Monday, April 14, 2008

The Johns Hopkins studies employ the method accepted around the world to measure birth and death rates in the wake of natural and man-made disasters: a cluster survey. It is the same method that was used to estimate that 200,000 have been killed in Sudan's Darfur region (Science, 9/15/06). Yet, while the Darfur figure has been cited over 1,000 times by major U.S. press outlets just within the last year (e.g., AP, 12/6/07; New York Times, 12/6/07; Miami Herald, 12/5/07), the estimate for Iraq is ignored. The Darfur figure is considered so uncontroversial that a source for the number is almost never given. Often, it is not even called an estimate; for example, Associated Press reported (12/5/07), "More than 200,000 people have died." In contrast, when the Johns Hopkins figure on Iraqi deaths is provided, it is accompanied by criticism or strong disclaimers. A recent Associated Press article (12/3/07) reported that Iraqi civilian deaths are "estimated at more than 75,000, with one controversial study last year contending there were as many as 655,000."

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