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

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Paolo 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

What's the likelihood that you have a doppelgänger?

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Teghan Lucas, a comparative anatomy researcher at the University of Adelaide, was fascinated with the idea of doppelgängers, that every person has a look-alike out there in the world. So Teghan analyzed thousands of photos of people, for example measuring the distance between features, to determine the probability that two people would have matching faces. According to Teghan, there's only a one in a trillion chance that you share even eight measurements with someone else. Of course, people can still look very similar even if their eyes and ears aren't separated by precisely the same distance. From the BBC:

"It depends whether we mean ‘lookalike to a human’ or ‘lookalike to facial recognition software’,” says David Aldous, a statistician at U.C. Berkeley...

When you bump into a friend on the street, the brain immediately sets to work recognising their features – such as hairline and skin tone – individually, like recognising Italy by its shape alone. But what if they’ve just had a haircut? Or they’re wearing makeup?

To ensure they can be recognised in any context, the brain employs an area known as the fusiform gyrus to tie all the pieces together. If you compare it to finding a country on a map, this is like checking it has a border with France and a coast. This holistic ‘sum of the parts’ perception is thought to make recognising friends a lot more accurate than it would be if their features were assessed in isolation. Crucially, it also fudges the importance of some of the subtler details.

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Analyzing all known Metal lyrics with natural language processing

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Iain ("an ex-physicist currently working as a data scientist") scraped Dark Lyrics and built a dataset of lyrics to 222,623 songs by 7,364 metal bands, then used traditional natural language processing techniques to analyze them. Read the rest

White House plan to use data to shrink prison populations could be a racist dumpster fire

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The US imprisons more people than any other country in history, both as a total number and as a proportion of its population; a White House data-mining effort proposes to set free prisoners who are "low risk," which is something we can all get behind. Read the rest

Debullshitifying the Brexit numbers

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On the BBC's More or Less podcast (previously), Tim Harford and his team carefully unpick the numerical claims made by both sides in the UK/EU referendum debate. Read the rest

UPDATED Race, income and outcomes: how rich does a black criminal have to be to get treated like a white one?

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Lawyer-turned-data-scientist David Colarusso analyzed 2.2 million sentencing records from Virginia to determine the relationship between race, income and treatment in the criminal justice system. Read the rest

More single adults living with parents than on their own for first time since 1880s

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A new Pew Research report finds that the number of single adults still living with their parents is at historically high levels -- in the US, the number of singles still at home outnumber the cohort of those living out of the house, something last seen in the 1880s. Read the rest

America's wealth gap has created an ever-increasing longevity gap

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In The Association Between Income and Life Expectancy in the United States, 2001-2014, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, economists from Stanford, MIT and Harvard analyzed 1.4 million US tax records to see how income correlated with lifespan. Read the rest

Black Americans killed at about 20x the rate of Europeans

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Black Americans Are Killed At 12 Times The Rate Of People In Other Developed Countries, writes Nate Silver. And the ratio gets worse when you compare to other western democracies such as the United Kingdom and Germany. America's often tagged with a much higher homicide rate than similar nations; it's a difference that would become modest were the killing of black people to stop.

Extending on an analysis by the academic Kieran Healy, I calculated the rate of U.S. homicide deaths by racial group, based on the CDC WONDER data.3 From 2010 through 2012, the annual rate of homicide deaths among non-Hispanic white Americans was 2.5 per 100,000 persons, meaning that about one in every 40,000 white Americans is a homicide victim each year. By comparison, the rate of homicide deaths among non-Hispanic black Americans is 19.4 per 100,000 persons, or about 1 in 5,000 people per year. Black Americans are almost eight times as likely as white ones to be homicide victims, in other words.

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Three pieces of statistical "bullshit" about the UK EU referendum

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Economist Tim Harford attacks three of the statistics being widely cited in the campaigns over the upcoming referendum on the UK remaining in the EU, two from the "leave" camp and one from the "stay" camp. Read the rest

Piracy dooms motion picture industry to yet another record-breaking box-office year

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Once again the MPAA has released its box-office numbers for the year, and once again, this year has smashed all records (as has been the case throughout our young century) (really!). As always, the astronomical rise-and-rise of their fortunes is somehow used to launch a call for more publicly subsidized enforcement against "piracy." Read the rest

Outliers: the statistical mysteries that hold the key to understanding

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John Johnson and Mike Gluck's new book, Everydata: The Misinformation Hidden in the Little Data You Consume Every Day is a tour-de-force of statistical literacy. This excerpt, a chapter on understanding statistical outliers, is as clear an explanation of what an outlier is, and what it means, and why it matters, as you're likely to find.

Up to half of the Americans killed by police have a disability

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Police violence is America is a statistical black hole, where data collection on shootings and killings are kept in haphazard or nonexistent form across local, state and federal levels, leaving scholars to piece together statistical pictures using techniques developed to reconstruct genocides from survivors' accounts. Read the rest

Calculating US police killings using methodologies from war-crimes trials

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Statistician Patrick Ball runs an NGO called the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, which uses extremely rigorous, well-documented statistical techniques to provide evidence of war crimes and genocides; HRDAG's work has been used in the official investigations of atrocities in Kosovo, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Syria and elsewhere. Read the rest

The correlates of Trumpism: early mortality, lack of education, unemployment, offshored jobs

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Wonkblog runs the numbers on the counties with the strongest support for Trump and finds that the typical Trump supporter is likely to live in a place with higher-than-normal mortality for whites (middle-aged white mortality has been increasing since the 1990s at a rate unseen in the developed world since the collapse of the Soviet Union), lower-than-usual rates of university eduction, higher-than-normal rates of unemployment, where manufacturing jobs have vanished due to offshoring. Read the rest

Sometimes, starting the Y-axis at zero is the BEST way to lie with statistics

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If you've read Darell Huff's seminal 1954 book How to Lie With Statistics, you've learned an important rule of thumb: any chart whose Y-axis doesn't start at zero is cause for suspicion, if not alarm. Read the rest

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