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Posted by ALP on March 14 2008, 20:23 » Uploaded 14/03/08 20:36  

Correcting (again) for the misinformation of Medialens. (You'd think Bern would know some of this stuff by now. He must be a remarkably slow learner. How does it help the people of Iraq to send journalists error-ridden emails?):

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:

"[Iraq 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.

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).

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.

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:

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.


COMMENTS Post comment


Comment 01 – sonny March 14 2008, 22:38

It's odd that these guys would continue to get the "lowest figure" thing wrong too, given that they seem to watch so closely for press mentions of IBC (in order to send letters "educating" the offending authors).

Just a few days ago an article noted:

"Iraqi government statistics recorded 633 civilian deaths in February and 460 in January. But the independent monitor Iraq Body Count put the February figure at 947 and January's at 767."

I guess they missed that one. And this one too:

"According to figures compiled by the interior, health and defence
ministries ... more civilians died overall in 2007 (16,232) than in
2006 (12,360)."[...]

IBC says 22,586-24,159 for 2007 and 25,699-27,519 for 2006:[...]

Then there's also the Petraeus numbers (pretty high profile, so not easy to have missed) which were lower than IBC:[...]

Then there's also icasualties, which ML-favorite Dahr Jamail says "provides reliable numbers of Iraqi civilian and security deaths" that are lower than IBC. For example, "In January 2006, the month before the 'surge' began, 590 civilians died", according to the "reliable" icasualties numbers, as cited by Jamail.

Meanwhile, the unreliable, war crime aiding and abetting figure for that month from IBC is listed as 1,423.

Nobody could accuse the ML crackpots like Bern or Zamparini of being informed on this issue, or for that matter, even wanting to be. They're too busy "educating" the media.

Btw ALP, here's another good piece on the Lancet, which concludes among other things that the CI published in the Lancet is wrong (too narrow, of course) and that the Lancet study "is not science. It is

I suspect that the highly selective credentialists at ML will have no problem dismissing the views of "Jiann-Ping Hsu/Karl E. Peace Professor in Biostatistics and Statistics at UC Berkeley."

As has been shown over and over again, it's fine for "Amateurs" to dismiss the views of "Experts" as they see fit, ....when the ML-ers are the amateurs.

Comment 02 – Russ Bridger March 15 2008, 01:13

I reckon the WHO study was the cognitive-dissonance motherload for the Medialens crowd. Refuted by respectable epidemiology! They'll never recover from that. LOL. They think that repetition of their halfwitted falsehoods will make them magically turn into truths. It's a sure sign of crackpot culthood. They're like the demented offspring of Marxists and Scientologists trying to convince everyone that they're here to save the planet.

Comment 03 – BBJE March 15 2008, 08:43

Well, Medialens have certainly convinced themselves that journalists ignore them because they "speak the truth to power". The reality is more mundane: most journalists think they're idiots. And misinformed, conceited idiots, at that. They complain about media "lies", but they don't even bother to check their own facts.

Comment 04 – Russ Bridger March 15 2008, 15:48

It looks like "Media Hell" (or, rather, ALP's post) has attracted the attention of a certain Mr Zamparini. Be afraid. Be very afraid. ROTFL.[...]

Comment 05 – sonny March 15 2008, 18:14

Russ, the tragic comedy provided by Zamparini is seemingly without end. Nothing could be more telling than how he just dismisses the WHO with only wishful-thinking assertions from Roberts. That's enough to dismiss a "serious", "peer-reviewed", "scientific" study - all things Zamparini purports to be concerned with, but clearly isn't.

Also funny in a related way, he attacks Mike Spagat's paper by describing it as "a non-refereed, unpublished document that he uploaded to his own website (!!!)" (exclamation marks in the original). This description is apparently supposed to justify him ignoring all of its points, but something a bit inconvenient is that the description applies to the "serious" ORB poll that he's peddling (hypocritically).

He then appeals to an "informative" (cough) piece by Roberts and Burnham, which among other problems contains a section called "corroborating evidence" which systematically distorts and falsifies other evidence (just like the Lancet report itself - see section 3.8 of Spagat's paper). It gives a false number for the ILCS (FAFO) and falsely claims the false number is consistent with L2. The false number, let alone the real one, isn't consistent at all.

It then falsely claims that "all data" suggest more deaths than injuries. This fabrication is allegedly supported by a March 2007 BBC poll which gave no breakdown between deaths or injuries, and therefore could not support such a claim, leaving ORB - the "non-refereed, unpublished document that [ORB] uploaded to [their] own website (!!!)" - as the only source that could conceivably support such a claim. But this finding by ORB is sharply contradicted by "all data", all of which is apparently unknown to the JHU experts (and of course Zamparini).

It then falsely claims that the BBC poll is consistent with L2, which is nothing at all but wishful thinking. Then it claims ORB is consistent with L2, which even then is rather lenient, as the geographic distribution of deaths in ORB is completely different than L2.

Their treatment of Main Street Bias is more evasion, typical of how they've side-stepped and dissembled on the issue in the past.

The "informative" section on data-heaping in the JHU piece is equivocation and evasion. This has already been exposed by David Kane here:[...]
The data heaping occurs in the data just as described in the NJ article and also again in Spagat's paper.

Then this is just a complete lie from the JHU experts:
"The death rates over time between the UNDP estimates and the 2004 and 2006 Lancet studies are virtually identical for the periods where they overlap." One might barely be able to maintain that there is some semblance of consistency between L1 and UNDP (if you disregard Falluja in L1), but even that is hardly "virtually identical". But there isn't even remote consistency with UNDP and L2 (as described in detail in Spagat's paper too).

They claim IBC is somehow inconsistent with Baghdad morgue data, even though it includes it (good luck figuring out how that works!). Then they assert that data from "Najaf graveyards" supports a doubling of overall mortality, which it doesn't. Then they appeal to some other conveniently unnamed and un-cited "graveyard data" which is supposedly inconsistent with IBC. What graveyard data? Yet another fabrication?

It then cites a couple supposed studies that purportedly suggest discrepancies in IBC, but nobody can consult or verify that these studies exist or that they show what is claimed for them (judging from the track record, it would be safe to assume that the claims about these by the JHU experts are unsupported by the actual sources, that is, if they exist).

It then claims falsely that the WHO study found similar absentee and refusal rates (also refuted in the Spagat paper).

It goes on and on with these kind of "informative" falsehoods and self-serving spin.

What degree of ignorance and selective thinking (and for that matter, total lack of genuine concern or care about the number of Iraqi dead) must be required to continually be lied to in such a blatant and persistent way by your selectively favored "experts", yet continue to lap up every word they say without the slightest concern for seeing if any of the words are true?

This really is like some Jim Jones type stuff here.

Comment 06 – Russ Bridger March 16 2008, 15:05

Yep. Only in this case the disciples are taking mere hysteria-inducing substances with their scripture, not the more health-damaging poison.


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