Patterico's Pontifications

1/6/2008

Questions About Lancet Study

Filed under: General,War — Patterico @ 12:30 am



More questions about the Lancet study, discussed here:

Over the past several months, National Journal has examined the 2006 Lancet article, and another [PDF] that some of the same authors published in 2004; probed the problems of estimating wartime mortality rates; and interviewed the authors and their critics. NJ has identified potential problems with the research that fall under three broad headings: 1) possible flaws in the design and execution of the study; 2) a lack of transparency in the data, which has raised suspicions of fraud; and 3) political preferences held by the authors and the funders, which include George Soros’s Open Society Institute.

Jonathan Adler says:

Of these critiques, I find the political preferences of the authors and their funders to be the least persuasive.

I’d like to agree with him, and with the idea that the study’s conclusions “should stand or fall on their own.”

But we all know that political predispositions heavily skew how people look at questions, and make people adopt arguments they’d never stomach in other contexts.

Take the comments to this post. Conservatives will likely defend the National Journal‘s criticisms. Liberals will attack them.

If this study had come from a bunch of right-wingers and war supporters, conservatives would be forced to take it seriously. The fact that so many people involved with the study makes its seemingly dubious findings that much more easily explainable.

111 Responses to “Questions About Lancet Study”

  1. The problem with the Lancet studies is they have stated casualty numbers and increases that defy all common sense on the ground here in Iraq. If one is in Iraq and the reads the Lancet study the only conclusion one could come to was “that stuff must be going on in other places, glad I am wherever I am.”

    The death and destruction have been horrendous; the truth is grisly enough. The numbers simply defied logic and hence must have some sort of agenda behind them.

    As you and I know Patterico many people will stop at nothing to make the story here fit their point of view and agenda.

    Badger 6 (179603)

  2. Final Post

    I’ve no comment on any study sans figures can lie and liars can figure, aside of that most of them are created for one purpose or another and the results will amazingly support such.

    I the link says much more than I could.

    TC (1cf350)

  3. Lancet has previously been caught publishing bogus studies and their reputation may never recover.

    Mike K (86230c)

  4. Sorry did not see your post about him.

    Carry on

    TC (1cf350)

  5. My favorite item:

    The accidental deaths included 15,000 Iraqis killed by U.S. vehicles in road incidents — extrapolated from five death reports.

    If 15,000 Iraqis died in car accidents with US vehicles, wouldn’t these accidents also kill at least several thousand US soldiers? Since thousands of US soldiers are not dying in car accidents, wouldn’t that be a clue to these deep thinkers that Iraqis were not dying in large numbers due to car accidents with US vehicles?

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  6. Hearing that it is Soro’s money behind the results give me pause. While not completely dispositive, I find myself with the same attitude toward the study as what those on the left show towards papers on global warming that were funded by coal/oil/gas interests.

    In any arena of “science” that is largely mathematical extrapolation to a conclusion from thin evidence, bias has to be considered; especially when the raw data, assumptions and methods are not openly available or published with the conclusion. Data-to-order is not unknown, particularly when fishing for the bigger, better grant. The end result can look a lot like the current AGW research. If your position is that AGW is real and you have some new take on it, government money seems to fall from the sky in large chunks. [Hell, you can even share a Noble Prize – just not in science.] If you’re a doubter, you better have the “Friends of Coal” in your rolodex because the NSF won’t be returning your calls.

    kaz (24ef8c)

  7. The United States of America is without sin and perfect in all things. We would never kill anyone without reason.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  8. While I agree that a person’s political positions will color their initial reactions to just about anything, in this case you almost have to believe in fairies and goblins to account for the 500 bodies a day that magically disappear without a trace according to the lancet numbers.

    Taltos (4dc0e8)

  9. Shiites, Sunis, Kurds, Al Queda operatives, fairies, goblins. Check!

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  10. Kane’s criticism of the statistical methodology, already released, was conclusive enough but this article does put together in one place the complete story of what a joke the Johns Hopkins / Lancet survey was. David’s non-responsive petulant strawman notwithstanding.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  11. Daivid,

    You may not be aware however here in NYC there’s a big hole in the ground where two towers once stood.

    syn (9c2583)

  12. syn, David believes that for the US’ sins we have to quietly accept lies about the US’ actions no matter how ridiculous. As penance.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  13. political predispositions heavily skew how people look at questions

    Very true of course, and I think the skepticism may come somewhat from the views of those reading it, as you point out, but I think much more so from our knowing the views of the study makers.

    If this study had come from a bunch of right-wingers and war supporters, conservatives would be forced to take it seriously.

    Any honest person, liberal or conservative, is going to want to know the truth, whatever it is. The problem of course is knowing if others around you are telling the truth, or (more likely, since most people are basically honest) are letting their biases override their commitment to the truth or color their view of it. Which is exactly why your point is right: a study conclusion different than one would have expected from the researchers’ worldview is less open to others believing that the study’s biased.

