Thursday, October 12, 2006

That Iraqi "death toll" figure

Yesterday, the Lancet published a report stating that the number of people killed in Iraq "since the invasion" was 650,000. The figure was arrived at by a linear extrapolation calculated from a random sampling of 1,800 Iraqi households in 47 areas across the country.

I don't there is much more to say than the last sentence really. Calculating the number of people killed by taking a random sampling data is not exactky sound practice. What's more the extrapolation claims to be "since" the invasion, even if it were right it does not necessarily mean the deaths are "because" of the invasion.

The Lancet's report has however been picked up on by the likes of MPAC and will be milked for every last drop.


Rigger Mortice said...

leving MPAc alone,I think the figures are highly debatable anyway.they only interviewed 2000 homes which as a random sample is not that large.

Anonymous said...


"Calculating the number of people killed by taking a random sampling data is not exactky sound practice" - well, actually, it is a fairly well established methodology for calculating death rates from disease epidemics etc. I can't dismiss the figures quite so easily as you.

You'll probably say it proves your point, but the authors include confidence limits of +/-290K in the number of fatalities - but even taking the best case of 360K deaths per year is more than the official line. (Strictly, they say that mortality has risen from somewhere between 4.3–7.1 deaths per 1000 people per year to between 10.9–16.1/1000/year.)

Neither do the authors claim that the deaths are "because" of the invasion. What they do say though is that over 90% of the deaths are 'violent' in nature, being due predominately to gunfire.

Perhaps most telling though (since I'm sure people were shot in Iraq before the invasion) is that the excess/violent mortality rate has been rising since the invasion, from 2.6/1,000/year in the year following the invasion to 5.6/1,000/year the following year, and to 14.2/1,000/year in the year following that.

What ever you think of the war, and I was generally for it, you have to accept that 'the average Iraqi' is now more likely to be shot or blown up than before the war started.


Anonymous said...

oh my god, did you really say that?? even if the exact number is inaccurate, the material point is that far too many people have died. heartless bitch

Anonymous said...


Thought you might like this, from the PMOS yesterday...

"Asked if the Government's problem was with the methodology used or exclusively with the sample taken, the PMOS said the problem was with the methodology"
"Put that the Lancet team were saying they used an internationally used methodology that the British government had approved elsewhere, for example in Kosovo, Rwanda, the PMOS said the British Government believed that the figures should be taken from the Iraqi health ministry, not anyone else."

So the PM likes the methodology as long as it backs govt policy..? I think we should be told