Iraq

Academics Dispute Iraq Numbers

A report published in the Lancet last week – which claimed that excess deaths in Iraq since the 2003 invasion are over 600,000 – continues to generate controversy.

The latest challengers to the figures are Professors at British universities:

Sean Gourley and Professor Neil Johnson of the physics department at Oxford University and Professor Michael Spagat of the economics department of Royal Holloway, University of London contend that the study’s methodology is fundamentally flawed and will result in an over-estimation of the death toll in Iraq.

->The study suffers from “main street bias” by only surveying houses that are located on cross streets next to main roads or on the main road itself. However many Iraqi households do not satisfy this strict criterion and had no chance of being surveyed.

->Main street bias inflates casualty estimates since conflict events such as car bombs, drive-by shootings artillery strikes on insurgent positions, and market place explosions gravitate toward the same neighborhood types that the researchers surveyed.

->This obvious selection bias would not matter if you were conducting a simple survey on immunisation rates for which the methodology was designed.

The Oxford-Royal Holloway team therefore believes that the scientific community should now re-analyze this study in depth.

This one will run and run.

Hat tip: Brian Clark

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