Jump to content

Iraq death toll


Walsingham

Recommended Posts

Not really, because it seems as though we aren't talking about the same thing.

 

I'm not talking about the "Iraq Body Count" website or whatever, but rather your comment about:

 

"And since they only count bodies (how stupid is that)"

 

 

Given the bouncing around between capitalization of "Iraq Body Count" being referred to as "Iraq body count," I'm not really sure when people are talking about the website or if they are talking about the actual body count of Iraqi people.

 

I would never dispute that Iraq Body Count could be wrong.  I was curious why counting the number of dead bodies is a "stupid" form of assessing casualties.  I know it wouldn't be accurate, but at least it wouldn't be purely guessing.

 

What I meant by that is that they only count the bodies (deaths) viewed at the scene - by and large - not the subsequent deaths or deaths reported by families in which no bodies are reported by the media. My impression from reading the media is that they are reluctant to report deaths for which they did not see a body or for which coalition forces say there was a death. It was sloppy speach. Sorry about that.

 

I think that counting deaths using death certificates and also adding family reported deaths is the better way to determine how many have died.

 

If somebody falsified alot of death certificates and family stories to match those death certificates that would be a problem - but, in a statistical study such deception would quite likely be detected because it would demonstrate very unlikely statistical behavior. Historical records indicate that the US and UK militaries have falsified some data in ways that are statistically difficult to detect - but most organizations would have trouble doing that.

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a way, but not a good way.

it's better than doing a statistical extrapolation. at the very least, a body count represents the absolute minimum, whereas a statistical count provides a range, that has uncertainty.

 

Some bodies will be deep in the countryside or in mountainous areas. If you dont know about a death and the body isn't easily found then you would completely miss that, etc, etc.
and it's also highly likely there aren't nearly as many of those.

 

Cluster samples using people with death certificates run into a similar set of problems regarding 'hidden' deaths, but they draw somewhat closer , if not by much, by getting away from the needless obsession with the physical body.
hehe. this is silly. again, exactly how do you know they draw "somewhat closer?"

 

As I say, both ways will be biased. And if faced with 30,000 and 600,000, it will be somwehre in the middle. Probaly 100,000-200,000.

you have no basis for that number, either.

 

taks

comrade taks... just because.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Taks, what do you believe and why?

 

By the way, how was your linear algebra test, Taks? What kind of linear algebra is it?

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So Taks, what do you believe and why?

i believe there are probably too many identifiable biases to truly trust the numbers, but to what extent it is impossible to tell (remember, the 95% interval was over 400k anyway). as hades stated, the TRUE number is probably more than the reported body count. that's simply because the body count does not add indirect deaths, which this study is purporting to cover. as for an actual number, i cannot say as there simply isn't enough information.

 

By the way, how was your linear algebra test, Taks? What kind of linear algebra is it?

got an 84% on the in-class portion (avg was 72% with 94% the high) and finished the take-home portion only to discover that the hardest question on that was actually proved elsewhere in our book, in a section we aren't covering (i did not peek because i did not know). as a result, the question was sort of "rephrased" into a two-parter that was similar, but different enough to require more work (part a of the rephrased question is actually sort of shown in the first anyway). this is now due on tuesday.

 

as an example of "what kind of linear algebra" this class is, the original third question on the takehome is:

 

Given two linear transformations U, T: V --> V, where V is a vector space, N(T) and N(U) are both finite dimensional (V is not necessarily finite dimensional!), and T is onto, prove that dim(N(UT)) = dim(N(T)) + dim(N(U)).

 

some background...

a linear transformation from one vector space to another is simply a linear combination of vectors in the one space to create a vector in the new space.

 

N(T) is the null-space of T, N(U) is the null-space of U. A null-space for a linear transformation is the collection of all vectors, v, elements of V, such that T(v) = 0. the dimension of N(T) is referred to as the nullity of T. the null-space of the combined transform, then, would be first v such that T(v) is an element of N(U), plus any vector v that is an element of U (note that UT(v) is accomplished by first transforming with T to a new vector, then with U).

 

onto means that for any vector v in V, there is a corresponding element w (in V in this case) such that T(w) = v. i.e. every element in the space you are transforming to, is a linear combination of elements you are transforming from.

 

if T were also one-to-one, that would mean that the transformation is unique, i.e. there is only one transformation from the starting space that will result in a vector in the ending space. mathematically if T(w2) = v and T(w1) = v, then w1 = w2 if a transformation is one-to-one.

 

one-to-one and onto together imply that dim(N(T)) = 0, btw.

 

that V is not necessarily finite dimensional makes this difficult.

