Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hitchens on the flawed reasoning of the Lancet Report

"Make the assumption that some percentage of those killed by the coalition are the sort of people who have been blowing up mosques, beheading captives on video, detonating rush-hour car bombs, destroying pipelines, murdering aid workers, bombing the headquarters of the United Nations, and inciting ethnic and sectarian warfare. Make the allowance for the number of bystanders and innocents who lost their lives in the combat against these fanatics (one or two, alas, in the single case of the precision bombing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, just to take one instance). But who is to say how many people were saved from being murdered by the fact that the murderers were killed first?"


Hitchens raises an important point about the Lancet report, a point typically disregarded by the Mommycrats of blogland: only about 1/3 of the casualties estimated (but not proven) by the Lancet crew are attributable to US/Brit. forces. Hitchens also alludes to the fact that Dr. Richard Horton, the editor of the Lancet magazine, is "a full-throated speaker at rallies of the Islamist-Leftist alliance that makes up the British Stop the War Coalition." That a marxist-muslim might have an interest in exaggerating (or "skewing" the data, as the stats people say) the number of deaths and showing the US/Brit. forces in a poor light should not be surprising: like fundamentalists of all types (Islamic or Christian), most marxists have no problem bending the truth when necessary to suit their needs. The Lancet "methodology" was based not on verified deaths, anyway; instead the researchers counted the deaths in a few urban areas in Iraq, and then, merely by analogy, extended the death ratio to other areas, where they did not perform any research. This is known as "cluster" sampling, and there are more than a few researchers who have expressed doubts about the accuracy of the results.

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