Thunderpig’s Mirror

Did the Lancet Overestimate Iraqi Deaths?

Posted by Thunder Pig on January 10, 2008

I’ve been following this story as it has made it’s rounds over the last week, which has now been noticed at Danger Room:

Just before the elections in 2006, the Lancet estimated that 650,000 Iraqis had died in the conflict so far. The number was shocking — higher than US deaths in the Civil War and vastly higher than other estimates.

Now the National Journal has come out with a devastating critique of the Lancet’s report. Yes, surveying in a place like Iraq can be harrowing. But, according to authors Neil Munro and Carl Cannon (both of whom are pros) there was little supervision of the teams that did the initial investigation and a high probability that their findings were inaccurate. The surveyors also have not been willing to share their raw data or research forms, which raises suspicion.

I don’t buy right wing claims that the survey should be discredited just because it was partially funded by George Soros’s Open Society Institute. OSI does all sorts of great non-partisan work. But I do worry about one of the three authors, a critic of the war, declaring that he “wanted to get the survey out before the election, if at all possible.”


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