October 30, 2006

Time Flies When Killing Nothing But Innocent Bystanders

Hatched by Dafydd

By now, everybody and his unkie's monkle knows about the Lancet survey that purports to show that the Iraq invasion has killed about 655,000 extra Iraqis -- nearly all of them innocent.

Actually, since the Lancet's survey only went through July 2006, and assuming the rate is unabated, a total of more than 704,000 "extra deaths" should have occurred by now, the end of October 2006. I shall accordingly use this figure hence.

They arrived at this figure by interviewing a small number of grieving survivors (2,000 households) and asking them, offhand, how many members of their family have been killed by the wicked infidels (actually, they asked how many had died since the invasion; I doubt the significance escaped the respondents' notice).

Then they projected this figure throughout the entire population of Iraq to get a figure that is about 14 times the (likely inflated) "maximum" figure on Iraq Body Count, 49,760, and more than 20 times the more commonly accepted figure of 35,000.

Oddly enough, however, they must not be burying their dead, because mortuary records don't show anywhere near that many burials over the last 43 months, a fact at which even the Lancet hints.

Amazingly enough, it appears that half of all extended families in Iraq have lost someone -- assuming no overlap at all: I assumed that an extended family in Iraq would consist of a mother and father, an average of three kids, an average of three living grandparents (recall that grandparents in such a society could easily be in their late thirties or early forties), an average of five living aunts and uncles, who between them would have produced about eight cousins.

I'm probably underestimating much of this -- which would mean even more families would have to have lost members to evil, wicked Coalition soldiers, in order to arrive at Lancet's (reprojected) 704,000 figure. If there is overlap, that would increase the number of families that would have had deaths: each death would kill a father, an uncle, and a cousin, of three different households, perhaps.

To put it another way, if this guess were true, the war would have considerably more than doubled the national annual death rate of Iraq (5.37 per 1,000 per year), according to the latest figures from the CIA's World Factbook (or even 5.5, as Lancet calculates it).

What would it have taken to produce such a staggeringly huge death rate? The Belmont Club can help with that; they note that the Israelis bombed the heck out of Lebanon for 34 days, and only managed to kill 1,300 Lebanese (all of them innocent, once again; it's remarkable how luckless the innocent are in these Moslem countries, while the guilty seem to lead charmed lives... perhaps somebody down there likes them).

Whenever I see numbers, I have to whip out my calculator and play. It's a nasty habit, I know; but I'm too old a dog to change Spot now.

The Lebanese death rate works out to about 38 per day -- and that's with heavy, continuous bombing, shelling, and massive, daily assaults. Let's assume that same rate of death in Iraq; how long would it take to kill 704,000 people? A simple division: it would take 18,526 days, or approximately 50 years and 9 months.

Hm. Well, that doesn't quite work out, does it!

On the other hand, we have a lot more soldiers in Iraq than the Israelis had in Lebanon... so let's look at it the other direction: assume that we have killed 704,000 people in Iraq since the invasion, which began on March 19th, 2003; what is the daily rate of killing we would have to be seeing? (Lancet concluded that 601,000 of the 655,000 deaths were violent; projected forward, that would mean 646,000 of the 704,000.)

Again, it's a simple calculation, complicated only because we must first figure out how many days it's been: from invasion to March 19th, 2006 is 1,096 days (because 2004 was a leap year), plus 225 days since then, for a grand total of 1,321 days.

704,000 divided by 1,321 equals 533 innocent civilians dying each and every day, Sundays and holidays included. (Actually, since this is an Islamic country, we would expect to see more deaths during the Sabbath -- which is actually Friday, not Sunday -- and during holiday periods, like Ramadan.) If we restrict it to violent deaths, that's 487 violent deaths per day.

There was a lull from the end of major combat operations, May 1st, 2003, until the insurgency and terrorist activity really started to uptick, say about April 4th, 2004 with First Fallujah. But on the other hand, we would assume a very much increased daily rate during the month of MCO; even if they don't quite balance, it probably doesn't change much... we can assume the daily rate after the insurgency and terrorism started to be somewhere between 550 and 650 extra deaths per day.

