Apr 15 2014

That’s a terrible chart

I wish I’d had this a few weeks ago, when I was telling students how not to present their data. This is a chart illustrating the effects of stand-your-ground-laws on murder in Florida.


I glanced at that and thought, “Whoa, surprise: the stand-your-ground-laws had a pretty dramatic effect in reducing murder. I did not expect that at all.”

And then I was a bit disappointed: “But they really should have set the Y axis at zero. It’s a bit misleading and magnifies the apparent effect, otherwise.”

And then I did a double-take: “They inverted the freaking Y axis!”

That’s right. It doesn’t show a decline, it shows a dramatic spike in murder after the law was passed. The text in the article actually says that clearly, but the chart was actively selling the opposite message. They’ve since added a corrected chart that actually makes the point clearly, instead of obscuring it.


I took away two points. It’s really easy to lie with graphics, and shouldn’t any evidence-based legal system recognize the consequences of passing a bad law and correct itself?

More from a data visualization expert.

Apr 14 2014

Not another lawsuit!

Yet another case of a litigation happy bozo harassing one of our own. This time, it’s a narcissistic neo-Nazi suing Ed Brayton.

Isn’t this fun?

If you’re able to help at all, he has a fundraiser in place. This is yet another silly suit, so it’s going to be open-and-shut, but it’s still a pain in the butt.

Apr 14 2014

Cataclysms on the way!

What are you doing this summer? You might want to change your vacation plans. There is going to be a lunar eclipse tomorrow night, and according to Pastor Hagee, that means disaster. I don’t know what he’s talking about; he’s a minister, he gets loads of tax breaks, so 15 April is no big deal to him.

"I believe that the heavens are God’s billboard, that he has been sending signals to planet Earth," he explained. "God is literally screaming at the world, ‘I’m coming soon.’"

So what’s going to happen?

Hagee predicted that the four eclipses were signaling a "world-shaking event that will happen between April 2014 and October 2015."

A world-shaking event, some time in a span of a year and a half? That’s pretty vague. Could you at least say something like an event that starts with the letter ‘m’, or maybe ‘j’ or ‘t’, on a planet with a name that definitely begins with an ‘e’. Come on, try a little harder.

But this surprises me:

"God sends planet Earth a signal that something big is about to happen! He’s controlling the Sun and the moon right now to send our generation a signal, but the question is, are we getting it?"

He’s controlling the Sun and moon? But these are phenomena that are reliable and mathematically predictable, a pattern determined by the movements of the bodies involved. It’s like announcing that twice today, God will make both the little hand and the big hand on your clock point straight up — it’s a non-power. We don’t need prayer for it to happen, and praying won’t stop it from happening, and it won’t mean anything other than that it is noon and midnight.

I’m gonna go out on a limb here and predict that sometime today, god will make me hungry, and then god will make me find something to eat, and later tonight god will make me sleepy.

Uh-oh, how will I be able to remain an atheist with proof like that?

Apr 14 2014

Murdering people who accuse you of murder always works

And it’s exactly the kind of tactic a murderous deity would endorse!

Apr 14 2014

Mary’s Monday Metazoan MISANDRY


That photo is from a lovely new documentary, with this trailer.

However, I have to call attention to one troubling fact.

“All these lemurs have one thing in common – from the little one to the very largest one – they all have female dominance. The females are the leaders. The females are the ones that make the choices of where they go and what foods they eat and where they’re going to sit,” says Dr. Wright.

We must immediately call for an MRA boycott.

Apr 14 2014

Minnesota was the first!

Maybe it’s not quite as prestigious as First Man on the Moon, but Minnesota has First Beer Delivery by Drone.

I suspect a little cheating. I don’t think that drone could lift a full box of beer. But then, Amazon hasn’t actually made any deliveries with their drones yet, either — at least Minnesotans have their priorities straight.

Apr 14 2014

Years of Living Dangerously

This new documentary on Showtime is pretty good (despite the appearance of Thomas Friedman), and this is the premiere episode.

One of the most interesting aspects of the show is that it emphasizes economic issues. The standard tactic of the climate change denialists is to argue that it’s happening, we can’t do anything about it, and it would hurt our economy to take measures to reduce emissions; but this show focuses strongly on the fact that climate change is doing us economic harm right now.

The denialists are, of course, squinking furiously against it already, but they lie. They lie hard.

By the way, Harrison Ford, one of the sponsors/narrator of the show, has also done an IAmA on Reddit lately — he seems to be a cool and admirable dude.

Apr 14 2014

Fun & games on Reddit

Stephan Lewandowsky, the author of the article that made climate change denialists cry and that was later retracted under pressure from denialists, is doing a Reddit AMA right now. Get in early! Before the kooks flood the questions!

(via Greg Laden)

Apr 13 2014

Your average MRA is…

…young, white, male (no surprise), and, unfortunately, godless. Stephanie summarizes a Reddit survey, and it surprised me — not by the trends, which were along the lines I expected, but in the degree to which they lack diversity. It’s worse than I thought.

Apr 12 2014

I need this for my cosmetics bag

It’s going to be tough to use, though: that Jesus looks terribly unimpressed.

At least he’s not weeping tears of blood.

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