Archive for Agent Orange

understanding elections through statistics [book review]

Posted in Books, Kids, R, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2020 by xi'an

A book to read most urgently if hoping to take an informed decision by 03 November! Written by a political scientist cum statistician, Ole Forsberg. (If you were thinking of another political scientist cum statistician, he wrote red state blue state a while ago! And is currently forecasting the outcome of the November election for The Economist.)

“I believe [omitting educational level] was the main reason the [Brexit] polls were wrong.”

The first part of the book is about the statistical analysis of opinion polls (assuming their outcome is given, rather than designing them in the first place). And starting with the Scottish independence referendum of 2014. The first chapter covering the cartoon case of simple sampling from a population, with or without replacement, Bayes and non-Bayes. In somewhat too much detail imho given that this is an unrealistic description of poll outcomes. The second chapter expands to stratified sampling (with confusing title [Polling 399] and entry, since it discusses repeated polls that are not processed in said chapter). Mentioning the famous New York Times experiment where five groups of pollsters analysed the same data, making different decisions in adjusting the sample and identifying likely voters, and coming out with a range of five points in the percentage. Starting to get a wee bit more advanced when designing priors for the population proportions. But still studying a weighted average of the voting intentions for each category. Chapter three reaches the challenging task of combining polls, with a 2017 (South) Korea presidential election as an illustration, involving five polls. It includes a solution to handling older polls by proposing a simple linear regression against time. Chapter 4 sums up the challenges of real-life polling by examining the disastrous 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK. Exposing for instance the complicated biases resulting from polling by phone or on-line. The part that weights polling institutes according to quality does not provide any quantitative detail. (And also a weird averaging between the levels of “support for Brexit” and “maybe-support for Brexit”, see Fig. 4.5!) Concluding as quoted above that missing the educational stratification was the cause for missing the shock wave of referendum day is a possible explanation, but the massive difference in turnover between the age groups, itself possibly induced by the reassuring figures of the published polls and predictions, certainly played a role in missing the (terrible) outcome.

“The fabricated results conformed to Benford’s law on first digits, but failed to obey Benford’s law on second digits.” Wikipedia

The second part of this 200 page book is about election analysis, towards testing for fraud. Hence involving the ubiquitous Benford law. Although applied to the leading digit which I do not think should necessarily follow Benford law due to both the varying sizes and the non-uniform political inclinations of the voting districts (of which there are 39 for the 2009 presidential Afghan election illustration, although the book sticks at 34 (p.106)). My impression was that instead lesser digits should be tested. Chapter 4 actually supports the use of the generalised Benford distribution that accounts for differences in turnouts between the electoral districts. But it cannot come up with a real-life election where the B test points out a discrepancy (and hence a potential fraud). Concluding with the author’s doubt [repeated from his PhD thesis] that these Benford tests “are specious at best”, which makes me wonder why spending 20 pages on the topic. The following chapter thus considers other methods, checking for differential [i.e., not-at-random] invalidation by linear and generalised linear regression on the supporting rate in the district. Once again concluding at no evidence of such fraud when analysing the 2010 Côte d’Ivoire elections (that led to civil war). With an extension in Chapter 7 to an account for spatial correlation. The book concludes with an analysis of the Sri Lankan presidential elections between 1994 and 2019, with conclusions of significant differential invalidation in almost every election (even those not including Tamil provinces from the North).

R code is provided and discussed within the text. Some simple mathematical derivations are found, albeit with a huge dose of warnings (“math-heavy”, “harsh beauty”) and excuses (“feel free to skim”, “the math is entirely optional”). Often, one wonders at the relevance of said derivations for the intended audience and the overall purpose of the book. Nonetheless, it provides an interesting entry on (relatively simple) models applied to election data and could certainly be used as an original textbook on modelling aggregated count data, in particular as it should spark the interest of (some) students.

[Disclaimer about potential self-plagiarism: this post or an edited version will eventually appear in my Books Review section in CHANCE.]

and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 4, 2020 by xi'an

“A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment. The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle.” Barack Obama [on Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s replacement], 18 September

“I don’t know that [Ruth Bader Ginsberg] said that, or if that was written out by Adam Schiff, and Schumer and Pelosi,” DT, 21 September

“I don’t wear a mask like [Joe Biden]. Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” DT, 29 September

“With time it goes away. And you’ll develop like a herd mentality [sic]. It’s going to be herd developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.” DT, 16 September

“If you take the blue states out, we’re at a level that I don’t think anyone in the world would be at,” DT, 17 September

“It will start getting cooler, just you watch.” DT, 14 September

“I don’t think science knows, actually.” DT, 14 September

“Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to ‘voters,’ or wherever, this year, the Nov 3rd Election result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED, which is what some want.” DT, 17 September

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent.” “DT, 26 May

“I can tell you there’s [no race problem] with me. Because I have great respect for all races, everybody.” DT, 15 September

“America is fundamentally good, and has much to offer the world, because our founders recognized the existence of God-given unalienable rights and designed a durable system to protect them” M. Pompeo, July 2020

scientific Americans abide by Joe

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2020 by xi'an

and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2020 by xi'an

““Many doctors think hydroxychloroquine is extremely successful. Some people don’t. Some people, I think it’s become very political. I happen to believe in it. I would take it. As you know, I took it for a 14-day period and I’m here, right? I’m here.”When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” DT, 28 July

“We are on the defence. We’re not out looking for trouble.” W. Barr,  28 July

“Fauci’s got this high approval rating. So why don’t I have a high approval rating with respect – and the administration – with respect to the virus?” DT, 28 July

Mr. Barr said that “I don’t agree that there is systemic racism in police departments generally in this country,” and he quoted statistics that more white Americans had been killed by the police than black Americans. NYT, 28 July

“A lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening, and we’ll see what happens with them” DT, 28 July

““[John Lewis] didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK (…) Again, nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have. He should have come. I think he made a big mistake.” DT, 03 August

“When I took over, we didn’t have a test.” DT, 04 August


and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2020 by xi'an

“When the looting starts, the shooting starts.” DT, 28 May

“Trump has long advocated for selling off the Postal Service and recently called it “a joke.”The New Yorker, 30 May

“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.” DT, 30 May

“Statt Öl ins Feuer zu gießen (…) Demokraten dürfen nie eskalieren – auch nicht durch Worte. Mit Gewalt zu drohen löst nur weitere Gewalt aus. Statt uns auseinander dividieren zu lassen. Heiko Maas, 3 June

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them..” DT, 1 June

“When you see these thugs being thrown into the back of a paddy wagon, you just see ’em thrown in, rough, I said, ‘Please don’t be too nice.’’” DT, 28 July 2017