Statistics

8 posts
Scented candle reviews on Amazon and Covid-19

Prompted by a tweet about scented candles without smell and Covid-19, Kate Petrova plotted Amazon reviews for scented and unscented candles over time. Notice the downward trend for scented candles after the first confirmed case for Covid-19. Interesting if true. I’m imagining a bunch of people opening their new scented candles, taking a big whiff, and not smelling anything. What a jip. But I wonder if there are outside forces...

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Jobs of a data scientist

Roger Peng outlines four main roles of a data scientist: If you’re reading this and find yourself saying “I’m not an X” where X is either scientist, statistician, systems engineer, or politician, then chances are that is where you are weak at data science. I think a good data scientist has to have some skill in each of these domains in order to be able to complete the basic data...

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Podcast highlights

Recently, I made a podcast for Ryan Ray, which you can access here. The link sends you to a 14-day free trial to his newsletter, which is where he publishes his podcasts. Ryan contacted me after he read my book Numbers Rule Your World (link). I was happy to learn that he enjoyed the stories, and during the podcast, he gave an example of how he applied the statistical concepts...

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Debunking claims of election rigging

There’s a video (one of too many I am sure) going around that “shows” election rigging. Statistician Kristian Lum shows, with good ol’ basic math and R plots, why the “evidence” is what happens during a normal election. Tags: debunking, election, Kristian Lum

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Estimate your Covid-19 risk, given location and activities

The microCOVID Project provides a calculator that lets you put in where you are and various activities to estimate your risk: This is a project to quantitatively estimate the COVID risk to you from your ordinary daily activities. We trawled the scientific literature for data about the likelihood of getting COVID from different situations, and combined the data into a model that people can use. We estimate COVID risk in...

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Using the FiveThirtyEight model, see how the election odds shift with different scenarios

With each model update, FiveThirtyEight runs 40,000 simulations, or what-ifs, to calculate the odds for who will win the election. Their new interactive lets you experiment with all of the what-ifs to see how the odds shift when a candidate wins a state. It answers the question, “If ______ wins in ______ and in ______, etc., what are the chances of him winning the whole thing?” So if Trump wins...

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Tips for not letting polls and forecasts occupy your mind for two weeks

For FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver provides tips to stay less stressed staring into the darkness known at election forecasts: This is perhaps the single piece of advice we give most often at FiveThirtyEight, but it’s especially important in the final couple weeks of a campaign. After a lull this weekend, there are likely to be a lot of polls the rest of the way out. On any given day, it will...

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Making a convincing deepfake

For MIT Technology Review, Karen Hao looks into the process of artists Francesca Panetta and Halsey Burgund to produce a deepfake of Richard Nixon reading an alternate history of the moon landing: This is how Lewis D. Wheeler, a Boston-based white male actor, found himself holed up in a studio for days listening to and repeating snippets of Nixon’s audio. There were hundreds of snippets, each only a few seconds...

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Census undercount

For NYT Opinion, Gus Wezerek and Andrew Whitby on what might happen if the count ends on September 30: Times Opinion predicted how many people would remain uncounted on Sept. 30, based on each state’s current response rate. Our analysis shows that those undercounts will cheat some states — mostly Republican — out of federal funding and one state out of a congressional seat. Tags: census, New York Times, undercount

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Election visuals: three views of FiveThirtyEight’s probabilistic forecasts

As anyone who is familiar with Nate Silver's forecasting of U.S. presidential elections knows, he runs a simulation that explores the space of possible scenarios. The polls that provide a baseline forecast make certain assumptions, such as who's a likely voter. Nate's model unshackles these assumptions from the polling data, exploring how the outcomes vary as these assumptions shift. In the most recent simulation, his computer explores 40,000 scenarios, each...

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