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Author Topic: 100,000 additional civilian deaths in Iraq
Redskullvw
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Godot

Well we have uncovered 500,000 graves and mass graves so far. So even if this study is accurate, we still have 400,000 Iraqi civilians to go before we have to answer that question.

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RickyB
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LR, I'm not a statistician, but even a bell curve has to be limited to a reasonable range. I still maintain that if someone tells me "I'm almost certain it was between 8-194" then it may well have been 8, otherwise they should have said what they're sure of. Also, whoever mentioned the Iraq bodycount project thingy is right. It's not likely that their numbers differ so dramatically from this project's. Those of us who oppose the war would do well to avoid basing arguments on this study.
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WmLambert
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Ridiculous use of assumptive numbers. This kind of enumeration must be based on actual body count, by name of individual - not on the likelihood of death. Makes me think of linear non-threshhold research. ... Like the Harvard study that says Radon is the second leading cause of death due to cancer in the country - yet there is not one single death attributed to Radon.
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DonaldD
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I am also somewhat sceptical about the numbers, but the methodology seems solid (within the assumptions that they made, which were listed in the report itself.)

However, ATW (and Gary, since you are basing your arguments on ATW position, as opposed to the actual report) you have either misunderstood (or made numerous misrepresentations about) the methodology.

LR can fill in the blanks later but to start
quote:
Looking deeper into the data, that maximum posible of 33 locations dwindles to only 11 they they really surveyed.
...
Page 2 Shows the 33 neighborhoods were in 11 cities.- ATW

No. Wrong.

The 33 neighbourhoods were in 11 governorates (equivalent to states or counties) not 11 cities. That's like saying choosing 10 neighbourhoods from California means you are necessarily looking at only a single city.

quote:
Note there were zero neighborhoods from Basrah, Iraq's largest city, even though it was scheduled to have two. Basrah which escaped most of the invasion and post-invasion violence was apparently too insecure to visit while places like Baghdad which has car bombs and such detonating several times a week was secure enough to survey seven times. - ATW
No. Nyet. Wrong again, and on so many levels.

Basrah the city is the third most populous in Iraq, but it is the governorate that is in question. Basrah the governorate was scheduled to have 2 clusters, but didn't end up with any. Why - was it for security reasons, as ATW suggests?

Thankfully, the author explains how the clusters were selected: first, clusters were assigned to governorates by population - Baghdad got 7, Basrah 2, Ninawa 3 and so on. Then (and here is where ATW may have gotten confused) the study designers decided to group similar and contiguous pairs of governorates in order to limit travel requirements - travel = danger. Once governorates were paired, all clusters for the pair would be assigned to one or the other, randomly, based on their population.
quote:
To lessen risks to investigators, we sought to minimise travel distances and the number of Governorates to visit, while still sampling from all regions of the country. We did this by clumping pairs of Governorates. Pairs were adjacent Governorates that the Iraqi study team members believed to have had similar levels of violence and economic status during the preceding 3 years.
...
All clusters were assigned to Governorates without regard to any security considerations.

Now, it's very possible that bias crept into the "clumping" decision making process, but barring that, this is still a random sample (although statistically less rigorous than if they travelled to all Governorates.)
quote:
Also note they did their clusters only in urban areas where people are clustered together. - ATW
This is possible, however I don't see where the author lists the selected neighbourhoods in the report. Can you point this out?

I say this is possible, since once again the selection of neighbourhood is random, weighted by relative population size. Every urban neighbourhood, suburban town and rural village in a governorate was eligible for selection: its likelihood of selection was based on the ratio of the neighbourhood's population to the total population of the governorate. In this way, it is very likely that larger neighbourhoods would have a greater chance of being selected. Since the majority of the Iraqi population lives in large urban centres...

ATW then goes on to quote that the investigators were to attempt to confirm (via documents/death certificates) only 2 casualties per cluster, I suppose to demonstrate that the survey could have been based on fabricated stories. What ATW neglects to mention, however, is that the investigators, even while being circumspect, were able to confirm via documentation in 81% of the households where an attempt at confirmation was made (63 of 78 households.)
quote:
In 63 of 78 (81%) households where confirmations were attempted, respondents were able to produce the death certificate of the decedent. When households could not produce the death certificate, interviewers felt in all cases that the explanation offered was reasonable...
Again, there is room for bias in the interviewers' perception, but if you don't believe that, you could as easily disbelieve that they actually did the interviews.
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Gary
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Then how do you guys (LR, DonaldD) square this with the Iraq Body Count Project of between 14,181 and 16,312 deaths? They're counting a lot more than just violent deaths and still come up an order of magnitude short of what this report claims.

