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Follow-up: I found two identical packs of Skittles, among 468 packs with a total of 27,740 Skittles | Possibly Wrong
"This is a follow-up to a post from earlier this year discussing the likelihood of encountering two identical packs of Skittles, that is, two packs having exactly the same number of candies of each flavor. Under some reasonable assumptions, it was estimated that we should expect to have to inspect “only about 400-500 packs” on average until encountering a first duplicate."
math  mathematics  classideas  statistics  probability  2019 
5 weeks ago by robertogreco
Bill Gates says poverty is decreasing. He couldn’t be more wrong | Jason Hickel | Opinion | The Guardian
"An infographic endorsed by the Davos set presents the story of coerced global proletarianisation as a neoliberal triumph"

"Last week, as world leaders and business elites arrived in Davos for the World Economic Forum, Bill Gates tweeted an infographic to his 46 million followers showing that the world has been getting better and better. “This is one of my favourite infographics,” he wrote. “A lot of people underestimate just how much life has improved over the past two centuries.”

Of the six graphs – developed by Max Roser of Our World in Data – the first has attracted the most attention by far. It shows that the proportion of people living in poverty has declined from 94% in 1820 to only 10% today. The claim is simple and compelling. And it’s not just Gates who’s grabbed on to it. These figures have been trotted out in the past year by everyone from Steven Pinker to Nick Kristof and much of the rest of the Davos set to argue that the global extension of free-market capitalism has been great for everyone. Pinker and Gates have gone even further, saying we shouldn’t complain about rising inequality when the very forces that deliver such immense wealth to the richest are also eradicating poverty before our very eyes.

It’s a powerful narrative. And it’s completely wrong.

[tweet by Bill Gates with graphs]

There are a number of problems with this graph, though. First of all, real data on poverty has only been collected since 1981. Anything before that is extremely sketchy, and to go back as far as 1820 is meaningless. Roser draws on a dataset that was never intended to describe poverty, but rather inequality in the distribution of world GDP – and that for only a limited range of countries. There is no actual research to bolster the claims about long-term poverty. It’s not science; it’s social media.

What Roser’s numbers actually reveal is that the world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money. The graph casts this as a decline in poverty, but in reality what was going on was a process of dispossession that bulldozed people into the capitalist labour system, during the enclosure movements in Europe and the colonisation of the global south.

Prior to colonisation, most people lived in subsistence economies where they enjoyed access to abundant commons – land, water, forests, livestock and robust systems of sharing and reciprocity. They had little if any money, but then they didn’t need it in order to live well – so it makes little sense to claim that they were poor. This way of life was violently destroyed by colonisers who forced people off the land and into European-owned mines, factories and plantations, where they were paid paltry wages for work they never wanted to do in the first place.

In other words, Roser’s graph illustrates a story of coerced proletarianisation. It is not at all clear that this represents an improvement in people’s lives, as in most cases we know that the new income people earned from wages didn’t come anywhere close to compensating for their loss of land and resources, which were of course gobbled up by colonisers. Gates’s favourite infographic takes the violence of colonisation and repackages it as a happy story of progress.

But that’s not all that’s wrong here. The trend that the graph depicts is based on a poverty line of $1.90 (£1.44) per day, which is the equivalent of what $1.90 could buy in the US in 2011. It’s obscenely low by any standard, and we now have piles of evidence that people living just above this line have terrible levels of malnutrition and mortality. Earning $2 per day doesn’t mean that you’re somehow suddenly free of extreme poverty. Not by a long shot.

Scholars have been calling for a more reasonable poverty line for many years. Most agree that people need a minimum of about $7.40 per day to achieve basic nutrition and normal human life expectancy, plus a half-decent chance of seeing their kids survive their fifth birthday. And many scholars, including Harvard economist Lant Pritchett, insist that the poverty line should be set even higher, at $10 to $15 per day.

So what happens if we measure global poverty at the low end of this more realistic spectrum – $7.40 per day, to be extra conservative? Well, we see that the number of people living under this line has increased dramatically since measurements began in 1981, reaching some 4.2 billion people today. Suddenly the happy Davos narrative melts away.

Moreover, the few gains that have been made have virtually all happened in one place: China. It is disingenuous, then, for the likes of Gates and Pinker to claim these gains as victories for Washington-consensus neoliberalism. Take China out of the equation, and the numbers look even worse. Over the four decades since 1981, not only has the number of people in poverty gone up, the proportion of people in poverty has remained stagnant at about 60%. It would be difficult to overstate the suffering that these numbers represent.

