Les Roberts on Deaths in Iraq

Les Roberts in the Independent:

On both sides of the Atlantic, a process of spinning science is preventing a serious discussion about the state of affairs in Iraq.

The government in Iraq claimed last month that since the 2003 invasion between 40,000 and 50,000 violent deaths have occurred. Few have pointed out the absurdity of this statement.


There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems simply ridiculous.

Secondly, there have to be at least 120,000 and probably 140,000 deaths per year from natural causes in a country with the population of Iraq. The numerous stories we hear about overflowing morgues, the need for new cemeteries and new body collection brigades are not consistent with a 10 per cent rise in death rate above the baseline.

And finally, there was a study, peer-reviewed and published in The Lancet, Europe’s most prestigious medical journal, which put the death toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I co-authored, was done by the standard cluster approach used by the UN to estimate mortality in dozens of countries each year. While the findings are imprecise, the lower range of possibilities suggested that the Iraq government was at least downplaying the number of dead by a factor of 10.

There are several reasons why the governments involved in this conflict have been able to confuse the issue of Iraqi deaths. Our Lancet report involved sampling and statistical analysis, which is rather dry reading. Media reports always miss most deaths in times of war, so the estimate by the media-based monitoring system, Iraqbodycount.org (IBC) roughly corresponds with the Iraq government’s figures. Repeated evaluations of deaths identified from sources independent of the press and the Ministry of Health show the IBC listing to be less than 10 per cent complete, but because it matches the reports of the governments involved, it is easily referenced.

Comments

  1. #1 Tim Curtin
    February 15, 2007

    Les Roberts is NOT a reliable source.

    1. The Lancet is NOT Europe’s most prestigious medical journal, in English we have the BMJ and in French etc there are similar that a yankee like Les would refuse to read both on principle and because he cannot (any more than he can speak Arabic).

    2. Cluster analyis is NOT “the standard approach used by the UN to estimate mortality”. Roberts has shown repeatedly both that he has never heard of the WHO and as here that he is unaware that WHO is a UN agency which produced life tables for Iraq before the invasion that did NOT involve cluster analysis. The WHO data reduce his “excess deaths” by at least 50% (even before adjusting for his inflated CIA population data)

    3. Roberts chose to use fictitious estimates of the population pre the invasion by the CIA and UNDP rather than those of the WHO. If he had ever been a serious academic it would have been incumbent on him to at least give reasons why the WHO’s mortality rate for Iraq pre-invasion (9.26 in 2001 as against his thumbsuck 5.5) was invalid.

    4. It is precisely because the Lancet’s non-existent peer reviewers had never heard of the WHO and its life tables for Iraq that the Lancet is NOT anything more than an activist rather than scientific journal.

    5. If indeed there are Roberts’ 140,000 violent deaths in Iraq every year (and despite their best efforts the Sunni and Shia have yet to get close), that means c.380 a day. Why have the world’s media, including al-Jazeera (aka ABC, BBC, SBS, etc) NEVER reported a death toll of 380 on ANY single day? (Hint: the Sunni/Shia much prefer the big bombs in market places and mosques that are noticed even by al Jazeera/CNN than drive by shootings that rarely get reported and therefore lack marketing utility).

    6. Roberts’ study ignores the daily exodus of 1,000 a day (365,000 p.a. or more than double his excess deaths) from Iraq (source: al Jazeera/BBC, 15 Feb 2007) which reduces the inflated figure for the population that he uses to gross up from his out of date and dubious clusters.

  2. #2 sleepy
    February 15, 2007

    As for Tim’s polemic:

    1. is arguable, as Tim suggests

    2. Tim is wrong, the context is of course areas of conflict where Roberts is exactly right that cluster sampling is what’s used

    3. Wrong, the survey produced its own estimates from its own data (I believe)

    4. Go away Tim you’re painful to listen to

    5. They’re excess deaths Tim, not all of them violent

    6. Precisely how much statistical effect does the exodus have at the moment Tim, and how has the rate of exodus varied over the period of the war? If you do the arithmetic and get it right you’ll find that you’re mistaken about the size of the effect Tim – it’s insignificant

  3. #3 Robert
    February 15, 2007

    Tim Curtin claimed:

    2. Cluster analyis is NOT “the standard approach used by the UN to estimate mortality”. [...] WHO is a UN agency which produced life tables for Iraq before the invasion that did NOT involve cluster analysis.