The three governates I question are Baghdad, Karabala and Anbar. Those have been all over the news as very violent areas (Baghdad in particular). I think they have oversampled the most violent areas.

This 100,000 (now claimed to be a conservative estimate) just doesn't fir with the current news reports and stats other organizations are providing. I suspect once a proper peer review cycle is done, this will be shown to have significant problems.

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DonaldD
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So Gary, are you no longer quibbling over the methodology?

As for the Iraq Body Count Project - I have no idea which is closer to the truth. Why not put up a link to their studies/methodology? Then we can discuss the discrepancies more meaningfully.

BTW - is there any particular reason you italicized the alternative spelling of "governorates"?

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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
So Gary, are you no longer quibbling over the methodology?

I still question it (oversampling more violent areas, individual guesses about related areas, political motivation of researchers, etc.) along with the results (order of magnitude different from any other previous estimate). Until a proper peer review is done or a statistician or two take a look at it, I will question this report.
quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:

As for the Iraq Body Count Project - I have no idea which is closer to the truth. Why not put up a link to their studies/methodology? Then we can discuss the discrepancies more meaningfully.

I did. Please see my previous post and follow the link.
quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:

BTW - is there any particular reason you italicized the alternative spelling of "governorates"?

Because you did in your post. Copy and paste at its finest. [Smile]

[ October 30, 2004, 08:25 PM: Message edited by: Gary ]

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EDanaII
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@ Redskullvw

An excellent point.


@ Godot

Do some calculations, Godot. Since this survey is taking some liberties with facts, why don't we?

Saddam is estimated to have killed some 1.5 million people during his reign -- which lasted about twenty years -- I think we can reasonable infer that he might kill another 1.5 if he lasted another twenty years.

Now, even though I'm inclined to believe his sons would be good for more lives, let's say their not. Let's say they only killed 1 million in twenty years. One million each. If both of their "careers" lasted 40 years, then that's another 4 million souls lost.

So, to add our hypothetical situation up, that's 7 million lives gone. And even if I'm only half right, that's still about 4.5 million people gone.

So, even if that report is true -- and I doubt it -- then yes, as Redskull points out, it was worth it.

Even the most of the Iraqi people seem to agree on that point. That it was worth it, that is.

Ed.

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RickyB
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"I think we can reasonable infer that he might kill another 1.5 if he lasted another twenty years."

No, it's not. His first 12 years in power were years of waxing and expansion. The last 12 were years of waning and containment. If he had been left alone, there is no reason to think the containment would have ended. The two populations he killed amongst the most were protected from him by no-fly zones.

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EDanaII
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Technically speaking, Ricky, "if he had been left alone," there would have been no "containment." That's what it means to contain in this context.

Ed.

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Everard
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Ricky-
Typically, a study will site a range of results, in this case 8-194 thousand, which follows a gaussian distribution (bell curve) where the 8-194 thousand is the 95% probability range. That is, all possible results from the data set result in a probablity of 100%, and the 95% range is the interior of the gaussian. each result within that 95% range will have a probability assigned to it.

Because data collection almost always results in a gaussian probability distribution, and because a gaussian asymptotes at either extreme, the 95% probability range is rather extreme, but something like 68.3% liklihood that the result is within 1 standard deviation of the numerical mean, and about 95.5% is within two standard deviations. From this, we can conclude from the results, (8000-194000 is the 95% range, so about 2 standard deviations) that one standard deviation is 46500 deaths, so the 68.3% probability range is roughly 50000-150000 deaths above and beyond. The peak of the curve is at about 100,000 deaths, which means thats the most likely result, and events near 100,000 deaths have a significantly higher probability then results at the extremes, where the total probability of 10-50k deaths, and 150-200k deaths is 27%.

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DonaldD
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OK, Gary, I took a look. What the Iraq Body Count Project provides is a baseline number of media-confirmed deaths of Iraqi civilians at the hands of the coalition forces. Deaths indirectly caused by the invasion are not considered. Also, if English language on-line media did not report a death, it is not counted.
quote:
Casualty figures are derived solely from a comprehensive survey of online media reports.
...
For a source to be considered acceptable to this project it must comply with the following standards: (1) site updated at least daily; (2) all stories separately archived on the site, with a unique url (see Note 1 below); (3) source widely cited or referenced by other sources; (4) English Language site; (5) fully public (preferably free) web-access.

Deaths not reported to on-line media don't show up, and deaths only reported in non-English media don't show up either.