This is a ringing indictment of our global economic system, which is failing the vast majority of humanity. Our world is richer than ever before, but virtually all of it is being captured by a small elite. Only 5% of all new income from global growth trickles down to the poorest 60% – and yet they are the people who produce most of the food and goods that the world consumes, toiling away in those factories, plantations and mines to which they were condemned 200 years ago. It is madness – and no amount of mansplaining from billionaires will be adequate to justify it."

[See also:

"A Letter to Steven Pinker (and Bill Gates, For That Matter) About Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/3/pinker-and-global-poverty

"A Response to Max Roser: How Not to Measure Global Poverty"
https://www.jasonhickel.org/blog/2019/2/6/response-to-max-roser

"Citations Needed Podcast: Episode 58: The Neoliberal Optimism Industry"
https://soundcloud.com/citationsneeded/episode-58-the-neoliberal-optimism-industry ]
billgates  statistics  capitalism  inequality  poverty  2019  jasonhickel  davos  wealth  land  property  colonialism  colonization  maxroser  data  stevenpinker  nicholaskristof  gdp  dispossession  labor  work  money  neoliberalism  exploitation 
february 2019 by robertogreco
Which City Has The Most Unpredictable Weather? | FiveThirtyEight
"You can easily make out the path of the Rocky Mountains in this map. Cities just to the east of them — like Denver and Great Falls, Montana — have much more unpredictable temperatures than almost any place to the west of them.

Cities just to the east of the Pacific Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico have the most predictable temperatures. San Diego’s temperatures are the most predictable of anywhere in the continental United States (Honolulu’s are the most predictable overall). Seattle and San Francisco have highly predictable temperatures, as does the Florida peninsula."
weather  predictions  2018  statistics  climate  california  visualization  honolulu  sandiego  hawaii  losangeles  sanfrancisco  fresno  phoenix  westcoast  classideas  foreden 
june 2018 by robertogreco
Dr. Kate Antonova on Twitter: "If anyone ever asked me, as a college prof, what qualities I'd like to see in my incoming students (no one ever has, tho a number of non-profs have told me what I'm supposed to want), it's this: curiosity and a reading habit
"If anyone ever asked me, as a college prof, what qualities I'd like to see in my incoming students (no one ever has, tho a number of non-profs have told me what I'm supposed to want), it's this: curiosity and a reading habit.

[Links to: "How Our Obsession With College Prep Hurts Kids"

https://www.chronicle.com/article/How-Our-Obsession-With-College/243459?key=3gZXXhLQjFMTjaMwNwzCEQpsINeRL6GkHu8ch6mHb8ZREuWEf6Qmo5gM5YChCxE0RmoxbHVSemFhLWJTcnJBUndoVFpqMFBBeXVYajZhaW9GMmdBbktRY1MwWQ ]

The other really important thing for success in college, IMO, is self-regulation, but that's a super-hard thing for everybody & esp kids who are still developing cognitively. I see no value, & a lot of harm, in forcing regulation before it's developmentally appropriate.

Plus, IME, if you have enough curiosity, you end up regulating yourself in ways that are nearly impossible for a task you're not into. So it all comes back to curiosity.

The other thing that'd be nice - but is not essential - to see in incoming freshmen is an accurate sense of what college is for. Most people are pretty madly and deeply misinformed on that, and that's harming kids.

Too many kids come to college bc they're told it's necessary, or bc it's the only way to a decent job. Both are lies. They should come, when they're ready, because it's the best way to achieve next-level critical thought specific to one or more disciplines.

So we're back to curiosity again. But the reading part is at least as important, & is interrelated. I'm not an expert on instilling curiosity or encouraging reading in k-12. But I'm damn sure standardized testing isn't the answer & neither is traditional, required homework.

I'm pretty certain, too, that seven hours of mostly sitting still and listening isn't terribly useful (and at the elementary level it's downright cruel).

I don't think anything I've said here is earth-shattering. Yet the conventional wisdom about what makes public k-12 education "good" is soooooo far off the mark.

If I cld fantasize ab what I'd like my future students to have done before college, it'd be this: read & write every day, a variety of texts; interact in a sustained way w lots of different ppl; & practice creative problem-solving in small groups, guided by knowledgeable adults.

