Recently in Statistics Category

A Specter is haunting Congress.

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arlenspecter.jpgThose of you still missing the drama of the US election season, head back over to your favourite sources and follow the switch of Arlen Specter to the Democrats

What difference might his new party affiliation make? Nate Silver at 538 does what he does best - numbercrunching, while Wonkette has the top headline (plus the pic).

Politico on the demise of the Republicans is also recommended if you like that sort of thing, and there's Metafilter for smart discussion.

Remember, it's just 552 days to those crucial mid-terms. Going back to 538, there's definitely a gap in the UK market for some good statistical wonkery (aside, of course, from betting analysis, which is definitely covered). Anyone?

Lost in space.

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carinspace.gifGristmill note that the most recent American government figures on driving show a substantial drop: a 4.7% reduction in mileage, motivated by the increase in oil prices (154Kb pdf).

A 4.7% drop amounts to a staggering 12.2 billion miles. In other words, one year's reduction in U.S. driving is equivalent to 489,940 fewer car trips around the world, a standard unit of mega-distance.

Looking at the bigger picture, the total American mileage over the last year is 2,954,326,000,000 miles, roughly. That's a little more than half a light year, the next largest such unit. Now, the nearest star system to our own is, as everyone knows, Alpha Centauri, which is 4.37 light years away. 

Over George Bush's term of office, therefore, Americans will have collectively driven as far as Alpha Centauri, more than 25 trillion miles, and all at about 24.6 miles per gallon. Other sci-fi dorks may find this as shocking as I do.

Smog gets in your eyes.

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jetsmog.jpgSo it turns out that all that stuff we buy from China does have carbon consequences. And that - shock horror - those aeroplanes do too. If you ignore those two awkward facts you can indeed claim emissions have fallen, as Labour would like to do. 

The reality is (see that first link) that they've underestimated the carbon Britain's responsible for by a staggering 49%. 

Remember this next time you hear John Denham, David Miliband, Gordon Brown, or other Labour drones claiming that the Labour government is "leading the way on climate change". It's exactly the same sort of trick that the Tories used to pull on unemployment, and which Labour are also still doing. 

They're leading the way with fiddling the figures, that's all. And given Labour's determination to be outflanked on climate change even by the Tories, you can see why they've gone down this route. Tragic.

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April 2009: Monthly Archives