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Did mass privatisation really increase post-communist mortality?–Authors’ reply


Stuckler, Davuid; King, Lawrence; & McKee, Martin (2010). Did mass privatisation really increase post-communist mortality?–Authors' reply. Lancet, 375(9712), 372-374.


We have watched with interest the increasing sophistication of attempts to discredit our paper, many at fora where we were not present, so we are grateful that we can finally respond. These criticisms have included misrepresentation of basic mortality data and a series of letters from leading advocates of privatisation that was, in turn, gratuitously offensive, epidemiologically uninformed, and factually wrong.

Unfortunately, these two letters continue on this path, with manipulation of data in ways that can be interpreted as owing more to the pursuit of preconceived beliefs than to a search for scientific truth. As Christopher Gerry and colleagues note in their webappendix, “Our goal here is not to establish per se what does cause mortality. Rather, we are concerned to demonstrate that there is no evidence in the data used by Stuckler et al that mass privatisation resulted in increased mortality.” Given this, we are surprised that neither sees any need to declare a conflict of interest as authors on both letters have received funds from organisations supporting privatisation. In attempting to show that we are wrong, they employ biologically implausible assumptions, commit fundamental methodological errors, and thus generate findings that are inconsistent with published data. These measures meet established criteria for “data torture”,1 as summarised in the panel and in our webappendix, where we address all of their points in detail.


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Stuckler, Davuid
King, Lawrence
McKee, Martin