Applied Statistics

Archives for January, 2010

More on the estimation of war deaths

Following up on our recent discussion (see also here) about estimates of war deaths, Megan Price pointed me to this report, where she, Anita Gohdes, Megan Price, and Patrick Ball write: Several media organizations including Reuters, Foreign Policy and New Scientist covered the January 21 release of the 2009 Human Security Report (HSR) entitled, “The…

What can search predict?

You’ve all heard about how you can predict all sorts of things, from movie grosses to flu trends, using search results. I earlier blogged about the research of Yahoo’s Sharad Goel, Jake Hofman, Sebastien Lahaie, David Pennock, and Duncan Watts in this area. Since then, they’ve written a research article. Here’s a picture: And here’s…

First the scientific story, then the journalist, then my thoughts.

Alan Turing is said to have invented a game that combines chess and middle-distance running. It goes like this: You make your move, then you run around the house, and the other player has to make his or her move before you return to your seat. I’ve never played the game but it sounds like…

Stephen Dubner reports on an observational study of bike helmet laws, a study by Christopher. Carpenter and Mark Stehr that compares bicycling and accident rates among children among states that did and did not have helmet laws. In reading the data analysis, I’m reminded of the many discussions Bob Erikson and I have had about…

I posted a note the other day about the difference between internal and external coherence of political ideology. The basic idea is that, a particular person or small group can have an ideology (supporting positions A, B, C, and D, for example) that is perfectly internally coherent–that is, all these positions make sense given the…

One of the most fascinating things about political ideology is the following juxtaposition: 1. An ideology typically makes complete sense to the person holding the ideology–that is, it is internally coherent. 2. Different people have all sorts of different ideologies; thus, there is external incoherence. To put it another way, one person might strongly believe…

Happiness in Latin America

Interesting. The numbers should be rounded to the nearest percent–in a survey, you’ll never get the precision to say anything like “45.2%”–but otherwise it’s a clean display. Follow the link above for context and further discussion.

Too clever by, hmmm, about 5% a year

Coblogger John Sides quotes a probability calculation by Eric Lawrence that, while reasonable on a mathematical level, illustrates a sort of road-to-error-is-paved-with-good-intentions sort of attitude that bothers me, and that I see a lot of in statistics and quantitative social science. I’ll repeat Lawrence’s note and then explain what bothers me. Here’s Lawrence: In today’s…

One thing I learned in econ class in 11th grade was that government policy should be counter-cyclical (spending more in recessions and cutting back in boom times), but that there’s a lot of pressure to be pro-cyclical, which will tend to exacerbate business cycles. (Except I suppose they didn’t say “exacerbate” in 11th grade.) At…