    Hmmm. Have you mentioned this to the WHO? Because their own document “Life Tables for 191 Countries: Data, Methods, and Results” cite several cluster surveys as their sources.

  4. #4 Robert
    February 15, 2007

    Tim Curtin also wrote:

    4. [...] the Lancet’s non-existent peer reviewers

    Have you mentioned this to Sheila Bird and to Bushra Ibrahim Al-Rubeyi? Because their reviews appeared in the *same* Lancet issue as the Roberts article and they might be interested in knowing that they don’t exist.

  5. #5 Robert
    February 15, 2007

    Tim Curtin wrote:

    3. Roberts chose to use fictitious estimates of the population pre the invasion by the CIA and UNDP rather than those of the WHO

    First, you wrote just a few sentences earlier that the WHO is a UN agency. Second, they didn’t use anyone else’s estimate of pre-invasion mortality: these were cohort studies.

  6. #6 Robert
    February 15, 2007

    Tim C., have I told you before that you’re a hack? I think I have but I just wanted to make sure.

  7. #7 mark
    February 15, 2007

    You know, Tim C is right in everything he says. The Lancet figure is rubbish, there are no excess deaths, and that means that the Iraq war is a resounding success.

  8. #8 Ian Gould
    February 15, 2007

    Tim C: “The Lancet is NOT Europe’s most prestigious medical journal, in English we have the BMJ and in French etc there are similar that a yankee like Les would refuse to read both on principle and because he cannotany more than he can speak Arabic).”

    Well, Tim, since you don;t suffer from the terrible handicap of being American (funny I thought it was the lefties who were “anti-American”)I’m sure you can nominate the leading non-English-language medical journals in “France etc.” and link to an authoritative analysis of their respective rankings.

    Tim C “Roberts chose to use fictitious estimates of the population pre the invasion by the CIA and UNDP rather than those of the WHO. If he had ever been a serious academic it would have been incumbent on him to at least give reasons why the WHO’s mortality rate for Iraq pre-invasion (9.26 in 2001 as against his thumbsuck 5.5) was invalid.”

    You know, Tim, if you’re going to toss around accusations of dishonesty you might want to avoid claiming that 9.26 was the average for the five years ending in 2001 – during which time the sanctions regime was relaxed significantly.

    “If indeed there are Roberts’ 140,000 violent deaths in Iraq every year (and despite their best efforts the Sunni and Shia have yet to get close), that means c.380 a day. Why have the world’s media, including al-Jazeera (aka ABC, BBC, SBS, etc) NEVER reported a death toll of 380 on ANY single day? (Hint: the Sunni/Shia much prefer the big bombs in market places and mosques that are noticed even by al Jazeera/CNN than drive by shootings that rarely get reported and therefore lack marketing utility).”

    So Tim you maintain that the entirity of Iraq is a peaceful paradise punctuated only by those events which actually make it to the western media.

    Tell me Tim, what proportion of the one million plus dead in the Congo made it to the western press?

    How about the Bosnian civil war, what proportion of the total fatalities there were represented by the Srebrenica massacre, virtually the only such event to attract significant western coverage?

    But of course in the Curtinverse there are several hundred thousand members of the Vast Left Wing Press conspiracy in Iraq so eager to besmirch the glorious search for a Final Solution to the Arab Problem that when they aren’t paying the insurgents to carry out attacks they’re probably conducting them themselves.

    Here’s a quick experiment for you, Tim, monitor what proportion of American casualties in a given week occur in the provinces of Anbar and Diyala. Then look at the proportion of REPORTED Iraqi deaths from those same provinces.

  9. #9 Ian Gould
    February 15, 2007

    “You know, Tim C is right in everything he says. The Lancet figure is rubbish, there are no excess deaths, and that means that the Iraq war is a resounding success.”

    Mark that’s true and it’s only because the media is completely controlled by communists and traitors that our forces glorious victories on the Malabar Front don;t get the coverage they deserve.

    But those traitors will get their’s on the Day of the Rope.

    Right, Tim?

  10. #10 Tim Curtin
    February 15, 2007

    Robert: until you disclose who you are, and I suspect you are a sock puppet for the gross Les, let’s not waste time on further discourse, other than to note that my dear friends in UNDP (a UN agency) have more reason to exaggerate the population of Iraq than WHO, which does have some professionalism, unlike you and your clone Les.

