Posted by Curt on 4 January, 2008 at 9:05 am. 5 comments already!

That Lancet study, which every lefty has embedded in his brain, that tells us that a bazillion civilians were killed in Iraq during the war has been debunked once again.  Not that it will matter to the left.  If it jives with their believe system they care little if its unreliable:

Still, the authors have declined to provide the surveyors’ reports and forms that might bolster confidence in their findings. Customary scientific practice holds that an experiment must be transparent — and repeatable — to win credence. Submitting to that scientific method, the authors would make the unvarnished data available for inspection by other researchers. Because they did not do this, citing concerns about the security of the questioners and respondents, critics have raised the most basic question about this research: Was it verifiably undertaken as described in the two Lancet articles?

“The authors refuse to provide anyone with the underlying data,” said David Kane, a statistician and a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Statistics at Harvard University. Some critics have wondered whether the Iraqi researchers engaged in a practice known as “curb-stoning,” sitting on a curb and filling out the forms to reach a desired result. Another possibility is that the teams went primarily into neighborhoods controlled by anti-American militias and were steered to homes that would provide information about the “crimes” committed by the Americans.

Fritz Scheuren, vice president for statistics at the National Opinion Research Center and a past president of the American Statistical Association, said, “They failed to do any of the [routine] things to prevent fabrication.” The weakest part of the Lancet surveys is their reliance on an unsupervised Iraqi survey team, contended Scheuren, who has recently trained survey workers in Iraq.

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But overall, the possible shortcomings of the Lancet studies persist, in three broad categories.

Design And Implementation
Critics say that the surveys used too few clusters, and too few people, to do the job properly.

# Sample size. The design for Lancet II committed eight surveyors to visit 50 regional clusters (the number ended up being 47) with each cluster consisting of 40 households. By contrast, in a 2004 survey, the United Nations Development Program used many more questioners to visit 2,200 clusters of 10 houses each. This gave the U.N. investigators greater geographical variety and 10 times as many interviews, and produced a figure of about 24,000 excess deaths — one-quarter the number in the first Lancet study. The Lancet II sample is so small that each violent death recorded translated to 2,000 dead Iraqis overall. The question arises whether the chosen clusters were enough to be truly representative of the entire Iraqi population and therefore a valid data set for extrapolating to nationwide totals.

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Black-Box Data
With the original data unavailable, other scholars cannot verify the findings, a key test of scientific rigor.

# Lack of supporting data. The survey teams failed to collect the fraud-preventing demographic data that pollsters routinely gather. For example, D3 Systems, a polling firm based in Vienna, Va., that has begun working in Iraq, tries to prevent chicanery among its 100-plus Iraqi surveyors by requiring them to ask respondents for such basic demographic data as ages and birthdates. This anti-fraud measure works because particular numbers tend to appear more often in surveys based on fake interviews and data — or “curb-stoning — than they would in truly random surveys, said Matthew Warshaw, the Iraq director for D3. Curb-stoning surveyors might report the ages of many people to be 30 or 40, for example, rather than 32 or 38. This type of fabrication is called “data-heaping,” Warshaw said, because once the data are transferred to spreadsheets, managers can easily see the heaps of faked numbers.

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# Suspicious cluster. Lafta’s team reported 24 car bomb deaths in early July, as well as one nonviolent death, in “Cluster 33” in Baghdad. The authors do not say where the cluster was, but the only major car bomb in the city during that period, according to Iraq Body Count’s database, was in Sadr City. It was detonated in a marketplace on July 1, likely by Al Qaeda, and killed at least 60 people, according to press reports.

The authors should not have included the July data in their report because the survey was scheduled to end on June 30, according to Debarati Guha-Sapir, director of the World Health Organization’s Collaborating Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at the University of Louvain in Belgium. Because of the study’s methodology, those 24 deaths ultimately added 48,000 to the national death toll and tripled the authors’ estimate for total car bomb deaths to 76,000. That figure is 15 times the 5,046 car bomb killings that Iraq Body Count recorded up to August 2006.

Much more then that, its actually quite a detailed and long piece so please read the whole thing.  But the killer to whole study has to be this:


Follow the money. Lancet II was commissioned and financed by Tirman, the executive director of the Center for International Studies at MIT. (His most recent book is 100 Ways America Is Screwing Up the World.) After Lancet I was published, Tirman commissioned Burnham to do the second study, and sent him $50,000. When asked where Tirman got the money, Burnham told NJ: “I have no idea.”

In fact, the funding came from the Open Society Institute created by Soros, a top Democratic donor, and from three other foundations, according to Tirman. The money was channeled through Tirman’s Persian Gulf Initiative. Soros’s group gave $46,000, and the Samuel Rubin Foundation gave $5,000. An anonymous donor, and another donor whose identity he does not know, provided the balance, Tirman said. The Lancet II study cost about $100,000, according to Tirman, including about $45,000 for publicity and travel. That means that nearly half of the study’s funding came from an outspoken billionaire who has repeatedly criticized the Iraq campaign and who spent $30 million trying to defeat Bush in 2004.

But the left still believes.  They believe that more civilians have been killed then the Civil War as Say Anything noted:

The very idea that Iraq suffered anything close to the casualties claimed in that study – on the order of two to three times the casulties suffered by both side in the American Civil War, or higher than the death toll of the conventional and nuclear bombings of Tokyo, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Dresden and Hamburg put together, was simply ludicrous for any student of the history of warfare. There simply were no reports or photographic evidence of anything remotely close to such death tolls and damage coming out of Iraq.

In the end I guess it’s a case of it not being a lie if you believe it.