As of August 14th, 1,019,627 Iraqis "have been killed due to the U.S. invasion" according to Robert Naiman in a blog at the Huffington Post. His methodology, however, as you might guess, is a bit wanting.
He starts with a 2006 Lancet study that he says calculates 600,000 Iraqi civilians killed in the war as of July, 2006. (Actually, the study said 655,000 but then you can't expect Naiman to read actual studies or even their abstracts or conclusions.) He then updates that figure to the present by taking the estimated death figure at the website of an anti-war group called Iraqi Body Count at that time, the estimated figure now, and applying the percentage increase to 600,000. Comments on his blog express disbelief that the mainstream media has ignored this ingenious work and the horrifying conclusion - but there just may be a reason:
- The methodology in the Lancet work has been shredded, most recently by yours truly just a week ago. It was sheer propaganda, as not just the study made clear but also separate comments from the lead author and the journal's editor.
- While Naiman is happy to use the percentage increase in Iraq Body Count's data, he rejects their actual figures. Wonder why? As of August 24, the group's website provided a range of Iraqi civilian deaths due to the invasion of "70,359 to 76,873." You probably needn't go running for your calculator to see that's just a bit below the Lancet figure from last year and somewhat more below Naiman's estimate.
- About 420 days had elapsed since the Lancet's cut-off and the publication of Naiman's estimate. Divide those 455,000 additional alleged deaths by 420 and you get over 1,083 deaths a day! How are these multitudes being killed and who's hiding the bodies?
- Naiman claims he's using the Lancet research for his baseline, but the original Lancet paper, published in 2004, came up with a (still ridiculous) 180 deaths a day.
- Therefore, while the only two datasets Naiman claims to rely on are from Iraq Body Count and The Lancet, his estimate is grotesquely higher than both of theirs. In sum, Mr. Naiman has merely illustrated the power of wishful thinking.