That's something public schools *could* do, they just don't, because it's not what the public wants. Even the private schools that do some of that are usually pretty notoriously bad at exposing students to people different from themselves.

I've taught everyone from super-elite Ivy students from private high schools to the kids struggling to stay in CUNY after k-12 in troubled NYC publics. They were ALL missing out in different ways. The best students are always, always the readers.

The best of the best I've ever taught have been readers from backgrounds that happened, for whatever reasons, to expose them to a wide variety of circumstances.

School is almost never what brought those students either of those advantages.

But it could be."
kateantonova  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  education  curiosity  learning  purpose  2018  cognition  problemsolving  creativity  lcproject  openstudioproject  sfsh  tcsnmy  cv  k12  statistics  calculus  reading  howwelearn  howweteach  highschool  publicschools  schools  schooling  children  adolescence  diversity  exposure 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Survival of the Kindest: Dacher Keltner Reveals the New Rules of Power
"When Pixar was dreaming up the idea for Inside Out, a film that would explore the roiling emotions inside the head of a young girl, they needed guidance from an expert. So they called Dacher Keltner.

Dacher is a psychologist at UC Berkeley who has dedicated his career to understanding how human emotion shapes the way we interact with the world, how we properly manage difficult or stressful situations, and ultimately, how we treat one another.

In fact, he refers to emotions as the “language of social living.” The more fluent we are in this language, the happier and more meaningful our lives can be.

We tackle a wide variety of topics in this conversation that I think you’ll really enjoy.

You’ll learn:

• The three main drivers that determine your personal happiness and life satisfaction
• Simple things you can do everyday to jumpstart the “feel good” reward center of your brain
• The principle of “jen” and how we can use “high-jen behaviors” to bootstrap our own happiness
• How to have more positive influence in our homes, at work and in our communities.
• How to teach your kids to be more kind and empathetic in an increasingly self-centered world
• What you can do to stay grounded and humble if you are in a position of power or authority
• How to catch our own biases when we’re overly critical of another’s ideas (or overconfident in our own)

And much more. We could have spent an hour discussing any one of these points alone, but there was so much I wanted to cover. I’m certain you’ll find this episode well worth your time."
compassion  kindness  happiness  dacherkeltner  power  charlesdarwin  evolution  psychology  culture  society  history  race  racism  behavior  satisfaction  individualism  humility  authority  humans  humanism  morality  morals  multispecies  morethanhuman  objects  wisdom  knowledge  heidegger  ideas  science  socialdarwinism  class  naturalselection  egalitarianism  abolitionism  care  caring  art  vulnerability  artists  scientists  context  replicability  research  socialsciences  2018  statistics  replication  metaanalysis  socialcontext  social  borntobegood  change  human  emotions  violence  evolutionarypsychology  slvery  rape  stevenpinker  torture  christopherboehm  hunter-gatherers  gender  weapons  democracy  machiavelli  feminism  prisons  mentalillness  drugs  prisonindustrialcomplex  progress  politics  1990s  collaboration  canon  horizontality  hierarchy  small  civilization  cities  urban  urbanism  tribes  religion  dogma  polygamy  slavery  pigeons  archaeology  inequality  nomads  nomadism  anarchism  anarchy  agriculture  literacy  ruleoflaw  humanrights  governance  government  hannah 
march 2018 by robertogreco
Atlas for the End of the World
[via: https://kottke.org/17/06/an-atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world ]

"Coming almost 450 years after the world's first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation's 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems."



"The findings of this research are threefold: first, a majority of the ecoregions in the hotspots fall well short of United Nations' 2020 targets for protected lands; second, almost all the cities in the hotspots are projected to continue to sprawl in an unregulated manner into the world's most valuable habitats; and finally, only a small number of the 196 nations who are party to the CBD (and the 142 nations who have sovereign jurisdiction over the hotspots) have any semblance of appropriately scaled, land use planning which would help reconcile international conservation values with local economic imperatives.6

By focusing attention on the hotspots in the lead-up to the UN's 2020 deadline for achieving the Aichi targets, this atlas is intended as a geopolitical tool to help prioritize conservation land-use planning. It is also a call to landscape architects, urban designers, and planners to become more involved in helping reconcile ecology and economics in these territories.

