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They threatened to sue Mike Spagat but that’s not shutting him up

Mike Spagat, famous for blowing the whistle on that Iraq survey (the so-called Lancet study) ten years ago, writes: I’ve just put up the story about how a survey research company threatened to sue me to keep me quiet. I’ve also put up a lot of data that readers can analyse if they want to […]

“Questioning The Lancet, PLOS, And Other Surveys On Iraqi Deaths, An Interview With Univ. of London Professor Michael Spagat”

Mike Spagat points to this interview, which, he writes, covers themes that are discussed on the blog such as wrong ideas that don’t die, peer review and the statistics of conflict deaths. I agree. It’s good stuff. Here are some of the things that Spagat says (he’s being interviewed by Joel Wing): In fact, the […]

“Enhancing Academic Freedom and Transparency in Publishing Through Post-Publication Debate”: Some examples in the study of political conflict

Mike Spagat writes: You’ll definitely want to see this interesting paper by Kristian Gleditsch. Research and Politics, a journal for which Kristian Gleditsch is one of the editors, has hosted several valuable rounds of post-publication peer review. One instance starts with a paper of mine and Stijn van Weezel which replicated, critiqued and improved earlier […]

“Non-disclosure is not just an unfortunate, but unfixable, accident. A methodology can be disclosed at any time.”

Mike Spagat writes about researchers who refuse to share their data or even describe how they conducted their studies: Non-disclosure is not just an unfortunate, but unfixable, accident. A methodology can be disclosed at any time. It’s not like you’re up there on a quiz show and the $50,000 question comes up: How did you […]

“Fudged statistics on the Iraq War death toll are still circulating today”

Mike Spagat shares this story entitled, “Fudged statistics on the Iraq War death toll are still circulating today,” which discusses problems with a paper published in a scientific journal in 2006, and errors that a reporter inadvertently included in a recent news article. Spagat writes: The Lancet could argue that if [Washington Post reporter Philip] […]

No, I don’t believe that “Reduction in Firearm Injuries during NRA Annual Conventions” story

David Palmer writes: If you need yet another study to look at, check this out: “Reduction in Firearm Injuries during NRA Annual Conventions.”

Sucker MC’s keep falling for patterns in noise

Mike Spagat writes: Apologies if forty people just sent this to you but maybe it’s obscure enough that I’m the first. It’s a news article by Irina Ivanova entitled, “‘Very unattractive’ workers can out-earn pretty people, study finds.” Spagat continues: You may be able to recognize a pattern here: Tiny, noisy sample Surprise result Journal […]

Should you abandon that low-salt diet? (uh oh, it’s the Lancet!)

Russ Lyons sends along this news article by Ian Johnston, who writes: The prestigious medical journal The Lancet has been attacked for publishing an academic paper that claimed eating too little salt could increase the chance of dying from a heart attack or stroke. Johnston summarizes the study: Researchers from the Population Health Research Institute […]

Did Colombia really vote no in that peace referendum?

Mike Spagat and Neil Johnson write: The official line is that the “no” vote won the referendum in Colombia. The internationally lauded peace treaty with the FARC guerillas was rejected . . . But did “no” actually win? The numbers divide four ways, rather than just two “no” and “yes” answers: 6,431,376 against the treaty, […]

Looking at the polls: Time to get down and dirty with the data

Poll aggregation is great, but one thing that we’ve been saying a lot recently (see also here) is that we can also learn a lot by breaking open a survey and looking at the numbers crawling around inside. Here’s a new example. It comes from Alan Abramowitz, who writes: Very strange results of new ABC/WP […]

On deck this week

Mon: They threatened to sue Mike Spagat but that’s not shutting him up Tues: “Smaller Share of Women Ages 65 and Older Are Living Alone,” before and after age adjusment Wed: Objects of the class “Pauline Kael” Thurs: research-lies-allegations-windpipe-surgery Fri: Hey—here’s a tip from the biology literature: If your correlation is .02, try binning your […]

Can you trust international surveys?

