Monday, October 16, 2006

Iraq Body Count rejects Lancet Report

The anti-war monitoring group Iraq Body Count has a issued a detailed press release rubbishing the recent Lancet study on mortality in Iraq. Here's the summary (hat tip Lopakhin):
A new study has been released by the Lancet medical journal estimating over 650,000 excess deaths in Iraq. The Iraqi mortality estimates published in the Lancet in October 2006 imply, among other things, that:
1. On average, a thousand Iraqis have been violently killed every single day in the first half of 2006, with less than a tenth of them being noticed by any public surveillance mechanisms;
2. Some 800,000 or more Iraqis suffered blast wounds and other serious conflict-related injuries in the past two years, but less than a tenth of them received any kind of hospital treatment;
3. Over 7% of the entire adult male population of Iraq has already been killed in violence, with no less than 10% in the worst affected areas covering most of central Iraq;
4. Half a million death certificates were received by families which were never officially recorded as having been issued;
5. The Coalition has killed far more Iraqis in the last year than in earlier years containing the initial massive "Shock and Awe" invasion and the major assaults on Falluja.
If these assertions are true, they further imply:
* incompetence and/or fraud on a truly massive scale by Iraqi officials in hospitals and ministries, on a local, regional and national level, perfectly coordinated from the moment the occupation began;
* bizarre and self-destructive behaviour on the part of all but a small minority of 800,000 injured, mostly non-combatant, Iraqis;
* the utter failure of local or external agencies to notice and respond to a decimation of the adult male population in key urban areas;
* an abject failure of the media, Iraqi as well as international, to observe that Coalition-caused events of the scale they reported during the three-week invasion in 2003 have been occurring every month for over a year.
In the light of such extreme and improbable implications, a rational alternative conclusion to be considered is that the authors have drawn conclusions from unrepresentative data. In addition, totals of the magnitude generated by this study are unnecessary to brand the invasion and occupation of Iraq a human and strategic tragedy.
That last line highlights the fact that IBC has no desire to play down the number of deaths in Iraq.

Here are a couple of extracts. IBC on car bombs:
Lancet estimates 150 people to have died from car bombs alone, on average, every day during June 2005-June 2006. IBC's database of deadly car bomb incidents shows they kill 7-8 people on average. Lancet's estimate corresponds to about 20 car bombs per day, all but one or two of which fail to be reported by the media. Yet car bombs fall well within the earlier-mentioned category of incidents which average 6 unique reports on them.

'Baghdad-weighting' of media reports, even if applicable to car bombs, is unlikely to account for this level of under-reporting, as half of the car bombs IBC has recorded have been outside Baghdad. The Pentagon, which has every reason to highlight the lethality of car bombs to Iraqis, records, on average, two to three car-bombings per day throughout Iraq, including those hitting only its own forces or causing no casualties, for the period in question.
IBC on the Lancet's pre-war death rate:
First, despite the confidence with which the Lancet authors make the assertion, the natural death rate of 5/1,000/year is not an established fact for Iraq in 2002. It is one estimate, a projection or extrapolation from some smaller set of known data. It may be correct, or it may not be, and there can be considerable room for debate on the matter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

And it's not the first time Lancet have come up against the wall AND had their report rejected:,,2-1658807,00.html.
Hat-tip Barcepundit.

JD in Oslo

8:32 pm  
Blogger Squander Two said...

I wonder whether IBC now have to put up with Dsquared calling them ignorant idiots and swearing at them.

9:53 am  
Blogger DFH said...

Squander Two - I wonder whether IBC now have to put up with Dsquared calling them ignorant idiots and swearing at them.

"Do you know who I am, you morons?"

11:43 am  

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