I doubt even the wildest-eyed anti-war fanatic sincerely believes that all the reporters, non-governmental organizations, government departments, and the other medical researchers in Iraq (who actually check physical evidence, rather than relying upon surveys) could possibly have missed an additional 500 civilians dying per day, 460 of them killed violently -- and nearly all by Coalition forces, if you can believe the Iraqi respondents. But of course, figures don't lie!

The researchers assure us that asking Iraqi respondents how many have died is perfectly sound methodology. They don't need to look at death certificates, hospital records, or mortuary records; first, those hard data may be unavailable... and second, they don't yield a high enough number of extra deaths:

When death certificates were not available, there were good reasons, say the authors. "We think it is unlikely that deaths were falsely recorded. Interviewers also believed that in the Iraqi culture it was unlikely for respondents to fabricate deaths," they write.

Fabricating deaths simply isn't done in Iraqi culture... quick, somebody, alert the Green Helmet Guy!

But I still want to know where the weekly quota of 3,731 bodies is being stashed; I should think that by now, every graveyard in the country would have been filled up, and the bodies would have to be packed into warehouses (refrigerated, one hopes) until the country can decide where to put them. Sort of like nuclear waste, I reckon.

If somebody can show me a photograph of a warehouse with bodies stacked like cordwood, or else dozens of mass graves dug post-Saddam, then I will believe it. Until then, I'm afraid I'm going to have to maintain a bit of skepticism about the Lancet's figure. It's conceivable that their methods are unsound.

So how does this relate to the election, as the category list indicates? Well, just an example of the goofy results that you can get from a poll when you deliberately disconnect it from any external, reality-based cross-checking.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, October 30, 2006, at the time of 6:06 PM

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The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excellent work, Dafydd. I excerped and linked.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2006 9:02 PM

The following hissed in response by: unclebenjamin

Delicious snark. Sure, it's a pretty easy target, but it was delivered with such panache.

The above hissed in response by: unclebenjamin [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2006 9:13 PM

The following hissed in response by: Fritz

Now Dafydd, surely you know that the Lancet survey was not intended for anyone who thinks. People who try to influence elections with lies don't believe that people can think, so why should they try to make an honest report. Instead they just tell a bigger lie and hope that most people won't bother to question what they say. In fact, I'm sure there are many BDS sufferers who believe it even though anyone with a modicum of intelligence knows it can't be true.
For what it’s worth, 700,004 people at 150 lbs equates to 1,680,547 cubic feet of dead bodies. So all you need to do is look for a building that is slightly less than 120 feet wide, high, and deep and you’ll find the dead bodies, that is if they were tamped in very tightly. The building will have to be strongly constructed since it will be containing 52,500 tons of bodies. And yes, I’m addicted to calculators also.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 30, 2006 10:27 PM

The following hissed in response by: PC14

Well, as you mention, those who actually check physical evidence could not have possibly missed an average week of 3,731 dead bodies.

But if 3731 is the average or perhaps the mean, just imagine the high number on one of the tails of the distribution. If Lancet's numbers were in fact legit, there would probably be weeks where 40,000 were killed. Now what are the chances of that number escaping the MSM headlines?

The above hissed in response by: PC14 [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2006 8:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Silly lizard - Everyone knows they were eaten by camels. Ravenous man-eating camels. Never heard of them? For shame. Lancet did a big study on them last year. And because it is Lancet, a name you know you can trust, then there shoyuld be no dispute.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at October 31, 2006 9:26 AM

The following hissed in response by: bigger

Silly lizard, sillier Big D --

Man eating camels? Don't be a loon! Haven't you noticed how


dog food has become in the US since we invaded Iraq?

The above hissed in response by: bigger [TypeKey Profile Page] at November 1, 2006 8:48 AM

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