Posts Tagged ‘ Current Affairs ’

Light entertainment: crime is no joke

February 5, 2016
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Light entertainment: crime is no joke

(via twitter) When I saw this on my twitter feed, I thought this must be a joke. But click here and check out the entire collection of them.

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Know your data 18: your location is our product

February 2, 2016
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In the last post in the Know Your Data series, I discussed how Uber can use its vast database of your personal trips against your personal interests. (This does not preclude the possibility that they use the data for your benefit.) It turns out that something more ominous is at foot… a number of news outlets have just published investigative reports about a company known as Vigilant Solutions (EFF, The…

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Where but when and why: deaths of journalism

January 26, 2016
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Where but when and why: deaths of journalism

On Twitter, someone pointed me to the following map of journalists who were killed between 1993 and 2015. I wasn't sure if the person who posted this liked or disliked this graphic. We see a clear metaphor of gunshots and...

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Treating absolute and relative data simultaneously

January 11, 2016
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Treating absolute and relative data simultaneously

A friend asked me to comment on the following chart: Specifically, he points out the challenge of trying to convey both absolute and relative metrics for a given data series. This chart presents projections of growth in the U.S. mobile...

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Know your data 17: when other people can track your Uber location

January 8, 2016
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The news is out that Uber got fined by the New York Attorney General's office for data breaches and privacy concerns. The headline writer for ZDNet nailed this one: "Uber fined peanuts in God View surveillance" (link). And the sub-lead has the kicker: "For a company with a valuation of over $50 billion, a $20,000 fine over user data protection is laughable." This settlement tells us one of the following…

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Scorched by the heat in Arizona

December 18, 2015
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Scorched by the heat in Arizona

Reader Jeffrey S. saw this graphic inside a Dec 2 tweet from the National Weather Service (NWS) in Phoenix, Arizona. In a Trifecta checkup (link), I'd classify this as Type QV. The problems with the visual design are numerous and...

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It’s difficult for journalists to get statistics right: the real estate edition

December 16, 2015
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A friend pointed me to a good article on the buoyant real-estate market in Boston (link). The journalist tells us the median home sale price in Suffolk County has gone up 31 percent in the five years since the 2010 crash. The article makes some excellent points. When it comes to talking about median house prices, it fails basic statistics. Here is a quote (maybe a misquote) from Barry Bluestone,…

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Egregious chart brings back bad memories

November 19, 2015
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Egregious chart brings back bad memories

My friend Alberto Cairo said it best: if you see bullshit, say "bullshit!" He was very incensed by this egregious "infographic": (link to his post) Emily Schuch provided a re-visualization: The new version provides a much richer story of how...

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Andrew Gelman delivers a lesson on statistical adjustment, so you can relax about middle-aged men killing themselves

November 11, 2015
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Andrew Gelman delivers a lesson on statistical adjustment, so you can relax about middle-aged men killing themselves

My co-columnist Andrew Gelman has been doing some fantastic work, digging behind that trendy news story that claims that middled-aged, non-Hispanic, white male Americans are dying at an abnormal rate. See, for example, this New York Times article that not only reports the statistical pattern but also in its headline, asserts that those additional deaths were due to suicide and substance abuse. It all bega n with the chart shown…

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Researcher who pushed nudging wants companies to stop using nudges that annoy people

November 10, 2015
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Researcher who pushed nudging wants companies to stop using nudges that annoy people

I recommend Richard Thaler's article in the New York Times for a couple of reasons. It's a discussion of the so-called "nudge" strategy in which product/policy designers try to influence people's behavior through "small design changes". The more important reason is that Thaler is coming back to tell us not to over-do nudges. This is a researcher who recognizes the limits of his pet idea, and warns people to use…

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