Set diametrically at the opposite end of modernity to Ortelius' original, this atlas promotes cultivation, not conquest. As such, this atlas is not about the end of the world at all, for that cosmological inevitability awaits the sun's explosion some 2.5 or so billion years away: it is about the end of Ortelius' world, the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation. On this, even the Catholic Church is now adamant: "we have no such right" writes Pope Francis.7"



"This immense and ever-expanding trove of remotely sensed data and imagery is the basis of the world's shared Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The subject of this cyborgian, perpetual mapping-machine is not only where things are in space, but more importantly how things change over time. Because the environmental crisis is generally a question of understanding what is changing where, we can say that with remote sensing and its data-streams we have entered not only the apocalyptic age of star wars and the white-noise world of global telecommunications, but more optimistically, the age of ecological cartography.

The "judgment and bias" of this atlas lies firstly in our acceptance of the public data as a given; secondly in the utilization of GIS to rapidly read and translate metadata as a reasonable basis for map-making in the age of ecological cartography; thirdly, in our foregrounding of each map's particular theme to the exclusion of all others; and finally in the way that a collection of ostensibly neutral and factual maps is combined to form an atlas that, by implication, raises prescient questions of land-use on a global scale."



"Who are the Atlas authors?
The Atlas for the End of the World project was conceived and directed by Richard Weller who is the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). The Atlas was researched and created in collaboration with Claire Hoch and Chieh Huang, both recent graduates from the Department of Landscape Architecture at UPenn now practicing landscape architecture in Australia and the United States."
biodiversity  culture  future  maps  anthropocene  earth  multispecies  environment  ecology  ecosystems  mapping  data  visualization  infographics  dataviz  bioregions  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  economics  endangersspecies  statistics  richardweller  clairehoch  chiehhuang 
january 2018 by robertogreco
An Atlas for the End of the World
"The Atlas for the End of the World is a project started by Penn architect Richard Weller to highlight the effects of human civilization and urbanization on our planet’s biodiversity.
Coming almost 450 years after the world’s first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation’s 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

There’s lots to see at the site: world and regional maps, data visualizations, key statistical data, photos of plants and animals that have been modified by humans, as well as several essays on a variety of topics.

And here’s a fun map: countries with national biodiversity strategies and action plans in place. Take a wild guess which country is one of the very few without such a plan in place!"

[See also:
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots/california_floristic_province.pdf
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/flora_and_fauna.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps/world_maps_biodiversity_planning.html ]
anthropocene  maps  mapping  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  biodiversity  ecology  economics  ecosystems  endangersspecies  visualization  data  statistics 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Impakt Festival 2017 - Performance: ANAB JAIN. HQ - YouTube
[Embedded here: http://impakt.nl/festival/reports/impakt-festival-2017/impakt-festival-2017-anab-jain/ ]

"'Everything is Beautiful and Nothing Hurts': @anab_jain's expansive keynote @impaktfestival weaves threads through death, transcience, uncertainty, growthism, technological determinism, precarity, imagination and truths. Thanks to @jonardern for masterful advise on 'modelling reality', and @tobias_revell and @ndkane for the invitation."
https://www.instagram.com/p/BbctTcRFlFI/ ]
anabjain  2017  superflux  death  aging  transience  time  temporary  abundance  scarcity  future  futurism  prototyping  speculativedesign  predictions  life  living  uncertainty  film  filmmaking  design  speculativefiction  experimentation  counternarratives  designfiction  futuremaking  climatechange  food  homegrowing  smarthomes  iot  internetofthings  capitalism  hope  futures  hopefulness  data  dataviz  datavisualization  visualization  williamplayfair  society  economics  wonder  williamstanleyjevons  explanation  statistics  wiiliambernstein  prosperity  growth  latecapitalism  propertyrights  jamescscott  objectivity  technocrats  democracy  probability  scale  measurement  observation  policy  ai  artificialintelligence  deeplearning  algorithms  technology  control  agency  bias  biases  neoliberalism  communism  present  past  worldview  change  ideas  reality  lucagatti  alextaylor  unknown  possibility  stability  annalowenhaupttsing  imagination  ursulaleguin  truth  storytelling  paradigmshifts  optimism  annegalloway  miyamotomusashi  annatsing 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Statistics on flag colors
[via:

"what's the least common colour used on web pages?"
https://twitter.com/v21/status/911963557763407872

"digging into this a little reveals no real answers, but did turn up this lovely page on colours in flags: http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/xf-csts.html "
https://twitter.com/v21/status/911970920394346497 ]
flags  color  data  statistics  webdev 
september 2017 by robertogreco
The Policies of White Resentment - The New York Times
"White resentment put Donald Trump in the White House. And there is every indication that it will keep him there, especially as he continues to transform that seething, irrational fear about an increasingly diverse America into policies that feed his supporters’ worst racial anxieties.

