Survey says…!

via www.CoxAndForkum.com

Michelle Malkin has a great post on a new critique of the 2004 Lancet Iraq death toll study. 

Now, it’s the statisticians and math geeks’ turn. Remember that massively-publicized 2004 Lancet Iraq death toll study? It was cited in nearly 100 scholarly journals and reported by news outlets around the world. “100,000 Civilian Deaths Estimated in Iraq” blared the Washington Post in a typical headline. 

There were attempts made by lay journalists to debunk the 2004 study (as well as the 2006 follow-up study that purported to back up the first). But none of those dissections comes close to a damning new statistical analysis of the 2004 study authored by David Kane, Institute Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. I read of Kane’s new paper at this science blog and e-mailed him for permission to reprint his analysis in its entirety here so that a wider blog readership could have a look. He has given me his permission and adds that he welcomes comments and feedback. He’ll be presenting the paper at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Salt Lake City on Monday — the largest conference of statisticians in North America.

Much of the math here is mind-numbingly complicated, but Kane’s bottom line is simple: the Lancet authors “cannot reject the null hypothesis that mortality in Iraq is unchanged.” Translation: according to Kane, the confidence interval for the Lancet authors’ main finding is wrong. Had the authors calculated the confidence interval correctly, Kane asserts that they would have failed to identify a statistically significant increase in risk of death in Iraq, let alone the widely-reported 98,000 excess civilian deaths. 

(Read more…)

More by Shannon Love at Chicago Boyz

“Kane shows that if the Falluja cluster is included in the statistical calculations, the confidence interval dips below zero, which is a big no-no. Since the study’s raw data remain a closely guarded secret, Kane cannot be absolutely certain that the inclusion of the Falluja cluster renders the study mathematically invalid…but that’s the way to bet. In science, replication is the iron test. I find it revealing that no other source or study has come close to replicating the original study. All my original points still stand. Ah, vindication is sweet.” 

For those of you with a background in math and statistics, you will enjoy the information in David Kane’s research.  As for me, it is giving me a headache to look at it.  Give me history and political science.  I’ll leave the math to folks better suited for it.   

Others posting on this topic: Rightwing Nuthouse, Republican GOP News Source, Right Voices, The Conjecturer, The Crossed Pond, EphBlog

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