Calling this study inaccurate is like accusing the left of playing dirty tricks with Foley: you’re probably right, but it’s largely besides the point. Granted, Lancet is known for scaremongering; granted, their previous body count was also released shortly before an election; granted, the actual number is an extreme outlier among other counts; granted, it appears the study doesn’t account for the number killed during the entirety of Saddam’s reign; granted, it fails to distinguish between Iraqi civilians, terrorists, army, and police; granted, it has a margin of error of about 180,000 people.
Whatever the actual number is (and it’s probably closer to Iraq Body Count’s figure than to Lancet’s), it’s much more than most of us expected and, at the moment, without a lot to show for it. The Commissar’s been working his way towards Sullivanland in his war/torture posts of late, but it’s hard to argue with the implications of this photo. A thousand words indeed.
Anyway. Moran does his best to debunk, although it worth’s noting that the two key criticisms of the previous study — that the sample was too limited and the margin of error too wide — are limited in this case. According to the Times, the sample wasn’t taken in areas where violence was “clustered,” it was taken in 47 different neighborhoods across the country. And whereas the low-end figure for the margin of error in the previous study was 8,000 (and the high end 194,000), in this case the low end is … 426,000 and change. That’s about the same number of Americans killed in World War II.
One question for Lancet, though. If 600,000 people have been killed, where are all the bodies?
Update: According to the CIA Factbook by way of the Mudville Gazette, the average world death rate per 1,000 people is 8.67. The pre-invasion figure for Iraq used by Lancet was 5.5. Is that plausible? Does it count officially reported deaths or do Saddam-era “disappearances” count too? There are countries with lower death rates than 5.5 so it’s not absurd on its face.
Update: Jihadists are warning Iraqis to prepare for “the big battle of Baghdad.”
Update: This should be enough to finish off Republicans’ midterm election hopes, once and for all.
Update: Bush says the Lancet study’s methodology has been discredited. I don’t think that’s true.
Update: No way is it true says an Iraqi government spokesman.
Update: I said earlier I’d be interested to know where the 600,000 bodies are. Bob Owens isn’t as curious: he’ll settle for evidence of 600,000 death certificates being issued.