Blog Archives

A not-so-satisfying rose

September 2, 2015
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A not-so-satisfying rose

At the conference in Bavaria, Jay Emerson asked participants to provide comments on the data visualization of the 2014 Environmental Performance Index (link). We looked at the country profiles in particular. Here is one for Singapore: The main object of...

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More shallow science on obesity measures

August 31, 2015
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More shallow science on obesity measures

For those who read the New York Times's stories denigrating BMI as an obesity metric, you have heard only a small part of the story. Their latest senasationalist coverage says that 18% of BMI-obese people are not really obese, with 12% labeled as "healthy obese" and 6% called "skinny fat". This is a major missed opportunity by an important newspaper in promoting deeper thinking about scientific data. The first question…

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Losing count of money bags

August 26, 2015
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Losing count of money bags

I found this chart on a Munich publication called Süddeutsche Zeitung. This appeared during the most recent Greek/Euro crisis. The bags of money were financial obligations that were coming due from June 2015 to December 2015. There were three creditors,...

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Statbusters: To divide or not to divide by 365

August 24, 2015
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In the newest column for the Daily Beast, Andrew and I look at the media's fascination with expressing large numbers as daily numbers. (link) In short, you should divide by 365 only when the metric actually scales with time, and be careful if the metric is not evenly distributed across time. We discuss the following headlines: "Air pollution is China is killing 4,000 per day" and "Periscope users view 40…

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Dumbing by numbers

August 20, 2015
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The New York Times has been making waves this week featuring management practices at Amazon and workplace tracking practices at various companies (link). These are essential references for how data make us dumber. I am going to ignore the shocking claim by the journalist who stated that GE is "long a standard-setter in management practices." To give him some credit, he did not say "good" management practice. It is true…

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When in Seattle, don’t look for the bus map

August 19, 2015
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When in Seattle, don’t look for the bus map

The past week in Seattle, I was blessed with amazing weather. The city has great coffee and restaurants, so pleased me alright. But Seattle-ites, please tell your government to burn your transit map presto! I tried looking at the map...

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Reimagining the league table

August 17, 2015
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Reimagining the league table

The reason for the infrequent posting is my travel schedule. I spent the past week in Seattle at JSM. This is an annual meeting of statisticians. I presented some work on fantasy football data that I started while writing Numbersense....

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Reporting on Ferguson

August 10, 2015
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In today's Daily Beast column, Andrew and I looked at the reporting of Ferguson and the attempts to place the event in the context of larger crime waves. We discuss issues of the narrative fallacy, cherry-picking of data, and publication bias. The link is: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/08/10/the-truth-about-post-ferguson-gun-deaths.html

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Is something rotten behind there?

August 5, 2015
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Is something rotten behind there?

Via Twitter, Andrew B. (link) asked if I could comment on the following chart, published by PC Magazine as part of their ISP study. (link) This chart is decent, although it can certainly be improved. Here is a better version:...

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Milan EXPO: further thoughts

July 30, 2015
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Milan EXPO: further thoughts

I promised to blog more about the Milan EXPO so this is it. My first reactions were recorded here. (link) This post is primarily intended for those who are planning a visit. Orientation One of the smartest design decisions is...

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