    Haven’t discounted the study of course – they could well be right – but am more carefully seeking out info to better understand the study conclusions. Thanks for the pro and con links BTW.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  14. The study isn’t a study of fact, it’s more of an opinion poll. Taking unverified statements (which they also refuse to release) and extrapolating small numbers of them across a population of millions is no way to arrive at the truth. The result is what the authors intended it to be which is a political statement and not a piece of research.

    The facts on the ground, such as the number of death certificates issued belie the claims and expose their sheer ridiculousness.

    Dave, yes the US is a lovely country. But this isn’t about you. Try to stay on topic.

    Pablo (99243e)

  15. Patterico, you wrote: If this study had come from a bunch of right-wingers and war supporters, conservatives would be forced to take it seriously.

    Over at Debunkers, we are more focused on the validity of science/statistics behind claims of all kind. We would have shredded a study of the poor quality of the Johns Hopkins / Lancet work even if war supporters had produced it. But the rush to publish devoid of peer review on the eve of an election period pretty much confirmed the study’s real purpose.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  16. Agree that lack of transparency in the data is a huge problem. The authors cited security issues in a war zone but obviously even if this were true the study data would still be rightly questioned. And as SPQR points out, the timing issue (totally missed the 10/06 publish date, thanks) raises even more questions.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  17. syn, you may not be aware of the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with those two holes.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  18. The quote in #5 is enough for us to say with confidence that the study is bunk, and the people who funded it are lying out their rear ends (YES, I know that to lawyers that is a compliment). As far as affiliation goes, This alone puts everything that a Soros organization does in question. THAT is where the affiliation of the “study” writers comes into play.

    martin (f4752c)

  19. But the rush to publish devoid of peer review on the eve of an election period pretty much confirmed the study’s real purpose.

    Like Charles Johnson at LGF, imagine my surprise to find that George Soros is involved with the Lancet study. If there were any doubts left after David Kane’s masterful debunking of it and the study’s very questionable timing, finding a Soros connection makes any other explanation untenable becaue of how much a person would have to believe (or suspend belief of) to make it true.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  20. As usual, when confronted by something he desperately wants to be true but can’t because the evidence that it is false is overhwelming and completey unarguable except to a compete fool, David does his best to try switching to a “related non-sequitor.”

    In short, hijack the thread.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  21. I think the political views of the authors are extremely important, because they lied about their motives.

    The main author claimed they were just humanitarians and had no political motives.

    “Somehow we have found ourselves in the middle of a political storm when our intents were to help other to think seriously about what happens to innocents–and even the perhaps not innocents–who get caught up in conflict. We have a huge job to convince people that we do NOT have political motives in this. We are disaster people. However I am not so sure we are getting our non-political message across as well as I had hoped.”

    However, another main author, Les Roberts, who was the lead author on the 2004 study, ran for Congress as an anti-Iraq war, anti-Bush Democrat, in the months before the Lancet paper was published.

    The Lancet’s editor removed any doubt about the study’s political agenda.

    That blatant deception made it clear to me, as a reporter trying to be as objective as possible, that the study was untrustworthy.

    YouTube is great for catching such incontrovertible evidence of motive.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  22. Forgot to add the quotes from the Lancet’s totally apolitical editor, Dr. Richard Horton:

    “And Tony Blair told us that these numbers were false, impossible and untrue. Shame on their lies! We now know that the civilian deaths in Iraq and in Afghanistan have been massively underreported and underrecognized. A mountain of violence and torture growing, thanks to the arrogance and delusion of a government, a Labor government, that prefers to support the killing of children instead of the building of hospitals and schools.

    “As this axis of Anglo-American imperialism extends its influence through war and conflict, gathering power and wealth as it goes, so millions of people are left to die in poverty and disease. … Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair, there is a limit to your deception. We are the new resistance.”

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  23. I wonder if the people who say “The funding has no bearing on the outcome” would support the pharmaceuticals companies funding all drug testing studies.

    David is now beyond parody: stating that “The army didn’t wipe out 2.5% of the Iraqi population” = “We ARE WITHOUT TEH SINZ!”

    I didn’t know you believed in sin.

    Techie (ed20d9)

  24. Now we can add a four category to the proverbial kinds of falsehoods; “lies, damned lies and statistics” becomes “lies, damned lies, statistics and Lancet studies.”

    JayHub (0a6237)

  25. David

    You may not be aware, Saddam harbored an Islamic terrorist who bomb the WTC the first time around.

    syn (9c2583)

  26. Sorry David

    that’s “Bombed” as in blew up.

    syn (9c2583)

  27. Watch it, Bradly, you don’t have the proper Journalism ethics to do such research or work.

    Helen Thomas said so, so it must be true.

    Techie (ed20d9)

  28. Oh and David

    How many Jews did Hamas kill with bombs bought with Saddam’s money?

    Think the Lancet people will ever probe this issue or will the world need to see a big hole where Israel once stood?

    syn (9c2583)

  29. Why are you asking me about the Jews?

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  30. Techie,

    Heh.

    I’m against the Iraq war, so I drew my conclusions in spite of my political leanings. But I do try to be evidence-based.

