Re: Various

1

Because the crazy people are mostly set to hating things by default. If you named something more specific than Congress, you might get crazies thinking it was good or bad, depending on which was loonier. But Congress in general, they're going to be against it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:11 AM
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The crazification factor is mad at Congress for not repealing Obamacare or at the very least impeaching Obama.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:12 AM
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I got 9 out of 10 right on the test, but I agree with the OP about it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:15 AM
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This quiz is really stupid!


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:17 AM
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This is a problem with polls that ask things like "Do you hate Congress?", and don't follow up with "Why do you hate Congress?"

Similarly, I'd like to see the "Why do you hate Obamacare?" question get asked, so we can figure out how many people hate it from the Left, instead of the default assumption that says the people who hate it are on the Right.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:17 AM
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5/10 due to thinking things are worse than they actually are. I'm kind of encouraged by some of the results, especially the one about extreme poverty.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:28 AM
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7

I did so badly on that quiz that I'm ashamed to call it stupid. Mostly, the options seemed to be within a range where I was guessing blindly between two of them.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:30 AM
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And, like tologosh, I was consistently making pessimistic guesses.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:31 AM
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9

All the answers were at one extreme and you just had to decide whether to be optimistic or not. I got 6 because I was too pessimistic.
In the summary is says "Less than 1% scored more than 6/10 and none scored above 8/10" so Moby doesn't actually exist.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:33 AM
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5.2 is certainly out there.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:35 AM
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11

9.last: I refute you thusly.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:38 AM
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That would work better if I were a rock or somewhere you could kick me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:39 AM
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The quiz seems very much along the lines of "Stupid Westerners thinking there's suffering in the world that needs lots of foreign aid when what needs to be promoted is Chinese-style economic growth." It certainly shares talking points.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:39 AM
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14

12: In the butt, Bob?


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:40 AM
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I didn't have the patience to go through more than three questions on that ignorance quiz. "Here are several plausible numbers! If you didn't memorize enough statistics about what I think is important to choose among them, you're ignorant!" It's stupid.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:41 AM
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16

I think 13 is on to something.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:46 AM
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17

That might be what was going on -- I didn't pick it up spontaneously, but it fits.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:47 AM
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I think 13 is the intended outcome of the quiz. So yeah, one is not supposed to get the answers right but then formulating this as a quiz is probably a bad idea, as people focus on the pointlessness of trying to answer the questions rather than the intended message.


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:48 AM
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19

Goddammit pwnt by two minutes!


Posted by: W. Breeze | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:50 AM
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20

In the summary is says "Less than 1% scored more than 6/10 and none scored above 8/10

With 7/10, I am in the 1%.

13 is possible, but the main impression I got was "things in the rest of the world aren't nearly as bad as most people in the West think". Also, "there are a lot more Asians than you think, if you take a pretty wide definition of Asian".


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:59 AM
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Another 7/10 here. The ones I got wrong were pure guesswork. The ones I got right I actually knew in all cases but one.

I agree with 20.2 regarding the aim of the thing, but that's not necessarily incompatible with 13. Anybody know anything about the outfit behind it? Nutters? Objectivists? Maoists? Self-publicists?


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:07 AM
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I didn't have the patience to go through more than three questions on that ignorance quiz. "Here are several plausible numbers! If you didn't memorize enough statistics about what I think is important to choose among them, you're ignorant!" It's stupid.

I didn't do as well as I would have hoped (7/10, and having read this thread helped me slow down and be cautious on a couple questions) but I liked the fact that the questions were difficult enough that, "having a vague intuition about the world" wasn't enough to answer them correctly (for example, I got the income distribution question wrong, and that was one where I was clearly going off a certain mental anchoring, rather than really thinking about it).

I think the quiz has problems, but I liked it overall.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:10 AM
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What makes this particular question immune?

Different parties control the two houses, so everybody has something to disapprove. If the GOP captures the Senate, approval will go back to 27%.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:13 AM
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Also, I remember reading a book a couple years ago (I wish I could remember the name) talking about development in Africa and making the argument that it was important to not get too caught up on the GDP numbers because almost every indicator other than GDP (education, life expectancy, sanitation, etc. . . ) had improved significantly.

