administration has repetedly declined to 'count' civilian death, that tells you a lot. They don't want to know - they don't want you to know.

Well, that empty indictment rolled off the tongue easily, Jodi.

Meteor Blades, just one observation. Tim Lambert cites Jay Redding saying

the same group predicted 100,000 dead in the first year of the war ... now they want to argue that an addition 550,000 have died in the subsequent two years?

Of course that is yet further evidence of the ignorance of these armchair "experts". Neither the original Lancet study nor this one estimated 100 000 or an additional 550 000 Iraqi deaths in the respective periods. They estimated (as the highest-probability value within the 95% confidence interval) 98 000 and 655 000 excess Iraqi deaths in those respective periods. The first study, for instance, did not just extrapolate that 98 000 Iraqis had died in the first 18 months after the war began. It was extrapolating that roughly 98 000 more Iraqis died in the first 18 months of the occupation than had died in the equivalent pre-war baseline period, based on an averaged monthly mortality rate for the 15 months prior to the invasion.

That is to say, the already bad situation in the last months of Saddam's rule -- including, of course, his own various political and economic depredations and the harshness of international economic sanctions -- was made far worse by the invasion and occupation; overall mortality in Iraq jumped by some 50%. That 2004 study has yet to be fundamentally challenged, whatever the Bush apologists, on this board or elsewhere, might think. And this new study shows that in the time intervening since the last one, the awful mortality rates have become much worse still -- a horrifying 3 times the prewar level.

Dismayed, even the lower bound is shocking: 392 979 excess deaths over the prewar period. The upper bound is 942 636. The chances of that figure being 0 or less -- the chances that the invasion and occupation have been neutral or positive in their correlation with ("effect on") Iraqi mortality -- are infinitesimal.

Doesn't Jodi look sexy with her head planted so firmly up her ass???

When you have the facts and the law on your side, argue the facts and the law.
When you have justice and morality on your side argue for justice and morality.
When you have nothing, then show your strength and your cool with nasty foul mouthed attacks:

"Doesn't Jodi look sexy with her head planted so firmly up her ass???"
--quoting TCinLA

Jodi [1]:
When you have the facts and the law on your side, argue the facts and the law.

Jodi [2]:
The Lancet claims can't hold water. Too full of holes.

Are you presenting any facts to support these claims? No -- so we can ignore it, right?

Jodi [3}:
When you estimate you look at and set end conditions, you study natural delimiters. And most of all you correlate with other studies, and methods, and if you vary widely, then how were you so correct and they so wrong.

What does "natural delimiters" mean, in general, and in this context? You are not presenting any facts, or even a coherent argument. In this case the doctors conducted a random survey and obtained and counted death certificates. Those sound like scientific facts to me. Unless you have a scientific critique of the methodology, then you must accept the results.

Jodi [4]:
Others will pick these numbers apart, as has already been started.

Who has? Where? Unless you cite some facts, we can ignore this statement.

Jodi [5]:
I think that Lancet should consider this an embarassment.

Really!! You think they should? Why should they, or we, care what you think? What do you know about the Lancet and their editorial standards? Can you give us some facts to back up this idea?

Cymro,

why don't you read what Meteor Blades said up above in the beginning of this thread "wwwLand Dissects Lancet II"

If you understand the title (first line up) you will see the answers to most of your comments.

Or do you require a defnintion of "Dissects." I use the "www.freedictionary.com" when on line.

Jodi,

I have no problems with MB's original post, only with the lack of facts or logic in your comments. And using a dictionary does not make your posts any more meaningful.

Ahh, you are up to Crmro. Or your time zone is offset too.

Ok.

Look if you read what MB's post (this Threads lead and subject) said, it talks about different groups "dissecting," disagreeing, challenging the Lancets article. I referred to that when I said in the third sentence "Others will pick these numbers apart, as has already been started."

I then spoke generally about estimates, and methods in the 2nd sentence.

I also have two sentences that draw conclusions. The first and the last.

It is 4 pretty simple statements (sentences.)


Jodi,

I agree that your four statements are pretty simple. They are simple and simply wrong. Let me explain:

1. The Lancet claims can't hold water. Too full of holes.

Have you read the Lancet study? I have. Do you have a background in statistics? Mine is mostly informal (although I did two years of graduate work in public policy studies that was heavy on the use of statistical analysis) and I make no claim to expertise, but I have spent some considerable time analyzing roughly comparable studies with an eye towards evaluating whether investigator bias played a part in the results. Based on my own experience, I'm at a loss to understand how you can make the sweeping assertion that the study's claims "can't hold water". The investigators conducted an incredibly thorough survey under enormously difficult conditions. Unless you are alleging fraud (and have evidence to back that up), your statement is an egregious falsehood.

