12.10.06

Science and Credibility: The New Iraq Body Count

''Six-hundred thousand or whatever they guessed at is just... it's not credible"
GWB

Well, I agree with GWB. That's really incredible ! But so are most scientific discoveries; the movement of the planets, the laws of attraction, the dynamic of Fluids, Quantum Physics, the Theory of Evolution, the mind/brain theories, Climate Change, etc... The Lancet study is a scientific study. It is not about credibility, it is about evidence obtained by rigourous methodological means.

First survey: 2004 study
A great post and comment section from Out of the Crooked Timber as a reaction to the first survey.

New Survey, 2006 study. 'Human cost of the war in Iraq: A mortality study 2002-2006' can be found on the MIT web.
I found the link through Mark from Gorilla's Guides

If Blair and Bush don't like the study, they may start doing their prayer and ask their murderous God what went wrong with the numbers or why is this an issue after all, wasn't this his divine will ?
Esteemed colleague and blogger UrShalim figured out a little prayer for them...



UPDATE: Another post from Out of the Crooked Timber on the second Iraq Lancet study.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is a ground shift occurring in the US and UK regarding Iraq . Bush and Blair will pay the political price for the Empire. However, events in the ME will continue on their imperial course with some minor adjustments and new helmsmen.

Bush will shrug his shoulders and say that he can't understand the methodology so it must be flawed. Two more years of this idiot. God help us.

Poor Iggy is being attacked as gaffe prone see http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061011.wignat1010/BNStory/National/

Issam

Richard said...

BushCo has already admitted (since the early days), almost bragged even, that they don't count Iraqi deaths.

Now that someone else has, all of a sudden BushCo claim they 'know' the figure is lower.

'Nuff said?

Sophia said...

Issam,
Thanks for the link on Ignatieff
Well, I won't call him 'poor Iggy'. That's a Human rights lawyer who first said that the qana massacre did not let him loose sleep and then after all Human rights organisations called the massacre a violation of Human rights and a war crime he followed, only to be lynched by zionists Canadians.
That worries me however because you don't find many enlightened Jews in Canada as in the US; most of them are fundamentalists zionists, thanks to the great example for the community who financed the Gaza settlements, Mr. Bronfman...
This is worrying for Canada's political landscape. My advice is that Politicians have to stop courting zionist organisations here and act if they have the same weight in the political process as in the US, they don't, in my opinion.

Sophia said...

Richard,
Yes you are right. I remeber the famous 'We don't count bodies'. It was Tommy Franks who said it.

Sophia said...

Issam, of course Ignatieff is not a Human rights lawyer as I said but teacher as he likes to brag about.

Naj said...

Speaking of the devil (or Canadian zionzealots)

There is a political-cinema event going on in Montreal called Cinema Politica .

Unfortunately I cannot attend this event (because like a good citizen I am spending the taxpayers money to study), but I heard that after the screening of Avenge But One of My Two Eyes certain people protested that such screenings promoted anti-semetism!

The film is a documentary by Avi Mograbi (France & Israel co-production, 2005); an analogy between the Jewish mythologies of the Zealots at Masada and Samson and the current Palestinian ordeal.

Sophia said...

Naj,
A while ago, may be four years back, I saw a documentary made by Avi Moghrabi at the MFF. It was about Israeli society. I was fascinated. Moghrabi was able to mix fiction and real documentary by following a family in israel and their inetractions and by interviewing people in the street. If I remember well, it was just after Sharon was first elected as PM. It was hilarious. Moghrabi showed the nevroses of ordinary Israelis and their relation to the status of Israel as an abnormal state just like Antonio Lobo Antunes, the portuguese writer, who is at the same time psychiatrist, was able to dissect in his novels the nevroses of the portuguese aristocracy provoked by the loss and the mourning of Portugal's colonial era.

Moghrabi is definitely a talented filmmaker.

P.S.You should have told me about this event, you know how much I love cinema and politics, we could have gone together...

L.M. said...

I'm not attempting to recycle a previous argument in this topic thread, but I have to ask how you would reconcile admiration for the Israeli filmmaker Avi Moghrabi, with a call to boycott Israeli cultural products?

Sophia said...

L.M.
I thought that my argument was clear. The boycott for me is a moral imperative and it is above everything else.

naj said...

Canada blocks bid by Arab countries for vote on resolution declaring Israel's nuclear capabilities a threat

Sophia said...

Naj,
Thanks for the link. Double standards are killing the little seriousness and credibility international politics can have in the ME and no reasonable person in the middle east believes in the good will of Israel and its allies. This is setting us on a dangerous path...

Anonymous said...

avi Mograbi was on the current with Anna Maria Tremonti a few days ago and he gave an excellent interview. Anna Maria is a great host and journalist. She asked all the right questions. check it out at http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2006/200610/20061012.html


Issam

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Hi Sophie,

Superb post.

On that same issue, P.C. Roberts (President Reagan's most senior economic adviser) said the following:

"What is America's reward for Bush's illegal wars that have killed 655,000 Iraqis, an uncounted number of Afghans, and disabled as many as 400,000 U.S. troops?