I read the quiz as taking a similar position.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:14 AM
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I read the quiz as taking a similar position.

Maybe, but the test actively primed against giving the correct answer. Just look at the children/woman question, for example. It looked like it was designed by a smug asshole.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:20 AM
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25 exactly. "Most Americans got this right - but Roslin said the answer was inconsistent with the question on child population, reflecting a lack of understanding of demographics".

A) irritatingly smug.
b) Not even true. There being 2.5 children per woman, TODAY, is not inconsistent with there being more children in 2100 than today, or less, or the same number, because your answer to 2100 is related not to your assumption about how many kids women are having today, but how many kids women will be having from 2080 onwards.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:29 AM
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I got 8/10, but only because I realized early on that the trick was just always giving the most optimistic answer, since 13 and 20.2 are clearly right and the point of the test was simply to surprise you with the shocking news that things aren't that bad for the world you fools!

Most surprising to me (if true) is that the distribution of world wealth is normal, and not a power law with a clump and a long tail. I'm sure one of you stats people will tell me why I am stupid to be surprised by this.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:32 AM
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27: My two-second impression is that their x-axis was labelled logarithmically, but I didn't actually look too closely.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:35 AM
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I guess it's income distribution, not wealth distribution. Still surprising to me that this would be normal distribution across the world as a whole.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:35 AM
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It looked like it was designed by a smug asshole.

I thought the general unfogged position included a willingness to (sometimes) be sympathetic towards smug assholes.

the distribution of world wealth income

FTFY


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:36 AM
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27: My two-second impression is that their x-axis was labelled logarithmically, but I didn't actually look too closely.

Ah, that makes sense. I should have paid closer attention to that.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:37 AM
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I got 8/10, but only because I realized early on that the trick was just always giving the most optimistic answer

7/10 here, but for the same reason.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:37 AM
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Only commenters are allowed to be smug assholes, and even then only sometimes.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:38 AM
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34

Ah yes 27 does seem to be the case, which makes the graph super stupid I believe!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:38 AM
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35

29: That's the one I missed and I was surprised by that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:40 AM
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The survey is done by this group... Basically, that public health guy who had a fancy stats TED presentation back in 06.

I'm sitting in the assembly room for jury duty. I couldn't stop smirking during the "why jury duty, and America, is awesome" video.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:52 AM
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37

I thought it was a great quiz. Everyone is primed by their schooling experiences to ask whether a quiz is a fair assessment of their knowledge, but obviously The Internet doesn't care whether you're an A or a B student. The purpose of a random internet quiz is to communicate a message and make it stick. It took me just two minutes to take that quiz but it shook some of my preconceptions about global development in a way that will stick. That's some effective communication.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:52 AM
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38

I didn't get any message besides "why build a quiz that includes several plausible answers and then chide your participants for being idiots?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:54 AM
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39

And that's not even a message.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:54 AM
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40

37 could be right if it wasn't for the unconcealed joy he gets from calling people stupid.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:56 AM
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41

Yeah, I didn't take that personally. I mean, he never even met me.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:58 AM
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42

That graph of income distribution does seem designed to be not just provocative, but affirmatively misleading, and in a harmful way. (Or at least it's deliberately misleading if you are doing the stupid quiz on an iPad and not carefully examining the values shown on the x axis but come on this is a goddamn internet quiz). If I'd just done the quiz casually and had ended up going "huh preconceptions shaken" I would have had a totally misleading impression of the distribution of world income, and my previous folk knowledge would have been vastly more correct than this bullshit.

Literacy percentage was pretty surprising to me, though (I already knew all about the demographic transition stuff).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 10:59 AM
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Literacy percentage was pretty surprising to me

Thank China for that one they have a literacy rate over 95% (I think adult literacy might be closer to 98%).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:06 AM
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I think that in Americans minds, severe global poverty means Africa where things really haven't gotten much better. I doubt they want our take-away to be thank god for the Chinese communist party.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:07 AM
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45

Nick beats me by a minute.