If there is one consistent thread through Mr. Trump’s political career, it is his overt connection to white resentment and white nationalism. Mr. Trump’s fixation on Barack Obama’s birth certificate gave him the white nationalist street cred that no other Republican candidate could match, and that credibility has sustained him in office — no amount of scandal or evidence of incompetence will undermine his followers’ belief that he, and he alone, could Make America White Again.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.

Like on Christmas morning, every day brings his supporters presents: travel bans against Muslims, Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in Hispanic communities and brutal, family-gutting deportations, a crackdown on sanctuary cities, an Election Integrity Commission stacked with notorious vote suppressors, announcements of a ban on transgender personnel in the military, approval of police brutality against “thugs,” a denial of citizenship to immigrants who serve in the armed forces and a renewed war on drugs that, if it is anything like the last one, will single out African-Americans and Latinos although they are not the primary drug users in this country. Last week, Mr. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions put the latest package under the tree: a staffing call for a case on reverse discrimination in college admissions, likely the first step in a federal assault on affirmative action and a determination to hunt for colleges and universities that discriminate against white applicants.

That so many of these policies are based on perception and lies rather than reality is nothing new. White resentment has long thrived on the fantasy of being under siege and having to fight back, as the mass lynchings and destruction of thriving, politically active black communities in Colfax, La. (1873), Wilmington, N.C. (1898), Ocoee, Fla. (1920), and Tulsa, Okla. (1921), attest. White resentment needs the boogeyman of job-taking, maiden-ravaging, tax-evading, criminally inclined others to justify the policies that thwart the upward mobility and success of people of color.

The last half-century hasn’t changed that. The war on drugs, for example, branded African-Americans and Latinos as felons, which stripped them of voting rights and access to housing and education just when the civil rights movement had pushed open the doors to those opportunities in the United States.

Similarly, the intensified war on immigrants comes, not coincidentally, at the moment when Latinos have gained visible political power, asserted their place in American society and achieved greater access to schools and colleges. The ICE raids have terrorized these communities, led to attendance drop-offs in schools and silenced many from even seeking their legal rights when abused.

The so-called Election Integrity Commission falls in the same category. It is a direct response to the election of Mr. Obama as president. Despite the howls from Mr. Trump and the Republicans, there was no widespread voter fraud then or now. Instead, what happened was that millions of new voters, overwhelmingly African-American, Hispanic and Asian, cast the ballots that put a black man in the White House. The punishment for participating in democracy has been a rash of voter ID laws, the purging of names from the voter rolls, redrawn district boundaries and closed and moved polling places.

Affirmative action is no different. It, too, requires a narrative of white legitimate grievance, a sense of being wronged by the presence of blacks, Latinos and Asians in positions that had once been whites only. Lawsuit after lawsuit, most recently Abigail Fisher’s suit against the University of Texas, feed the myth of unqualified minorities taking a valuable resource — a college education — away from deserving whites.

In order to make that plausible, Ms. Fisher and her lawyers had to ignore the large number of whites who were admitted to the university with scores lower than hers. And they had to ignore the sizable number of blacks and Latinos who were denied admission although their SAT scores and grade point averages were higher than hers. They also had to ignore Texas’ unsavory racial history and its impact. The Brown decision came down in 1954, yet the Dallas public school system remained under a federal desegregation order from 1971 to 2003.

The university was slow to end its whites-only admissions policy, and its practice of automatically admitting the top 10 percent of each Texas public high school’s graduating class has actually led to an overrepresentation of whites. Meanwhile, African-Americans represent only 4 percent of the University of Texas student body, despite making up about 14 percent of the state’s graduating high school students.

Although you will never hear this from Mr. Sessions, men are the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action in college admissions: Their combination of test scores, grades and achievements is simply no match for that of women, whose academic profiles are much stronger. Yet to provide some semblance of gender balance on campuses, admissions directors have to dig down deep into the applicant pool to cobble together enough males to form an incoming class.