According to the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate and to practically every Middle East expert, Bush's invasions have radicalized the Muslim Middle East, created legions of recruits for extremists, undermined America's puppet rulers, imperiled Israel, and destroyed America's reputation.

We are talking about over 1 million casualties that have no other cause than blatant lies by Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, the bloodthirsty neoconservative cabal that occupies Bush's subcabinet, and their corporate media propagandists"


One day the children of the "Yellow races" will rise up and ask for revenge!

Sophia said...

Victor,
I believe that there should be an effort to try these people for what they have done. We should have a second Nuremberg.

Sophia said...

Issam,
Thanks for the link. I think the point Mograbi is making in his movie is correct. Israel's policy in the ME is a suicide mission but a collective one. It is like Samson: 'Alayyi wa 'ala 'ada'i

Dr Victorino de la Vega said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Dr Victorino de la Vega said...

Who needs a tribunal?

Like my Manichean Methodist maître-à-penser before me, I say “there is a sign out west...which says wanted, dead or alive”!

I’m starting to like Dixie-style vigilante justice...

:))

Anonymous said...

There will always be a controversy as to body count, statistical methodology, etc... The story of the counting of Iraqi death only illustrates the adage that there are 3 types of lies; lies, damn lies, and statistics.

In the confusion of numbers, little truth will emerge. And if anyone pays a political price, the basic situation will not change.

We may already be in the post "peak oil" era. In that case, expect more bodies, and less accounting.

Sophia said...

Jeha,

''In the confusion of numbers, little truth will emerge.'' I don't agree with this statement because when a scientific study is published in the Lancet, it goes through severe reviews from peers in the field. Satistics and epidemiology are real science with methodology and not mere guesses. I believe in the scientific process as the only way to find truth.

Anonymous said...

I understand the Lancet is a reputable and peer-reviewed journal. But the methodology can be debated; in the confusion of experts, the truth can be easily hidden...

Sophia said...

Jeha,
You are accrediting Bush. Not everything can be debated in science. Is the roundness of the earth debatable ? Is the fact that the earth revolves around the sun debatable ? Are statistical methods debatable ?
Science accepts debate within certain limits. Evidence, widely proven methods, facts, are some of those limits and without them, there is no knowledge.

Naj said...

I don't want to debate Lancet's publication, and I don't care whether it's 66 or 665,000 people who are dead in BushCo crussade. Emphasizing on the number of dead, to prove the immorality and illegality of malintentions, is as putting a price tag on actions with human life as the currency. It's like playing the Bush's hand: "well 66 bodies was worth it we had budgeted for that, but 665,000 was too expensive!" Numbers do not count for the quality do they? Numbers abstract the pain, the humiliation, the angst, the anger of a people under occupation. Numbers do not say how exactly a person was killed, how his mother's heart broke, how his child became orphan.

That said, I will not give carte blanche to the science of statistics. I think much peril is conducted in the world based on the statistical science. The science of moon revolving around the earth is based on observation ; not propabilistic extrapolation, or statistic estimation.

Sophia said...

Naj,
I agree with you that every human kife counts and that quantifying numbers does not add to the immorality of this war.
However I don't agree with you on the second part of your commentary: the science of the cosmos is not only based on observation, it is also based on deductions and theories. It is both theories and facts. I am stating this because philosophers like Hume tended to discredit science because it is based on observation as our observations are not valid according to Hume. On the other hand I believe in statistics as a science for mass phenomena. You knowstatistics as they are being used in Biology where they serve merely as a respectable cover to observation. However, in Epidemiology, the science of statistics is a wonderful tool. Here you seem to accredit those who, on the opposite side of Hume want to discredit theoretical science because it is not based on observation. In both cases, there are people who want you to believe that science does not vonvey the truth. I don't agree with neither positions, I firmly believe in science and its methods as the only way to establish truth. Given all this, we must agree that nobody and nothing is perfect and that science approaches the truth but does not deliver the absolute truth.
Did you see Bush on TV, this dumb person telling reproters that the numbers are not credible and that the Lancet study is not credible ? Not one journalist was able to contradict him, they all looked like acrpets.
Well I don't want to play their game by blaming science. The Lancet study is in my opinion the kind of role science should play in society, so lets not throw stones at such an initiative...

naj said...

No no definitely I am not throwing stones at this effort, but being devil's advocate, Bush's saying the numbers are not accurate, is not invalid. Statistical findings have a margin of noise (or standard deviation.) And because I believe there is a certain degree of randomness in the universe we live in (one attested to by the esteemed scientists themselves; ... no god doesn't play dice, but still ...), no matter how small the standard deviation, speaking of "absolute" truth is not necessarily scientific.

But let's blame my super-reductionism on my engineering formation :)

I will not defend Lancet's publication because it is scientifically true, but because even if the numbers are inaacurate (as bush claims), they are still numbers which are reported with greater rigor than the vague guessings of the white house. Perhaps the Journalists could have asked Bush to come up with his own study and describe his methodology to the rest of us mortally paranoid leftist axes of evil ...

M Bashir said...

gosh, thanks Sophia.

Sophia said...

Moussa,
I so much loved this post of yours.

 
Since March 29th 2006