Difference between revisions of "Sandbox"

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Elections
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Friendship
  
[http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/national-elections-getting-closer.html Andrew Gelman] has an interesting article regarding the statistics of electionsHe starts with
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Except for Voltaire who famously (albeit, possibly apocryphally) said, “Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies,” few doubt the benefits of having friends. 
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[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/21/health/21well.html?_r=1&8dpc From Tara Parker-Pope] we find some surprising side effects of friendship.  She suggests looking at an Australian study which “found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.”  Further, “last year, [http://www.ajph.org/cgi/content/abstract/AJPH.2007.113654v1 Harvard researchers] reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.  
  
“Presidential elections have been closer in the past few decades than they were for most of American history. Here's a list of all the U.S. presidential elections that were decided by less than 1% of the vote:
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She also refers to a 2006 study [http://jco.ascopubs.org/cgi/content/full/24/7/1105 of nearly 3000 nurses] with breast cancer which “found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective.”  She closes her article with a quote from the director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech: “People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to. Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”
 
 
1880
 
1884
 
1888
 
1960
 
1968
 
2000
 
 
 
Funny, huh? Other close ones were 1844 (decided by 1.5% of the vote), 1876 (3%), 1916 (3%), 1976 (2%), 2004 (2.5%).
 
 
 
Four straight close elections in the 1870s-80s, five close elections since 1960, and almost none at any other time.”
 
 
 
Perhaps more interesting is his take on House and Senate elections:
 
 
 
<center> http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/forwiki/elections1.gif</center>
 
 
[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/opinion/19silver.html?_r=1&ref=opinion In the companion piece] written with Nate Silver, the graphic concerning the House is made more evident
 
[http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2009/04/19/opinion/19chart_ready.html here].
 
 
 
<center>http://www.dartmouth.edu/~chance/forwiki/elections2.gif</center>
 
 
 
 
From the graph, “the rate of close elections in the House has declined steadily over the century. If you count closeness in terms of absolute votes rather than percentages, then close elections become even rarer, due to the increasing population. In the first few decades of the twentieth century, there were typically over thirty House seats each election year that were decided by less than 1000 votes; in recent decades it's only been about five in each election year.”
 
 
 
Another way of putting it: “Consider that, in the past decade, there were 2,175 elections to the United States House of Representatives held on Election Days 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008. Among these, there were 41 instances — about 1.9 percent — in which the Democratic and Republican candidates each received 49 percent to 51 percent of the vote (our calculations exclude votes cast for minor parties). In the 1990s, by contrast, there were 65 such close elections. And their number increases the further one goes back in time: 88 examples in the 1950s, 108 in the 1930s, 129 in the 1910s.”
 
  
 
Discussion
 
Discussion
  
1.  A contention mentioned in the NYT article for this bifurcation of opinion is: “as the economy has become more virtual, individuals can now choose where to live on an ideological rather than an occupational basis: a liberal computer programmer in Texas can settle in blue Austin, and a conservative one in the ruby-red suburbs of Houston.“ Argue for and against this assertion coupling ideology and occupational mobility.
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1.  Parker-Pope also mentioned researchers [http://www.psy.plymouth.ac.uk/research/ece/publications/pdf/Social-Support-and-Slant.pdf here] who “studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were aloneThe students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.”  In fact, three of the 34 were excluded because they were deemed outliersThe participants estimated the slant via three different methods as can be seen in the figure below:
 
 
2Gelman and Silver end their NYT article with “Elections like those in New York’s 20th district or in Minnesota, as contentious as they are, actually hark back to a less divisive era in American politics.”  Explain the seeming paradox of a close race indicating less divisiveness.
 
 
 
3. As of this posting, the Minnesota senate seat is unfilled despite a manual recount, a canvassing board followed by a so-called election contest and awaits an appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court—possibly furtherSee [http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/04/when-does-close-become-too-close-to.html When Does ‘Close Become Too-Close-to-Call?] for an analysis of error rates and how likely it is that the real winner would be Norm Coleman instead of Al Franken who currently leads by 312 votes out of about 2.9 million cast.
 

Revision as of 13:03, 1 May 2009

Friendship

Except for Voltaire who famously (albeit, possibly apocryphally) said, “Lord, protect me from my friends; I can take care of my enemies,” few doubt the benefits of having friends. From Tara Parker-Pope we find some surprising side effects of friendship. She suggests looking at an Australian study which “found that older people with a large circle of friends were 22 percent less likely to die during the study period than those with fewer friends.” Further, “last year, Harvard researchers reported that strong social ties could promote brain health as we age.”

She also refers to a 2006 study of nearly 3000 nurses with breast cancer which “found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from the disease as women with 10 or more friends. And notably, proximity and the amount of contact with a friend wasn’t associated with survival. Just having friends was protective.” She closes her article with a quote from the director of the center for gerontology at Virginia Tech: “People with stronger friendship networks feel like there is someone they can turn to. Friendship is an undervalued resource. The consistent message of these studies is that friends make your life better.”

Discussion

1. Parker-Pope also mentioned researchers here who “studied 34 students at the University of Virginia, taking them to the base of a steep hill and fitting them with a weighted backpack. They were then asked to estimate the steepness of the hill. Some participants stood next to friends during the exercise, while others were alone. The students who stood with friends gave lower estimates of the steepness of the hill. And the longer the friends had known each other, the less steep the hill appeared.” In fact, three of the 34 were excluded because they were deemed outliers. The participants estimated the slant via three different methods as can be seen in the figure below: