Applied Statistics

Archives for December, 2009

Coethnicity

My colleague Macartan Humphreys recently came out with book, Coethnicity (with James Habyarimana, Daniel Posner, and Jeremy Weinstein, addresses the question of why public services and civic cooperation tend to be worse in areas with more ethnic variation. To put it another way: people in homogeneous areas work well together, whereas in areas of ethnic…

There’s some psychological/political/sociological phenomenon, I can’t remember what it’s called, in which you tend to think of yourself and your allies as a diverse coalition, while thinking of the people on the other side as a monolithic bloc. I was thinking about this when I read this comment by Jeffrey Toobin: The President is pro-choice…

Yesterday I posted this graph, a parallel-coordinates plot showing health care spending and life expectancy in a sample of countries: I remarked that a scatterplot should be better. Commenter Freddy posted a link to the data, so, just for laffs, I spent a few minutes making a scatterplot containing all the same information. Here it…

I recently blogged on the following ridiculous (to me) quote from economist Gary Becker: According to the economic approach, therefore, most (if not all!) deaths are to some extent “suicides” in the sense that they could have been postponed if more resources had been invested in prolonging life. In my first entry I dealt with…

Who’s on Facebook?

David Blei points me to this report by Lars Backstrom, Jonathan Chang, Cameron Marlow, and Itamar Rosenn on an estimate of the proportion of Facebook users who are white, black, hispanic, and asian (or, should I say, White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian).

I recently reviewed Bryan Caplan’s book, The Myth of the Rational Voter, for the journal Political Psychology. I wish I thought this book was all wrong, because then I could’ve titled my review, “The Myth of the Myth of the Rational Voter.” But, no, I saw a lot of truth in Caplan’s arguments. Here’s what…

Stephen Dubner quotes Gary Becker as saying: According to the economic approach, therefore, most (if not all!) deaths are to some extent “suicides” in the sense that they could have been postponed if more resources had been invested in prolonging life. Dubner describes this as making “perfect sense” and as being “so unusual and so…

The following is the last paragraph in a (positive) referee report I just wrote. It’s relevant for lots of other articles too, I think, so I’ll repeat it here: Just as a side note, I recommend that the authors post their estimates immediately; I imagine their numbers will be picked up right away and be…

Mike Spagat writes: I hope that this new paper [by Michael Spagat, Andrew Mack, Tara Cooper, and Joakim Kreutz] on serious errors in a paper on conflict mortality published in the British Medical Journal will interest you. For one thing I believe that it is highly teachable. Beyond I think that it’s important for the…

Privacy vs knowledge

Wired reports a great new opportunity to make money online by suing internet companies for revealing the data: An in-the-closet lesbian mother is suing Netflix for privacy invasion, alleging the movie rental company made it possible for her to be outed when it disclosed insufficiently anonymous information about nearly half-a-million customers as part of its…