  11. #11 JB
    February 15, 2007

    Tim Curtin: “Les Roberts is NOT a reliable source.”

    When you can’t undermine the message, attack the messenger.

    Pathetic.

  12. #12 Robert
    February 15, 2007

    Tim C wrote:

    Robert: until you disclose who you are [...] let’s not waste time on further discourse

    How soon they forget: I’m the guy who’s not a hack.

  13. #13 Buster
    February 15, 2007

    Tim, you sockpuppet of the wrong.

    Your point #3 is absolutely wrong, well challenged, and undefended. I see no reason to waste time on further discourse.

    Buster (a nom de plume of someone named Dave)

  14. #14 Kilo
    February 15, 2007

    I don’t know who this “Les” guy is but if even by his non-presence he can render the issue of how many hundred thousand people have met violent deaths moot he certainly must be someone special.
    A wizard perhaps.
    Making people’s passion for defense of the integrity of statistics disappear with the wave of an unseen hand. Credibility too.

    Damn you Les !!! Damn you and your magical powers!!! You have thwarted your last non-sensical, misinterpreted objection to blatantly obvious, observable facts!!!

  15. #15 Kilo
    February 15, 2007

    Oooooh I get it. It’s the same “Les” that wrote the article. He’s assumed that the only explanation for someone pointing out he got a bunch of facts wrong and misinterpreted what the article was stating was that it must be the author himself. Closely monitoring random comments on blogs and responding within the hour. Thaaaat.
    That’s a good look.

    You know, when everyone was debating whether Pluto should be regarded as a planet I got the distinct impression Steven Hawking was stalking me. Because you know, I’m insane like that.

  16. #16 JB
    February 15, 2007

    Robert: until you disclose who you are, and I suspect you are a sock puppet for the gross Les,”

    I’m trying to figure out if that’s an insult or not.

    Grossles?

    Were they people from middle earth? Like hobbits, perhaps?

  17. #17 Kevin Donoghue
    February 15, 2007

    Tim Curtin reminds me of the way little kids brought up in the city react to their first sight of a farm. They get milk out of cows? Yuck!

    Getting figures from surveys? That’s just GROSS!!

  18. #18 Alex
    February 15, 2007

    tim curtin is a perfect example of the sort of left-wing commies that have taken over our universities.

  19. #19 Tim Curtin
    February 15, 2007

    Dear all, though I am at a loss to fathom the vehemence of so many of your responses, reminiscent as they are of the feeling of Sunnis and Shiites towards each other.

    Why is it wrong to point out (1) that The Lancet study created its own benchmark from its own sample for mortality pre-invasion and refused to use the national data reported by WHO, (2) that the Lancet used an inflated figure for the population of Iraq in 2002; and (3) that extrapolating using (2) and ignoring the WHO mortality rate
    (of 9) effectively doubled the Lancet’s “excess” mortality rate. None of this to deny that the slaughter in Iraq is horrific enough even it is only 100 a day and not 380. The wider problem is the low standards at Johns Hopkins and the rest of the Ivy League whose alumni dominate all American administrations but none of whom had ever heard of the Sunni/Shia antagonism in Iraq.

  20. #20 Tim Lambert
    February 15, 2007

    What is wrong with that Tim C, is that it is wrong. They directly measured pre-war mortality. It would be wrong to use a figure from another source for it. And its funny how you give the Lancet numbers intense scrutiny, but blindly accept without a moments thought on how they were derived, other numbers that suit your argument. And Johns Hopkins is not in the Ivy League.

  21. #21 Ian Gould
    February 15, 2007

    Tim C: “Dear all, though I am at a loss to fathom the vehemence of so many of your responses,…’

    This from a man who adopted a psuedonym concocted from the names “Adolph Hitler” and “Enoch Powell” and who has repeatedly expressed a wish that the death rate in Iraq was higher. (But that was just a joke, right Tim?)

    Tim C: “Why is it wrong to point out…”

    Because Tim what you’re “pointing out” is simply not true as ha been explained to you repeatedly in this thread and previous ones.

    Tim C: “The wider problem is the low standards at Johns Hopkins and the rest of the Ivy League…”

    More anti-Americanism from Tim.

    why do you hate freedom Tim?