Posted by: Asteele | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:08 AM
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46

I don't see your problem, Halford. The graph of income distribution was crystal clear and concealed nothing. Making it linear would have made it much more difficult to fit in the margins. The numbers were perfectly visible and the distribution was easy to interpret. Your college-smart-guy-tidbit about lognormal distributions does not qualify as actual knowledge about how many people in the world make how much money. If you had such knowledge, it would have been easy to answer the question correctly.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:08 AM
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47

It's clearly designed as a graph to indicate that world income follows a normal distribution, with tails at both ends, instead of being clumped around substantially poorer people. I don't see why you can't see that, except that you're generally an ass.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:10 AM
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43: as someone said above, this quiz was a bit of an advertisement for the Chinese Communist party. It confirmed me in being, on net, something of a Chairman Mao fan. I mean, mistakes were made and all, but still.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:10 AM
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49

Oh good lord are you a fucking annoying idiot.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:11 AM
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50

You're just jealous because I got the question right.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:12 AM
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51

If there's anything that will make the average CNN website reader even more depressed, it's being told "Actually, you're in the only group of people whose lives are getting worse. The world in general is doing great!"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:12 AM
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It confirmed me in being, on net, something of a Chairman Mao fan.

Bastard would have wiped me out and all the other modernisers with me if he hadn't kicked off at the last minute.


Posted by: Opinionated Deng Xiaoping | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:17 AM
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It's clearly designed as a graph to indicate that world income follows a normal distribution, with tails at both ends, instead of being clumped around substantially poorer people. I don't see why you can't see that, except that you're generally an ass.

If I do a search for "world income distibution" and look at images in the first page you see this which uses a linear scale and this which uses a log scale. I would argue that the second is clearer and more informative and the first is boarderline deceptive in how it constructs the chart.

So I don't think there's anything inherently wrong or overly tricky about using a log distribution.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:18 AM
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From the second link in 53 (and, as I said above, I got the income question wrong).

... [T]he assumption that income is distributed lognormally - or that log income has a normal distribution. This assumption has long been employed in the literature on income distributions, at least since Gibrat (1931), who showed that if individuals experience random proportionate shocks to income, the distribution of income will converge to being lognormal in the long run.

Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:20 AM
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Why is it more accurate to believe that world incomes are normally distributed, when they aren't?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:21 AM
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if individuals experience random proportionate shocks to income
Which, of course, doesn't have anything to do with the processes behind global income distribution. 42.1 is exactly right.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:24 AM
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I went back and looked and I agree with Halford. I missed the axis labeling. I wasn't looking for that kind of scaling in a web quiz on a news site. When you've got a graph where $5 to $10 takes up the same horizontal space as $10 to $100, people are going to be confused in ways that are very easily predictable.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:30 AM
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It looks like the guy read him some Tversky & Kahneman, designed a survey that exploited the sorts of biases he was supposed to minimize, and the gloated.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:36 AM
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OT: On the advice of health professionals, I've started sneezing into my elbow. This means that every once in a while my sleeve catches a giant gob of mucous, and it's a lot less convenient to clean at work than my hands. Am I the victim of an elaborate prank?


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:50 AM
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Am I the victim of an elaborate prank?

If you're being asked to do something like inhale pepper to make yourself sneeze, yes. Otherwise, no.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:52 AM
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You could carry a handkerchief, and sneeze into that?

Also, let me be the first to recommend using a neti pot. My level of uncontrolled mucus emission has dropped to pretty much zero (from sniffling damply all winter) since I started using one.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 11:58 AM
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Sneezing into your elbow is what all the kids are being taught these days.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:03 PM
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63

That are how to reproduce socioeconomic privilege.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:04 PM
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64

are s/b and.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:04 PM
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Are s/b is?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:19 PM
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LB's controlled mucus emission is at an all-time high.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:26 PM
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It looks like the guy read him some Tversky & Kahneman, designed a survey that exploited the sorts of biases he was supposed to minimize, and the gloated.

Okay, that is true. But I still thought it was interesting.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:33 PM
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That would, in fact, be the purpose of the neti pot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:34 PM
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69

Aside from the sheer pleasure and aesthetic spectacle of a nose fountain.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:37 PM
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I'm having a self-portrait water element installed in the back garden.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:44 PM
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That's what they teach at pre-school, my 4 year old scolds me if I sneeze into my hand instead of elbow.
And NO to neti pots. I tried it once and did something wrong and almost drowned. You know that tingling feeling you get in the front of your brain when you inhale water? It turns out I can replicate that awesome sensation any time I want with a neti pot.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 12:58 PM
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Basically, you waterboarded yourself?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 1:01 PM
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I tried it once and did something wrong . . .

