I'm writing a print piece about this so I'm afraid you'll have to wait for my opinion, but a few quick thoughts:
- The disparity between the Lancet figures and the new count is higher than people are assuming; the Lancet study is more than a year older than the NEJM one. Since the violence was trending upwards, if the new study is correct, the Lancet figures were wildly, wildly, wildly off.
- The new version is more likely to be correct;
it covers a longer time period, uses a bigger sample, and employs more than one method of counting
- It is not that likely to be correct, in the sense of giving us a good, descriptive number. Iraq is a war zone, and it is very hard to collect good data. Beware of false precision, particularly if it validates your priors.
- One would obviously wish that the Iraqi government were not involved.
- Attempting to salvage the Lancet study by distinguishing between violent and non-violent deaths are silly. Virtually all the violent deaths in the Lancet study were excess, and virtually all the excess deaths were violent.
- 150,000 deaths is a figure that should make any supporter of the war swallow hard.
- There are good reasons to conduct public debates about these sorts of things with courtesy and humility.
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