  22. #22 Tim Curtin
    February 16, 2007

    Tim Lambert: what is wrong with the WHO life tables for Iraq? – I have found them consistent with those for neighbouring countries given Iraq’s subjection to sanctions from 1991.
    Ian Gould: I have only once used a pseudonym, and that courtesy of my dog Tam o’Shanter. What’s your lawyer’s address? – I haven’t forgotten how you defamed Kasparov.

  23. #23 Robert
    February 16, 2007

    TimC wondered:

    what is wrong with the WHO life tables for Iraq? – I have found them consistent with those for neighbouring countries

    Well, it’s not suprising that they’re consistent: they’re indirectly estimated using the Brass relational system, where the relation is to a regional standard. However, the parameters used for Iraq are anchored using data from the early and mid-1990′s (and also were derived from cluster sample surveys).

    But that’s a red herring anyway. The Roberts and Burnham studies are cohort studies so they don’t depend on external LT’s. Anyone except for a [hack](http://www.timcurtin.com/) would understand this.

  24. #24 Ian Gould
    February 16, 2007

    Firstly Tim, let me congratulate you on continuing ot dodge the substantive issues.

    Secondly, I thought I recalled you admitting to using the psuedonym “Adolf Powell”. If I was mistaken I apoligse.

    Thirdly, I didn’t :defame” Kasparov since I said I said that I recalled some Russian chess champion who I thought *might* have been Kasparov using deliberately disruptive tactics in a chess match. *BTW, if that’s defamation, half the NRL and AFL are defamed in any given week.

    Fourthly, in order to recover damages for defamation, you need to demonstrate that your former good name and reputation was damaged. I’d say that your own previous posts here have done far more to damage your reputation than I ever could.

    Fifthly, while chatting with your lawyer ask him how much it will cost to subpoena a foreign internet company to turn over their records to prove where the message in question came from (and what the likelihood is of such legal action being successful giving the trivial and vexatious nature of your complaint.)

  25. #25 Tim Curtin
    February 16, 2007

    Ian: Your memory is very bad: 1. You are indeed mistaken re my pseudonyms. 2. You were explicit that it was Kasparov. 3. Both Gary and I realise you are not worth suing, so your anyway irelevant (5) is also invalid.
    Tim Lambert: you said “They directly measured pre-war mortality. It would be wrong (SIC) to use a figure from another source for it.” Why? This proves you know nothing about statistical analysis. Any normal journal would require some independent benchmarking, especially when as here The Lancet produces a most amazing structure of non-violent mortality rates:
    1. The WHO data for Iraq in 2001 show that while those aged 0-14 were 41% of the total population, they accounted for 50% of total mortality in that year (surprise! Surely St Saddam was assiduous in using oil for food to feed the young, so why why did they die disproportionately? Ask your AWB that in effect you have been so valiantly defending here). However The Lancet claims that in 2002 there was a miraculous recovery in infant and juvenile mortality such that they accounted for only 17% of deaths (none of them or, but for 2, in the total being violent). Saddam did not deserve to be hanged for achieving the most rapid reduction in youthful mortality in the history of mankind. 2. The proportion of those aged 15-59 in total deaths in 2002 per The Rubbish was 32%, more in this case than the WHO’s 22%, oh those lovely Sunni and Shia mums, breeding the next generation of car bombers by denying themselves the food from oil to feed their future martyrs. 3.That also explains why those aged 60 and above raised their death rate between 2001 and 2002 from 27% of total deaths to over 50%, as they also selflessly denied themselves for the sake of the next generation of bombers.
    I apologise, sarcasm is a low form of debate, but perhaps excusable when no doubt well-meaning but agenda driven commentators like those cited above refuse to accept home truths and statistics.
    Robert: until you admit who you are (what or who are you afraid of, not Bin Empty I suppose? He has vestal virgins awaiting you so fear not!)I shall not again respond to you. The WHO used all available information, and the age and mortality structure of the Iraqi population could hardly have changed by orders of magnitude between the 1990s and 2001; populations have enormous inertia (needing decades not years for noticeable changes) in terms of those structures.

