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Journal of Peace Research award December 15, 2008

Posted by dissident93 in Iraq mortality.
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The Journal of Peace Research Article of the Year Award has gone to Neil F. Johnson, Michael Spagat, Sean Gourley, Jukka-Pekka Onnela & Gesine Reinert for ‘Bias in Epidemiological Studies of Conflict Mortality’ (Journal of Peace Research 45(5): 653–663).

This is the “main street bias” (msb) research which highlighted problems with a variant of cluster-sampling methodology used to estimate mortality from the Iraq war/occupation (in the study by Burnham et al, published in the Lancet journal, 2006).

According to the jury who awarded the prize, the peer-reviewed study on msb:

…provides an important advance in the methodology for estimating the number of casualties in civil wars. The authors show convincingly that previous studies which are based on a cross-street cluster-sampling algorithm (CSSA) have significantly overestimated the number of casualties in Iraq.

Several of my friends and colleagues have been (over-)protective of the Lancet study ever since George Bush ignorantly declared that its methodology was “not credible”. I hope they’ll come to realise that the business of importing epidemiological techniques into conflict-zone research on violent deaths (for which they were not originally designed) has a long way to go. And that research such as the above should be seen as part of the much-needed scientific progress in this area, not as another “enemy” of the antiwar cause.

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