On the sister blog I report on a new paper, “Don’t Get Duped: Fraud through Duplication in Public Opinion Surveys,” by Noble Kuriakose, a researcher at SurveyMonkey, and Michael Robbins, a researcher at Princeton and the University of Michigan, who gathered data from “1,008 national surveys with more than 1.2 million observations, collected over a […]

Fabrication in survey research!

Mike Spagat writes: I think some of your loyal readers will be interested in this conference on fabrication in survey research. You certainly have covered this topic from time to time but I think it would be fair to say that it’s still a little bit too far under the radar screen. The LaCour experience […]

Jason Chaffetz is the Garo Yepremian of the U.S. House of Representatives, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

Mike Spagat and Paul Alper points us to this truly immoral bit of graphical manipulation, courtesy of U.S. Representative Jason Chaffetz. Here’s the evil graph: Here’s the correction: From the news article by Zachary Roth: As part of a contentious back-and-forth in which Chaffetz repeatedly cut off [Planned Parenthood president Cecile] Richards, the congressman displayed […]

War, Numbers and Human Losses

That’s the title of Mike Spagat’s new blog. In his most recent post, Spagat disputes the the claim that “at least 240,000 Syrians have died violently since the civil war flared up four years ago.” I am not an expert in this area so I offer no judgment on these particular numbers, but in any […]

The UN Plot to Force Bayesianism on Unsuspecting Americans (penalized B-Spline edition)

Mike Spagat sent me an email with the above heading, referring to this paper by Leontine Alkema and Jin Rou New, which begins: National estimates of the under-5 mortality rate (U5MR) are used to track progress in reducing child mortality and to evaluate countries’ performance related to United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4, which calls […]

Continuing conflict over conflict statistics

Mike Spagat sends along a serious presentation with an ironic title: 18.7 MILLION ANNIHILATED SAYS LEADING EXPERT IN PEER–REVIEWED JOURNAL: AN APPROVED, AUTHORITATIVE, SCIENTIFIC PRESENTATION MADE BY AN EXPERT He’ll be speaking on it at tomorrow’s meeting of the Catastrophes and Conflict Forum of the Royal Society of Medicine in London. All I can say […]

The Reliability of Cluster Surveys of Conflict Mortality: Violent Deaths and Non-Violent Deaths

Mike Spagat sends in an interesting explanation for the noted problems with conflict mortality studies (a topic we’ve discussed on occasion on this blog). Spagat writes: This analysis is based on the fact that conflict violence does not spread out at all uniformly across a map but, rather, tends to concentrate in a few areas. […]

Dispute over counts of child deaths in Iraq due to sanctions

Mike Spagat writes: Here is yet another debunking article I’ve written, this one in the latest issue of Significance. It shows the Lancet once again publishing spectacularly wrong information that has misinformed public discussion on a crucial issue with ongoing reverberations. For example, there is Tony Blair’s recent justification for the Iraq war offered in […]

More on problems with surveys estimating deaths in war zones

Andrew Mack writes:

There was a brief commentary from the Benetech folk on the Human Security Report Project’s, “The Shrinking Costs of War” report on your blog in January.

But the report has since generated a lot of public controversy. Since the report–like the current discussion in your blog on Mike Spagat’s new paper on Iraq–deals with controversies generated by survey-based excess death estimates, we thought your readers might be interested.

Our responses to the debate were posted on our website last week. “Shrinking Costs” had discussed the dramatic decline in death tolls from wartime violence since the end of World War II –and its causes. We also argued that deaths from war-exacerbated disease and malnutrition had declined. (The exec. summary is here.)

One of the most striking findings was that mortality rates (we used under-five mortality data) decline during most wars. Indeed our latest research indicates that of the total number of years that countries were involved in warfare between 1970 and 2008, the child mortality rate increases in only 5% of them. Les Roberts has strongly challenged these findings.