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Gabriele Zamparini's destructive hysteria  
Posted by ALP on September 18 2007, 10:20 » Uploaded 18/9/07 11:55  

Zamparini's smear campaign against Iraq Body Count (IBC) continues. As well as generally irritating dissenters/campaigners (now including ZNet's Michael Albert) with his hysterical holier-than-thou rhetoric, he's resorting to fairly blatant falsehoods:

"Iraq Body Count has been carrying out a three year long campaign to discredit the two Lancet studies and its authors." (Zamparini)

One can quickly demonstrate that this is false. Between the release of the 2004 Lancet study and the 2006 anti-IBC campaign (by Zamparini & Medialens), IBC issued one response to the Lancet study - basically supportive, uncritical, and serving to point out the differences between IBC and the Lancet study.

I've seen no evidence of IBC "discrediting" (or even criticising*) the Lancet study between 2004 and 2006. But according to Zamparini, from 2004 onwards, IBC have been engaged in a "campaign" to "discredit" the Lancet studies. Where is your evidence for this, Gabriele? You don't have any.

A few months after the 2006 anti-IBC campaign initiated by Medialens, things changed. IBC tried to ignore the smears for two months, but were attacked (on an almost daily basis) for "remaining silent". So IBC finally responded with a document, Speculation is no Substitute, which exposed the ineptitude of Zamparini/Medialens and the errors of Les Roberts (co-author of Lancet 2004 study) upon which Medialens based their "critique" (acknowledged by Les Roberts to be errors, btw). However, this in no way "discredited" the Lancet study - Roberts' errors were made outside of that study; IBC's document was not a critique of the Lancet study.

Finally, after the release of the 2006 Lancet study, IBC (like others from related fields) published a few documents (eg Reality checks) which expressed (in a questioning, not a "discrediting" way) scepticism towards aspects of the Lancet study. Although they weren't alone in expressing scepticism (others who have expressed doubts/scepticism include Jon Pedersen of ILCS and Fritz Scheuren, a past president of the American Statistical Association, who said the response rate in the Lancet 2006 study was "not credible"), IBC seem to have been singled out for smear treatment from the likes of Zamparini.

It's a kind of hysteria. In the hopefully reasonable world of research/science, one expects parties to raise criticisms, doubts, questions. If you do this (with good reason) towards a study whose findings are quoted by those who find the war abhorrent, it doesn't mean you are an apologist for war. Obviously. And yet, "apologist for war crimes", is exactly the type of "criticism" of IBC I've seen coming from those who subscribe to the Medialens/Zamparini position on this issue.

*A few of Medialens's disciples spent a lot of time trying to dig up material on IBC (from all over the web) which might appear damning in this context (given the right rhetorical spin). But the best they could come up with for the period upto 2006 was just one quotation (apparently from IBC's John Sloboda, apparently criticising the Lancet 2004 study) from an obscure US web page. Some "campaign" to "discredit". zamparini[...]ibc-and-munir-chalabis-numbers-znet-and.htm

COMMENTS Post comment


Comment 01 – SteveK September 18 2007, 15:21

Zamparini's completely lost it. It's like "I'm right and everyone else is wrong". He should pause before single-handedly attempting to save humanity, and take a close look at himself. His close association with Medialens doesn't look particularly good for them either.

Comment 02 – Julie September 18 2007, 17:06

It's called "projection" I think. Who is the one furiously waging the campaign? IBC? I think not.

Comment 03 – sonny September 19 2007, 03:16

Zamparini seems to be fond of deliberate lying too:

"As we all know, the IBC numbers are a count coming from Western media"

This lie was debunked way back when Media Lens first floated it. Zamparini knows this. Since he's so obsessed with all things IBC, he's surely seen this too:

Apparently pushing people's buttons about the dreaded "Western media" and getting them to transfer those prejudices onto IBC is more important than what is true. If a little deliberate lying is what it takes, it's all for the greater good, I'm sure he tells himself.

Comment 04 – ALP September 19 2007, 19:50

Gabriele Zamparini has finally responded to my post (I copied it to his blog). And how feeble it seems:

"they say that folks will forgive you for being wrong, but they'll never forgive you for being right..." (Zamparini's blog)

Comment 05 – sonny September 20 2007, 02:26

Another of Zamparini's heroes has a new editorial pushing the same (very deliberate) lie:

"The numbers in the Washington Post widget are from Iraq Body Count, a British NGO, and they tally individual deaths reported in Western media."

He makes sure to really drive home the lie just a sentence later:

"The range in the IBC numbers comes from uncertainty about the death toll in specific events reported in Western media."

These are supposedly the people wanting media to "tell the truth". Yeah, right. Obviously the "truth" need not be true, just politically correct.

Comment 06 – Ken Farrell September 20 2007, 21:39

For those new to this, what are "the errors of Les Roberts"?

Other viewpoints, based upon substance rather than assertion, can be found here:


Comment 07 – Ken Farrell September 21 2007, 06:39

Unless the above poster by coincidence shares my name, I guess it's a "spoof" identity. The answer to your question is simple enough. Les Roberts (co-author of the Lancet studies) admitted error in an email to Gabriele Zamparini (June 2006):

"I said the IBC count was 17 deaths per day over the period 3/1/03 - 2/1/05. That was wrong. The count was 17 during 2003 but went up later and I had the wrong dates. That was unfortunate."

Incidentally, if you value viewpoints of "substance", why do you find it necessary to pretend to be someone else?

Anybody wishing to discuss these matters with the real Ken Farrell (me) can email me:

ken.farrell (at)

Comment 08 – sonny September 22 2007, 00:36

Funny, it seems that Roberts' admission of error is itself erroneous.

This gives IBC numbers for 2003:
"just under 12,000 in 2003 (7,000 of them killed during the actual war, while only 5,000 killed during the 'peace' that followed in May 2003)"

The war started on 20 March of 2003. So if we say March-December, that's 9 months. 12,000 in 2003 means about 43 per day over 2003.

Roberts didn't have the "wrong dates". He just gave a completely wrong number, which in turn led to a completely wrong analysis. He doesn't seem to have ever 'admitted' this.

Also, a new Roberts error was recently debunked on the site that the fake Ken Farrell cited:[...]

Roberts claims that: "most commonly violent deaths are from gunshot wounds [in contradiction to IBC and the MOH"

But this is not "in contradiction to IBC".

I think the challenge would be finding cases of Roberts saying something that *isn't* erroneous about IBC data.




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