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Lancet Iraq Death Study Debunked…Again

As many have already figured out long ago using that gray mass between our ears, that much-touted 2004 Lancet study — claiming 100,000 Iraqi civilian deaths following the US invasion — has once again been discredited.

First, it was Shannon at Chicago Boyz (among many others) way back in October 2004.

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.

And now, most damning, is a study about to be formally presented on Monday by David Kane, Institute Fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University.  Michelle Malkin has the exclusive preview.

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.

An interesting side note: as Kane observes in his paper, the Lancet authors “refuse to provide anyone with the underlying data (or even a precise description of the actual methodology).” The researchers did release some high-level summary data in highly aggregated form (see here), but they released neither the detailed interviewee-level data nor the programming code that would be necessary to replicate their results.

Please make sure to tune into CBS Evening News tonight when Katie Couric will not be doing a follow-up story to set the record straight….

-Bruce (GayPatriot)

UPDATE (from GPW): Busy with schoolwork today so I may not get to blog, but just wanted to note that David Kane who wrote the piece debunking the Lancet study is like yours truly, a graduate of America’s finest liberal arts college and blogs about our alma mater at Ephblog. Check it out!



  1. George Seixon also did some great stuff debunking Lancet (and for that matter George Galloway, a British leftie who was on Saddam’s payroll).

    Unfortunately, he had to shut down He has appeared as a guest blogger on Strata-sphere, but I can’t find his previous articles. A pity.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 26, 2007 @ 11:32 am - July 26, 2007

  2. The Confidence Interval alone was enough to demonstrate that the study wasn’t, but what I want to know is how a paper without a detailed methodological discussion section got published in a peer-reviewed journal, particularly a medical journal.

    Comment by rightwingprof — July 26, 2007 @ 12:55 pm - July 26, 2007

  3. #2 – Easy, RWP. Probably the same way the New Republic got a hold of Scott Thomas – through a source on the editorial staff.

    Liberalism truly is a mental disorder.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — July 26, 2007 @ 5:11 pm - July 26, 2007

  4. You know what else has been debunked? The claim made by the Neo-Mods that we absolutely had to accept amnesty as part of ‘Comprehensive Immigration Reform’ because it would be impossible to get an enforcement-only bill through the Democrat Senate.

    Well, lo and behold, the DHS budget passed by the Senate last night includes $3 billion in enforcement-only funding for the southwest border and no amnesty for illegals. The Democrats tried to block it, but the “right wingnuts” stared them down and won. We even saved most of the John Doe amendment.

    I am virtually pointing at the Neo-Mod RINOs and going “Ha-Ha” like Nelson Muntz right now.

    Comment by V the K — July 27, 2007 @ 9:08 am - July 27, 2007

  5. Yeah, V. Funny how opposing bad compromises sometimes is the right thing to do and does get you what you want.

    Assuming the President signs the bill, of course – and then assuming the bureaucracy carries it out.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 27, 2007 @ 10:50 am - July 27, 2007

  6. None of the liberals want to back up the Lancet study they love to misquote?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 27, 2007 @ 11:11 am - July 27, 2007

  7. Assuming the President signs the bill, of course – and then assuming the bureaucracy carries it out.

    They’ll do their best to avoid it. But we always knew with McCain-Kennedy that they were going to implement the Amnesty without the Security. And if there’s still only 13 miles of fence this time next year, we’ll have a brilliant campaign issue to beat them about the head with.

    Comment by V the K — July 27, 2007 @ 11:53 am - July 27, 2007

  8. Absolutely. It needs to be made publicly and absolutely clear to the American public that the Democrat Party supports complete non-enforcement of immigration laws.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 27, 2007 @ 12:02 pm - July 27, 2007

  9. It would help that case if we didn’t have a Republican president who also supported complete non-enforcement of immigration laws. (But give an illegal-immigrant drug dealer a flesh wound in the buttocks, and he’ll throw the book at you).

    Comment by V the K — July 27, 2007 @ 12:14 pm - July 27, 2007

  10. LOL. go to this stats blog for an intense mathematical showing that Kane is actually not convincing in the least statistically. Short version: to have findings like he does, you’d need to have towns in Iraq in which dead people magically come back to life. That’s clearly wrong, so his assumption of normality is wrong and thus so are his calculations. D’oh!

