[ExI] War deaths not decreasing - just underestimated

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Jun 20 18:16:52 UTC 2008


Worldwide War Deaths Underestimated

THURSDAY, June 19 (HealthDay News) -- Wars around the world have
killed three times more people over the past half-century than
previously estimated, a new study suggests.

In the study, Obermeyer's group compared data on war deaths from
eyewitnesses and the media from 13 countries over the past 50 years
with peacetime data in the United Nations World Health Surveys, which
was collected after the end of the wars.
This method avoids problems collecting data during active combat, and
also reduces counting deaths twice or exaggerating the number,
Obermeyer said.

"There is a notion in political thought that the number of deaths due
to war has been declining in recent years," Obermeyer noted. "That is
attributed to a lot of different things, but among them technological
innovations like 'smart' bombs and different strategic priorities.
This idea appears to be supported by media reports. But what we are
finding is these reports are not a reflection of reality."

Contemporary media reports of deaths are not to be fully trusted,
Obermeyer added. "The reason we should be skeptical of media reports
is that they are subject to political pressures and cannot always be
verified," he said. "These numbers can be pushed up or down, depending
upon what kind of political pressure is being exerted."

Richard Garfield, a professor of clinical international nursing at
Columbia University in New York City and the author of an accompanying
editorial in the journal, said that even this method underestimates
the number of people killed in wars.

"Even though the data on war deaths is not very good, it is much
better . . . in poor developing countries -- where virtually all wars
now are -- than it was 10 or 20 years ago," Garfield said.

However, all deaths because of war are not being counted, Garfield
said, since even Obermeyer's team left out the more indirect deaths
from starvation, infectious disease and other illnesses, and forms of
injury not directly linked to armed combat.

"We are counting more of the violent deaths, but we only irregularly
address indirect deaths, which may be far greater than combatant
deaths," he added.


Complete research report here:

So, the optimistic view that humans are killing fewer of each other in
recent years appears to be incorrect.  :(


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