 

taks

Edited by taks

comrade taks... just because.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Iraqi government and the website Iraq Body Count both estimate the number of dead civilians from the start of the war to be between 45,000 and 55,000. Right now everyone agrees the average death rate is higher than it has ever been at 2000/dead per month. Yet for the 600,000 figure to be correct, over 15,000 people would have had to die each and every month for the past 3 years. What's more the sheer number of these deaths would have to have been basically hidden from the entire global media, which has been blanketing the country since 2003.

 

That figure simply does not make sense, mathematically.

Edited by ~Di
Link to comment
Share on other sites

the null-space of the combined transform, then, would be first v such that T(v) is an element of N(U), plus any vector v that is an element of U (note that UT(v) is accomplished by first transforming with T to a new vector, then with U).

that should read "plus any vector v that is an element of N(U)" not "plus any vector v that is an element of U."

 

taks

comrade taks... just because.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have to say that I'm mainly swayed by Di's argument. It seems preposterous to suggest that 15,000 deaths could be missed somehow. On the other hand no-one noticed 2,000 plus kids dying per month under peaceful sanctions, so you never know...

 

I'm not decided yet, but I'm definitely still unconvinced by this very large figure.

 

Personally I don't have a particular problem with the figure as being against my views. I know for sure that if the figure IS that high then it's not due in the main to Coalition forces. Because the researchers include by their own admission people who may have died due to personal vendettas, sickness, hunger, sectarian violence and general devilry. I know that, for example, US forces have repaired the Baghdad water works at least three times, only to have them destroyed by the insurgents every time.

 

I'd be interested in the higher figure because what that should tell us is that we have no option whatsoever to abandon the country to its fate. Because however high the death toll is now it will increase by multiples if we bug out.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A thought struck me (ow!) last night as I watched NewsNight (there was a good piece on the status of troops in Iraq; there was a Minister from the new Iraqi government fielding questions, too, and reiterating that the Iraq constitution, that was voted into existence by 10 million Iraqis, was both a beacon of democracy and a basis for the most progressive society in the Middle East); namely that the emotional damage of the people who have lived under the brutish reign of Saddam Hussein for decades, are probably acting out some habitual and therapeutic anti-establishment violence (in some misguided attempt to deal with their mental damage).

OBSCVRVM PER OBSCVRIVS ET IGNOTVM PER IGNOTIVS

ingsoc.gif

OPVS ARTIFICEM PROBAT

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A thought struck me (ow!) last night as I watched NewsNight (there was a good piece on the status of troops in Iraq; there was a Minister from the new Iraqi government fielding questions, too, and reiterating that the Iraq constitution, that was voted into existence by 10 million Iraqis, was both a beacon of democracy and a basis for the most progressive society in the Middle East); namely that the emotional damage of the people who have lived under the brutish reign of Saddam Hussein for decades, are probably acting out some habitual and therapeutic anti-establishment violence (in some misguided attempt to deal with their mental damage).

 

Good thought. It may be a factor.

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Iraqi government and the website Iraq Body Count both estimate the number of dead civilians from the start of the war to be between 45,000 and 55,000.  Right now everyone agrees the average death rate is higher than it has ever been at 2000/dead per month.  Yet for the 600,000 figure to be correct, over 15,000 people would have had to die each and every month for the past 3 years. What's more the sheer number of these deaths would have to have been basically hidden from the entire global media, which has been blanketing the country since 2003. 

 

That figure simply does not make sense, mathematically.

 

My understanding is that one of the problems with Iraqi governement figures is that their results for normal deaths are about 10% of the mortality expected from the healthiest societies in the world. In other words, if we were to believe their numbers we would have to conclude that Iraqis are overall ten times healthier than any other population on earth. This seems unlikely.

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was under the impression that the numbers the Iraqi government came up with were referring to civilian deaths directly attributed to live combat, not some of the "if the war blows up a hospital, and a guy hurt doing something completely uninvolved in the war ends up dying because the hospital is destroyed, so add one two the war casualty" numbers, nor deaths that are completely unrelated to the conflict.

 

Unless you're referring to something else when you talk about their "results for normal deaths."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think it is worthwhile to post an interesting piece from Paul Reynolds at the BBC. At the bottom are some comments relating to the reliability of government mortality reports. Especially interesting when put together with the observation that 93% of the deaths reported into the mortality survey were confirmed by death certificates. Oh well.

 

Huge gaps in Iraq death estimates

Analysis

By Paul Reynolds

World affairs correspondent, BBC News website

 

 

The estimate that about 655,000 people have died in Iraq as a result of the 2003 invasion is such a large figure that it has led to two differing interpretations.

Those who had faith in an earlier report from 2004 - also published in the medical journal The Lancet - are now able to say that this larger survey proves their point that Iraqi deaths have been far greater than publicly reported, and have now reached what the report calls "a humanitarian emergency".

Those who thought that the 2004 survey was exaggerated - it estimated 98,000 additional deaths up until September 2004 - think this one is even more wide of the mark.

Les Roberts, one of the report's authors said: "It may not be extremely precise, but it gets us into the ball park."