Part of what has been essential in this narrative of affirmative action as theft of white resources — my college acceptance, my job — is the notion of “merit,” where whites have it but others don’t. When California banned affirmative action in college admissions and relied solely on standardized test scores and grades as the definition of “qualified,” black and Latino enrollments plummeted. Whites, however, were not the beneficiaries of this “merit-based” system. Instead, Asian enrollments soared and with that came white resentment at both “the hordes of Asians” at places like the University of California, Los Angeles, and an admissions process that stressed grades over other criteria.

That white resentment simply found a new target for its ire is no coincidence; white identity is often defined by its sense of being ever under attack, with the system stacked against it. That’s why Mr. Trump’s policies are not aimed at ameliorating white resentment, but deepening it. His agenda is not, fundamentally, about creating jobs or protecting programs that benefit everyone, including whites; it’s about creating purported enemies and then attacking them.

In the end, white resentment is so myopic and selfish that it cannot see that when the larger nation is thriving, whites are, too. Instead, it favors policies and politicians that may make America white again, but also hobbled and weakened, a nation that has squandered its greatest assets — its people and its democracy."
carolanderson  2017  race  racism  donaldtrump  affirmativeaction  colleges  universities  gender  resentment  us  politics  policy  california  universityofcalifornia  universityoftexas  statistics  data  admissions  jeffsessions  immigration  democracy  education  highered  highereducation  nationalism  disenfranchisement  uc 
august 2017 by robertogreco
A Field Guide to 'jobs that don't exist yet' - Long View on Education
"Perhaps most importantly, the Future of Jobs relies on the perspective of CEOs to suggest that Capital has lacked input into the shape and direction of education. Ironically, the first person I found to make the claim about the future of jobs – Devereux C. Josephs – was both Businessman of the Year (1958) and the chair of Eisenhower’s President’s Committee on Education Beyond High School. More tellingly, in his historical context, Josephs was able to imagine a more equitable future where we shared in prosperity rather than competed against the world’s underprivileged on a ‘flat’ field.

The Political Shift that Happened

While the claim is often presented as a new and alarming fact or prediction about the future, Devereux C. Josephs said much the same in 1957 during a Conference on the American High School at the University of Chicago on October 28, less than a month after the Soviets launched Sputnik. If Friedman and his ‘flat’ earth followers were writing then, they would have been up in arms about the technological superiority of the Soviets, just like they now raise the alarm about the rise of India and China. Josephs was a past president of the Carnegie Corporation, and at the time served as Chairman of the Board of the New York Life Insurance Company.

While critics of the American education system erupted after the launch of Sputnik with calls to go back to basics, much as they would again decades later with A Nation at Risk (1983), Josephs was instead a “besieged defender” of education according to Okhee Lee and Michael Salwen. Here’s how Joseph’s talked about the future of work:
“We are too much inclined to think of careers and opportunities as if the oncoming generations were growing up to fill the jobs that are now held by their seniors. This is not true. Our young people will fill many jobs that do not now exist. They will invent products that will need new skills. Old-fashioned mercantilism and the nineteenth-century theory in which one man’s gain was another man’s loss, are being replaced by a dynamism in which the new ideas of a lot of people become the gains for many, many more.”4

Josephs’ claim brims with optimism about a new future, striking a tone which contrasts sharply with the Shift Happens video and its competitive fear of The Other and decline of Empire. We must recognize this shift that happens between then and now as an erasure of politics – a deletion of the opportunity to make a choice about how the abundant wealth created by automation – and perhaps more often by offshoring to cheap labor – would be shared.

The agentless construction in the Shift Happens version – “technologies that haven’t been invented yet” – contrasts with Josephs’ vision where today’s youth invent those technologies. More importantly, Josephs imagines a more equitable socio-technical future, marked not by competition, but where gains are shared. It should go without saying that this has not come to pass. As productivity shot up since the 1950’s, worker compensation has stagnated since around 1973.