  26. #26 Jeff Harvey
    February 16, 2007

    This is the same Tim Curtin who angrily stated a few months back on a similar thread that the excess death toll in Iraq was not more than 300,000… in other words, a mere pittance (after all, in TC’s warped lexcon, I suppose that those whose interests conflict wth power and priviledge are UNPEOPLE, to coin a term used by British historian Mark Curtis). I suppose TC’s aim was to show how magnanimous the aggressors have been. Their refrain: “We may have flattened your country twice, sanctioned you to hell, and overseen the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of your citizens to get our hands on your oil spigot, but heck, we have brought you the gift of client-status democrracy!”. TC, your arguments are becoming increasingly desperate and pathetic.

  27. #27 Robert
    February 16, 2007

    TimC:

    I already pointed out exactly what my bona fides are–I’m the guy who: 1) knows what a cohort study is; and 2) has actually read the text and the appendices from the WHO’s [documentation on their LT's](http://www.who.int/entity/healthinfo/paper09.pdf). These are two of the characteristics that differentiate me from a [hack](http://www.timcurtin.com).

  28. #28 Tim Curtin
    February 16, 2007

    Robert: you said that WHO used cluster surveys for its Iraq life table. How come its clusters produce results so different from those of The Rubbish? A hack is by definition a nameless nobody, like you.
    Jeff: try for once in your life to address the numerical data I presented. Otherwise you are just armwaving, or do you really believe that Saddam reduced infant and youth deaths from 50% of all deaths to just 17% in one year before the invasion?

  29. #29 Tim Curtin
    February 16, 2007

    Robert: you said that WHO used cluster surveys for its Iraq life table. How come its clusters produce results so different from those of The Rubbish? A hack is by definition a nameless nobody, like you.
    Jeff: try for once in your life to address the numerical data I presented. Otherwise you are just armwaving, or do you really believe that Saddam reduced infant and youth deaths from 50% of all deaths to just 17% in one year before the invasion?

  30. #30 Tim Curtin
    February 16, 2007

    Robert: you said that WHO used cluster surveys for its Iraq life table. How come its clusters produce results so different from those of The Rubbish? A hack is by definition a nameless nobody, like you.
    Jeff: try for once in your life to address the numerical data I presented. Otherwise you are just armwaving, or do you really believe that Saddam reduced infant and youth deaths from 50% of all deaths to just 17% in one year before the invasion?

  31. #31 Tim Curtin
    February 16, 2007

    Robert: you said that WHO used cluster surveys for its Iraq life table. How come its clusters produce results so different from those of The Rubbish? A hack is by definition a nameless nobody, like you.
    Jeff: try for once in your life to address the numerical data I presented. Otherwise you are just armwaving, or do you really believe that Saddam reduced infant and youth deaths from 50% of all deaths to just 17% in one year before the invasion?

  32. #32 JB
    February 16, 2007

    Jeff Harvey said: “TC, your arguments are becoming increasingly desperate and pathetic.”

    Increasingly?

    Same as they ever were.

  33. #33 Robert
    February 16, 2007

    TimC wrote:

    Robert: you said that WHO used cluster surveys for its Iraq life table

    Not just me. [The WHO says so, too](http://www.who.int/entity/healthinfo/paper09.pdf). And it doesn’t bother me to be a nameless nobody: though it must sting to be getting pwned by someone who’s a nameless nobody. Do you also get your lunch money taken away by little kids?

  34. #34 llewelly
    February 16, 2007

    At the conclusion of our 2004 study we urged that an
    independent body assess the excess mortality that we saw
    in Iraq. This has not happened.

    This statement can be found at the bottom of page 7 in Burnham, Doocy, Lafta, Roberts 2006.

  35. #35 Donald Johnson
    February 16, 2007

    I’ll stay safely away from the technical stuff. I’ve got two questions–

    1. Isn’t the excess death estimate and its accuracy a separate issue from the estimate of violent deaths? I mean, you have people like Tim arguing that the death rates in Iraq just before the invasion were very high because of the sanctions. Tim blames St. Saddam–I wasn’t aware that he’d been given that title, though maybe the Republicans like Rumsfeld and Senator Simpson (who defended Saddam when he executed a British reporter before the Gulf War) had fond feelings for him. Lefties like me blame the sanctions and Saddam, but I’d heard that oil-for-food had probably lowered the death rates, making the Lancet prewar numbers plausible. But suppose Tim is right. Then I assume it would mean that L2 had the wrong numbers because it didn’t measure the child mortality rate correctly.

