How many Iraq war dead? Wall Street Journal takes same side as me against Vancouver Sun

Vancouver Sun front page of questionable information I’ve blogged about it twice now, the liberals’ Vancouver Sun (Canwest Global) blatantly, scandalously Michael-Moorish front page of October 12 2006.  And now the idiotic basis upon which the editors of the Vancouver Sun chose to mislead the people (in my opinion) —is under a new attack. 

The misinformation centered around a “study” internded to determine the “actual” number of Iraq war dead —and which will now be used by all the fringe leftists and nutbars in their effort to maliciously discredit the war in Iraq.  And it was used by the Vancouver Sun and promoted on their front page.  And they still haven’t corrected it. 

Read this original blog entry for the pictures and background, and this follow-up which helps me explain how the Vancouver Sun is feeding leftist propaganda to its readers.  On purpose.  Without correcting itself even in light of facts that were available then and more now. 

Today it’s the Wall Street Journal’s that speaks up about that hideous “statistics” used to compile Michael Moore’s latest Iraq war dead figure. 

By way of juxtaposition, their headline is:

655,000 War Dead?

A bogus study on Iraq casualties.

Here’s snippets of it:

After doing survey research in Iraq for nearly two years, I was surprised to read that a study by a group from Johns Hopkins University claims that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war. Don’t get me wrong, there have been far too many deaths in Iraq by anyone’s measure; some of them have been friends of mine. But the Johns Hopkins tally is wildly at odds with any numbers I have seen in that country. Survey results frequently have a margin of error of plus or minus 3% or 5%—not 1200%.

[…] However, the key to the validity of cluster sampling is to use enough cluster points. In their 2006 report, “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional sample survey,” the Johns Hopkins team says it used 47 cluster points for their sample of 1,849 interviews. This is astonishing: I wouldn’t survey a junior high school, no less an entire country, using only 47 cluster points.

Neither would anyone else…

[…] What happens when you don’t use enough cluster points in a survey? You get crazy results when compared to a known quantity, or a survey with more cluster points…

[…] The 2004 survey by the Johns Hopkins group was itself methodologically suspect—and the one they just published even more so.

Curious about the kind of people who would have the chutzpah to claim to a national audience that this kind of research was methodologically sound, I contacted Johns Hopkins University and was referred to Les Roberts, one of the primary authors of the study. Dr. Roberts defended his 47 cluster points, saying that this was standard. I’m not sure whose standards these are.

[…] With so few cluster points, it is highly unlikely the Johns Hopkins survey is representative of the population in Iraq. However, there is a definitive method of establishing if it is. Recording the gender, age, education and other demographic characteristics of the respondents allows a researcher to compare his survey results to a known demographic instrument, such as a census.

Dr. Roberts said that his team’s surveyors did not ask demographic questions. I was so surprised to hear this that I emailed him later in the day to ask a second time if his team asked demographic questions and compared the results to the 1997 Iraqi census. Dr. Roberts replied that he had not even looked at the Iraqi census.

And so, while the gender and the age of the deceased were recorded in the 2006 Johns Hopkins study, nobody, according to Dr. Roberts, recorded demographic information for the living survey respondents. This would be the first survey I have looked at in my 15 years of looking that did not ask demographic questions of its respondents. But don’t take my word for it—try using Google to find a survey that does not ask demographic questions.

Without demographic information to assure a representative sample, there is no way anyone can prove—or disprove—that the Johns Hopkins estimate of Iraqi civilian deaths is accurate.
Public-policy decisions based on this survey will impact millions of Iraqis and hundreds of thousands of Americans. It’s important that voters and policy makers have accurate information. When the question matters this much, it is worth taking the time to get the answer right.

But the misinformation is already out there, and few seem inclined to fight this scourge.  Personally I think it’s extremely dangerous for the liberal media to put forth misleading information and propagandize the war on terror—against it

Personally, I’m on Canada’s side.

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Contact the Editor: Joel Johannesen
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