There's your problem, don't do that then.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 1:01 PM
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Yes but I never cracked.
The problem is I don't know what I was supposed to do differently so repeating the process and expecting a different outcome would be insane.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 1:07 PM
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I get a terrible instant headache sometimes when the neti pot does something to the pressure in my sinuses, but if I quit and blow my nose, everything's fine again and I can finish up.

It all seems worth it to me, but I'm probably coming from a baseline of unusual sniffliness, so having that go away is worth almost any amount of discomfort in the netipotting process.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 1:15 PM
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I was missing too many questions so I stopped taking the quiz. NB: Actual occurrence; not allegory for my life.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 1:18 PM
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[[[I'm too busy to delve through unread threads to see if someone has already alerted you all that "Lizard Breath May Have Evolved Before Dinosaurs." As you were. I hope the highly-evolved respiratory apparatus triumphs over the virus soon.]]]


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 1:36 PM
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||

OT: Is it wrong that this made me think of unfogged?

I realize it's essentially shameless click bait and the the sort of thing which would rapidly lose its humor if there were endless variations on the idea. And yet, it made me smile.

|>


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 2:32 PM
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People really got that mad about alog scale? I guess usually you have axis lines that Indicate that things aren't linear. But if you know what a normal distribution is you should probably also understand log-normal and also read the axes.

Anyhow going by the guy's TED talk I think his premise is that people tend to think of the developing world as an undifferentiated mass of maximal suffering (and the developed world as an undifferentiated mass of not-suffering) when it's actually a lot more diverse, and often economically successful, than that. It's a bit Panglossian but not I think a terrible corrective always necessarily. It's useful to consider things as they actually are, and it's a little insulting to, say, Africa not to acknowledge that it isnt Ethiopia in the 80s everywhere. But eh, it also is very amenable to the Friedman's of the world repurposing it as market-valorizing gospel.

I got 9/10 because I knew the gimmick.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 2:54 PM
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I think it's pretty much always hilarious lying-with-graphs to use log paper on civilians, and especially so absent flashing lights and ringing bells warning you that's what's going on.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:09 PM
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Fair enough, I don't need to go to bat for it. But it's a little weird that everybody knows the normal distribution (and maybe even things like power law distributions or exponential distributions?) but not the log-normal, which comes up all the time. Like, is it lying-with-numbers to report volume in decibels? Obviously not, but it's sort of quirky that that's different.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:12 PM
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||
If you had told me when I first heard that "Nelly" was called "Nelly", that there would be a hip-hop star with a more unintentionally stupid name, I might not have believed you, but then yesterday I saw this month's issue of the Source, featuring PU SHAT. Sigh.

"Roach Gigz" is pretty moronic too.
||>


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:20 PM
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I definitely know log normal, and if it was in a context where you'd expect it, I wouldn't be surprised, or feel it was odd. But in the context of a multi-choice quiz aimed at the man-in-the-street? It's definitely whiffy.

Because, I think, it disrupts the visual conventions of graphing in a really powerful way. Which is the point, obviously, but also why it's problematic.

Also: not that many people know normal or power or exponential distributions really. Maybe a half of the population?

Decibels and Richter scales are very broadly misunderstood.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:21 PM
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Normal distribution=grading on a curve, so everyone who has been in school gets that immediately. Log-scales in common use=I dunno, the Richter scale? Decibels, like you say? Which are already pretty specialized and for people don't use them all the time takes an additional mental step of remembering that they don't work like you're measuring quantities in an ordinary way.

In any case it's not what you'd expect on a web quiz on CNN designed for an ordinary reader, at least not without some clear indication on the graph explaining what's going on. In this case there was no such indication, and in addition the x axis was in small type and pretty hard to read. Especially in context with the rest of the quiz it was hard not to read it as standing for the proposition that there is actually something like a normal distribution of income in the world, which is totally false.

