Spatial Data, Rocks, and Voting

Image via Matt Stiles @ NPR.

Why the blue line across the South in the sea of red? Plankton may be the answer. Read the story at Krulwich’s blog:

These same counties went mostly blue in 2004 and 2000. Why? Well, the best answer, says marine biologist Craig McClain, may be an old one, going back before the Civil War, before 1776, before Columbus, back more than 100 million years to the days when the Deep South was under water. 

Stats and Fats

Here’s a good read on the science (and politics) of soda and sugar. For researchers, a key point is:

“If you looked at the secondary endpoints in these studies, said Allison, then yes, each of the studies found one statistically significant result: but they were all for different things and so provided no evidence of consistency that might adduce causality. What was troubling—what the field of obesity research had to avoid—was spinning these secondary endpoints into major findings. You just can’t do this when they weren’t the endpoints you built your study to examine.”

When Politics and Statistics Collide

Most of the increase in unemployment rate happened before Obama took office in January 2009. I’m not a policy expert, so I won’t comment on why that might be. However, I do think that at least in this one case (I haven’t checked others), the statement on Mitt Romney’s flyer mischaracterizes the whole picture. 

You can go to and explore this data for yourself.

When is it safe to ride a bike?

I’ve been looking at the data available on cycling accidents in the Bay Area (of which I am a statistic). This data comes from CHP. I’ve learned the hard way to start a data analysis with a small subset of your data (else you sit around waiting for computations to happen), so I’ve started by looking at cycling accidents in Sonoma County.