The Lancet: A Casualty of Politics
Britain’s medical journal Lancet rushed a report to print in the final days leading up to the US election, claiming that there have been 100,000 civilian casualties in Iraq, half of them women and children. Oddly enough, this figure is almost ten times the already inflated estimates at the moonbat site IraqBodyCount.com.
At Tech Central Station, Tim Worstall points out that the methodology of this report is absolutely rotten to the core: The Lancet: A Casualty of Politics. (Hat tip: Baikal.)
The Lancet admits they rushed the report into print, but deny that it has anything to do with the election. Yeah, right.
More than a piece of academic investigation? Really? Are we sure? We don’t think that publishing this, in fact fast-tracking it (A more normal “academic” paper would take up to six months to wend its way through the peer-review process and the raw data for this was only collected six and seven weeks ago.) has anything at all to do with an election in the US some four days away? Good grief man, what do you take us for, morons?
At the very least one would have to add The Lancet to that list of mainstream media which are worth 15% (or is it 5% now, the left have never really been any good at numbers) to John Kerry in the polls. What makes it a great deal worse is this, from the findings to the report. In fact, these are the findings in their totality:
“The risk of death was estimated to be 2.5-fold (95% CI 1.6-4.2) higher after the invasion when compared with the preinvasion period. Two-thirds of all violent deaths were reported in one cluster in the city of Falluja. If we exclude the Falluja data, the risk of death is 1.5-fold (1.1-2.3) higher after the invasion. We estimate that 98 000 more deaths than expected (8000-194 000) happened after the invasion outside of Falluja and far more if the outlier Falluja cluster is included. The major causes of death before the invasion were myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular accidents, and other chronic disorders whereas after the invasion violence was the primary cause of death. Violent deaths were widespread, reported in 15 of 33 clusters, and were mainly attributed to coalition forces. Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children. The risk of death from violence in the period after the invasion was 58 times higher (95% CI 8.1-419) than in the period before the war.”
Have a look at those confidence levels. Yup, 95%. That is, a one in twenty chance that the effect simply does not exist. Look at the relative risk ratios (leave out Falluja; I don’t think anyone is really very surprised to see a higher mortality rate there): 1.1-2.3. It isn’t just that it is an absurdly wide one (note, a relative risk ratio of 1 would mean no effect whatsoever) it is that if this paper was written to generally accepted statistical standards it would never have been published. With a 95% confidence level a relative risk ratio of anything less than three is regarded as statistically insignificant. Just to clarify that, by “insignificant” no one is stating that it is not important to those people who undoubtedly have been killed during the War. What is being said is that we don’t have enough information to be able to say anything meaningful about it. “Statistically insignificant” means “we don’t know”.
In effect, what has been found in this paper is nothing. Nada. Zip.
Except of course that one of the two leading medical journals in the world has published a piece of shoddy research four days before the US elections with the obvious motive of influencing them. Sad, that, and my apologies as an Englishman that it should be one of my countrymen who did such a thing.