I don't have too much of a problem with the project as a whole but framing it as the "ignorance test" is pretty ridiculous and that graph (I thought) was pretty pernicious propaganda.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:27 PM
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84 before seeing 83. Actually I'd bet that most people, even in earthquake prone areas, who know what the Richter Scale is don't know that the Richter Scale is a log scale, and that many who do need to stop and think for a second to remember that. Probably the same thing for decibels.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:29 PM
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Point(s) taken on the graph. But I do suspect people think of incomes worldwide in something like a bimodal distribution. Not sure how you would tease that out.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:31 PM
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Not sure how you would tease that out.
Well, they did put a bimodal distribution on there,too, didn't they? Still, I totally didn't realize it was a log scale.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:44 PM
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Me neither. I know what a log scale is, but I just glanced at the midpoint of the scale rather than reading the whole thing, and it didn't occur to me that a log scale was a possibility.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:46 PM
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I actually do see Halford's point, although I find his level of outrage entertaining (a LOG SCALE! How dare they!), but while the concept of a log scale is complex this graph is quite simple. The X axis numbers are plainly visible (as they might not have been if you stretched this out far enough to be linear). It is plainly approximate and sort of close to a bar chart -- if this had been a bar chart with bins at around $1, $10, and $100 then no one would worry that much about the space between the bars.

Also, do people really get offended if an internet quiz calls you names for missing questions? Shouldn't we be saving up our outrage for people calling us names in real life? Or at least, in Unfogged threads?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 3:58 PM
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It's not so much that it's insulting because it hurts my feelings, it's that using bullying as polemic is objectionable. The point that I understand the quiz to be making -- roughly, the developing world isn't an undifferentiated mass of misery, many trends are surprisingly positive -- is probably a good one. But trying to sell it through a quiz that invites wrong answers and then calls people ignorant for getting them wrong to bully them into accepting the quiz's point of view generally is irritating.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:08 PM
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It's also a bit backfire-y. Like, I think I agree with the ideas the quiz is promoting: emerging middle classes, India and China are massive and growing rapidly, demographic transition etc. But tricksy moves like that graph just annoy me and put me off the whole project --- good ideas don't need lies.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:12 PM
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91: Right, this exactly. Once I understood the point the quiz was trying to make, it's a good one. But I don't think much of the person who wrote it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:19 PM
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His TED talk isn't bad, aside from being a TED talk. Probably it helps that he only calls his Swedish public health grad students ignorant, as opposed to his audience.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:23 PM
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It's been years since I've watched Rosling's TED talk, but I seem to recall that one of the core messages was "Good job, Deng Xiaoping!" Am I wrong?


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:27 PM
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Sometimes I feel as if I'm dropping out of touch with the relevant bits of the internet because I'm literally never going to watch a video lecture. TED talks might be lifechanging, but I'll never know.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:27 PM
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You should give a TED talk about that.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:32 PM
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95: I only saw it because somebody showed it to me. I think that's the only way I've seen TED talks. In general I feel like I'm about two or three standard deviations less interested in watching web video than the mean these days.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 4:39 PM
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98

||

Red Apple Falls remains a good album.

|>


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:14 PM
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I pretty much hate internet videos. It is rare, indeed, that I'm not irritated as fuck to have them show up.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:15 PM
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Obviously the unfoggedetariat as a group has an unusual affection for text-based communication . . . (count me in, I remember being really annoyed when it became impossible to browse the web with images turned off).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:26 PM
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I hate sites where the sound comes automatically. Makes it risky to surf while on conference calls where the audio is though the computer.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:31 PM
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I have never watched a TED talk and loathe videos that are just people talking. I am completely left out of an internet based on clickbait headlines and "moving" videos.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:43 PM
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In general I feel like I'm about two or three standard deviations less interested in watching web video than the mean these days.

I am totally this way. To the point of skipping most information contained in video and waiting for someone to explain what's so good if it's more than 1-2 minutes. I'm also a huge fan or reading the transcript (in 10 minutes), rather than slogging through an hour long speech or debate.