Professor Gilbert Burnham, another of the report's authors and an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said: "We're very confident with the results."

And other epidemiologists supported that view. Ronald Waldman of Columbia Univesrity told the Washington Post that the survey used a method that was "tried and true" and that "this is the best estimate of mortality we have."

On the other hand, Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution, which tracks statistics in its Iraq Index, said: "I do not believe the new numbers. I think they're way off."

It may not be extremely precise, but it gets us into the ball park

Les Roberts

report author

The Brooking Index, relying on the UN (which gets figures from the Iraqi health ministry) and the Iraq Body Count (IBC), estimates the civilian death toll at about 62,000.

The IBC, which counts the number of reported civilian deaths, puts them between 43,850 and 48,693, though it adds that "our maximum refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media."

The IBC reaction to the Lancet report is awaited.

US President George W Bush rejected the estimate.

I don't consider it a credible report

President Bush

"I don't consider it a credible report," he said.

The US commander in Iraq, Gen George Casey, used a similar phrase.

British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett was more careful, and did not reject the report outright. However, she questioned it.

"The report gives a figure which is orders of magnitude different from any other source... nobody else has come up with figures on this scale... the report has been criticised by the Iraqi government as unreasonable," she said.

Report methodology

The strength of the report, its authors argue, is in its tried and trusted method.

It took a sample and then extrapolated broad results from that sample. This is a technique used in public opinion polling and in marketing, for example, in assessing television audiences.

In 2004, 33 clusters were chosen across the country with 30 households in each cluster. These households contained 7,868 people. This time, 47 clusters were chosen, with 12,801 people.

The method was to question people about deaths in their household first in the "pre-invasion" period and then in the "post-invasion" period leading up to July 2006.

The difference would constitute what the survey calls "excess deaths".

The report says that there were 82 deaths pre-invasion and 547 post-invasion.

It then multiplied these figures up in relation to the Iraqi population of 27,139,584, and came up with an estimated 654,956 "excess" deaths, 2.5 % of the population.

Some statistical caveats are entered. The lowest estimate of deaths is put at 392,979 and the highest at 942,636. The lowest figure is still much bigger than the other counts.

Of the "excess" deaths, 601,027 were attributed to the violence (mainly from gunfire and mainly among men aged 15-59), the rest coming largely from increased illness and disease.

The report concludes: "Our estimate of excess deaths is far higher than those reported in Iraq through passive surveillance methods. This discrepancy is not unexpected. Data from passive surveillance are rarely complete, even in stable circumstances, and are even less complete during conflict."

Critics of the report argue that something must have gone wrong in the sampling.

Such criticism was made of the first Lancet report. Some said that a high death rate in a small number of households could have hugely changed the extrapolated totals.

In Slate magazine, Fred Kaplan argued of the first report: "The problem is, ultimately, not with the scholars who conducted the study; they did the best they could under the circumstances.

"The problem is the circumstances. It's hard to conduct reliable, random surveys, and to extrapolate meaningful data from the results of those surveys in the chaotic, restrictive environment of war."

'Missing' dead

There is also the criticism that, crudely, the numbers of bodies being discovered do not match the figures.

It is assumed that the 601,000 violent "excess" deaths between March 2003 and July 2006 (about 40 months) should produce an average of about 500 violent deaths per day.

This is not going to be so all the time, given the spikes of violence, but it is a rough criterion.

The latest figures from the Iraqi health ministry (reported by the Associated Press news agency on 11 October) stated that 2,667 people were killed in Baghdad during September, 400 more than in August.

This gives an average of about 86 per day in the capital.

Baghdad is not the whole country of course, but AP reported the United Nations as saying that in July and August, 6,599 people were killed across the country, of which 5,106 were in Baghdad.

This suggests that Baghdad has by far the highest number of actual and percentage dead.

So, if the current rate in Baghdad is about 86 and the countrywide figure should be about 500 according to the Lancet report, where are the "missing" dead?

Update: I put these points to author Les Roberts who replied: "There have to be ~300 deaths per day from natural cause even if Iraq was the healthiest 26 million people in the world. Where are those bodies? When the MOH [ministry of health] in Iraq is perhaps recording 10% of them, why should they be doing better with politically charged violent deaths. Yes, I think almost nothing is getting reported outside of Baghdad where things are worse."

And he suggested that a way existed of checking his results. "There has rarely been a scientific report so easily verified or discarded. If someone went to 4 or 6 places picked at random in Iraq, and went to the grave yards for those villages, they could easily see if there are 3 or 4 times more bodies being brought in per week compared to 2002. Or, if someone could go to a couple villages or places, if we are correct, on average ~70 percent of the deaths occurring will be from violence.

"This would take 2 reporters one day to decide if we are basically correct or in error!"