The two methods count very different things. Of course the number in the cluster survey would be much higher.

Something else to note: during and shortly after the invasion, the media coverage of Iraq was spotty at best - lots of pictures of smoke, but very little in the way of "bomb kills exactly 27 people, 15 more die in hospital within 3 weeks."

Also, child and infant mortality rates are way up - you can bet the media didn't publish many (if any) "infant dies in childbirth" or "toddler succumbs to infection" or "post-natal mom bleeds out" stories.

Finally, the Lancet paper even mentions iraqbodycount.net specifically, and makes similar/the same distinctions that I just did (I should have checked first.)
quote:
Aside from the likelihood that press accounts are incomplete, this source (iraqbodycount.net) does not record deaths that are the indirect result of the armed conflict. Other sources place the death toll much higher. (14)
From the reference article
quote:
Unofficial estimates of the civilian toll vary wildly, from at least 10,000 to more than 37,000.

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Gary
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Fred Kaplan of Slate reviews this report:
quote:
...read the passage that cites the calculation more fully:

We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.

Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I'll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board.

Imagine reading a poll reporting that George W. Bush will win somewhere between 4 percent and 96 percent of the votes in this Tuesday's election. You would say that this is a useless poll and that something must have gone terribly wrong with the sampling. The same is true of the Lancet article: It's a useless study; something went terribly wrong with the sampling.

Kaplan doesn't ask you to take just his word for it:
quote:
Beth Osborne Daponte, senior research scholar at Yale University's Institution for Social and Policy Studies, put the point diplomatically after reading the Lancet article this morning and discussing it with me in a phone conversation: "It attests to the difficulty of doing this sort of survey work during a war. … No one can come up with any credible estimates yet, at least not through the sorts of methods used here."
Kaplan points out another problem with the report:
quote:
The study, though, does have a fundamental flaw that has nothing to do with the limits imposed by wartime—and this flaw suggests that, within the study's wide range of possible casualty estimates, the real number tends more toward the lower end of the scale. In order to gauge the risk of death brought on by the war, the researchers first had to measure the risk of death in Iraq before the war. Based on their survey of how many people in the sampled households died before the war, they calculated that the mortality rate in prewar Iraq was 5 deaths per 1,000 people per year. The mortality rate after the war started—not including Fallujah—was 7.9 deaths per 1,000 people per year. In short, the risk of death in Iraq since the war is 58 percent higher (7.9 divided by 5 = 1.58) than it was before the war.

But there are two problems with this calculation. First, Daponte (who has studied Iraqi population figures for many years) questions the finding that prewar mortality was 5 deaths per 1,000. According to quite comprehensive data collected by the United Nations, Iraq's mortality rate from 1980-85 was 8.1 per 1,000. From 1985-90, the years leading up to the 1991 Gulf War, the rate declined to 6.8 per 1,000. After '91, the numbers are murkier, but clearly they went up. Whatever they were in 2002, they were almost certainly higher than 5 per 1,000. In other words, the wartime mortality rate—if it is 7.9 per 1,000—probably does not exceed the peacetime rate by as much as the Johns Hopkins team assumes.

The second problem with the calculation goes back to the problem cited at the top of this article—the margin of error. Here is the relevant passage from the study: "The risk of death is 1.5-fold (1.1 – 2.3) higher after the invasion." Those mysterious numbers in the parentheses mean the authors are 95 percent confident that the risk of death now is between 1.1 and 2.3 times higher than it was before the invasion—in other words, as little as 10 percent higher or as much as 130 percent higher. Again, the math is too vague to be useful.

Those aren't the only problems:
quote:
The survey team simply could not visit some of the randomly chosen clusters; the roads were blocked off, in some cases by coalition checkpoints. So the team picked other, more accessible areas that had received similar amounts of damage. But it's unclear how they made this calculation. In any case, the detour destroyed the survey's randomness; the results are inherently tainted. In other cases, the team didn't find enough people in a cluster to interview, so they expanded the survey to an adjoining cluster. Again, at that point, the survey was no longer random, and so the results are suspect.
Kaplan then looks to Iraq Body Count(the project I referenced earlier) as the more reliabe source.

Now for a common sense check. This study cover 17 months, or about 510 days (17x30). That averages out to 196 civilian casualties per day on average (100,000/510). Doesn't that seem a high to anyone? How many stories have we read in the last 17 months where approx. 200 civilians were killed in one day? They should be common unless there were a few very above average days.

I am becoming more and more convinced this report is too significantly flawed to provide any meaningful conclusions.