    Would this have any bearing at all on the fact that they found 300 violent deaths from the invasion and occupation? That would still mean 600,000 violent deaths (plus or minus error bars), so unless the invasion and occupation saw a very dramatic decrease in nonviolent deaths, it’s hard to see how the excess could be only 300,000. My guess would be that if L2 missed a lot of deaths of children in 2002, they probably missed a lot in the post-invasion period.

    2. My other question–does anyone know if Les is correct about knowing that IBC is 10 percent complete? I think Les said last year that only 1 of the 21 violent deaths in L1 were in IBC’s records, but it’s hard to see how he could possibly know this–many of IBC’s numbers are simply government-reported civilian deaths, not individuals where the details about their deaths were given in a news report and then could be compared to those in the Lancet records.

  36. #36 Robert
    February 16, 2007

    Donald Johnson asked:

    Isn’t the excess death estimate and its accuracy a separate issue from the estimate of violent deaths?

    Well, this is actually a borderline technical question. The simple answer is “separate but related.” They’re separate because the sources of potential error that affect each estimate are different, and have different influences. They’re related because there’s an adding-up constraint that has to hold. (BTW, because of the adding-up constraint, the Main Street Bias hypothesis should have to explain not only the increase in violent deaths but also the corresponding decrease in non-violent deaths).

    Taking the second part of your question first, the violent/non-violent distinction is predicated on finding a death, so in addition to the normal sampling errors you have to add errors of misattribution of cause of death. I don’t know of any simple way to get a handle on misattribution errors without a separate study or survey that focuses exactly on this issue.

    The first part of your question, about total excess deaths, has two other components: the estimate of pre- to post-invasion risk ratio, which everyone has been focusing on; and the estimate of total population that was used to convert the risk ratio to a total number of all-cause excess deaths. This latter component can be sensitive to all of the usual errors in enumeration and selectivity bias, but also is sensitive to migration volumes and timing.

  37. #37 Donald Johnson
    February 16, 2007

    Thanks, Robert. I’d ask more, but don’t have time.

    BTW, I’m not sure what happened with the formatting of my post. (The numbering, though, is my mistake. I’m aware that 2 comes after 1, but apparently forgot that fact momentarily.)

  38. #38 JB
    February 16, 2007

    “GENEVA – Unrelenting violence and insecurity in
    Iraq could cause as many as 1 million Iraqis to flee their homes this year, the world’s migration body said Friday.”
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070216/ap_on_re_mi_ea/un_iraq_migration

    That basically says it all.

    The basic idea that the Johns Hopkins people meant to get across with their study results was that the situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.

    Their study was never meant to be the be all and end all. But unfortunately, some people (here and elsewhere) would rather bash the Johns Hopkins study or attack its authors than admit that Les Roberts et al got the basic claim about the situation in Iraq correct — which they certainly did.

    This is all so much BS — and more than a little dishonest.

  39. #39 david tiley
    February 16, 2007

    Tim Curtin is just unwell.

    “It is precisely because the Lancet’s non-existent peer reviewers had never heard of the WHO and its life tables for Iraq that the Lancet is NOT anything more than an activist rather than scientific journal.”

    Delusional.

  40. #40 mike
    February 17, 2007

    There are three ways we know it is a gross underestimate. First, if it were true, including suicides, South Africa, Colombia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia have experienced higher violent death rates than Iraq over the past four years. If true, many North and South American cities and Sub-Saharan Africa have had a similar murder rate to that claimed in Iraq. For those of us who have been in Iraq, the suggestion that New Orleans is more violent seems simply ridiculous.

    The official estimates are likely serious underestimates. But how this logic is any better than the logic employed by critics of the Lancet study who say the several hundred thousand number seems absurd isn’t clear. Especially when you consider that many parts of sub-Saharan Africa are extremely violent (like the Congo) and even the more industrialized parts of Africa, like South Africa’s major cities, have murder rates that make the most violent American cities look tame.

  41. #41 Tim Cirtin
    February 17, 2007

    I repeat; Les Goebbels is not a reliable source, as seen in his statements in The Independent:
    1.”there have to be at least 120,000 and probably 140,000 deaths per year from natural causes in a country with the population of Iraq”. The WHO using Les and Robert Himmler’s cluster surveys put the normal death rate in Iraq in 2001 at 212,935, nearly double Goebbel’s estimate.