    So yes, I totally agree with Patterico that we have to look at the political views of academics and how honest the academics are in making the pertinent disclosures. We should treat all politically tinged studies with skepticism until and unless we find out the academics have no hidden agendas and have faithfully made disclosures.

    Bradley J. Fikes (1c6fc4)

  31. David

    Why?

    Because I want to know as a non-Jewish person why nobody ever does a study on how many Jewish people have died at the hands of Islamic terrorism.

    Or for that matter as a non-Muslem person I’d like to know how many Muslems have died at the hands of Islamic terrorism.

    Where are the reports?

    syn (9c2583)

  32. You think I’m Jewish, right?

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  33. The report, if you actually read it (as opposed to the press stories about it) stank like a dead fish; it’s good to see follow-up about it.

    Comments about Andrew Olmsted’s last post are being accepted here at Obsidian Wings.

    htom (412a17)

  34. We should treat all politically tinged studies with skepticism until and unless we find out the academics have no hidden agendas

    Just as this critique seems spot-on and meticulously-researched, notwithstanding co-author Neil Munro’s anti-left essays and the intensity of his appeal for invading Iraq – six weeks after 9/11:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-munro110601.shtml

    The removal of Saddam’s dead hand from the Iraqi economy would allow it to be deregulated and reinvigorated. That will simultaneously reduce world oil prices and increase employment in the Middle East – especially of the young men who are needed for re-construction jobs.

    steve (6a0ac4)

  35. An empty wagon makes the most noise.

    Especially at this site.

    SteveMG (10147d)

  36. Techie,

    I wonder if the people who say “The funding has no bearing on the outcome” would support the pharmaceuticals companies funding all drug testing studies.

    They do fund a lot of drug studies. After all, it’s their product they’re trying to bring to market. But unlike this study, if they want approval they must release their data and subject it to review. they don’t get to dump and run and catcall their detractors as these “researchers” did. They actually have to prove their findings.

    Pablo (99243e)

  37. Comment by Bradley J. Fikes — 1/6/2008 @ 10:02 am

    A terrific suggestion from Bradley’s report linked in comment above; would lead to some fascinating results:

    I propose conducting a blind experiment for reviewing such politically charged studies. Take out the identifying information (relabel Baghdad as “Yuggoth,” Ramadi as “Yggdrasil,” etc.). Then give them to statisticians, epidemiologists and political consultants of various political persuasions. Get their critiques, unblind the studies, and watch their reactions!

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  38. And, DE (#7) is still alive because of what?

    The Lancet has a long row to hoe to regain its’ respectability.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  39. While the U.S. retians it’s respectability.

    The Lancet study is deeply flawed because it accuses us of killing more people than we actually have.

    The deaths of scores of Iraqis for which we are actually responsible are of no interest to anyone in here whatsoever.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  40. David

    War is hell.

    Even war that is necessary, is still hell. (ever talked to WWII vets?)

    The tragic deaths of innocents in war is awful, heartbreaking and is a lesson that war should be a last resort.

    But there are things worse than war.

    Much worse.

    Darleen (187edc)

  41. Even war that is necessary, is still hell.

    This war was not necessary.

    (ever talked to WWII vets?)

    As a child my next door neighbor was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  42. #39
    The deaths of scores of Iraqis for which we are actually responsible are of no interest to anyone in here whatsoever.

    The basis of this statement is even more flimsy than the conclusions of the Lancet study.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  43. The deaths of scores of Iraqis for which we are actually responsible are of no interest to anyone in here whatsoever.

    The topic on the table is the Lancet study. The Lancet is one of the world’s leading medical journals.

    If the editors of that publication are publishing false information, if they have a political agenda that has influenced their work, isn’t that a concern?

    It is to me. It should be to every fair-minded person. Now, more than ever, people need reliable sources of information.

    Walter Lippmann, who I’ve been re-reading recently did seminal work on public opinion and democratic theory, called them “bureaus of intelligence”, places where citizens could go to acquire accurate, unbiased information.

    The Lancet needs to be one of these bureaus.

    Sorry, the topic is not the culpability of the US in Iraqi deaths.

    SteveMG (10147d)

  44. Isn’t it incumbent on National Journal writers to reveal the Iraq war policy they themselves advocated before impugning the Lancet authors’ objectivity?

    Neil Munro made the case for invasion with this idealistic nonsense (#34 link):

    The painful images of starving Iraqi children will be replaced by alluring Baghdad city lights, smiling wages-earners and Palestinian job seekers.

    steve (6a0ac4)

  45. “Sorry, the topic is not the culpability of the US in Iraqi deaths”

    It should be. As it stands the topis is U.S. Virtue

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  46. Organizations (corporations, governments, etc) have no virtue; they just are.
    Only individuals have virtue!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  47. Luckily for David, there is no blood alcohol content limit for posting on the Internet.

    kl (d671ab)

  48. Steve, the Neil Munro piece you linked to is an undisguised opinion piece; nothing more, nothing less.

    The Lancet study is a angenda-driven hit piece using bad methodology, questionable sources and timed politically to do the most damage to its idealogocal opponents…in short, a piece of dirt painted gold in a shiny wrapper.