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Everard
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Kaplan doesn't understand statistics, either, apparently, or what a gaussian distribution is.
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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
Deaths indirectly caused by the invasion are not considered.

From the website:
quote:
This includes civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation.
Sounds like they actually do consider those deaths.

quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
Deaths not reported to on-line media don't show up, and deaths only reported in non-English media don't show up either.

That would mean that about 4 in 5 civilian deaths were not reported in English media if we're to believe this 100,000 number. That sound reasonable to you? Anyone buy that?
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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
Kaplan doesn't understand statistics, either, apparently, or what a gaussian distribution is.

Maybe, but I bet Beth Osborne Daponte, senior research scholar at Yale University's Institution for Social and Policy Studies, who is quoted in the article and supports Kaplans conclusions does.

What do you think - she know what she's talking about or not?

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LetterRip
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I apologize, I was being overly harsh and impatient. I still don't have time to respond, I'm just taking a quick break. DonaldD and Ev appear to have covered most of the important stuff.

LetterRip

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DonaldD
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Gary notes that the iraqbodycount.net website states
quote:

This includes civilian deaths resulting from the breakdown in law and order, and deaths due to inadequate health care or sanitation.

My mistake - I missed that sentence in the intro. However, I strongly doubt that all or even most non-combat deaths, especially those of children, get reported in the media, so they would remain underreported using the electronic media as the single source of information.

As for Kaplan, he takes issue with a couple of things. Let's start with the surveyed mortality rate. Daponte suggests that a 5/1000 annual rate is too low (it may very well be so) so the touted increase is likely less. However, this ignores the point that the pre-war numbers were used as a control, both for recall as well as for the specific families being questioned. In the absence of recall bias, under-reporting would be consistent for the 2 time periods. The author of the Lancet report does not ignore recall bias however, and he addresses it, especially as concerns infant mortality reporting.

Secondly, Kaplan makes the bizarre claim that, since some roads were closed or blocked, the researchers had to choose other, more accessible neighbourhoods. "the detour destroyed the survey's randomness; the results are inherently tainted." But this simply did not happen. The method of "clumping" governorates was discussed above, and it maintains randomness. In fact, once the clusters were selected "All 33 randomly selected locations (clusters) were visited and 988 households were chosen..." And if you recall "All clusters were assigned to Governorates without regard to any security considerations."

Mr. Kaplan does refer to Ms. Daponte in regards to the credibility of the study. However, she is only reported (by Mr. Kaplan) as stating 2 things: 1) the mortality rate prior to the war is likely too low (even she doesn't have real numbers, as there were no surveys done in the 4 years preceding the invasion) and 2) She doesn't think that the methodology can provide credible estimates yet. This after reading the Lancet article, and discussing it with Mr. Kaplan, who, quite frankly, doesn't seem to understand. I hope he didn't tell her about the detours...

Regardless, Mr. Kaplan doesn't explain why she thinks it is not credible. We need to know, otherwise it's just another unsupported opinion.

Coincidentally, while looking up info on Ms. Daponte, I found this, originally published in the Boston Globe.

It refers to a study done by Ms. Daponte and published ~20 months after the end of hostilities in the first Gulf war. Excluding military deaths (56k), and deaths attributable to "internal post-war fighting" (35k Kurds, Shia) she estimated that 110,000 additional civilian deaths were caused by that invasion (after the first 20 months). Hmmm...

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Everard
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"We estimate there were 98,000 extra deaths (95% CI 8000-194 000) during the post-war period.

Readers who are accustomed to perusing statistical documents know what the set of numbers in the parentheses means. For the other 99.9 percent of you, I'll spell it out in plain English—which, disturbingly, the study never does. It means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000. (The number cited in plain language—98,000—is roughly at the halfway point in this absurdly vast range.)

This isn't an estimate. It's a dart board."

As posted above, its not a dartboard at all. The gaussian distribution will tell you exactly how probable each individual death total is. If you add everything up, you'll find that the highest density is clustered right aroudn 100,000 deaths.

The fact the range is so big, doesn't mean its a dartboard, it means that they don't have enough data to condense the gaussian at some point on their curve. A dartboard implies randomness, and from reading the article, I conclude that Kaplan is trying to sell the idea that 8,000 deaths is just as likely as 100,000 deaths. its not. 8000 is on the very outskirts of probability, with less then 1/10 of a percent chance that the total is within 1000 deaths of 8000. On the other hand, there's a fairly significant probability the death total is within 1000 deaths of 100,000.

