Recounting the dead in Iraq

March 23, 2007 | By | Reply More

Many of us remember a scientific paper released back in October 2006.  It claimed that more than a half-million Iraqi people had died as a result of the US invasion.  The paper, published in Lancet, has been attacked ferociously by the Bush administration.

The March 1, 2007 issue of Nature (only available to subscribers online) describes the methodology of that study, which was conducted by authors based at Johns Hopkins University and Al Mustansiriya University in Baghdad.  The data was gathered through interviews conducted by two teams of four members each.  Nature asked one of the Iraqi researchers involved in the data collection some follow-up questions regarding the methodology.  He “asked not to be named because he fears that press attention could make him the target of attacks.”

The raw data gathered by the study is now being released to both critics and supporters of the results of the study.  This analysis might enable researchers to determine whether the Iraqi interviewers exaggerated the results for political reasons.  “That could show up and unusual patterns within the data.”

Here is the intriguing final paragraph of the Nature article:

[S]upporters say that criticisms should not detract from the fact that the Iraqi team managed to produce a survey under extremely difficult circumstances.  Security threats forced the team to change travel plans and at one point to consider canceling the survey altogether.  Since its completion, one interviewer has been killed and another has left Baghdad, although it is not known whether either case is linked to their involvement in the survey.  Either way, the continuing violence in the country is enough for the remaining interviewers to say that they are not willing to repeat the exercise.

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Category: Iraq, War

About the Author ()

Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich lives in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where he lives half-time with his two extraordinary daughters.

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