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 About that 655k dead Iraqi number...
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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  14:04:50  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
Has anyone taken a look at how this number was derived? Of course the conservatives are all crying foul, it being so close to the election and all (pot, this is kettle). I'm of the opinion if the information is legitimate, there is no more appropriate time to release it than before the election... we ought to be reminded occasionally of the real issues associated with our votes...

Anyway, does anyone know anything about the sampling methods? The statistical analysis? Were they legitimate? I mean, how likely is it this is fairly accurate or in the ballpark? Even if it's off by 50%, that's still a pretty damn big deal, IMO.

-Chaloobi

pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  14:12:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
My feeling is that this number is so large, most people who are not already leaning democratic will think this number was fudged and a smear tactic.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  14:49:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Though I'm sure the real numbers are horrendously large, the figure of 665,000 Iraqi dead seems totally unrealistic. I'd wildly guess roughly a tenth of that number, including all violent deaths (by US/coalition military action, terrorism, sectarian violence, and general criminality) would be closer, and terribly sufficient unto the day.

Overstatements could be very bad for the anti-war movement.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  16:14:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I'm having a problem with it too, but I don't know enough about it to comment beyond saying that that's one hell of a lot of gore in a relativly short time. Of course, the Nazis and Stalin racked up much higher totals for the same time frame, but Iraq isn't WW-III, neocon shitheads to the contrary.

I too, would like to know how those figures were arrived at.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  16:30:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Um, are any of you going to bother finding out how the number was reached? I heard on NPR that it has been the first estimate reached through a scientific method. I thought we skeptics were in favor of science.

Here's an article that talks a little about the method: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/world/middleeast/11casualties.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Basically it says that it is the second such study and "It uses samples of casualties from Iraqi households to extrapolate an overall figure"

quote:
it surveyed 1,849 Iraqi families in 47 different neighborhoods across Iraq. The selection of geographical areas in 18 regions across Iraq was based on population size, not on the level of violence, they said.


Another thing to consider about the study:

quote:
researchers acknowledged a margin of error that ranged from 426,369 to 793,663 deaths.


The lowest number here is still far higher than any other estimate. I think we need to be paying serious attention to this study and not just dismissing it because it is the highest numbers we've heard so far. Let's look deeper into the methods and evaluate it purely based on its merit.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

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pleco
SFN Addict

USA
2996 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  18:03:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit pleco's Homepage Send pleco a Private Message
FWIW, I wasn't dismissing it, but I feel that most people will because they can't or won't believe that the US could do that....cognitive dissonance. They would rather believe this is a smear tactic before election time.

by Filthy
The neo-con methane machine will soon be running at full fart.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  18:28:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
That's what I've found on it thus far. It sounds pretty vague to me, or perhaps I just don't understand the method.

Anyhow, while I'm willing to accept a great number of dead and missing, I wonder about how accurate the study was. That is a lot of gore in a short time, considering the circumstances.

And it's going to get worse before it gets better. Mission accomplished!





"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 10/11/2006 :  19:32:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
The figure just doesn't sound right. Despite the use of scientific statistical methods in the final reckoning, errors or bias at the data collection stage may be the reason it looks wrong. Garbage in, garbage out.

And there's good reason to suspect bias in Iraq, as members of each community in the inter-communal struggles there might lie to interviewers, inflating numbers, or inventing dead family members.

Additionally, the surveyors themselves may add to result error, either unintentionally or intentionally. The survey teams were made up of Americans and Iraqi doctors. The idea that inter-communal, or anti-American bias might creep into the survey in its data collection stage is not unreasonable. If it did, this error would then be multiplied into a huge error in the final results.

Consider also that this estimate was based upon a sampling, not a full poll, and not even a fully random sampling, but a "cluster sample," meaning in this case, a sample of families.

The appendix to the report says that, to overcome initial suspicions, the families first had it explained to them how important the survey was to the Iraqi people. Presumably, this talk was given by the Iraqi doctors, who also (presumably) were in a position as translators to filter the answers from the subjects.

One can imagine that something like this might have been said to the families being surveyed: "These Americans are collecting data about how many Iraqis have died since their invasion. This survey is very important to the Iraqi people, because the more deaths that are reported, the more likely it is that the American people will force their government to get out."

Many if not most of the Iraqi doctors owe their educations to the former Baath Party regime. Under Saddam Hussein, they were respectable middle class professionals. Many if not most were probably Baath Party members. Since the US invasion, they have seen little but bloodshed, chaos, and danger to themselves and their families. It would be difficult to imagine that these doctors would be unbiased, and one can only speculate about the meetings they might have had among themselves about the survey, and how they might be able to make its results more useful in getting the Americans out of their country.

Iraq Body Count, clearly an organization with an anti-war agenda, puts the latest figures at between 43,850 and 48,693 Iraqis killed since the invasion. This is closely in line with my own wild guesstimate in a posting above.

I still think the new survey is probably flawed.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 10/11/2006 19:59:17
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  01:46:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Thinking about it, the key word here is: "extrapolate." They don't have an actual figure, so they are making an educated guess. Or maybe I still don't understand the method. But I recall a lot of extrapolations made some 30 & a few years ago and don't much trust them. How good the 'guess' is depends entirely upon how good the 'education' on the topic might or might not be.

Sitting here, it is impossible for me, or anyone, to know anything beyond what is published in various news organs. I think i'll wait and see what the follow ups, if any, have to say. Perhaps the number is a good estimate, but damn, that's an awful lot of carnage!




