Difference between revisions of "Chance News 39"

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Submitted by Steve Simon
 
Submitted by Steve Simon
  
==item2==
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==Death and taxes - 2009 edition==
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Graphic designer, Jesse Bachman, has updated his death and taxes graph with the latest figures from
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the US President's [http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2008/budget.html official budget request] and the [http://www.defenselink.mil/comptroller/defbudget/fy2008/ comptroller of the Department of Defense.]
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<blockquote>
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This is a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget.
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It contains over 500 programs and departments and almost every program that receives over 200 million dollars annually.
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The data is straight from the president's 2009 budget request and will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress to begin the fiscal year.
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All of the item circles are proportional in size to their spending totals and the percentage change from 2008 is included to spot trends and disproportion.
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</blockquote>
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===Further reading===
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* This topic was discussed in more detail in a previous Chance News article [http://chance.dartmouth.edu/chancewiki/index.php/Chance_News_21#Death_and_taxes_-_2007_edition Death and taxes - 2007 edition.]
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Submitted by John Gavin.
  
 
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==item3==

Revision as of 15:52, 10 August 2008

Quotation

Steve Simon suggests the following classic quote:

The glitter of the t table diverts attention from the inadequacies of the fare. -- Sir Austin Bradford Hill. Source: Austin Bradford Hill, "The Environment and Disease: Association or Causation?" Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 58 (1965), 295-300. The full text of this paper is reproduced at Edward Tufte's website and is well worth reading. This quote is cited in many places including the excellent article "The missed lessons of Sir Austin Bradford Hill" Phillips CV, Goodman KJ. Epidemiol Perspect Innov. 2004; 1: 3. doi: 10.1186/1742-5573-1-3.

Forsooth

The following is a graphical forsooth. It has circulated on several email lists including edstat-l.

http://www.pmean.com/images/MisleadingBarGraph.jpg

Submitted by Steve Simon

A quantitative approach to art history

A Textbook Example of Ranking Artworks, Patricia Cohen, The New York Times, August 4, 2008.

An economist has offered a surprisingly forthright opinion about the art world.

Ask David Galenson to name the single greatest work of art from the 20th century, and he unhesitatingly answers “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” a 1907 painting by Picasso.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/1/1c/Chicks-from-avignon.jpg

The ranking was based on a purely quantitative criteria: how often the artwork was reproduced in books about art (28 times, more than any other artwork).

His statistical approach has led to what he says is a radically new interpretation of 20th-century art, one he is certain art historians will hate. It is based in part on how frequently an illustration of a work appears in textbooks. “Quantification has been almost totally absent from art history,” he said. “Art historians hate markets.”

Previous work in art by Mr. Galenson also had a quantitative bent.

In 2002 Mr. Galenson discussed his theories about creativity in the book “Painting Outside the Lines.” Then, two years ago, he published “Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity,” arguing that young innovators have a flash of inspiration that upends the existing order in an instant. There are old geniuses too, he said, but their approach is vastly different. They are what he labeled “experimentalists,” who develop their work gradually through years of trial and error. His theory of creativity was based in part on examining auction prices. His approach was hailed by some as a breakthrough, and this spring he was awarded a Guggenheim fellowship to pursue his research.

Auction prices, although clearly quantitative, do have a problem.

Since many of the most important individual works rarely, if ever, come to market, he decided to use art history textbooks to value each piece. He tallied the number of illustrations of each piece in the 33 textbooks he found that were published between 1990 and 2005, on the assumption that the most important works merited the most illustrations.

This effort has received both praise

Michael Rushton, who teaches the economics of art at Indiana University, said that Mr. Galenson was on to something; in science or art, he said, “innovation really requires a market.”

and criticism.

Art experts, not surprisingly, are more skeptical. “The economic notion of artists is interesting for art historians to have to grapple with,” John Elderfield, chief curator emeritus at the Museum of Modern Art, said when Mr. Galenson’s theory was described to him. “These are works in the histories that we tell of modern art. They seem to be milestones, and that’s fair enough.” But he cautioned that this approach could only go so far. “There are great, great things being made which are not reducible to statistics.”

What are the other great works of art, according to this statistical criteria?

Vladimir Tatlin’s “Monument to the Third International” (1919-20), a plan for a celebratory tower, came in second with 25 illustrations.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c1/Tatlin_tower.jpg

“Spiral Jetty,” a gigantic earthwork coil that Robert Smithson planted in the Great Salt Lake in Utah 1970, came in third with 23,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/84/Spiral-jetty-from-rozel-point.png

followed by Richard Hamilton’s “Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing?,” a 1956 collage widely considered to be the first Pop Art, with 22.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/f/ff/Hamilton-appealing2.jpg

Umberto Boccioni’s 1913 bronze sculpture “Unique Forms of Continuity in Space”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/fd/%27Unique_Forms_of_Continuity_in_Space%27%2C_1913_bronze_by_Umberto_Boccioni.jpg/300px-%27Unique_Forms_of_Continuity_in_Space%27%2C_1913_bronze_by_Umberto_Boccioni.jpg

tied Picasso’s “Guernica” (1937) with 21.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/7/74/PicassoGuernica.jpg

Marcel Duchamp’s 1917 “Fountain” — a white urinal — was seventh with 18 illustrations,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Duchamp_Fountaine.jpg

and his 1912 painting “Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2” was eighth with 16.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c0/Duchamp_-_Nude_Descending_a_Staircase.jpg

Further reading

The article mentions the following book:

The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art. Don Thompson (2008). Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN-10: 0230610226.

Questions

1. Does producing a quantitative measure of something like art make sense? Does it enhance our understanding of art or grossly oversimplify it?

2. How does Mr. Galenson's efforts compare to other quantitative measures of success, such as frequency of citation in the peer-reviewed literature?

3. Recent publications (such as this one or the book Freakonomics) seem to imply that all of life's difficult questions can be understood from an economic perspective. To what extent does it help or hurt to incorporate economic values into areas ostensibly outside of economics?

4. What (if any) other "great, great things being made are not reducible to statistics"?

Submitted by Steve Simon

Death and taxes - 2009 edition

Graphic designer, Jesse Bachman, has updated his death and taxes graph with the latest figures from the US President's official budget request and the comptroller of the Department of Defense.

This is a large representational graph and poster of the federal budget. It contains over 500 programs and departments and almost every program that receives over 200 million dollars annually. The data is straight from the president's 2009 budget request and will be debated, amended, and approved by Congress to begin the fiscal year. All of the item circles are proportional in size to their spending totals and the percentage change from 2008 is included to spot trends and disproportion.

Further reading

Submitted by John Gavin.

item3