Further, Kaplan never explains "t means that the authors are 95 percent confident that the war-caused deaths totaled some number between 8,000 and 194,000," after mocking the people who did the survey for not explaining what they mean by a confidence index. If he wants to be honest in what the probability means, he needs to point out the above... that the vastly greater percentage probability of deaths is clustered around 100,000 deaths, and that the probability of either extreme being the case is unlikely.

This is what I mean when I say he doesn't understand statistics.

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Gary
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The numbers do not conform to common sense. If this 100,000+ is true, then where are the bodies? We should see news reports of mass casualties to achieve that approx 200 per day death rate.

The report says that 2/3 of the deaths occured in Fallujah. That would mean nearly 67,000 bodies in Fallujah. Typical ratio of dead to wounded in bombings (as the report claims most deaths resulted from) are 3:1. That means about 200,000 would have been wounded. (The report excludes Fallujah in arriving at 100,000 so my number would actually be much higher but stay with me)

It's not that big of a city - only a town of almost 500,000 people. So if we are to believe this study and work from the assumption that nobody fled the city (a bad assumption), over half of the citizens of Fallujah are dead or wounded. That is obviously not the case or bodies would be piling up in the streets.

quote:
The fact the range is so big, doesn't mean its a dartboard, it means that they don't have enough data to condense the gaussian at some point on their curve.
It means their sample was way too small to determine anything. What's that make the margin of error?

quote:
...there's a fairly significant probability the death total is within 1000 deaths of 100,000.
What is "fairly significant" and how do you calculate it? You seem to have a handle on the stats, what's the standard deviation?
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Everard
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As posted above, the standard deviation is about 46000. As I said, yes, their sample size is too small, or there are other errors, that don't allow them to condense the gaussian around a more accurate number.

"Fairly significant" is several percent, in this case. I don't really want to crunch numbers to fit their data to a gaussian to find what the exact percentage is.

For those who would like to see what a gaussian distribution looks like,
http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/math/gaufcn.html

Again, there is a 68.3% probability from their data that the deaths fall between 50000-150000 deaths, and a 27.2% chance the deaths fall between 8000-50,000 and 150,000-200,000, total. THere is a 5% chance that the deaths falls outside their specified range. Thats what this data means... it doesn't mean there is a dartboard, it doesn't mean the data is useless, it doesn't mean that there's an equal probability of each death total between 8000 and 194000.

[ October 31, 2004, 07:43 AM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Godot
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Have I gone through the looking glass? (Perhaps I should post that as a new thread.)

In answer to my original question which was, “How many Iraqis must die before the ends does NOT justify the means?”, Redskullvw answered,

quote:
Originally posted by Redskullvw:
Godot
Well we have uncovered 500,000 graves and mass graves so far. So even if this study is accurate, we still have 400,000 Iraqi civilians to go before we have to answer that question.

And ED, you agree with him, it seems.

quote:
Originally posted by EDanaII:
So, even if that report is true -- and I doubt it -- then yes, as Redskull points out, it was worth it.
Ed.

So your argument for this war is that as long as we don’t kill MORE people than a horrendously vicious dictator, it’s all good.

I couldn’t disagree more and I think that is an immoral viewpoint.

quote:
Originally posted by EDanaII:
Even the most of the Iraqi people seem to agree on that point. That it was worth it, that is.
Ed.

ED, I seriously doubt that is true.

Has the poll that (I assume) is the basis of your statement undergone the same rigorous analysis of methodology as the statistic from this thread? I’ve seen similar polls and they told me nothing about their process and left me with no way to judge their veracity. I would be very interested to find out how a poll is conducted in a country where 25% to 50% of the country is a no-go zone. (Here is an interesting read that touches on this topic: http://www.poynter.org/column.asp?id=45&aid=72659.)

Finally, I will never accept a plan for Iraqi freedom whose central tenet is: you will be free no matter how many of you we have to kill.

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DonaldD
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quote:
If this 100,000+ is true, then where are the bodies? We should see news reports of mass casualties to achieve that approx 200 per day death rate- Gary
I think I see the misunderstanding - the report measures not just casualties, but the increase in the total death rate. Of those 180/day, many will be health or accident-related - indistinguishable from "regular" deaths except in their increased frequency. To say "this heart attack" or "this particular murder" was caused by the invasion, and "this one wasn't" is almost impossible.