Posted by: Mooseking | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:49 PM
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TED talks are sometimes good for background while doing something else. The real problem is that too often they are annoying, dumb, pointless, stupid, or some combination of the above. There are occasional gems though, like the dude who accidentally found out he was a sociopath.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:58 PM
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That sounds like Jon Ronson.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 5:59 PM
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I'm a big fan of animated gifs. You get to see the three second action shot of the football in the groin, without sound, or any of the surrounding bullshit.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 6:03 PM
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Ever since the TED talk where the girl in the tub had bowel problems, I've been afraid to watch them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 6:27 PM
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Yeah but it was life-changing, right?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 6:30 PM
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For somebody it probably was.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 6:43 PM
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Haven't read the thread to speak of, but man am I ignorant. 4/10 correct, with, like togolosh and LB and perhaps others, excessive pessimism.

Why is the quiz stupid? (I'll read the thread now.) I admit I began to get hung up on the word "average." I wanted to think about the median.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 7:04 PM
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97 is exactly correct.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 7:15 PM
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I got 8/10. It was pretty easy once I figured out the gimmick. The renewable energy question was weird in that it didn't pattern with the others, but in that case I actually knew the answer.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 7:39 PM
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I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who had to stare at that income distribution chart for a bit before making a decision as to my answer -- though I don't know from logarithmic, I'm afraid, not under that term.

Was noone else bothered by the focus on mean rather than median? In the life expectancy question, for example. Apparently the correct answer is that average life expectancy is 70. Average. See, that annoys me. What's the median?

(We know that this sort of statistical prevarication is used to press for a rise in the retirement age for Social Security and Medicare benefits in this country.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 7:56 PM
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If using a log scale is "lying", nearly every figure I ever make is lying.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 7:58 PM
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Do you make readers guess which of three figures you included is right?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:01 PM
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Ooh, that's a good idea. I should do that the next time I give a talk that's recorded, so I can pretend I'm a fancy TED-talker type.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:08 PM
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The very definition of "life expectancy" is the mean. That's because life expectancy is the expected value of the duration of life, which is a simple mean of all outcomes.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:12 PM
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"Expected value" is one of those profoundly stupid choices of technical terminology that persist sometimes.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:14 PM
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Maybe I've drank the Kool-Aid, but I don't see what's wrong with "expected value."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:16 PM
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It can take values that you would never expect.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:20 PM
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It's like, the opposite of the Spanish Inquisition.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:20 PM
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120 would probably make a good upworthy video, not that I'd have to find out!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:21 PM
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Upworthy headlines annoy me so much that I wouldn't watch them even if I did watch videos on the web, which I don't.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:23 PM
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120: Assuming you did the math right, I don't think that's possible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:25 PM
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117: The very definition of "life expectancy" is the mean. That's because life expectancy is the expected value of the duration of life, which is a simple mean of all outcomes.

I really don't understand this. The expected value (?) of the duration of life in one region of the globe is quite different from that in another area of the globe. Also quite different among different socioeconomic strata. Why would globalizing the figure altogether be a useful figure? It is of some mild interest, but given the wild disparities in income inequality -- and the concomitant disparity in life span -- the flat-out global mean doesn't tell us much at all.

Am I being stupid here? Please leave aside any ill-formed sentences.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:30 PM
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Maybe somebody has a kōan about it? Can you calculate and expected value that you do not expect?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:31 PM
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-d. I'm not typing good today.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:31 PM
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125: Don't all those objections apply just as much to the median?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:34 PM
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I think essear is referring to the fact that the expectation value may not be in the distribution. As in an distribution over the integers may have a non-integer expected value.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:35 PM
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Anyway, global life expectancy doesn't really tell you much of interest on its own, but it can be a useful benchmark for comparative purposes.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:37 PM
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128: For things like wealth, probably not. For age at death, pretty much.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:38 PM
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151: you mean like saying that expected value of the number of children for a woman is 2.5?


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:38 PM
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What's funny about that?


Posted by: Opinionated Solomon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:40 PM
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Because that doesn't seem different than saying the expected value of a coin flip where you pay me $1 for heads and you pay me $.50 for tails is $.75.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:42 PM
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134 to 132, not 133.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:42 PM
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And I'm not arguing, just trying to understand. Because 118/120 made no sense to me.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:43 PM
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If I bring up quantum whatnotery, will this thread turn into a cat thread also?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:43 PM
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128: Don't all those objections apply just as much to the median?