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  03:42:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Half, everything you just said is pure speculation. And this scenerio:
quote:
One can imagine that something like this might have been said to the families being surveyed: "These Americans are collecting data about how many Iraqis have died since their invasion. This survey is very important to the Iraqi people, because the more deaths that are reported, the more likely it is that the American people will force their government to get out."
would be so blatantly unethical to the accuracy of the study that I refuse to consider such behavior on the part of the researchers until someone can: preferably put forth some evidence of foul play, or at least put forth some evidence that the researchers involved did have a strong internal culture of anti-American political bias.

Edited to add: Oh, and also, something like this:
quote:
And there's good reason to suspect bias in Iraq, as members of each community in the inter-communal struggles there might lie to interviewers, inflating numbers, or inventing dead family members.
could not happen without being orchestrated by someone or at least strongly influenced by the researchers such as in your scenerio above. People from random places all over the country don't just spontaneously all lie in exactly the same way.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

Edited by - marfknox on 10/12/2006 03:46:34
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  03:48:32   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
One thing I didn't emphasize but that was in the article I posted was that the military is bitching because natural deaths and deaths from "ordinary crime" were also counted. That may account for a lot of number being so much higher. The problem of course there is how many more deaths by disease and crime were there because it was wartime? So frankly, I think they should be counted, even if our military wants to deny them.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  08:28:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

Um, are any of you going to bother finding out how the number was reached? I heard on NPR that it has been the first estimate reached through a scientific method. I thought we skeptics were in favor of science.

Here's an article that talks a little about the method: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/11/world/middleeast/11casualties.html?_r=1&oref=slogin Basically it says that it is the second such study and "It uses samples of casualties from Iraqi households to extrapolate an overall figure"

quote:
it surveyed 1,849 Iraqi families in 47 different neighborhoods across Iraq. The selection of geographical areas in 18 regions across Iraq was based on population size, not on the level of violence, they said.


Another thing to consider about the study:

quote:
researchers acknowledged a margin of error that ranged from 426,369 to 793,663 deaths.


The lowest number here is still far higher than any other estimate. I think we need to be paying serious attention to this study and not just dismissing it because it is the highest numbers we've heard so far. Let's look deeper into the methods and evaluate it purely based on its merit.

After I wrote my OP, I heard the same discussion on NPR. Apparently the methodology used here is widely accepted and has been used many times before. The research was also peer reviewed 7 times and passed every time. Just because the number is larger than anyone, even the most pessimistic, would guess doesn't mean it is wrong....

-Chaloobi

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chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  08:33:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

One thing I didn't emphasize but that was in the article I posted was that the military is bitching because natural deaths and deaths from "ordinary crime" were also counted. That may account for a lot of number being so much higher. The problem of course there is how many more deaths by disease and crime were there because it was wartime? So frankly, I think they should be counted, even if our military wants to deny them.

NPR quoted that approx 50% of the deaths were attributed to gun-shots and something like 10% to disease that would not have occurred pre-war. As far as Iraqis falsifying accounts of dead family members, the great majority of the claimed deaths were backed up with death certificates.

Also note that the report isn't saying these dead are people killed by US forces, but from all sources including insurgent attacks, ethnic cleansing death squads, bombings, street thuggery from lawlessness, etc. However, all these sources of death result directly from the toppling of the Saddam government and the inept occupation.

-Chaloobi

Edited by - chaloobi on 10/12/2006 08:35:51
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  10:39:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I'm with Marf, go with the evidence not the expectation. Criticize the methodology if it is faulty, but accept the outcome if it isn't.

There were a little less than 3,000 people killed in two strikes on the populated NY inner city. And the majority of the people were able to exit the Towers. The US has mounted massive urban bombing campaigns many many times. 600K is most certainly possible no matter what impression the US government has successfully managed to give that civilian casualties could not be that high.

Frankly, HM, I find the Iraq Body count figure to be incredibly low considering the volume of bombs dropped. Remember, the US goes to great pains to not allow the real picture of devastation to be seen. They would have us believe every bomb dropped was a "smart" bomb that hit a target with surgical precision. I do believe that image is quite distorted from the real picture.

Bombs dropped just in the initial advance

The Air Campaign in Iraq; by James Dunnigan; May 21, 2003

Revealed: the cluster bombs that litter Iraq

A map, reproduced left, provided for Non-Governmental Organisations tasked with bringing humanitarian aid to the country shows the vast extent of the live munitions issue


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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  15:11:55   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
http://web.mit.edu/cis/

The source of the study, MIT and Johns Hopkins, is as close to unimpeachable as any source is likely to be.

The number is stunning, sickening, and I understand the reaction to dismiss it. I WANT to dismiss it as blatantly, obviously wrong.

Apparently the statistics are rigorous enough to pass peer review, because this is going to be published in today's Lancet.


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Dr. Mabuse
Septic Fiend

Sweden
9666 Posts

Posted - 10/12/2006 :  15:53:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send Dr. Mabuse an ICQ Message Send Dr. Mabuse a Private Message
In Swedish news they said the survey included death certificates in order to not artificially inflate the numbers.

From Dude's link:

quote:
At the conclusion of the interview in a
household where a death was reported, the interviewers were to ask for a copy of the death certificate.
In 92% of instances when this was asked, a death certificate was present.

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