    2. “The numerous stories we hear about overflowing morgues, the need for new cemeteries and new body collection brigades are not consistent with a 10 per cent rise in death rate above the baseline”. But Goering’s baseline is deceitfully put at close to 50% of the WHO actual.

    3. “there was a study (sic), peer-reviewed (sic) and published in The Lancet, Europe’s most prestigious (sic) medical (sic)journal, which put the death toll at 650,000 as of last July. The study, which I Goebbels co-authored, was done by the standard cluster approach (!!!) used by the UN to estimate mortality in dozens of countries each year [including Iraq in 2001!!!).

    Goebbels and his acolytes Robert Himmler and Ian Goering naturally avoid noting that the combined might of USAAF and the RAF managed to inflict only 650,000 civilian casualties in Germany from 1940 -1945 (see Jorg Friedrich, The bombing of Germany 1940-45, Columbia UP). So those lovely Sunnis and Shiites have outperformed the allies just by using lousy car bombs instead of B52s and Lancasters, well done guys! In fact the allies were really quite incompetent, they even needed 1000 bombers to inflict nearly 500 deaths in Cologne in May 1942, while the Iraqis only last weekend notched up 130 or so in Baghdad with just a couple of carbombs.

    But the issue here is not the precise total of sectarian-inflicted deaths in Iraq since 2003, but (1) the scientific integrity (nil) of Roberts, Robert, Lambert, and Gould, and (2)the failure of the Bush regime to abolish Islam instead of the social democratic Baath party, as Lenin, Mao, and Hitler would have done.

  42. #42 Tim Lambert
    February 17, 2007

    Yes, that was really Curtin and not someone parodying him. I call Godwin.

  43. #43 Robert
    February 17, 2007

    TimC wrote:

    [meltdown rant snipped]

    You know that crack about little kids taking your lunch money? Sorry if it was a tad too close to home. Just a lucky guess, is all.

  44. #44 Ian Gould
    February 17, 2007

    “Goebbels and his acolytes Robert Himmler and Ian Goering naturally avoid noting that the combined might of USAAF and the RAF managed to inflict only 650,000 civilian casualties in Germany from 1940 -1945 (see Jorg Friedrich, The bombing of Germany 1940-45, Columbia UP). So those lovely Sunnis and Shiites have outperformed the allies just by using lousy car bombs instead of B52s and Lancasters, well done guys!”

    I must thank Tim C. for exposing the vicious lies being spread about the Sudanese government, since its obviously unthinkable that they could inflict 300,000 deaths in Darfur without the benefits of modern airpower.

    Similarly Tim has exposed the vicious slanders directly agaisnt the Khmer rouge and the Rwandan Interhamwe militia.

  45. #45 Ian Gould
    February 17, 2007

    Can I also point out that by his own incredibly thin-skinned standards, Tim C.’s last post is probably actionable.

    Extra points for comparing a Jew to a leading member of the Nazi Party,

  46. #46 llewelly
    February 17, 2007

    Goebbels and his acolytes Robert Himmler and Ian Goering naturally avoid noting that the combined might of USAAF and the RAF managed to inflict only 650,000 civilian casualties in Germany from 1940 -1945 (see Jorg Friedrich, The bombing of Germany 1940-45, Columbia UP). So those lovely Sunnis and Shiites have outperformed the allies just by using lousy car bombs instead of B52s and Lancasters, well done guys!

    uh… B52s? In 1940-45? Really?

  47. #47 Pinko Punko
    February 17, 2007

    How do you round people up into death camps with cluster analysis?

    A: Tim Curtin knows.

    Nothing is more dangerous than math and statistics. It appears the statisticians reap their ghastly harvest. Tim C. shall preside at the new Nuremberg!

  48. #48 z
    February 17, 2007

    “The Lancet is NOT Europe’s most prestigious medical journal, in English we have the BMJ and in French etc there are similar that a yankee like Les would refuse to read both on principle and because he cannot (any more than he can speak Arabic).”

    Here in Fortress America, the Lancet outranks BMJ by a tidy amount, though it is known to be “liberal” both politically and scientifically. A useful balance to JAMA, then.