In other words, the problem is not that Capital lacks a say in education, but that corporations and the 0.1% are reaping all the rewards and need to explain why. Too often, this explanation comes in the form of the zombie idea of a ‘skills gap’, which persists though it keeps being debunked. What else are CEOs going to say – and the skills gap is almost always based on an opinion survey  – when they are asked to explain stagnating wages?5

Josephs’ essay echoes John Maynard Keynes’ (1930) in his hope that the “average family” by 1977 “may take some of the [economic] gain in the form of leisure”; the dynamism of new ideas should have created gains for ‘many, many more’ people. Instead, the compensation for CEOs soared as the profit was privatized even though most of the risk for innovation was socialized by US government investment through programs such as DARPA.6"



"Audrey Watters has written about how futurists and gurus have figured out that “The best way to invent the future is to issue a press release.” Proponents of the ‘skills agenda’ like the OECD have essentially figured out how to make “the political more pedagogical”, to borrow a phrase from Henry Giroux. In their book, Most Likely to Succeed, Tony Wagner and billionaire Ted Dintersmith warn us that “if you can’t invent (and reinvent) your own job and distinctive competencies, you risk chronic underemployment.” Their movie, of the same title, repeats the hollow claim about ‘jobs that haven’t been invented yet’. Ironically, though Wagner tells us that “knowledge today is a free commodity”, you can only see the film in private screenings.

I don’t want to idealize Josephs, but revisiting his context helps us understand something about the debate about education and the future, not because he was a radical in his times, but because our times are radical.

In an interview at CUNY (2015), Gillian Tett asks Jeffrey Sachs and Paul Krugman what policy initiatives they would propose to deal with globalization, technology, and inequality.9 After Sachs and Krugman propose regulating finance, expanding aid to disadvantaged children, creating a robust social safety net, reforming the tax system to eliminate privilege for the 0.1%, redistributing profits, raising wages, and strengthening the position of labor, Tett recounts a story:
“Back in January I actually moderated quite a similar event in Davos with a group of CEOs and general luminaries very much not just the 1% but probably the 0.1% and I asked them the same question. And what they came back with was education, education, and a bit of digital inclusion.”

Krugman, slightly lost for words, replies: “Arguing that education is the thing is … Gosh… That’s so 1990s… even then it wasn’t really true.”

For CEOs and futurists who say that disruption is the answer to practically everything, arguing that the answer lies in education and skills is actually the least disruptive response to the problems we face. Krugman argues that education emerges as the popular answer because “It’s not intrusive. It doesn’t require that we have higher taxes. It doesn’t require that CEOs have to deal with unions again.” Sachs adds, “Obviously, it’s the easy answer for that group [the 0.1%].”

The kind of complex thinking we deserve about education won’t come in factoids or bullet-point lists of skills of the future. In fact, that kind of complex thinking is already out there, waiting."



"Stay tuned for the tangled history of the claim if you're into that sort of thing..."
benjamindoxtdator  2017  inequality  education  credentialing  productivity  economics  society  statistics  audreywatters  billclinton  democrats  neoliberalism  latecapitalism  capitalism  johndewey  andreasschleicher  kerifacer  lindadarling-hammond  worldeconomicforum  oecd  labor  work  futurism  future  scottmcleod  karlfisch  richardriley  ianjukes  freetrade  competition  andrewold  michaelberman  thomasfriedman  devereuxjosephs  anationatrisk  sputnik  coldwar  okheelee  michaelsalwen  ussr  sovietunion  fear  india  china  russia  johnmaynardkeynes  leisure  robots  robotics  rodneybrooks  doughenwood  jobs  cwrightmills  henrygiroux  paulkrugman  gilliantett  jeffreysachs  policy  politics  globalization  technology  schools  curriculum  teddintersmith  tonywagner  mostlikelytosuccess  success  pedagogy  cathydavidson  jimcarroll  edtech 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Cyborgology: What is The History of The Quantified Self a History of?
[from Part 1: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/04/13/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-part-1/]

"In the past few months, I’ve posted about two works of long-form scholarship on the Quantified Self: Debora Lupton’s The Quantified Self and Gina Neff and Dawn Nufus’s Self-Tracking. Neff recently edited a volume of essays on QS (Quantified: Biosensing Technologies in Everyday Life, MIT 2016), but I’d like to take a not-so-brief break from reviewing books to address an issue that has been on my mind recently. Most texts that I read about the Quantified Self (be they traditional scholarship or more informal) refer to a meeting in 2007 at the house of Kevin Kelly for the official start to the QS movement. And while, yes, the name “Quantified Self” was coined by Kelly and his colleague Gary Wolf (the former founded Wired, the latter was an editor for the magazine), the practice of self-tracking obviously goes back much further than 10 years. Still, most historical references to the practice often point to Sanctorius of Padua, who, per an oft-cited study by consultant Melanie Swan, “studied energy expenditure in living systems by tracking his weight versus food intake and elimination for 30 years in the 16th century.” Neff and Nufus cite Benjamin Franklin’s practice of keeping a daily record of his time use. These anecdotal histories, however, don’t give us much in terms of understanding what a history of the Quantified Self is actually a history of.

