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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] Chris Lightfoot has some more excellent commentary on this at http://ex-parrot.com/~chris/wwwitter/20041102-_but_one_hundred_thousand_deaths_is_an_easily-abused_statistic.html Among other things, he points out another downing street statement: ---- Asked to explain further the Government's previous concerns and doubts about the methodology applied in the ``Lancet'' article about the number of Iraqi deaths, the PMOS replied because it relied on the extrapolation technique assumed, that Iraq was uniform in terms of intensity of conflict. It wasn't. The article also assumed that bombing was general throughout Iraq, which was not the case. The Iraqi Department of Health had issued figures that showed over a 6 month period there were about 3,000 deaths, which was a long way short of the figures quoted in the ``Lancet''. The Iraqi DOH measured those figures by the number of people who came into hospitals throughout Iraq, and it was very difficult to rely on any such figures quoted in the ``Lancet'' with any certainty. ---- I haven't seen the original source on which this is based - perhaps somebody should be pressing the govt. to release it so we can see what they're basing it on. There is a newspaper report on it from late september at http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/9753603.htm. And yes, the PMOS is being misleading again. *** I'm also very interested in another of Chris' points, and I think it is one that CASI old-timers are well-placed to analyse. I'll copy it in full: "``The pre-war infant mortality rate reported by this study is far below that from other statistics; therefore we can't trust this study.'' This one's much more interesting. The Lancet study reported an infant mortality rate of 29 per 1,000 live births (95% confidence interval 0 -- 64), as compared to a UNICEF estimate of 107 per 1,000 live births. (For comparison, the value for the UK in 2003 is 6 per 1,000 births.) This suggests that the samples they took were not representative of this segment of the population. Two immediate comments: firstly, the UNICEF figure has no error estimate, and so is difficult to compare to the new estimate; secondly, the old Iraqi régime may have inflated infant mortality figures to support the argument that sanctions were responsible for a large rise in infant mortality. (I can't justify the latter argument -- it's just a hypothesis; in any case, the Coalition Provisional Authority quoted a similar figure, 108 deaths / 1,000 births, in June this year.) One other possibility: the researchers counted the numbers of births and deaths among the interviewed samples over a fixed interval. This will only give an accurate estimate of the infant mortality rate if the birth rate doesn't vary substantially (a child who dies during the survey period may have been born before it). However, to explain the discrepancy, a large increase in the birth rate in the immediate pre-war period would be required, and there's no reason to suppose that had happened. This issue, unlike most of the others, is a bit troubling. But the bulk of the deaths estimated by this study occurred among adults, not children, so -- unless this is evidence for a wider problem -- this doesn't affect the basic conclusion; in any case, the survey compared the households' pre- and post-war circumstances using the same methodology, and it is the ratio of pre- and post-war mortality rates from which the estimate for the total numbers of deaths was derived." ------------ Daniel O'Huiginn firstname.lastname@example.org 07745 192426 24, Priory Road, Cambridge ------------ _______________________________________ Sent via the CASI-analysis mailing list To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-analysis All postings are archived on CASI's website at http://www.casi.org.uk