More on the Lancet study of Iraqi deaths
The right wing meltdown over the Lancet study was predictable. These ideologues operate in a perpetual state of denial. Like their beloved president, they reflexively subordinate science to politcs and brook no dissent.
When the wingnuts saw a conclusion they didn't like and immediately denounced the scientists as hacks. The Gateway Pundit even put up a picture of the lead author and encouraged his readers to deluge the guy with angry email.
The wingnuts don't seem to understand that not all evidence is created equal. They cling to the Iraq Body Count estimate, even though they can't explain why the a database of media reports should carry more weight than a systematic study of the population of interest.
The Lancet study is quite simply the best evidence we have about the death toll attributable to the invasion. The Iraqi investigators conducted interviews at 1849 households that contained
12 801 individuals. The scientists went all over Iraq, except two regions that were too dangerous visit.
The takehome message of this study is that vastly more people have died in Iraq than the government or the media have told us. Sure, the study has a wide margin of error. We can be pretty confident that between 400,000 and 800,000 excess deaths have occurred since the invasion. Even the lower bound is shocking.
The alternative estimates are based on news reports or official figures. It may come as a big surprise to some people, but not every death gets reported. Last year, the United States averaged about 44 murders a day, every day. Does each of those deaths make the news? Not even close.
Unlike their colleagues in Iraq, journalists can travel freely in the US without fear for their safety. They aren't embedded with anyone or confined to their hotel rooms. They don't have to preserve operational security or face censorship. Even so, only a fraction of the murders that take place on any given day even get written up in the local paper.
The official figures are compiled by people with a strong interest in downplaying the death toll. Furthermore, different ministries don't necessarily talk to each other. Some morgues are run by the government, others by militias. Of course, not all the bodies will make it to the morgue. Even if when they do, the morgues are usually off-limits to journalists.
The Lancet study is a foundation for further inquiry. No scientific study is definitive. However, the right wing is terrified of honest debate. They can't even engage with this study because they've got sticker shock.
See also: Mark Chu-Carrol of Good Math/Bad Math reviews the Lancet study and deems the study a pretty solid upper bound for Iraqi deaths so far.
The Questionable Authority takes a hard look at the numbers. Read on and learn, wingnuts.