    Tell me you understand the difference.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  49. As a child my next door neighbor was a survivor of the Bataan Death March.

    too bad you never listened

    Darleen (187edc)

  50. virtue
    c.1225, “moral life and conduct, moral excellence,” vertu, from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. vertu, from L. virtutem (nom. virtus) “moral strength, manliness, valor, excellence, worth,” from vir “man” (see virile)*. Phrase by virtue of (c.1230) preserves alternate M.E. sense of “efficacy.” Wyclif Bible has virtue where K.J.V. uses power. The seven cardinal virtues (c.1320) were divided into the natural (justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude**) and the theological (hope, faith, charity). To make a virtue of a necessity (c.1374) translates L. facere de necessitate virtutem. [Jerome]

    *Sorry, ladies.
    ** Sorry, lefties.

    nk (4bb3c1)

  51. It should be. As it stands the topis is U.S. Virtue

    Well, please start up your own blog. Once you do, you can then control the topics to be discussed.

    All of us, I’m sure, would love to visit it and exchange views with you on whole series of issues.

    Now, as to the Lancet study: Are you at all concerned that one of the world’s most prestigious publications may – may – have published tendentious material?

    SteveMG (10147d)

  52. No “may” about it, SteveMG, and the Lancet knows that it published a bogus study with junk statistics. A once great medical journal now has the credibility of the National Enquirer.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  53. From the link:
    …to estimate the number of “excess” Iraqi deaths after the 2003 invasion at 426,369 to 793,663; the study said the most likely figure was near the middle of that range: 654,965.

    The bombing of Dresden Germany, which gutted about 13 square miles of the city, was thought to have killed about 35,000 people. So the mid-point Lancet figure is the equivalent of about 18.5 Dresden bombings or 243 square miles of destruction (Baghdad is about 250 square miles in size). It is pretty obvious, except to agenda driven Lancet scientists, that destruction on this scale did not occur.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  54. Actually, Perfect Sense, if you look at the entire total number of German civilians believed killed by the Allied strategic bombing campaign, an almost indiscriminate bombing campaign against Germany’s major cities for several years employing as many heavy bombers as the US and Britain could field, you’ll find that the Iraq survey’s totals of “excess” Iraqi deaths were higher. It is just one of the reasons that the Johns Hopkins / Lancet survey was ludicrous.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  55. Steve, the Neil Munro piece you linked to is an undisguised opinion piece.

    Alas, not the only one.

    Is there a magic number of times you can cross back and forth between advocacy and reporting on the same topic?

    Munro’s analysis appears solid. But the Lancet indictment pivots on “political preferences held by the authors.” Everyone’s preferences are fair game or none.

    steve (df8c9b)

  56. No, Steve, the core of the argument against the Lancet study is its failure of statistical robustness.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  57. The Lancet study is deeply flawed because it accuses us of killing more people than we actually have.

    Anyone else doing any killing over there, Dave? Is there anyone targeting civilians for death for effect? Does the Lancet give us those numbers? Or is it just stupid America that all evil and murderous?

    Pablo (99243e)

  58. Pablo, you know very well that all deaths are the result of America.

    Techie (ed20d9)

  59. “Luckily for David, there is no blood alcohol content limit for posting on the Internet.”

    The pathetically desperate invariably accuse me of being an alcoholic.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  60. “Pablo, you know very well that all deaths are the result of America.”

    “Shock and Awe” anyone?

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  61. No, Steve, the core of the argument against the Lancet study is its failure of statistical robustness.

    Exactly SPQR. In Law & Order speak, the bogus stats are the crime, the agenda the motive.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  62. David, please site for us the information relative to that picture you posted that shows that it was a failure or fault of American military power that led to the apparent death of this child.

    reff (99666d)

  63. And David concedes the argument. I mean, how can anyone disagree with his masterful dissection of the facts and issue at hand.

    That’s your ace in the hole? That bad things happen in war? Wow, the thought had never occurred to any of us, even the numerous veterans who post.

    Techie (ed20d9)

  64. #60

    The father is placing his daughter at the feet of Nancy Pelosi – right? The Democrats took control of both houses of Congress promising and promising to stop the war but they didn’t.
    Democrats lied, little girls died.

    Perfect Sense (b6ec8c)

  65. No, Steve, the core of the argument against the Lancet study is its failure of statistical robustness.

    Re-read the paragraphs fronting this post.

    “Statistical robustness” is not the core of the argument.

    steve (83df76)

  66. The core of the argument is fraudulent methodology. The Lancet’s is comparable to asking Bill Gates how much money he has and concluding from his answer that every American has a hundred billion dollars.

    nk (4bb3c1)

  67. Re-read the paragraphs fronting this post.

    “Statistical robustness” is not the core of the argument.