I don't see how, but please explain further. Objections could be raised regarding the median, but it surely tells us something different, and to my mind more relevant and helpful, than what the mean tells us.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:44 PM
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The main difference between median and mean age of death is the fact that a disproportionately large cohort dies before age 1. So median age of death is usually higher than mean age of death and the magnitude of the difference is highly correlated with poverty (i.e. poor countries have larger infant mortality rates, so larger differences between mean and median age at death). Using median age of death is more representative of when people actually die, but life expectancy really highlights places with high infant mortality.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:45 PM
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Objections could be raised regarding the median, but it surely tells us something different, and to my mind more relevant and helpful, than what the mean tells us.

Sure, but your specific objections were based on the fact that life expectancy varies among different places and socioeconomic strata, and surely that's also true of median age at death (though the actual differences are somewhat different, as 139 notes).


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:48 PM
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If world life expectancy* is 70, the cohort dying before age one is getting small enough that I wonder how far the mean and median would differ.

*I'm assuming this is expectancy at birth


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:50 PM
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Mean life expectancy at death probably has the same median and mode but a very slightly higher mean because CPR.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:52 PM
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Interesting illustration of this common misconception about life expectancy: In Sweden in 1900, the life expectancy was about 52 years. Median age of death was 63, and modal age of death (most common age of death) was 77.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:57 PM
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139: a disproportionately large cohort dies before age 1

Ah. I wondered about that. I sort of thought that life expectancy figures controlled for that: life expectancy wasn't counted until a human reached the age of 2 or so.

On the other hand, maybe we shouldn't be controlling for that anyway. If we can count high-income individuals who live through their 90s toward life expectancy, why shouldn't we count children who die too soon?

Using median age of death is more representative of when people actually die

That seems reasonable and fair to me. I see the case for excluding early infant deaths, but other than that, why on earth would we want to whitewash the figures by ignoring when people actually die?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 8:58 PM
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Shorter everything: representing a probability distribution with a single number is likely to be misleading and uninformative.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:06 PM
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That's not really a complaint about the term "expected value."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:09 PM
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I sort of thought that life expectancy figures controlled for that: life expectancy wasn't counted until a human reached the age of 2 or so.

This seems to be a very common misconception IME. Maybe "life expectancy" is another of those poorly named technical terms essear was talking about.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:10 PM
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What 145 said. There's nothing special about the median as a summary statistic. It just happens to be better than the mean as a way of thinking about distributions with central tendencies but very long tails.

No one is ignoring when they actually die. Why not just use the mode then? After all, it's the most common age of death. Except that it's been nearly constant throughout recorded history, so it's pretty useless. Life expectancy is useful *because* it highlights infant mortality.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:12 PM
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I see the case for excluding early infant deaths, but other than that, why on earth would we want to whitewash the figures by ignoring when people actually die?

Whitewash? We? What are you talking about? As essear says in 145, all point estimates of distributions like this are sort of inherently oversimplified and misleading.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:13 PM
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pwned, I guess, but I was more indignant.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:13 PM
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It's trivial to make up distributions where both the median and mean look ridiculous. Imagine a world where 49% of the population dropped dead at age 10, and the remaining 51% lived to be 90. The median age at death is 90. The life expectancy is a bit below 50. The mode is 90. Which of these numbers is "best"?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:15 PM
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Why not just use the mode then? After all, it's the most common age of death. Except that it's been nearly constant throughout recorded history, so it's pretty useless.

No way, man. It proves that nothing about human society has ever changed. Numbers don't lie.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:15 PM
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146: The reason I think "expected value" is such bad terminology is that it can be really far from anything you could ever expect. E.g. if you play a game where you either win nothing or, one in ten times, a thousand dollars, your expected value is a hundred dollars. But what you can actually expect is nothing, or something a lot larger. The "expected value" is just really far from the ordinary-English use of "expected".


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:17 PM
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Life expectancy is useful *because* it highlights infant mortality.

Now I think I've been confused about this, so I'll beg off until I can think about this more clearly.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:19 PM
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Life expectancy is often quoted as life expectancy at age x, which is one source of the "not counting till 2" belief, I think.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:20 PM
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155 gets it right. In public health classes it was drummed into us to respond to every "life expectancy" notion with "life expectancy at what age?"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:23 PM
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And of course "life expectancy" is often a number based on previous figures plus a reasonably arbitrary factor. The reason life expectancy is a good thing to use is pretty much because it makes actuaries' lives easier.


