NC Media Watch

A quest for reason and accuracy in letters to the editor, guest editorials and other issues of interest to the citizens of Western Nevada County.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Lancet article often quoted by the left fails math test.

Left leaning letter writers are always quoting a Lancet study. Here is an update.

The three finalists for a prestigious Dutch journalism prize all consisted of investigative journalistic articles. One was about global warming hoax. One about food and health. And, one criticizing the Lancet about the 100,000 civilian victims in Iraq. The Iraq article was a runner up article, to the Global Warming winner. Journalist found the Lancet article was rushed to publication with out peer review, using a very small population, then forecast the deaths. It was a political set up in time to influence the US Presidential election. The UN did their own survey, with a larger population, and found the number civilians killed to be between 23,589 and 26,705. This is far less that the often quoted 100,000 by the left. A small percentage of the 400,000 to 600,000 that Saddam murdered and buried in mass graves.

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Blogger Frederic Christie said...

Yes, except that UN resolution required the UN, NOT the US unilterally, to determine compliance or non-compliance. Since there were no WMDs, the US was NEVER justified. More to the point, even if there had been WMDs, those resolutions had been forced down the UN'S throat by US power (remember: if Iraq had a seat at the Security Council, it technically would have been in violation of no UN resolutions); there are other laws against war crimes and crimes against humanity and peace (ever heard of Nuremberg and Geneva?); and, to quote Grief, "Even if the Security Council authorises the use of force, it will still be illegal. In addition there is a body of opinion that not only would Blair and Bush be violating the UN charter by going to war but they may already be violating the Nuremberg charter of 1945 in their preparations for war."

Your 400,000-600,000 statistic is, of course, on our doorstep as well, since Saddam did that as well, not mention tens of thousands of deaths of the Ba'ath Party's doing thanks to CIA lists given them. Not to mention that the 100,000, or 23,000, statistic would be during only a few years of rule. Figure that Saddam ruled for 23 years. That's 26086.956521739130434782608695652 per year. Now let's take 23,000 over 3 years. That's still 7666. But if the number is 100,000, then it becomes 33,333.3_, or much higher than Saddam's.

Add to that the sanctions and DU deaths, which may range from 1 to 4 million, and Saddam seems like small change.

Plus you are simply wrong about the Lancet report.

"I asked the Lancet report's lead author, Les Roberts, one of the world's most prestigious epidemiologists, to comment on Dejevsky's criticisms.

The Puzzled Epidemiologist

In his response, Roberts wrote that Dejevsky was wrong even to talk in terms of the report's "extrapolation technique" - the team had sampled, not extrapolated, data. As for the idea that the sample was "small", Robertscommented:

"This is most puzzling? 142 post-invasion deaths in 988 households is a lot of deaths, and for the setting, a lot of interviews. In 1993, when the US Centers for Disease Control randomly called 613 households in Milwaukee and concluded that 403,000 people had developed Cryptosporidium in the largest outbreak ever recorded in the developed world, no one said that 613 households was not a big enough sample."

It is indeed puzzling. In 2000 Roberts began the first of three surveys in Congo for the International Rescue Committee in which he used methods akin to those of his Iraq study. Roberts' first survey estimated that 1.7 million people had died in Congo over 22 months of armed conflict. As Roberts says, the reaction could not have been more different:

"Tony Blair and Colin Powell quoted those results time and time again without any question as to the precision or validity."

Indeed, within a month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that all foreign armies must leave Congo, and later that year, the United Nations called for $140 million in aid to the country, more than doubling its previous annual request. Later, citing the study, the US State Department announced a pledge of an additional $10 million for emergency programmes in Congo.

And yet, remarkably, in October 2004, the Daily Mail reported "growing anger in Washington and London" at "the methods used to compile" Roberts' Iraq report - essentially the same methods that had been used in Congo. "

I can add to this that the commonly bandied about 2 million number for Pol Pot's atrocities may be false by 3 orders of magnitude, yet Ponchaud's defense that the 'general picture' remains the same was defended eagerly.

And here's more from the same article to prove my claim that the Lancet report is actually CONSERVATIVE:

""There are now at least 8 independent estimates of the number or rate of deaths induced by the invasion of Iraq. The source most favored by the war proponents ( is the lowest. Our estimate is the third from highest. Four of the estimates place the death toll above 100,000."

In your case, of course, I CAN say that the 23,000 deaths statistic you cite is still far too much, ESPECIALLY since you're still APOLOGIZING for those deaths in the manner of an outright Nazi.

Wed Oct 12, 02:45:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Frederic Christie said...

Sorry, first part got cut.

You and your conservative buddies have a remarkable ability to not read letters. Let me quote you some vital parts: “A letter-writer alleged that there probably were in fact WMDs. I fail to see why conservatives would argue this fact, because that would mean that, in fact, those weapons were looted and sold on the black market, as credible reports argued. But let us explore the WMD issues in terms of the risk calculation the administration would have used had it cared about security.
It is a logical impossibility to prove the negative. It was the administration's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that WMDs were there...They used the testimony of Hussein Kamal as justification, but Kamal was unequivocal that, to the best of his knowledge, no WMDs were left. Using and developing WMDs requires an infrastructure that no one plausibly alleged was available to Iraq... Moreover, the existence of WMDs did not mean that the Bush strategy was the only or best one: Inspections were superior, and even doing nothing would not have led to looting.”
In response, you and the other two commentators conceded the looting argument (sort of the point of my letter), conceded the Hussein Kamal argument, conceded the infrastructure argument, conceded that inspections were a superior alternative, conceded that not invading was also a superior alternative, offered the SUPPORTING EVIDENCE for my point about Kuwait and Iran by saying that Saddam invaded them (my point was precisely that Kuwait and Iran had every reason to be scared of Saddam circa 2002 and they were not, because Saddam's military was a joke), and focused on one sentence: My last bit about illegality, 100,000 deaths, etc. You can pick and choose your ground to attack your opponents, but doesn't this smack of UTTER DISHONESTY? To focus on one sentence at the end of the letter instead of THE ARGUMENTS OF THE LETTER?

Wed Oct 12, 02:46:00 PM PDT  

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