Daniel Davies has your ultimate refutation of critics of the Hopkins/Lancet study of “excess deaths” in Iraq since the invasion:
That qualitative conclusion is this: things have got worse, and they have got a lot worse, not a little bit worse. Whatever detailed criticisms one might make of the methodology of the study (and I have searched assiduously for the last two years, with the assistance of a lot of partisans of the Iraq war who have tried to pick holes in the study, and not found any), the numbers are too big. If you go out and ask 12,000 people whether a family member has died and get reports of 300 deaths from violence, then that is not consistent with there being only 60,000 deaths from violence in a country of 26 million. It is not even nearly consistent.
As Davies says, the only way the survey could be giving us the wrong answer on the qualitative question is if the study is fraudulent. Maybe the survey respondents didn’t really say what the Hopkins team said they said. But that’s a very serious charge to bring against serious professionals and not one folks should be tossing around in the total absence of any evidence just because it would be politically convenient for them for the study to be somehow mistaken.
UPDATE: See also DeLong.