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Thursday, October 12, 2006


The Johns Hopkins report

Today's Democracy Now! featured an interview with Les Roberts, one of the authors of the latest Johns Hopkins study on excess deaths in Iraq (the one George Bush thinks -- and I use that word loosely -- that the researchers "guessed" at). Worth reading or (or listening to).

One interesting note on a point I made below -- Roberts himself says "We didn’t say it was 655,000 deaths. We said it was 655,000 deaths, and we’re 95% sure it’s between about 400,000 and 950,000." I wish that's what he said. Actually, what they wrote was that it was "the confidence interval ranges from 426,369 to 793,663. That means that we are 95% certain that the correct number is between those two, and 601,027, is the statistically most probable number." Which, as I wrote below, may (or may not) be the norm among biostatisticians, but among normal people, that level of precision in admittedly imprecise data can only serve to discredit the report, even among those who understand the difference between accuracy and precision, and probably especially among those who don't.

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