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Last updated on July 2nd, 2017 at 12:53 pm

Lancet’s Iraqi death count relied on data from just 47 clusters. A new count – suggesting a much lower toll – draws from more than 1,000 clusters.


Three weeks before the 2006 elections, the British medical journal Lancet published a bombshell report estimating that casualties in Iraq had exceeded 650,000 since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003. We know that number was wildly exaggerated. The news is that now we know why.

It turns out the Lancet study was funded by anti-Bush partisans and conducted by antiwar activists posing as objective researchers. It also turns out the timing was no accident. You can find the fascinating details in the current issue of National Journal magazine, thanks to reporters Neil Munro and Carl Cannon. And sadly, that may be the only place you’ll find them. While the media were quick to hype the original Lancet report—within a week of its release it had been featured on 25 news shows and in 188 newspaper and magazine articles—something tells us this debunking won’t get the same play.

UPDATE II. Wired‘s Nick Thompson:

I don’t buy right wing claims that the [Lancet] survey should be discredited just because it was partially funded by George Soros’s Open Society Institute. OSI does all sorts of great non-partisan work. But I do worry about one of the three authors, a critic of the war, declaring that he “wanted to get the survey out before the election, if at all possible.”

The Bush administration has played politics with science far too many times. But that’s no excuse for its opponents doing the same.

UPDATE III. Decision ‘08:

When an anti-war partisan brandishes the Lancet numbers as if they were unimpeachable, uncontested, and uncontroversial, then it’s safe to say that we have spotted a hack.

Posted by Tim B. on 01/10/2008 at 06:26 AM
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