Posted by: Keir | Link to this comment | 12-11-13 9:25 PM
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test comment


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:46 AM
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153: I think the thing with expected value is that it comes from a world where an aggregate assumption of approximate normality is how you get anything to work. Sure, if everything's bimodal or a Cauchy distribution or whatever then it makes no sense, but then a big chunk of statistics doesn't make any sense either. So in other words if "expected value" doesn't make sense in a given situation that's a useful clue that you aren't modeling it right.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 8:51 AM
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Is it wrong that this made me think of unfogged?

Is it wrong that this made me think of unfogged? (And by "unfogged", I mostly mean "me".)


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:25 AM
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Babies don't really expect anything in any meaningful way so it's OK to exclude them. You should only be included in life expectancy calculations once you have grasped the inevitability of your own mortality.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:37 AM
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160: Heh. Indeed.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:39 AM
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161: does "if I act unhappy and keep my mouth closed, eventually I will be fed prunes" count as grasping the inevitability of mortality?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 9:53 AM
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I only got like three of the test questions right. In addition to being overly pessimistic, I was also overthinking the test presentation. The income distribution graphs, for example: "It can't be A, abject poverty is what everyone expects, that's too obvious. But it can't be B either, that's too symmetrical, too simple. So it has to be C, because real life is complicated like that." But apparently it's not. Oops. Well, the test designer deserves credit for making it harder to game than a middle school quiz, at least.

92
91: Right, this exactly. Once I understood the point the quiz was trying to make, it's a good one. But I don't think much of the person who wrote it.

"No, Walter, you're not wrong. You're just an asshole!"

As for TED talks and YouTube videos, it's a part of the Internet that has almost completely left me behind. I do most of my random browsing at work, which blocks 99 percent of video embeds, and I wouldn't bother futzing with headphones for the remaining 1 percent. I wonder how much of modern life I'm missing out on because of that.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 10:55 AM
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YouTube videos are great for figuring shit out. How do I find the hidden reset button on this 5 year old flip-cam? Some random dude has make a YouTube video for that. How do I level the bed on my new 3D printer? YouTube video.

More recently I've been obsessively watching videos about how to build a back-yard brick oven, in preparation for next summer when I will have access to a back yard.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 11:27 AM
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165: So I'm told, but I tried two different videos to figure out how to tie a bowtie, and got stuck around the same step on both of them. In the end my dad did it for me. Since then I've got more advice and some of it sounds like it might work, but I'm not taking any chances. That bow had buttons in the back, so when I was done wearing it I just unbuttoned it. I'm never untying it.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 11:42 AM
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To be fair, tying a bow tie is objectively friggin' difficult. That's why God made clip-ons.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 12:19 PM
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Obviously the unfoggedetariat as a group has an unusual affection for text-based communication . . . (count me in, I remember being really annoyed when it became impossible to browse the web with images turned off).

I refuse to watch internet videos, even the ones my funny friends send me, because I find them irritating. Maybe part of it is the inability to skim?

How I've seen life expectancy measured is 1) at birth 2) at age 5, and 3) at age 15. If you want to know the life spans are of most people, the third statistic is most helpful, and obviously the difference between 1, 2, and 3 is helpful for looking at infant and child mortality.


Posted by: Britta | Link to this comment | 12-12-13 7:27 PM
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Tying a bow tie is really not more difficult conceptually than tying your shoelaces - admittedly you can't see what you're doing, but surely everyone can tie their shoelaces blind?

Those ones that button at the back as well are great, though. I used to have one - I'd tie it around my leg, or around a table leg or something so I could see what I was doing, unbutton it and then button it on again. Genius. Then I lost the damn thing.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:13 AM
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It wouldn't be hard to add a button segment to any bow tie; the needleless could use iron-on Velcro.


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:25 AM
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This is true. I should do so. Or even just an elastic segment so it would stretch to pull over your head.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 12-13-13 3:38 AM
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chect out dis gys..
happy feb 14 2015


Posted by: gowthu | Link to this comment | 01-29-15 3:58 AM
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