    Comment by Another eph — July 27, 2007 @ 3:18 pm - July 27, 2007

  11. Um…..the problem is that the Lancet study was the one positing that there were magic villages, inasmuch as the range of potential values fell in comparison.

    Kane simply pointed out that the two parts of their paper contradicted each other; therefore, either their data was wrong or their conclusions were wrong.

    Interestingly enough, as Kane points out in the comments (#8, to be precise), the original individual level data for the study is not “available”, according to the authors.

    But what is also obvious in that comments section is that leftist scientists have no moral qualms whatsoever about quashing Kane’s paper because it doesn’t fit their preferred ideological view.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — July 27, 2007 @ 5:31 pm - July 27, 2007

  12. So here’s the bottom line, as near as I can gather:

    1) In a shocking departure from scientific practice, the Lancet authors still won’t divulge some crucial details of their data-gathering and statistical methodologies.
    2) In a shocking departure from scientific practice, the Lancet authors still won’t release their study data sets.
    3) Accepting those handicaps, and arguing purely from such data and method as the Lancet authors wanted to put forward, Kane showed their paper is self-contradicting and hence, self-undermining.

    As Bruce points out, many others have debunked the Lancet number in entirely different ways. It’s a sieve.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — July 27, 2007 @ 6:12 pm - July 27, 2007

  13. #12
    B-b-b-but they’re “scientists” who reached a “consensus”. You can’t argue with that!

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 28, 2007 @ 1:13 am - July 28, 2007

  14. BTW, and I’ve asked many times before, why is it that the libs used to swear by and then threw them under the bus when the Lancet studies came out?

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 28, 2007 @ 1:14 am - July 28, 2007

  15. #14:

    why is it that the libs used to swear by and then threw them under the bus when the Lancet studies came out?

    Because the left doesn’t give a damb about the truth, they’ll just embrace any narrative that depicts America as an evil county and the military as psychotic barbarians*. (Duh!)

    *See also the thread immediately above this one.

    Comment by V the K — July 28, 2007 @ 8:38 am - July 28, 2007

  16. I’m baaack!

    And I could not pass up commenting on this topic. There are a lot of problems with David Kane’s attempt to “debunk” the Lancet study. They are all covered here in detail. I’m not a statistician but even I can grasp the concept that the inclusion of the Fallujah outlier throws assumptions of normal distribution behavior out the window. Poor David – he’s about to present his paper to a meeting of statisticians on Monday. If I were him, I’d run over my allotted time so as to avoid the devastating questions that are sure to follow. BTW, David himself actually accepts that our disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq has resulted in 100,000 excess violent deaths. Of course, that’s perfectly acceptable to the war cheerleaders.

    Comment by Ian S — July 29, 2007 @ 1:11 am - July 29, 2007

  17. I’m not a statistician

    You mean that you’ll pretend to be a lawyer and a global warmism professor, but you won’t pretend to be a statistician? So much for staying at a Holiday Inn Express, dumbass.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — July 29, 2007 @ 3:03 am - July 29, 2007

  18. #17:

    you’ll pretend to be a lawyer and a global warmism professor

    You’re lying again. I’ve never pretended to be either. You on the other hand pretend to be a conservative when in fact you’re simply a Bush apologist.

    Comment by Ian S — July 29, 2007 @ 10:38 am - July 29, 2007

  19. whether it’s 30,000 innocent iraqis killed, or 100,000 innocent iraqis killed, the blood of all of them lie on bush and cheney’s shoulders. there was no valid reason to invade this soverign nation.

    the only fact we know for sure is this immoral war didn’t need to be fought. iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. now it’s a festering breeding ground for terrorists, courtesy of bushco.

    george w. bush = worst president ever

    Comment by rightiswrong — August 1, 2007 @ 7:29 am - August 1, 2007

  20. Unfortunately for Ian and rightiswrong, their way of “sanctions” had already been proven to have caused half a million excess Iraqi deaths — and that’s just among children, not including adults.

    And there you see Democrat racism in its purest form; they consider the solution that causes the more deaths to Iraqis to be moral.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — August 1, 2007 @ 12:54 pm - August 1, 2007

  21. You cant seriously believe this stuff.

    The lancet is a serious scientific journal. The people who did the study are the leading scientists in the field. People try to discredit the lancet study because of what it says about America.

    Comment by Gareth — February 9, 2009 @ 8:40 am - February 9, 2009

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