As expected, the Lancet study on civilian deaths in Iraq has created a firestorm on the net. What frankly astounds me is how utterly *dreadful* most of the critiques of the study have been.
My own favorite for sheer chutzpah is [Omar Fadil](http://politicscentral.com/2006/10/11/jaccuse_iraq_the_model_respond.php):
>I wonder if that research team was willing to go to North Korea or Libya and I
>think they wouldn’t have the guts to dare ask Saddam to let them in and investigate
>deaths under his regime.
>No, they would’ve shit their pants the moment they set foot in Iraq and they would
>find themselves surrounded by the Mukhabarat men counting their breaths. However,
>maybe they would have the chance to receive a gift from the tyrant in exchange for
>painting a rosy picture about his rule.
>They shamelessly made an auction of our blood, and it didn’t make a difference if
>the blood was shed by a bomb or a bullet or a heart attack because the bigger the
>count the more useful it becomes to attack this or that policy in a political race
>and the more useful it becomes in cheerleading for murderous tyrannical regimes.
>When the statistics announced by hospitals and military here, or even by the UN,
>did not satisfy their lust for more deaths, they resorted to mathematics to get a
>fake number that satisfies their sadistic urges.
You see, going door to door in the middle of a war zone where people
are being murdered at a horrifying rate – that’s just the *peak* of cowardice! And wanting to know how many people have died in a way – that’s clearly nothing but pure bloodthirst – those horrible anti-war people just *love* the blood.
And the math is all just a lie. Never mind that it’s valid statistical mathematics. Never mind that it’s a valid and well-proven methodology. Don’t even waste time actually *looking* at the data, or the metholodogy, or the math. Because people like Omar *know* the truth. They don’t need to do any analysis. They *know*. And anyone who actually risks their neck on the ground gathering real data – they’re just a bunch of sadistic liars who resort to math as a means of lying.
That’s typical of the responses to the study. People who don’t like the result are simply asserting that it *can’t* be right, they *know* it can’t be right. No argument, no analysis, just blind assertions, ranging from emotional beliefs that
[the conclusions *must* be wrong](http://www.abc.net.au/worldtoday/content/2006/s1763454.htm) to
[accusations that the study is fake](http://rightwingnuthouse.com/archives/2006/10/11/a-most-ghoulish-debate/), to [claims that the entire concept of statistical analysis is
The Lancet study is far from perfect. And there *are* people who have
come forward with [legitimate questions and criticisms](http://scienceblogs.com/authority/2006/10/the_iraq_study_-_how_good_is_i.php) about it. But that’s not the response that we’ve seen from the right-wind media and blogosphere today. All we’ve seen is blind, pig-ignorant bullshit – a bunch of innumerate jackasses screaming at the top of their lungs: “**IT’S WRONG BECAUSE WE SAY IT’S WRONG AND IF YOU DISAGREE YOU’RE A TRAITOR!”**”.
The conclusion that I draw from all of this? The study *is* correct. No one, no matter how they try, has been able to show any *real* problem with the methodology, the data, or the analysis that indicates that the estimates are invalid. When they start throwing out all of statistical mathematics because they don’t like the conclusion of a single study, you know that they can’t find a problem with the study.