To Richard [Garner] and Kim [Sengupta],
[and a few others at the Independent]
I notice that followers of the website, Medialens, have been
emailing you with remarks unfavourable to Iraq Body Count. I'd
like to correct their misinformation:
Body Count's] is the lowest figure available by a factor of
between 5-10 compared to other studies of Iraq casualties"
This is false. The recent World Health
Organisation study - which was much larger (and better
quality-controlled) than the Lancet studies - estimated 151,000
violent deaths, including combatants and civilians. IBC's count,
which includes only civilians, was approximately a third of
this over the same period. Not 5-10 times smaller. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/releases/2008/pr02/en/index.html
Another recent study (from the Centre for Research on the
Epidemiology of Disasters) has produced a figure of 125,000
total war-related deaths, based on Lancet 2006 study findings
(but correcting for errors in the Lancet study). http://www.cedat.be/Documents/Working_Papers/CREDWPIraqMortalityJune2007.pdf
An earlier major study (much larger than the Lancet studies)
is the United Nations Iraq Living Conditions Survey (ILCS),
which estimated 24,000 war-related deaths of civilians and combatants
- compared to IBC's figure of about 14,000 deaths of civilians
for the same coverage period.
Even the first Lancet study (2004) estimated a figure that was
around three times (not 5-10 times) higher than IBC's count.
It estimated 57,600 violent deaths of civilians plus combatants
(the publicised figure of 100,000 was for total excess deaths,
not just violent ones) - the comparable figure (but civilian
deaths only) from IBC was 17,687 deaths. http://www.epic-usa.org/Default.aspx?tabid=440
In all these cases, we see nothing like the 5-10 times factor
claimed in the misinformation sent by Medialens's followers.
Furthermore, the claim that IBC's count is the "lowest"
figure available was based on errors by Les Roberts, co-author
of the Lancet studies (and admitted as error by Roberts), which
were recycled (but never corrected) by Medialens. The notion
that IBC produce the "lowest figure" has been thoroughly
debunked by Iraq Body Count: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/analysis/reference/pdf/a_defence_of_ibc.pdf
You may be interested in a new 50-page research paper from Professor
Michael Spagat of Royal Holloway, University of London, which
documents numerous serious ethical and data-integrity problems
in the 2006 Lancet study. http://personal.rhul.ac.uk/uhte/014/Standards.pdf