The Nudnik File

Nudnik - n. U.S. colloq. Esp. in Jewish usage: a pestering, nagging, or irritating person

Friday, October 29, 2004

              The Lancet Enters the Election Dialogue
Yesterday The Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals in the world, released a study showing that casualties from the Iraq war were 100,000 and were mostly women and children. The publication of the study was rushed out in order to appear before the Presidential election. The 100,000 number is more than 10 times the number of casualties trumpeted by various left-wing groups. And as this article in TechCentralStation points out, this study is completely meaningless.
Have a look at those confidence levels. Yup, 95%. That is, a one in twenty chance that the effect simply does not exist. Look at the relative risk ratios (leave out Falluja; I don't think anyone is really very surprised to see a higher mortality rate there): 1.1-2.3. It isn't just that it is an absurdly wide one (note, a relative risk ratio of 1 would mean no effect whatsoever) it is that if this paper was written to generally accepted statistical standards it would never have been published. With a 95% confidence level a relative risk ratio of anything less than three is regarded as statistically insignificant. Just to clarify that, by "insignificant" no one is stating that it is not important to those people who undoubtedly have been killed during the War. What is being said is that we don't have enough information to be able to say anything meaningful about it. "Statistically insignificant" means "we don't know".

In effect, what has been found in this paper is nothing. Nada. Zip.
Once again, science is perverted for political purposes.
|| Nudnik 1:50 PM
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