today 7.7 millions French voters voted for a xenophobic populist, leader of an extreme-right party

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , on April 24, 2017 by xi'an

“In short, the French presidential election is a mess”

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by xi'an

Harry Enten (and not Nate Silver as reported by Le Monde) published yesterday a post on Five-Thirty-Eight about the unpredictability of the French elections. Which essentially states the obvious, namely that the four major candidates all stand a chance to make it to the runoff. (The post classifies Macron as a former left-wing socialist, which shows a glaring misunderstanding of the candidate or a massive divergence of what left-wing means between France and the USA.) The tribune states both that the polls could exhibit a bigger mistake than in the previous elections and that Le Pen score is unlikely to be underestimated, because voters are no longer shy to acknowledge they vote for a fascist candidate. One argument for the error in the polls is attributed to pollsters “herding” their results, i.e., shrinking the raw figures towards the global average taken over previous polls. A [rather reasonable] correction dismissed by Le Monde and French pollsters. While Enten argues that the variability of the percentages over fifty polls is too small to be plausible, assuming a Normal distribution that may not hold because French pollsters use quotas to build their polling population. In any case, this analysis, while cautious and reasonably so!, does not elaborate on the largest question mark, the elephant in the room, namely the percentage of abstentions today and their distribution among the political spectrum, which may eventually make the difference tonight. Indeed, “the bottom line is that we don’t know what’s going to happen on Sunday.” And it is definitely frightening!

tactical vote against extreme right Le Pen

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , on April 23, 2017 by xi'an

Today is the first round of the French presidential elections, which readers could guess were coming from the flurry of anti-Le Pen posts in the past weeks. While I am not particularly close to any candidate’s program and find the flow of unrealistic promises that keeps coming as The Day comes closer both embarrassing and pathetic, or maybe because of this, I decided to vote in a minimax manner, trying to minimise the maximum damage, i.e., casting a vote for the candidate the most likely to stop Le Pen and her xenophobic and economically nonsensical programme if she reaches the second round of the election. As it seems likely she will. This means voting for Emmanuel Macron, who stands at the centre of the political spectrum, is fairly liberal on societal issues may be the most pro-European of all candidates, and managed to gather  a wide range of supports. And will stand a fair chance to win the second round if he reaches it, contrary to the radical Mélanchon. Everything being chaotic about this election, this remains a big if until tonight… Go vote, if you can!

Powys [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by xi'an

March(es) for Science

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , on April 22, 2017 by xi'an

Today there are around 500 marches for Science organised around the World (incl. on in Kangerlussuaq, Qeqqata, Greenland!). Primarily to protest the unprecedented attacks of trumpism on science, scientific values, and scientists, and not only through budget cuts, agency closures, public data erasures, but also denegation of scientific expertise and data to advance financial and partisan interests against climate, water preservation, minorities rights, women equality, and international relations. Being now at a remote retreat in Northern Wales, I will walk virtually at the Cardiff March for Science.

Barbie’s Z scores

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , on April 21, 2017 by xi'an

I came upon this terrible (pink) graph the other day, that was composed by to point out the physiological extremes of a Barbie doll (along with the possibly fatal impact this “ideal” may have on young girls). As for the many statistical flaws of that graphs, pick your favourite between turning the control group into its mean without a spread, the use of histogram bars to translate a distance from the mean with the added (tail) probability, the confusion between the probability to be even more extreme and to be “equivalent”…

chateau l’insoumise [not a political message]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , on April 20, 2017 by xi'an