The latest silly estimate comes from a new study in the British medical journal Lancet, which absurdly estimates that since March 2003 exactly 654,965 Iraqis have died as a consequence of American action. The study uses extremely loose methods of estimation, including attributing about half its total to “unknown causes.” The study also commits the logical offense of multiplying a series of estimates, then treating the result as precise. White House officials have dismissed the Lancet study, and they should. It’s gibberish.
Here’s what the study actually says:
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 2Â·5% of the population in the study area.
It does not say that the number is exactly 654,965 but gives a range. How could even someone as useless as Easterbrook get this wrong?
Nor does the study attribute half the deaths to “unknown causes”. It breaks the numbers down several different ways. One of them is whether a violent was caused by the coalition or other parties. In half of the cases the respondent did not know which side was repsonsible. This is not attributing half the deaths to “unknown causes”.
Probably the stupidest person in professional pundtry is Gregg Easterbrook. He’s exhibit A for “too stupid to know he’s stupid” and more than that he’s too stupid to understand that there are people who know things that he doesn’t, and more than that he’s so stupid that he sets himself up as an authority about things he has absolutely zero comprehension of. It’d be comical except he’s helping to make even more people as stupid as he is and what we don’t need right now is even more stupid people.