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

Lakewood_interior

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%

Lord_Mayor_of_London_-_John_Stuttard_-_Nov_2006

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

bg
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

Memorial_to_Michael_Brown

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

1-HwA9YUqtbk4o4--OcDqdvA

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

giphy

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?

p04181vd-1
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.

Read the rest

Analyzing all known Metal lyrics with natural language processing

fullmetallyrics

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

get-out-of-jail-free-community-chest-e1278584169596

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

800px-Union_Jack_and_the_european_flag

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?

fig_5-1

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

056c026d-1c66-4d42-9fae-a8e96df290c5-1020x1075

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

4350074_f4f17e6f

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

flag
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.

Read the rest

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

_89091662_ebtweet976

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

baby-408262_960_720

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

More posts