2. When you estimate you look at and set end conditions, you study natural delimiters. And most of all you correlate with other studies, and methods, and if you vary widely, then how were you so correct and they so wrong.

I can't make heads or tails of that. What do you mean by "natural delimiters"? The only place I've ever seen that phrase is in the context of processing textual (or text-like) information. I'm also not sure what you mean by correlating with other studies. Who, besides these researchers, have done any statistically valid work in Iraq to determine mortality rates? I've followed this issue very closely and I'm not aware of any other studies. If you are aware of them, please provide links to those studies or links to news reports about them. Finally, at the risk of sounding pedantic, I would suggest that if you paid more attention to the normal forms of English grammar, you might be able to communicate your positions more effectively.

3. Others will pick these numbers apart, as has already been started.

Indeed, a variety of obviously innumerate partisan hacks have done so, but has anybody with actual understanding of the problem space done so? I haven't seen any yet. Finding valid criticisms is a key part of advancing the state of the art in this very difficult area. I'm very interested in assessing those kinds of claims, but I'm not willing to take broad assertions without cogent analysis to back them up.

4. I think that Lancet should consider this an embarassment.

On the contrary, the Lancet is to be commended for publishing this study. At the very least, they've made a valuable contribution to the public debate by focussing attention on this issue. As a society, we often ask policy makers and the general public to make policy choices in the absence of real information. The only way we have to improve the situation is to gather as much information as possible on the biggest issues of the day and apply rigorous analysis. Even in the unlikely event that we were to discover major flaws in this study, we would have advanced our understanding of the effects of this war. This study clearly meets the appropriate standards for publication and withholding would have been irresponsible in the extreme. Only by publishing studies like this can a publication such as the Lancet fulfill their role in our global society.

William,

I will try to make it easier to digest.

the number 650K is way out in left field, which perhaps is why it is so easy for you go accept. (That was a little tongue in cheek, and I apologize, but it was too hard to resist.)

:)

People have been estimating the number dead since the war started, this new number is like some kind of mathematical singularity among those previous numbers that would require some previously overlooked or hidden gigantic deposit of fresh bodies be found to substantiate.

Jodi,

Have you read the study?

I have the pdf on my laptop, and my server back somewhere.

Just perused it for a few excerpts-

"All surveys have potential for error and bias. The extreme
insecurity during this survey could have introduced bias by
restricting the size of teams, the number of supervisors,
and the length of time that could be prudently spent in...

Large-scale migration out of Iraq could affect our death
estimates by decreasing population size. Out-migration
could introduce inaccuracies if such a process took place
predominantly in households with either high or low
violent death history. Internal population movement
would be less likely to affect results appreciably. However,
the number of individual households with in-migration
was much the same as those with out-migration in our
survey."

William, we can agree to disagree, because I can't prove it wrong, or right. Nor can you.

The number they got is just too outsized from what was known before by sources not at all friendly to Bush and Company, who had their own numbers, some of which came from our military. (There are no secrets there. The NYt spies would jump out of the woodwork and holler, if the Mil was lying.)

I don't know if you paid attention to the recent Israel-Lebanon war. I did because there are some Tech companies over there that are interesting.
Did you know that in the space of say 6 weeks, more than 100,000 Lebanese scooted away from the fighting, and some into Syria, and elsewhere?

But in Iraq 650K, in 3 years, is just too high a number of deaths to just pop out of the blue. I could see migration (or just plain old hiding).

Now like I said, other people with more time and energy to invest on this will be coming along, and tackle this study. And they will be able to relate their thoughts to you personally on methodology and pitfalls easier than I because that is their business.
And there will be other studies.
If they too reflect these Lancet article numbers, then fine.

I do not claim that 650K couldn't possibly have been killed. Those people have age old hates built up. I just think more would have been known before this 650K number popped out of the blue.

That is essentially why I think the number is "suspect."

Hey, and you should remember or know as the case might be that I curse every day at the disastrous aftermath of that 4 week Iraqi war. I cry every time I talk to my mom about my brother.
I have no vested interest in trying to hide the real number.

But on the other hand I will not be joyous if that number is correct, or higher because it makes Bush look bad and vindicates bad opinions I have had along. I think that is where most of those here on this blog are coming from.

Perhaps,
~~High number =====>>>> Bush is really, really bad!
Iraqi war, bad, bad!
Wow, I/we was/were so right!~~

.. just perhaps.

Jodi,

Your argument are specious and contemptible. I can't tell whether you are being deliberately dishonest or willfully ignorant. In either case, you simply refuse to confront reality.

William,

I am sorry that you think that of me.

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