Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Isn't Science Wonderful?

In October 2004, the British medical journal Lancet published a study based on extensive interviews with Iraqis that the researchers then extrapolated to determine that in the first months after the U.S.-led invasion, some 100,000 excess deaths occurred among the civilian population. At the time, this was well above any other count and was dismissed as outlandish.

Two years later, the same journal published the findings of a much more extensive survey and similar extrapolation. This time, the total excess deaths – those over what would be expected in a country not at war – since the invasion in March 2003 was estimated at 655,000. Moreover, of this total, the study estimated 601,000 deaths were from violence.

This time Washington and London were quite derisive in their dismissal of the findings. Well, now London has reversed course. The chief science advisor to the British Ministry of Defence has states that the methodology employed in the study is “robust” and “close to best practices.”

One gets the impression the chief science advisor found he could replicate the process and get similar results.

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