    Don’t have to…charges of bogus statistical robustness and fraudulent methodology date back to 2004. Let’s review:

    Shannon Love of Chicago Boyz first raised questions about the study here.

    Love then wrote a series of follow-up articles archived here.

    Michelle Malkin then found Institute Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University David Kane’s statistical analysis and asked his permission to publish it at her site, including a link in an update to Love’s analysis–and vindication–here.

    Munro’s article simply includes that cited above and everything else pertinent to the study in one place, and seals the idealogical bent as the motive for the fraud.

    And Steve, your logically fallicious attempt to get Munro declared out-of-bounds because he wrote opinion pieces is pathetic, and a tacit admission that you can’t win the argument on merit.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  68. “David, please site for us the information relative to that picture you posted that shows that it was a failure or fault of American military power that led to the apparent death of this child.”

    “Google” is your friend, dear.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  69. “Google” is your friend, dear.

    Is that your way of saying you have nothing to back up your charge, David?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  70. Of course he has nothing to back up his charge.

    Unless he’s a complete retard, he knows perfectly that well his comments are fallacious and intended to provoke emotional responses.

    Nowhere here has anyone said that the Lancet report being an inaccurate piece of politically motivated garbage means that the US is perfect. For David, “reality-based” means it doesn’t matter what anyone else actually says, what matters is what he can best snark against. There’s no way he takes his caricatures of everyone he disagrees with around here seriously.

    For David, since we shouldn’t have invaded, everything we do but leaving is wrong. The fact that the invasion happened and that can’t be changed doesn’t matter to him. I’m sure he’s none too happy about the US being seen as “defeated” in Iraq or the country collapsing if we leave too soon and wants to see neither happen, but he deliberately doesn’t think about that rationally because of the error (again, deliberate) he makes thanks to his opinion on the invasion.

    We already know what happens when US soldiers leave the streets. The streets get covered in blood. That’s what happened in 2006. If we bear the responsibility for what has happened since the invasion, you’d think that David would want us to not make the same error but in far greater magnitude, but his childish logic doesn’t allow him to do that.

    He deliberately acts like a jackass to amuse himself at getting people he thinks are less intelligent than him (because they don’t share his political views) riled up. The internet allows anyone who wants to to act like a fourteen year old girl, and people like David take full advantage.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  71. No not at all. It’s my way of saying you’re a fool.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  72. Absolutely right, chaos. In many ways, he’s become the new Staunch Brayer.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  73. Actually, ladies and germs, you give David E. too much credit. He doesn’t think much at all, despite all the supposed intellectualism. He is all about knee-jerk reactions: jealousy, resentment, and flinging his proverbial poo.

    Patterico likes him, so he will continue to do his schtick here. Dr. Pavlov has the right idea.

    Lurker (7e375e)

  74. He doesn’t think much at all, despite all the supposed intellectualism.

    Lurker, allow me to quote Bill Whittle:

    As for ‘intellectuals,” they do not need to mocked or suppressed. They beclown themselves with such regularity that the word “intellectual” generates peals of laughter.

    That’s right David, I’m laughing at the superior intellect.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  75. “That’s right David, I’m laughing at the superior intellect.”

    No surprise ther. You’re scum.

    David Ehrenstein (da3648)

  76. Dear Paul: I agree that people who describe themselves as “intellectual” generally are…well…not. Especially the ones who swoon over French intellectuals.

    Still, it was amusing that David E. could not spell his riposte correctly. At least he managed to set up the italics.

    But again: it’s all about stirring up arguments and delivering reflexive one-liners. That’s all. Nothing of well, intellectual substance..

    Don’t worry, though. Sooner or later he will lose control and then Patterico will ban him (again). So long as he behaves and doesn’t insult others too much, it will be raining Errorsteinian poo for a while.

    Tease him if you wish. But you gotta admit he is very, very predictable.

    By the way, Bill Whittle writes great columns. I’m a fan of his site, too.

    Lurker (7e375e)

  77. Oooo! The scum insult!

    That’s the best you’ve got?

    Next insult from David…the dreaded “Your mother wears army boots!”

    Paul (dbbea6)

  78. Okay.

    Did everyone get the lessons here?

    1. Laughing at the attention hound and mocking his view of his supposedly superior intellect, causes him to lose his cool. He even starts misspelling simple words in a really short post, to the great amusement of the rest of us. The mocking technique does not work, however, when you attempt to actually respond to something the attention hound said. IOW, if you MUST respond, just laugh and mock. That’s all. Please file this information away for your future use, however you choose to use it.

    2. The attention hound has managed, yet again, to hijack another thread. Doesn’t anyone get tired of this? Did I miss something and this site is now called Some Patterico, But Mostly Thread Hijacks? How many times do Lurker and Dr. Pavlov need to remind you that when you ignore the attention hound, he goes away?

    Comment by Paul — 1/6/2008 @ 7:37 pm

    Nice 2nd example of how to do it.

    Now, back to the topic of the thread…

    Have been reading things on and off this afternoon and this study seems pretty bogus. Comments above detailing what was wrong w/ it were really helpful in wading through the somewhat confusing (to me) study – and that YouTube of one of the researchers was quite the eye opener. Thanks for the info all.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  79. David, I don’t do your work for you. You posted the picture without context.