  49. #49 z
    February 17, 2007

    “Roberts’ study ignores the daily exodus of 1,000 a day (365,000 p.a. or more than double his excess deaths) from Iraq (source: al Jazeera/BBC, 15 Feb 2007) which reduces the inflated figure for the population that he uses to gross up from his out of date and dubious clusters.”

    Fleeing the remarkable lack of carnage, no doubt.

  50. #50 frankis
    February 17, 2007

    As John Quiggin observed of Dave Surls the other day, TimC, trolling needs to amuse and entertain not just irritate.

  51. #51 Jack Lacton
    February 18, 2007

    The really amusing thing is that there have apparently been more deaths in Iraq, if you believe the Lancet numbers, than in the Stalingrad campaign. To anyone that’s read what the daily goings on were in that famous battle the Lancet claim is farcical.

    You all need to take my test at http://tinyurl.com/25x87z

    Perhaps I can make #10 – you believe the Lancet numbers in Iraq?

  52. #52 Ian Gould
    February 18, 2007

    And how long did the Battle of Stalingrad last Jack?

  53. #53 Kevin Donoghue
    February 18, 2007

    Your Stalingrad arithmetic is faulty, Jack – unless of course you meant “not counting untermenschen” or something like that. The total for all nationalities, with civilians included, is not known. But anything less than a million is implausible and 655,000 is certainly far too low.

  54. #54 JB
    February 18, 2007

    Les Goebels?

    What in the world?

    This is an insane comparison.

    Goebels was respopnsible for the death of millions of jews.

    Using Goebels’ name in this context makes light of the monster that he was and also makes light of the Holocaust (to say nothing of libeling Les Roberts).

  55. #55 Anton Mates
    February 19, 2007

    Tim Curtin:

    Goebbels and his acolytes Robert Himmler and Ian Goering naturally avoid noting that the combined might of USAAF and the RAF managed to inflict only 650,000 civilian casualties in Germany from 1940 -1945 (see Jorg Friedrich, The bombing of Germany 1940-45, Columbia UP). So those lovely Sunnis and Shiites have outperformed the allies just by using lousy car bombs instead of B52s and Lancasters, well done guys! In fact the allies were really quite incompetent, they even needed 1000 bombers to inflict nearly 500 deaths in Cologne in May 1942, while the Iraqis only last weekend notched up 130 or so in Baghdad with just a couple of carbombs.

    Your last sentence there alludes to a news article, not to Roberts et al. In other words, you just provided us with evidence that the Iraqi fighting is in fact killing people faster than allied bombing killed German civilians. Is that what you intended to do?

    Jack Lacton:

    The really amusing thing is that there have apparently been more deaths in Iraq, if you believe the Lancet numbers, than in the Stalingrad campaign. To anyone that’s read what the daily goings on were in that famous battle the Lancet claim is farcical.

    Stalingrad–1.5 million or so killed in about 5 months.

    Iraq–655,000 or so killed in about 3 years and 2 months.

    So, no.

  56. #56 JB
    February 24, 2007

    AP/Ipsos Poll: Most In U.S. Have Good Idea Of Number Of U.S. Military Deaths; Severely Underestimate Loss Of Iraqi Civilians

    http://www.ap-ipsosresults.com/

    Two findings of the poll:

    The median number of civilian deaths as estimated by poll respondents was about 10,000, with the largest number of respondents saying it was between 1-5 thousand.

    The vast majority of respondents (77%) thought the number of civilian deaths was UNACCEPTABLE (even though most of these respondents were assuming a number much less than the number given by IBC, for example.)

    Both Lancet and IBC numbers are include more than just civilian deaths, of course, but clearly, Amercians are not basing their ideas about the number of civilian deaths on either IBC’s number or Lancet’s . In fact, I have serious doubts whether most Americans are even aware of IBC’s estimate or the Lancet estimate.

    In that regard, the argument (here and elsewhere) about which of those is right may be moot from a practical standpoint.

    What really matters is whether Americans think the number of civilian deaths (whatever they think it is) in Iraq is unacceptable — and how this and other views shape their overall view of the war.

    In the latter regard, most Americans find even the relatively low number of civilian deaths that they gave to be unacceptable. Most of them also think the war is a lost cause, by the way (so sorry, Lancet detractors, you’re wasting your breath).

The site is currently under maintenance and will be back shortly. New comments have been disabled during this time, please check back soon.