Global trumpism: how India's brutal leader manufactures reality with trumped-up "polls"

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Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an authoritarian war criminal who is part of the worldwide surge of trumpist leaders and hopefuls, including Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte; Hungary's Viktor Orbán; Russia's Vladimir Putin; South Korea's Park Geun-hye; France's Marine Le Pen; the UK's Nigel Farage, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and others -- bound together by xenophobia, a lack of transparency, violent suppression of opposition, and savvy use of the internet. Read the rest

People really, really suck at using computers

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The OECD's 2011-2015, 33 country, 215,942-person study of computer skills paints a deceptively grim picture of the average level of computer proficiency around the world -- deceptive because it excludes over-65s, who research shows to be, on average, less proficient than the 16-65 cohort sampled. Read the rest

Vi Hart's statistical perspective on the American electoral divide

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Fast-talking national-treasure math vlogger Vi Hart (previously) takes a statistical look at the polling data from the 2016 presidential election and concludes that the most significant divide in the country is "old vs young," which drives things like rural/urban (because young people leave failing rural areas for cities) and even racial divides. Read the rest

Messy: a celebration of improvisation and disorder as the keys to creativity, play, and work

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Tim Harford's Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives plays to Harford's prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better.

Statcheck: a data-fakery algorithm that flagged 50,000 articles

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Michèle B. Nuijten and co's statcheck program re-examines the datasets in peer-reviewed science and flags anomalies that are associated with fakery, from duplication of data to internal inconsistencies. Read the rest

Trump's chances of winning sink to 8% amid Republican fears Clinton may take Texas

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The New York Times' presidential forecast has millionaire Republican Donald Trump at his lowest ebb of the campaign, with only an 8 percent chance of winning the Nov. 8 general election.

A victory by Mr. Trump remains possible: Mrs. Clinton’s chance of losing is about the same as the probability that an N.F.L. kicker misses a 31-yard field goal.

The analysis corresponds closely with that of FiveThirtyEight, though it gives Trump a little more space with a 12 percent chance (as of Wednesday Oct. 19)

The situation is so dire, with only three weeks to go, that polls are finding the candidates within the margin of in Texas, a Republican stronghold where a Clinton victory would represent a spectacular obliteration of the party's ticket.

...it seems utterly unlikely that Clinton could actually win Texas. Though the state's large Latino population, combined with where Trump has led the GOP with his rhetoric about Mexicans and policy on immigration, could soon make winning Texas a real possibility for Democrats.

There are other reliable Republican states where the Clinton campaign is investing more seriously, which is a sign of where the race stands. Clinton is positioned to win the White House if she gets just the battleground states that are already leaning to the Democrats. Her campaign says it's putting the "lion's share" of resources in traditional battleground states like Ohio and North Carolina, which remain toss-ups. But they also have the luxury of being able to invest in some states that traditionally go to Republicans.

Read the rest

Hate crimes spike after Brexit

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The month after the Brexit vote, recorded racist verbal and physical assault rose -- and even arson -- by 41% in the UK. Read the rest

Internet shutdowns cost the world at least $2.4 billion last year

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Deji from Access Now writes, "How much does it cost to shut down the internet? A new report by the Brookings Institution assesses costs during a one year period between 2015-2016 and found immense losses. It's just a baseline too -- and doesn't even include things like mobile money or lost tax receipts. The real number is likely much higher." Read the rest

Black voter registration is inversely correlated with black death at police hands

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Correlation is not causation, and the data-set is awfully small (39 incidents), but computational epidemiologist Maimuna Majumder is working with what's available, because the federal government won't fund research into gun fatalities, and does not require states to gather data on police use of force. Read the rest

Psychology's reproducibility crisis: why statisticians are publicly calling out social scientists

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Princeton University psych prof Susan Fiske published an open letter denouncing the practice of using social media to call out statistical errors in psychology research, describing the people who do this as "terrorists" and arguing that this was toxic because of the structure of social science scholarship, having an outsized effect on careers. Read the rest

US religion is worth $1.2T/year, more than America's 10 biggest tech companies, combined

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The largely tax-free religion industry is one of the biggest in America, worth $1.2 trillion/year, a number that includes religious "healthcare facilities, schools, daycare and charities; media; businesses with faith backgrounds; the kosher and halal food markets; social and philanthropic programmes; and staff and overheads for congregations." Read the rest

UK inequality: top 1% owns more than bottom 20%

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Oxfam has released the latest version of its ongoing series of analyses of the relative net worth of the very richest when compared to the very poorest: in this case, they found that the top 1% of Britons own more wealth than the bottom 20% of Britons combined. Read the rest

Weapons of Math Destruction: invisible, ubiquitous algorithms are ruining millions of lives

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I've been writing about the work of Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil for years: she's a radical data-scientist with a Harvard PhD in mathematics, who coined the term "Weapons of Math Destruction" to describe the ways that sloppy statistical modeling is punishing millions of people every day, and in more and more cases, destroying lives. Today, O'Neil brings her argument to print, with a fantastic, plainspoken, call to arms called (what else?) Weapons of Math Destruction.

America will finally gather statistics on which and how many people are killed by law enforcement

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As the highly controversial deaths of black people at the hands of American law enforcement officers has crept into our public discourse this decade, so too has the revelation that no federal agency maintains statistics on killings by police officers, prompting The Guardian -- a UK-based newspaper -- to launch The Counted, a project to piece together a national picture of death-by-cop from the fragmentary evidence of press reports and open records requests. Read the rest

Decision to retain personally identifying information puts Australian census under threat

Without an accurate census, it's virtually impossible to make good national policy, which is why so many countries make census participation mandatory (when former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen "Dumpster Fire" Harper made the long-form census optional, statisticians and policy wonks quailed) -- which is why the Australian government's decision to collect and retain -- for 10 years -- personally identifying information on census participants is such a big deal. Read the rest

Report on the dismal state of black sf/f writers in the short fiction markets

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Pablo Defendini writes, "Fireside Fiction Company has released a report detailing the dismal state of representation of black writers in the science fiction and fantasy short fiction market . Despite increasing efforts to boost representation of people of color generally, the prospects for black writers, specifically, have not been improving. According to the data (which is available in a publicly accessible Google spreadsheet ), out of 2,039 stories published in 2015, only 38 were written by black authors. The report is accompanied by a series of essays in reaction to the report by Nisi Shawl , Troy L. Wiggins , Mikki Kendall , Justina Ireland , and Tobias Buckell ; as well as an interview with N.K. Jemisin . Fireside's editor, Brian White, has also written an editorial detailing some steps that Fireside is committed to taking to counter our own biases and help fix this huge problem." Read the rest

Ghostbusters vs masculinity's downranking campaign against "women's" movies and TV

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Last spring, Five Thirty-Eight's Walt Hickey published analysis of the IMDB ratings of women-oriented entertainment (like Sex in the City), showing that the ratings for these shows were artificially depressed because men went out of their way to give them extremely low scores. Read the rest

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