Insights from statistical analysis of great (and not-great) literature

Ben Blatt's Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing takes advantage of the fact that so much literature has been digitized, allowing him to run statistical analyses on writers, old and new, and make both fun and meaningful inferences about the empirical nature of writing. Read the rest

The UK unemployment rate is at least three times the official rate

The UK -- like most countries -- excludes "inactive workers" (students, new parents, people who don't want a job) from its unemployment figures, but "inactive" is such a slippery concept that it can paper over huge cracks in the labor market. Read the rest

Boing Boing readers among web's most educated

Quantcast just released statistics that confirm what we've known all along: Boing Boing readers are super-smart, ranking among the top 25 "highest percentage of web traffic with higher education." Read the rest

Republicans are the primary beneficiaries of gerrymandering

As the Supreme Court makes ready to rule on the blatant gerrymandering in Wisconsin, the AP has conducted a study using "a new statistical method of calculating partisan advantage" to analyze "the outcomes of all 435 U.S. House races and about 4,700 state House and Assembly seats up for election last year" and report "four times as many states with Republican-skewed state House or Assembly districts than Democratic ones." Read the rest

A non-scientist's guide to reading scientific papers

Jennifer Raff -- a bioanthropologist and geneticist who researches and teaches at U Kansas and U Texas -- provides some excellent advice and context on how to read a scientific paper, from figuring out which papers and journals are worthy of your attention to understanding the paper in its wider context in the relevant field. Read the rest

Programmer pay and indent-style: tab-using coders earn less than space-using coders

David Robinson used the data from the 28,657 people who self-selected to take the Stack Overflow survey to investigate the relationship between programmer pay and the conventions of using either tabs or spaces to mark indents, and found a persistent, significant correlation between using spaces and bringing home higher pay. Read the rest

American regions with high immigration enjoy persistent, long-term higher incomes and lower unemployment

If you're an American who's lucky enough to live somewhere that received large influxes of immigrants during the "Age of Mass Migration" (1860 to 1920), congratulations! The immigrants who came to your territory brought along higher incomes, lower unemployment, higher levels of educational attainment -- and no reduction in social cohesion! Read the rest

Motorcyclists 27x more likely to die than auto drivers

Motorcyclists are 27x more likely to die and 5x more likely to be injured than folks in passenger cars. RideApart discusses the dangers of motorcycling in a mature and upfront fashion. Read the rest

The work of the world's leading nutrition researchers appears to be riddled with statistical errors

Brian Wansink is one of the most-cited nutrition researchers in the world; 30,000 US schools use his advice to design their lunch programs, drawing on studies he's done that show that kids eat more carrots when they're called "X-ray vision carrots" and that putting out fruit bowls improves eating habits, and that smaller plates reduce portion sizes. Read the rest

Ethics and AI: all models are wrong, some are useful, and some of those are good

The old stats adage goes: "All models are wrong, but some models are useful." In this 35 minute presentation from the O"Reilly Open Data Science Conference, data ethicist Abe Gong from Aspire Health provides a nuanced, meaningful, accessible and eminently actionable overview of the ways that ethical considerations can be incorporated into the design of powerful algorithms. Read the rest

70% of the benefits of Trump's childcare credits will go to households earning $100K and up

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center has run the numbers on Trump's childcare credit proposals and concluded that it is a massive gift to the richest American households, with little-to-no benefit for the poorest Americans who struggle most with childcare costs. Read the rest

What's happening to Trump's popularity? Parsing the polls with Nate Silver

Silver's predictions of the election outcome took much of the shine off the statistician-pollster-guru, and no amount of statistical spin ("we were expressing our confidence that the unpredictable wouldn't happen, but we left open the possibility of the unpredictable!") can restore it to its former glory, but this Fivethirtyeight explainer on the polls that show a huge variance in Trump's approval and disapproval ratings is the kind of detailed analysis that is mostly light, with little heat. Read the rest

Reminder: if you have one penny, your net worth is equal to the combined wealth of the world's poorest 40%

Every year, Oxfam publishes a headline number about global wealth inequality that takes this form: "The richest X people own more than the poorest Y billion people on Earth" (some examples: 2014, 2016, 2017, UK edition). Read the rest

Registered Democrats (mostly young and/or racialised) who didn't vote cost Hillary the election

Fivethirtyeight's analysis of a Surveymonkey data-set shows that Hillary Clinton would have won the 2016 election if registered Democrats had turned out and voted in larger numbers -- in other words, Hillary's failure to convince registered Democrats to vote, rather than abstain, lost her the election. Read the rest

Bureau of Justice Statistics release new, accurate police killing numbers that are double the historic estimates

After years of guesswork -- in which civil society groups and government stats bodies produced radically divergent estimates of killings by police in America -- the Bureau of Justice Statistics has finally released a report that validates the civil society groups, admitting that killings by police in America are 1,100-1,400/year, more than double the official figure. Read the rest

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

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

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

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