[FoRK] The Lancet publishes Johns Hopkins' research on Iraq - 100,000 excess deaths, or more

damien morton fork at bitfurnace.com
Wed Nov 3 11:38:48 PST 2004


By Richard Garfield, one of the study's authors. 
On page five of the report. second to last paragraph, the authors do 
give us a margin of sampling error. They have not found a hard-and-fast 
98,000 additional deaths, but a range from 8,000 to 194,000.  

That is correct. Research is more than summarizing data, it is also 
interpretation. If we had just visited the 32 neighborhoods without 
Falluja and did not look at the data or think about them, we would have 
reported 98,000 deaths, and said the measure was so imprecise that there 
was a 2.5% chance that there had been less than 8,000 deaths, a 10% 
chance that there had been less than about 45,000 deaths,....all of 
those assumptions that go with normal distributions. But we had two 
other pieces of information. First, violence accounted for only 2% of 
deaths before the war and was the main cause of death after the 
invasion. That is something new, consistent with the dramatic rise in 
mortality and reduces the likelihood that the true number was at the 
lower end of the confidence range. Secondly, there is the Falluja data, 
which imply that there are pockets of Anbar, or other communities like 
Falluja, experiencing intense conflict, that have far more deaths than 
the rest of the country. We set that aside these data in statistical 
analysis because the result in this cluster was such an outlier, but it 
tells us that the true death toll is far more likely to be on the 
high-side of our point estimate than on the low side.

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