It should be noted that, while these putative 180 additional deaths per day were occurring, another 360 deaths not attributable to the invasion were also occurring.

quote:
The report says that 2/3 of the deaths occured in Fallujah. - Gary
Yes. 2/3 of the deaths counted during the investigation occurred in the Falluja cluster.
quote:
That would mean nearly 67,000 bodies in Fallujah. - Gary
No. Wrong. The number can only be used on its own to provide an idea of the death rate in Falluja itself. That’s like taking a similar survey in 10 American cities, extrapolating a national death rate, but then concluding that all deaths country-wide have occurred exclusively in those 10 cities. Personally, I would like to live elsewhere.

You also speak of the assumption that nobody left the city, and (correctly IMO) suggest that this is unlikely. But wait! The report mentions that Falluja was the only cluster where there were households where “all household members were dead or gone away.” Sounds like an exodus to me. [Smile]

But what would be the effect of a Falluja exodus? Assuming a fairly constant risk of increased death since the invasion, those who left Falluja earlier would have been less likely to have experienced a death in their household. Those still resident would be most likely to have suffered. So, if you were to apply the 53 deaths (and its ratio to the surveyed household population in the Falluja cluster) to anything, it would have to be to the current population of Falluja, not to a pre-war population, and certainly not to the Iraqi population in total. On the other hand, what if those empty houses signified, not an exodus, but a massive number of deaths? Maybe the remaining population actually under-reported the actual deaths. Luckily, on pages 6 and 7 the author addresses these issues, and further uses this to justify excluding the Falluja outlier.

At any rate, a survey population of only 30 households is just not broad enough to provide any kind of confidence. These numbers shouldn’t be used to generalize anything.

Now, one might argue that, since Falluja is so obviously wrong, other clusters could also be just as wrong but are still included. Could be. That’s why the standard deviation is so large. But on the other hand, the author also identified at least one cluster which probably under-reported deaths (Sadr city, with no reported deaths!) but that cluster was still included. Are there inaccuracies? Certainly. Are they all on one side or the other? Probably not.

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EDanaII
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Godot
quote:
So your argument for this war is that as long as we don’t kill MORE people than a horrendously vicious dictator, it’s all good.
No, Godot. I my argument is, to quote you:
quote:
... I believe sometimes harm can lead to greater good. I would even stipulate that killing can be the lesser of two evils.
If some must die so that others might live, so be it. And don't forget that this 100,000 thousand number is highly doubtful.

quote:
I couldn’t disagree more and I think that is an immoral viewpoint.
I'm getting the impression you're not sure what viewpoint it is you are disagreeing with.

quote:
ED, I seriously doubt that is true.

Has the poll that (I assume) is the basis of your statement undergone the same rigorous analysis of methodology as the statistic from this thread? I’ve seen similar polls and they told me nothing about their process and left me with no way to judge their veracity. I would be very interested to find out how a poll is conducted in a country where 25% to 50% of the country is a no-go zone.

Why don't you tell me? Here's the ABC News poll
quote:
U.S.-Led Invasion Views
Sunni Arabs Shiite Arabs Kurds
Right 24% 51% 87%
Wrong 63 35 9
Liberated Iraq 21 43 82
Humiliated Iraq 66 37 11

Was the ABC news poll any more or less scientific than the one being discussed? Dunno.

Sometimes it's a matter of who you wanna believe.

quote:
Finally, I will never accept a plan for Iraqi freedom whose central tenet is: you will be free no matter how many of you we have to kill.
Is that our plan? Or is that your spin on our plan?

Remember, this 100 thousand number is still highly debatable.

Ed.

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canadian
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A very real question for those who throw about lines like, "If some must die so that others might live, so be it."

What if that "some" was your child or spouse? Your own mom or brother. Just take a minute here. Get out of theory and just sit. Feel it.

There is such a thing as the value and dignity of human life. While it may be more palatable to think of these deaths as numbers and statistics, there is a very real person who suffered. There are very real families who suffer.

Imagine the fear of a child as she watches her blood flowing out of her body; a mother who cannot pick up her baby in the final moments of her life because one of her arms has been torn off by falling debris.


Someone might say, "Well they died under Saddam, too."

Well, congratulations. At least the horrors the US visits on those people will (theoretically) lead to a Western version of "Freedom". I guess that's as good a reason as any to give to a grieving father who comes home to find that he must gather his child's flesh from the wreckage of his former home.

I guess it would be great comfort to tap him on the shoulder and say, "Hey, man. If you're gonna make an omelette, you gotta break a few eggs. Welcome to Freedom, where's my candy and flowers?"

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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:

At any rate, a survey population of only 30 households is just not broad enough to provide any kind of confidence. These numbers shouldn’t be used to generalize anything.