    I’ll provide my own context, unless you decide to have a legitimate discussion.

    Google it yourself.

    reff (99666d)

  80. And Steve, your logically fallicious attempt to get Munro declared out-of-bounds because he wrote opinion pieces is pathetic, and a tacit admission that you can’t win the argument on merit.

    I don’t care about Lancet’s rep. I care a little about Munro’s stake in the outcome. Maureen Dowd covering the Bush visit to Israel and five Arab countries this week is beyond unthinkable. You assign someone who hasn’t trashed the policy and policymakers.

    The Lancet study’s alleged “flaws in the design and execution of the study” and “lack of transparency in the data” were pretty much known. The Munro piece censured Lancet for not revealing “political preferences held by the authors and the funders.” We’re newly reminded an inquiry involving grinding one’s own ax is not research.

    steve (19c2a1)

  81. I advise everyone who posts here to completely ignore DE. If you respond to him, he just gets aroused.

    Iapetus (ea6f31)

  82. I don’t care about Lancet’s rep. I care a little about Munro’s stake in the outcome.

    So what are you suggesting, Steve? That we find a journalist that has no opinions about Iraq?

    Good luck.

    The Lancet study’s alleged “flaws in the design and execution of the study” and “lack of transparency in the data” were pretty much known.

    Alleged? You’re kidding, right?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  83. No not at all. It’s my way of saying you’re a fool.

    Not at all? That’s exactly what I said. Good job on the reading comprehension there buddy.

    You can take a seat now, I’ve had enough of showing up your “intelligence” for one evening. It’s embarrassing doing it to someone so much older than myself; you should know better.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  84. I advise everyone who posts here to completely ignore DE. If you respond to him, he just gets aroused.

    Unless you mock his superior intellect and insulting skills.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  85. Chaos, I think he was responding to my comment in #69.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  86. What I said is fine either way =)

    chaos (9c54c6)

  87. So what are you suggesting, Steve? That we find a journalist that has no opinions about Iraq?

    You prefer ones who push for policies and then critique prophets of doom as opinionated?

    steve (19c2a1)

  88. Watching David E.’s Massive Mandingo Ego at work can be amusing but usually quickly tiresome. Unable to generate traffic on his own blog, he’s got to fish for attention elsewhere. Sad.

    Dealing with him is just a question of mind over matter. He thinks he’s fabulous, but he’s got an inferior, twisted, mind. I don’t pay attention to his mind, so he doesn’t matter.

    daleyrocks (906622)

  89. Steve, you don’t seem to understand that journals like the Lancet have detailed requirements for the disclosure of conflicts of interest. The point about the funding was not an ad hominem attack but the violation of explicit policies.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  90. #89: Exactly.

    As I have said all along, Munro doesn’t hide his political preferences; if he did, steve would not have found anything with a simple Google search. The Lancet authors did.

    Steve:


    You prefer ones who push for policies and then critique prophets of doom as opinionated?

    You are evading my question; the point of my asking is you won’t find anyone completely free of bias.

    Once again, you are quibbling about a lesser detail. Idealogical bent simply gives us the motive. The crime was the bogus numbers to advance that idealogical bent.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  91. The pathetically desperate invariably accuse me of being an alcoholic.

    Interesting non-denial!

    kl (c36902)

  92. I didn’t know David E. was an alcoholic!

    daleyrocks (906622)

  93. And, those combat boots: Open toed!

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  94. Once again, you are quibbling about a lesser detail.

    Munro investigates people covering Iraq whom he worries are – or appear to be – “choosing sides.” He writes about it a lot.

    http://nationaljournal.com/about/njweekly/stories/2006/0410nj1.htm

    All those who write about Iraq have some point of view, obviously. It’s pretty uncommon to profess it under one’s own byline and then turn media watchdog – presumptively looking for lapdogs.

    I’ll assume he’s not related to Ian Munro, editor of The Lancet Medical Journal for 12 years.

    steve (bb6d0d)

  95. Munro investigates people covering Iraq whom he worries are – or appear to be – “choosing sides.” He writes about it a lot.

    So?

    All those who write about Iraq have some point of view, obviously.

    And it only took three times pointing it out before you admitted it.

    It’s pretty uncommon to profess it under one’s own byline and then turn media watchdog – presumptively looking for lapdogs.

    You just don’t get it, do you?

    SPQR in #89 (emphasis mine):

    Steve, you don’t seem to understand that journals like the Lancet have detailed requirements for the disclosure of conflicts of interest. The point about the funding was not an ad hominem attack but the violation of explicit policies.

    Once again: Munro did not–and does not–hide his idealology.

    The Lancet authors did.

    And again: Munro did not–and does not–hide his idealology.

    The Lancet authors did.

    And again: Munro did not–and does not–hide his idealology.

    The Lancet authors did.