The difficulty of course is that the international media is incapable of getting around safely to do something like that easily. The local media is a source but cannot be relied on by itself.

We are left then with the estimate from this report and the various counts by other groups.

The figures are now even more divergent than they were.

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was under the impression that the numbers the Iraqi government came up with were referring to civilian deaths directly attributed to live combat, not some of the "if the war blows up a hospital, and a guy hurt doing something completely uninvolved in the war ends up dying because the hospital is destroyed, so add one two the war casualty" numbers, nor deaths that are completely unrelated to the conflict.

 

Unless you're referring to something else when you talk about their "results for normal deaths."

 

They also report figures for deaths they consider unrelated to the conflict - just normal stuff - heart attacks, accidents, cancer, and such. Apparantly their reported numbers for those types of deaths are way too low. :)

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure where you got the idea with Iraq Body Count being deceitful with their use of the word "maximum," as they're quoted in this article:

 

our maximum refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media

 

 

EDIT: Do you know where I can find these reports?

Edited by alanschu
Link to comment
Share on other sites

keep in mind, many of the unreported deaths NOW, were the same types of unreported deaths THEN. i.e., as much as our current estimate is off (likely, IMO), estimates prior to the war were probably off as well. we didn't have nearly as much media in iraq at the time, nor US troops, and saddam's infrastructure was never truly optimal for handling their own issues anyway.

 

taks

comrade taks... just because.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure where you got the idea with Iraq Body Count being deceitful with their use of the word "maximum," as they're quoted in this article:

 

our maximum refers to reported deaths - which can only be a sample of true deaths unless one assumes that every civilian death has been reported. It is likely that many if not most civilian casualties will go unreported by the media

 

 

EDIT: Do you know where I can find these reports?

 

My problem with them is that they use the word "maximum" instead of a more appropriate word and claim that is OK because they footnote it to have a different meaning.

 

It's like someone saying: "Frank is a nitwit*. *By nitwit we mean someone who gets lower scores than Einstein on math tests." Most folks won't see the footnote and even when they do see the footnote will be guided in their understanding by the normal understanding of "nitwit". It's just human nature. The folks at IBC understand that and yet they continue to use an inappropriate word.

 

Regarding the Edit:

 

On the IBQ website they list their event ID number, a brief description of the event, the news organizations which ran stories they relied on, and the date of the event. They specifically say that they don't provide links to the stories. So it is hard to dig up the stories.

 

It is possible that they have internal records with more useful information on the relevant stories, like the dateline of the stories, the authors, and the main web pages for the sources. You could ask them.

 

Otherwise you will need to try internet searches. It is likely this will be difficult.

 

If you are very serious there are news research organizations that keep copies of things that may be able to help - for a price.

Edited by Colrom

As dark is the absence of light, so evil is the absence of good.

If you would destroy evil, do good.

 

Evil cannot be perfected. Thank God.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry, I was referring to the reports from the Iraqi government directly.

 

If not the reports themselves, then some sort of commentary on them.

 

 

EDIT:

 

I just went to www.iraqbodycount.com for the first time, and it doesn't even seem like it's a poor choice of word to use maximum.

 

There's a box with "Civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq" with the min/max.

 

I suppose someone could read that wrong, but I don't know if that's the fault of IBC. And any ambiguity goes away when you view the database.

 

The word you should be mad over is the term "reported." Because by reported he is meaning reported in the news.

Edited by alanschu
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't like IBC. But that's not their job. I think the fact that we all mistrust them, but not very much, should be cause for confidence.

 

Can I respectfully shove this discussion down the road of debating our responsibility for deaths by insurgents and insurgent action. I don't think it's really sensible, but am curious what people think.

"It wasn't lies. It was just... bull****"."

             -Elwood Blues

 

tarna's dead; processing... complete. Disappointed by Universe. RIP Hades/Sand/etc. Here's hoping your next alt has a harp.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The deaths in Iraq are regrettable and probably some of the people who have died might not have if we had not invaded, but what could have been or might have been is irrelevant to the reality that we are currently in. Iraq is in trouble, we have a responsibility to render as much aid as we can, and once the new government can establish a lasting peace within the factions of the Iraqis then we can focus on the future.

Murphy's Law of Computer Gaming: The listed minimum specifications written on the box by the publisher are not the minimum specifications of the game set by the developer.

 

@\NightandtheShape/@ - "Because you're a bizzare strange deranged human?"

Walsingham- "Sand - always rushing around, stirring up apathy."

Joseph Bulock - "Another headache, courtesy of Sand"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I imagine that some will argue that the insurgents are killing innocents because of the US forces presence.

 

Though I don't know if I agree with that. If news came out that the insurgents were doing some hardcore slaughter of the innocents, and committing mass genocide in response to the presence of the US troops, I doubt I'd attribute those deaths to the US forces.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
×
×
  • Create New...