That's what I'm saying, the report sample is too small for the conclusions they reach. But not only that, the methedology they used is flawed as well. Cluster sampling is notoriously problematic. Add to this that the way the data was collected, a household survey relying on self-reporting using limited verification (e.g. not asking for or seeing death certificates) opens up even more opporutnity to skew the results.

Now we also have an admitted political motivation of the researchers. Coming out so blatantly partisan taints the report.

This was not properly peer reviewed IMHO. One post I read regarding this sums it up:
quote:
As an author of papers published in peer-reviewed journals, I was struck by the extraordinarily compressed time-line of this publication. Readers outside the biomedical fields might consider what the peer-review process involved:

1. Data were collected in September 2004, and the authors had completed compilation, statistical analysis, drafting of text, artwork, and proofreading in order to submit their work in the form of a for-publication draft manuscript (MS) to the Lancet Editor.

2. The Editor read the MS, chose peer-reviewers, had the reviewers comment on the MS, evaluated these comments, passed his/her favorable judgement on the MS to the authors, with any suggestions for necessary or advisable revisions.

3. The authors revised the MS and resubmitted it.

4. The Editor and perhaps the peer-reviewers reviewed and approved the revised text and figures. The MS files were sent to the Lancet's copy editors for proofreading and digital typesetting. Author queries were generated and sent to the lead author, and the responses incorporated into the typeset version. Finally, the complete manuscript, ready for printing, was published on the Lancet's website.

Four to eight weeks is an unusually short time for a high-impact journal such as the Lancet to bring such an article into print. I would doubt that Lancet, JAMA, Nature, BMJ, Science, or similar high-prestige journals have ever compressed their review and publication schedule in such a drastic manner."

Clearly it was rushed through the process. A proper peer review should be conducted.

Borrwing from the link post again: We have a group of researchers who claim to have followed standard research practices, only they didn't. They claim to have found statistically valid results, only they didn't. Then we have a scientific journal that claims to have followed standard practices of peer review before publication, only it is very clear they did not.

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Godot
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canadian,

I deeply appreciate your post. Empathy too often gets lost when dealing with sterile statistics that represent people’s lives.

ED,

I think I am now confused about what was or wasn't your argument.

So I will only reiterate my position: That we have no right to choose for the Iraqis who should die and for what cause.

(Rhetorically, would the U.S. have rejoiced if another nation invaded us during the heyday of slavery because our government was obviously corrupt to allow such an abominable practice?)

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DonaldD
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quote:
At any rate, a survey population of only 30 households is just not broad enough to provide any kind of confidence. These numbers shouldn’t be used to generalize anything. - DonaldD

That's what I'm saying, the report sample is too small for the conclusions they reach - Gary

Except the 30 Falluja houesholds are not supposed to be taken on their own. This cluster is only one among 32 other neighbourhoods, none of which are relevant on their own, but when taken in total provide the distribution that Ev discusses above. It's as if Gallup took a survey using 33 telephone interviewers, and you argued against the findings because any particular interviewer only did 30 calls. "Look - John only did 30 calls - the whole survey is not statistically reliable."

Anyway, the report excluded Falluja from its major findings so continuing to harp on that cluster is silly.

As for the verifications - as was discussed earlier, yes, there was room for bias there. However, written documentation was requested in every single cluster (in 1/15th of the households). This verification was done only after the interview, so the responses were not skewed by this requirement. But still, in 80% of the deaths, death certificates were provided. That the interviewers felt that the other 20% could also have furnished proof I won't comment on. Still, 80% of the ~7% chosen is not insignificant. It is, however, one reason that the standard deviation is as large as it is.

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vulture
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quote:
Originally posted by Gary:

The numbers do not conform to common sense. If this 100,000+ is true, then where are the bodies? We should see news reports of mass casualties to achieve that approx 200 per day death rate.

In the US in 2003 there were just over 42,000 people killed on the roads. That's about 115 per day. How many reports of road deaths did you see on the news that year? Far less than 100 per day I'd suggest. You do tend to hear about particularly big crashes (mass pile-ups where many people die), or 'noteworthy' ones ('Sports star Joe Bloggs died today when his SUV hit a tree after a tireblew out').

If (as a supposition) many deaths in Iraq are one or two people in isolated incidents, you wouldn't really expect the news reports to spend an hour every day mentioning every single one, even if they knew about them all. We only here about the big events (car bomb kills 50), or other newsworthy events (attacks in the supposedly secure green zone, deaths of Iraqi government officials, politically significant attacks). We're never going to hear about two kids playing out in the countryside (30 miles form the nearest convenient reporter) who stumble across an unexploded cluster bomb.