    Once again: The Lancet authors idealogical bent simply gives us the motive for putting out the bogus study. The crime was putting out bogus numbers to advance that idealogical bent, without revealing that idealogical bent.

    And again: The Lancet authors idealogical bent simply gives us the motive for putting out the bogus study. The crime was putting out bogus numbers to advance that idealogical bent, without revealing that idealogical bent.

    And again: The Lancet authors idealogical bent simply gives us the motive for putting out the bogus study. The crime was putting out bogus numbers to advance that idealogical bent, without revealing that idealogical bent.

    Understand?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  96. That the evidence presentation was being ideologically-driven was the crux of the post’s intro.

    Understand?

    And you really should spell-check “ideology.”

    steve (bb6d0d)

  97. Hey steve,

    get a load of this from the Lancet’s publisher:

    The Lancet is published weekly from editorial offices in London and New York. It aims to publish the best original primary research papers, and review articles of the highest standard. The Lancet is stringently edited and peer-reviewed to ensure the scientific merit and clinical relevance of its diverse content.

    Think they might have failed to meet those standards with that Iraq study, since they used bogus statistical robustness and fraudulent methodology to achieve a desired idealogical result that was bought and paid for?

    True science follows wherever the trail of evidence and facts lead, not to achieve a predetermined result.

    Understand?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  98. Well, steve?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  99. Munro probably did NOT shelve or downplay evidence conflicting with his thesis. Iraq rants do not invalidate subsequent work product. But while media watchdogs can inhabit an ideological niche, the better ones man-up to their predispositions.

    Clear enough?

    steve (bb6d0d)

  100. Well, Paul?

    steve (bb6d0d)

  101. Clear enough?

    Yes, it’s clear that you are attacking the messenger’s credibility in an attempt to get him declared out-of bounds, since you cannot refute any part of the message.

    Admit it to yourself–you’ve lost the debate.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  102. But while media watchdogs can inhabit an ideological niche, the better ones man-up to their predispositions.

    So how come you don’t apply that standard to The Lancet? Hmn?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  103. Happy to delve into the message, Paul.

    Munro mentions the separate ORB study which, though not peer reviewed, at least attempted to estimate the Iraqi death toll through random sampling. He dismisses it by simply noting that it has been criticized. Hardly the scientific rigor one should expect from a writer whose critique assails “lack of transparency.”

    Based on the limited information available regarding ORB’s polling methods, the Johns Hopkins researchers concluded that the findings of the ORB poll are generally consistent with their own 2006 survey with regard to the number of violent deaths reported, the types of weapons used, and the geographic spread of violence.

    http://www.jhsph.edu/refugee/burnham_ORBpoll.html

    steve (bb6d0d)

  104. He dismisses it by simply noting that it has been criticized. Hardly the scientific rigor one should expect from a writer whose critique assails “lack of transparency.”

    That’s because the scientific work was already done by David Kane, a statistician and a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Statistics at Harvard University. And published six months ago. Which Munro referenced in his piece. Which I linked to the original documents back in #67. Which Kane presented at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Salt Lake City back in July — the largest conference of statisticians in North America.

    Are you going to try and get Kane declared out of bounds also?

    I also said this in #67:

    Munro’s article simply includes that cited above and everything else pertinent to the study in one place, and seals the idealogical bent as the motive for the fraud.

    While you contemplate that chestnut, how about addressing the fact you don’t apply any of these standards to the Lancet that you are attacking Munro for?

    When are you going to admit you’ve lost?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  105. Munro’s article simply includes that cited above and everything else pertinent to the study in one place, and seals the idealogical bent as the motive for the fraud.

    “Everything else pertinent” is your opinion.

    Munro’s piece is basically a summary, pulling together extant criticisms. Someone with the time and inclination might prove the critique flawed. Its real utility was unmasking of potential biases and funding with respect to the study’s authors.

    That it springs from an author not shy about taking sides in the debate seems not to trouble either his editor or his fans.

    There’s no winner or loser here. Unless last-post-wins is the criterion.

    steve (bb6d0d)

  106. That’s because the scientific work was already done by David Kane, a statistician and a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Statistics at Harvard University.

    Withhold judgment on that for a couple days.

    Kane suggests on his own blog that Munro took his words out of context:

    Neil Munro’s National Journal article is out. I haven’t had a chance to read it closely, but my quotes are not as contextualized as I would like them to be.

    http://lancetiraq.blogspot.com/2008/01/national-journal-article.html

    Kane praises Munro, whom he spoke with for the article, but mentions several flaws and “a plausible explanation” for a couple of the Lancet study anomalies.

    steve (bb6d0d)

  107. Give it up already steve your red herring isn’t biting.

    The only issue is whether the Johns Hopkins study is credible, which it clearly is not. Munro’s article doesn’t change anything; the study has been considered trash since it came out. No one but the fringe believes it.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  108. Munro’s piece is basically a summary, pulling together extant criticisms. Someone with the time and inclination might prove the critique flawed. Its real utility was unmasking of potential biases and funding with respect to the study’s authors.

