Tag: statistics

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Perils and Pleasures of Modeling

 

The term ‘model’ is much in the news, and I’m not talking about @RightAngles trade. It’s the term apparently favored by the media to describe a general area that may also go by: cybernetics, system dynamics, advanced statistics, simulation, control theory, and others. Having some academic and professional background in the domain, this is my (inevitably simplified) attempt to sketch its limits, so you can be smarter than the average journalist.

So, simplifying, as warned: There are two types of models. One is broadly statistical in approach. The other attempts to be more mechanistic.

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I estimate that I have bicycled almost 200,000 miles. Yet only once, and only this month, did a bee fly into my mouth and sting my tongue! Not as bad as you might guess, but do avoid it if you can. And you can. Me, I will be taking no special measures to avoid a […]

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Democrats have long been warm to the idea of eliminating the Electoral College simply due to their preference for centralization of power over granting power to the individual states. The outcomes of the 2000 and 2016 elections, wherein a GOP candidate won the Electoral College, and, accordingly, the election, despite running a deficit to the […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Member Post

 

Saw a couple of articles today that triggered my BS meter: Firstly: MSNBC anchor says “millions and millions and millions” of people will die due to climate change More

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Like many around here, I was surprised at Trump’s victory. Sure, he didn’t win the popular vote, but he brought out enough disaffected rural whites to win in the states that mattered. This is his base now, and I expect that they want him to deliver some goodies. In delivering these goodies, I fear that […]

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From Harry Enten at Five-Thirty-Eight: There’s a belief, which I don’t share, that the growing share of nonwhite voters in the population, particularly Latinos, is giving Democrats an enduring advantage in winning elections. The theory — known to some as the “Emerging Democratic Majority” — works only if voting patterns stay the same and Republicans […]

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As part of another project, I’ve compiled county-level socio-economic data for the American West (the 12 mainland states on or westward of the Rocky Mountain line). This includes things like employment levels, per capita income sources, ethnic mix and religious affiliation, derived from the US Census, Bureau of Economic Affairs, and the Association of Religion […]

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I bet you do. Let’s perform a simple test. I will provide 5 comparisons of a white person and a black person. Look at each set of pictures and ask yourself: “Which person would I be comfortable around?” More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Guns Don’t Kill Children … Swimming Pools and Cars Do.

 

shutterstock_216525253This piece from Reason is a good primer on the lack of a market for “smart-guns,” and covers both the technical challenges in making them and — more interestingly — the lack of demand for them. Is this because gun owners are callous, child-hating fanatics? No: it’s just that firearms don’t kill that many kids.

Inspired by the piece, I took a gander through some of the CDC data for fatal injuries to children between the ages of 0 and 14 years in the United States between 2004 and 2010 (the most recent period listed). Here are some relevant data for the an average year during that period:

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Lies, Damned Lies and the Washington Post’s Omitted Statistics

 

shutterstock_27561673To its significant credit, the Washington Post has devoted much time and energy over the last year to assembling a database of fatal police shootings. By their tally, some 998 Americans were shot to death by police under all variety of circumstances in 2015. That is double the previous high total reported by the FBI, a fact that unveils an unquestionable gap in government statistics management. It is somewhat remarkable that no government entity accurately tracks this data. However, inasmuch as such statistics come partnered with Disraeli’s lies and damned lies, the reluctance of law enforcement to provide unethical activists with a tool chest of numbers to twist is not unsurprising.

And, as if on cue, the Post has proven that fear well founded. A tool that could have shed light on (arguably) the most crucial aspect of the relationship between government and governed was instead (though not unexpectedly) obfuscated and sullied the conversation with misleading spin and blatant omission.

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From a very compelling article about the statistics of gun ownership, homicide, and other crimes in the United States, which has way too much good stuff in it to repeat here, one tidbit stuck out for me: The United States’ homicide rate of 3.8 is clearly higher than that of eg France (1.0), Germany (0.8), […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. How to Lie with Statistics

 

“F.B.I. Treating Attack in San Bernardino as Terrorism” reads the New York Times headline, implying that perhaps the Times demurs. The sense of the paper being dragged, reluctantly, from a preferred narrative is accentuated midway through the article by a curious graphical island, appearing in splendid isolation from the actual text:

NYT 1

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So, up in Northern Alberta, a pipeline ruptured and leaked bitumen emulsion (a mixture of bitumen, water, and sand). How much ground was affected by this spill? More

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