And if you doubt just how much deaths can be underreported, just bear the road traffic deaths in mind, and how few of the 115 killed per day (or 2-3 per day in your state (on average) ) you ever hear about. And the case of deaths throught Iraq is more comparable to counting road deaths reported in the national media, rather than local sources.


quote:


That's what I'm saying, the report sample is too small for the conclusions they reach.

Actually, if they've done their job correctly (which they appear to have), then by definition their sample is exactly the right size for the conclusions, as long as their conclusions are that their extrapolated number of deaths is a probability curve that is approximately Gaussian, mean of 98,000, sigma of 46,000 (very roughly). It's not really their fault if people don't understand what statistical data mean.

And for comparison with the Iraqi Body Count project. Firstly, as others have said, the IBC number is essentially the absolute lowest possible number of deaths, since they are only dealing with deaths reported in English language media. A similar approach to road deaths would lead to much lower numbers than actually exists. Secondly, even if you took the IBC number as definitive all you could reasonably say was that the two values are consistent with each other, within experimental uncertainties. If you regard the IBC number for what it is (a lower limit) then that is obviously even more the case - in fact the IBC number serves to constrain the death toll slightly, since although this new report allows numbers BELOW 8,000 (with 2.5% probability), the IBC data rules out any numbers below 14,000.

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Gary
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"In the US in 2003 there were just over 42,000 people killed on the roads. That's about 115 per day. How many reports of road deaths did you see on the news that year?"

And how many reporters are crawling all over the US looking to discredit the Bush administration's policies over automotive use? How many in Iraq?

How big is the US compared to Iraq?

You're not making a valid comparison here.

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Everard
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The problem that both of you are overlooking, is that this report isn't combat deaths... its how the death rate compares to prior to the invasion. If the death rate is up significantly, which the claim is that it is, that means health and infrastructure are breaking down. It doesn't mean people are dying by violence, although many people are, which is part of what we do see in Iraq, the body count of 14,000 for example.
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vulture
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It's not a rigorous comparison (and I don't think it's an unqualified fact that all, or most, reporters are seeking to discredit Bush). It's an example of one reason that many deaths could go unreported by the media: a daily tally of 50 different incidents around Iraq, with casualty numbers for each isn't something that most newspapers are terribly likely to print. Never mind the fact that reporters don't have that much freedom to travel around Iraq these days (mostly due to fear of kidnapping), particularly to the insurgent hotspots where the majority of deaths are occurring (by definition).

It's the nature of journalism these days to play the 'human interest' angle of reporting the story of a single family in depth (which readers can emotionally respond to) rather than a shopping list of casualties (which readers tend to ignore and detach from very quickly).

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EDanaII
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@ Canadian
quote:
Well, congratulations. At least the horrors the US visits on those people will (theoretically) lead to a Western version of "Freedom". I guess that's as good a reason as any to give to a grieving father who comes home to find that he must gather his child's flesh from the wreckage of his former home.
So, it's OK to let them continue dying under Saddam than it is to give them a chance at life away from Saddam?

Such brilliant logic.


@ Godot

quote:
That we have no right to choose for the Iraqis who should die and for what cause.
This is a false premise.

We are not chosing which Iraqis will live or die. We are giving Iraqis a chance at life. And the number in question is still highly doubtful.

Ed.

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canadian
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No, Ed, I never said that. Those words you're trying to cram down my throat? They're not mine.
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canadian
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Explain this logic to me:

Hey Iraqis! We know you suffered under Saddam, but with our plan, you suffer more, more people die, we destabilise your country, but guess what?

One day, when there is no more resistance, you will have democracy! When? Why January, of course! Don't you remember how good it got back in June when we handed over sovereignty to our handpicked government for you? It's pretty sweet now, right? Less death and terror now, isn't there?

Oh yeah, we'll also torture and dehumanize your men, and 90% of our prisoners will be taken at random from your city streets. Remember when we allowed thousands of years of human history to be looted from your museums? Or when we failed to secure a massive munitions dump? Or when we drove tens of thousands of your fellow citizens to join the resistance in fighting us? Good times! You never would have enjoyed all this under Saddam.

Now, you may argue that we should have had a better plan for peace, or that we should have made this a NATO effort, or even that we should have left you alone and dealt with some real threats, but dude, freedom is on the march!

Can you feel it?

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EDanaII
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You sure DO love that hyperbole. [Smile]

Ed.

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