    I said all this earier in the thread. My, are we obtuse.

    That it springs from an author not shy about taking sides in the debate seems not to trouble either his editor or his fans.

    Funny, you attack Munro for his biases, but ignore such issues concerning a study that used bogus statistical robustness and fraudulent methodology to achieve a desired idelogical result that was bought and paid for, politically timed to do damage to the buyer’s idelogical opponents running for office.

    Which I’ve asked you three times to address.

    There’s no winner or loser here. Unless last-post-wins is the criterion.

    Denying that I’ve refuted your arguments repeatedly (including your comment in #104 that I refuted twenty-four hours before you posted it) means you lost, buddy boy.

    Paul (dbbea6)

  109. Kane suggests on his own blog that Munro took his words out of context

    Oh, this is rich.

    At the bottom of the post we see this:

    But all these are quibbles. Munro has done a fine job in gathering all sorts of evidence and arguments. I spoke with him several times and there is no doubt that he understands the ins and outs of the debate.

    This means Kane thinks Munro ‘could have had it perfect if he wrote this instead of this which makes it almost perfect.’ None of this refutes Kane’s analysis. How do I know this? Check out what Kane wrote before the above quoted paragraph after he “mentions several flaws and “a plausible explanation” for a couple of the Lancet study anomalies.”

    None of which means that I believe those answers. My guess continues to be that the/some interview teams went to a neighborhood and asked the kids who had died and then interviewed those houses preferentially. I suspect that they went out looking in early July for a neighborhood with car-bomb deaths, even went to that specific neighborhood after they heard about the car-bomb on the news. But suspicions are not proof. I would be happy to bet, however, that Lafta was a part of the team that did those interviews, just as he was the one to go to Falluja for L1.

    I think that the issue about car-bomb deaths that is most damning is how the authors pretended in the paper that there was a gradual rise in such deaths, consistent with news reports and IBC, over the course of the time period when, in fact, car-bomb deaths were constant for the two years prior to July 2006. Alas, Munroe does not make that point.

    I think that the table associated with the article is fine as far as it goes. But I wish that Munro had used my tables which show how “forgetting” to ask for death certificates was much more common for later deaths and for violent ones. That is the damning evidence that something more than forgetfulness was going on when the interviewers failed to even check for death certificates.

    No refutation whatsoever of Munro. Minor quibbles.

    Steve, how long are you going to continue to embarrass yourself?

    Paul (dbbea6)

  110. David Kane says: I spoke with [Munro] several times and there is no doubt that he understands the ins and outs of the debate.

    Obviously not enough to have Munro include Kane’s thoughts on “the goodwill and professionalism on the part of lead author Gilbert Burnham.”

    Co-author Les Roberts may be the most sinister figure in the history of statistics, for all I know.

    Someone should remind Neil Munro that David Kane is a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, not “Quantitative Social Statistics.” He doesn’t apparently use that affiliation presenting papers debunking Lancet – which he has done now three times and will again this summer. He simply goes by: “David Kane, Kane Capital Management,” a hedge fund company in Newton, MA. His Harvard bio does not include a reference to his being a “statistician.”

    Kane is an interesting fellow. An ex-Marine officer, he blasted off a pro-military essay for his alma mater’s newspaper (Williams College) ten years ago. He talked of “combating the aggression of Iraq” in challenging a campus leftist.

    Kane’s critiques were removed from the IQSS website. The following appeared in its place:

    David Kane’s most recent guest post about the Lancet study has been removed. Since this is not a normal practice for us, explanations for why (and why we posted it in the first place) are below the fold.

    Why remove it? The tone is unacceptable, the facts are shoddy, and the ideas are not endorsed by myself, the other authors on the sidebar, or the Harvard IQSS.

    Why post it in the first place, given this? Here I admit to an error in judgment on my part. I see my job as head of the Author’s Committee as doing the somewhat mundane and boring tasks of coordinating and inspiring our posters, not exercising editorial control. I was uncomfortable with the post even before putting it up, but I also hate censorship, and — since I don’t know this field or this study very well — I couldn’t say with complete confidence that my discomfort was totally justified. I decided to err on the side of expressing something I was uncomfortable with, rather than stifling it. Again, that was probably an error with regards to this post, and I apologize. It was not up to the standards we aspire to here, and does not reflect our views.

    Posted by Amy Perfors at October 18, 2006 03:45 PM

    http://pages.citebite.com/g3d3r2o7likq

    The value of Munro’s piece stands. We learned (or were reminded) about Soros funding and co-author Les Roberts, who admits politically-timing the release of the Iraq mortality study.

    Personal motives. Entirely too many players have them.

    steve (b3d00c)

  111. Personal motives. Entirely too many players have them.

    Steve, do you know anyone that doesn’t have personal motives?

    The real question here is not “Do they have personal motives” but “What is their personal motive?”

    Is it truth in reporting, whatever it is…or simply to take down someone or something you don’t like, the facts be damned?

    Think about that when you look at the Lancet study…and Munro’s piece.

    Paul (dbbea6)


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