Richard Miniter (via Belmont & Pajamas) puts the final nail in the coffin of the Lancet Study.
The Lancet study uses a baseline mortality rate (the rate during Saddam years) of 5.5/1000 – almost half of the mortality rate of Europe. The mortality rate in the EU is 10.10/1000. Given Europe’s excellent health care, public health infrastructure and, lack of war in the past 60 years, how is it possible that Iraq’s baseline is half that of the EU? Are you simply relying on pre-war publications or was the baseline itself generated by interviews with random clusters?
The answers are rather insufficient but it takes a more experienced eye than I have to ask the proper questions and interpret the answers. As I suspected the blogosphere delivered. Thanks blogosphere!
I conclude finally that the study was flawed in such a way that it calculated something methodically but what that something was gave a unfortunately incomplete picture. There seems to be no way to adjust the sample size in retrospect or correct what was done wrong .. in this case not adequately qualifying the baseline sample distribution among hot and cool zones of the war.
I am satisfied that it's quite possible that many tens of thousands of people have been killed by this war. Unlike the people who programmed Douglas Adams' near infinite computer, however, I am not satisfied by the 'implications' of one number. The spread provided by the Lancet smelled fishy and now we have some concrete reasons why they are.
This episode reminds me very much of The Bell Curve.