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The Lancet in 2004 stated, “More than a third of reported [post-invasion] deaths and two thirds of violent deaths happened in the Fallujah cluster. This extreme statistical outlier has created a very broad confidence estimate around the mortality measure and is cause for concern about the precision of the overall finding.” An “outlier” is a figure that is so numerically distant from the rest of the data that it’s often treated as an error and hence rejected for use in the final assessment.
But Kane decided to include it for a very good reason. If two-thirds of the death data come from Fallujah, how can it possibly be considered an outlier? Politically inconvenient, maybe, but not an outlier. Upon including the Fallujah data, Kane concluded that as incredibly wide as the confidence interval was as given, it now became so wide “that the lower bound is negative.” This means the figures the Lancet came up with are not of statistical significance and therefore, in statistician lingo, “don’t count for squat.”
Kane does grant that some unknown figure in the full dataset just might alter his conclusion. But keep in mind that Kane took the Lancet data at face value; therefore he didn’t factor in the fabricated too-low mortality rate. Nothing in that dataset is going to alter his conclusion. In any event, the Lancet authors refuse to release their figures. Now folks, this isn’t like KFC protecting its secret recipe of 11 herbs and spices. Releasing the data would make everything transparent and settle this once and for all, which is exactly why the Lancet and the authors keep it under armed guard on a remote desert island.
Lambert, in his blog, after three years of blasting critics of the Lancet study, conceded, “I would suggest that [Kane] has proven that this confidence interval is wrong,” indeed, “obviously so.” Then he went back to bashing those same critics (self included) while letting his acolytes do the heavy lifting in his comments section.
Kane patiently provided over 50 responses to those comments. For the most part, the critics pretend to be dispassionate defenders of proper statistical analysis. But occasionally a comment appears that really speaks for them such as, “David, thanks for your answer. In other words, mass carnage and slaughter. A vast crime against humanity, for which the occupiers are obliged to pay reparations.” Or: “David, you’re just window-dressing a problem … . There are clearly two types of town [sic] in Iraq — those being blown to shit by Americans, and those being only slightly blown to shit by Americans.”
Kane was also repeatedly lambasted for allowing conservative blogger Michelle Malkin to post his paper, notwithstanding that he did the same for leftist blogger Tim Lambert.
Finally, Kane realized that responding to anybody who reads and comments on Deltoid is spitting into the wind. It’s enough that he’s done a great service in further exposing the truth about civilian casualties in Iraq and exposing a once-great medical journal that has abandoned accuracy for advocacy.
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