Briefly, what I would like to prove over the course of a few posts is that at the heart of QS are statistics, anthropometrics, and psychometrics. I recognize that it’s not terribly controversial to suggest that these three technologies (I hesitate to call them “fields” here because of how widely they can be applied), all developed over the course of the nineteenth century, are critical to the way that QS works. Good thing, then, that there is a second half to my argument: as I touched upon briefly in my [shameless plug alert] Theorizing the Web talk last week, these three technologies were also critical to the proliferation of eugenics, that pseudoscientific attempt at strengthening the whole of the human race by breeding out or killing off those deemed deficient.

I don’t think it’s very hard to see an analogous relationship between QS and eugenics: both movements are predicated on anthropometrics and psychometrics, comparisons against norms, and the categorization and classification of human bodies as a result of the use of statistical technologies. But an analogy only gets us so far in seeking to build a history. I don’t think we can just jump from Francis Galton’s ramblings at the turn of one century to Kevin Kelly’s at the turn of the next. So what I’m going to attempt here is a sort of Foucauldian genealogy—from what was left of eugenics after its [rightful, though perhaps not as complete as one would hope] marginalization in the 1940s through to QS and the multi-billion dollar industry the movement has inspired.

I hope you’ll stick around for the full ride—it’s going to take a a number of weeks. For now, let’s start with a brief introduction to that bastion of Western exceptionalism: the eugenics movement."

[from Part 2: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/04/20/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-part-2/

"Here we begin to see an awkward situation in our quest to draw a line from Galton and hard-line eugenics (we will differentiate between hardline and “reform” eugenics further on) to the quantified self movement. Behaviorism sits diametrically opposed to eugenics for a number of reasons. Firstly, it does not distinguish between human and animal beings—certainly a tenet to which Galton and his like would object, understanding that humans are the superior species and a hierarchy of greatness existing within that species as well. Secondly, behaviorism accepts that outside, environmental influences will change the psychology of a subject. In 1971, Skinner argued that “An experimental analysis shifts the determination of behavior from autonomous man to the environment—an environment responsible both for the evolution of the species and for the repertoire acquired by each member” (214). This stands in direct conflict with the eugenical ideal that physical and psychological makeup is determined by heredity. Indeed, the eugenicist Robert Yerkes, otherwise close with Watson, wholly rejected the behaviorist’s views (Hergenhahn 400). Tracing the quantified-self’s behaviorist and self-experimental roots, then, leaves us without a very strong connection to the ideologies driving eugenics. Still, using Pearson as a hint, there may be a better path to follow."]

[from Part 3: https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/04/27/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-part-3/

"The history of Galton and eugenics, then, can be traced into the history of personality tests. Once again, we come up against an awkward transition—this time from personality tests into the Quantified Self. Certainly, shades of Galtonian psychometrics show themselves to be present in QS technologies—that is, the treatment of statistical datasets for the purpose of correlation and prediction. Galton’s word association tests strongly influenced the MBTI, a test that, much like Quantified Self projects, seeks to help a subject make the right decisions in their life, though not through traditional Galtonian statistical tools. The MMPI and 16PFQ are for psychological evaluative purposes. And while some work has been done to suggest that “mental wellness” can be improved through self-tracking (see Kelley et al., Wolf 2009), much of the self-tracking ethos is based on factors that can be adjusted in order to see a correlative change in the subject (Wolf 2009). That is, by tracking my happiness on a daily basis against the amount of coffee I drink or the places I go, then I am acknowledging an environmental approach and declaring that my current psychological state is not set by my genealogy. A gap, then, between Galtonian personality tests and QS."]

[from Part 4 (Finale): https://thesocietypages.org/cyborgology/2017/05/08/what-is-the-history-of-the-quantified-self-a-history-of-the-finale/

"What is the history of the quantified self a history of? One could point to technological advances in circuitry miniaturization or in big data collection and processing. The proprietary and patented nature of the majority of QS devices precludes certain types of inquiry into their invention and proliferation. But it is not difficult to identify one of QS’s most critical underlying tenets: self-tracking for the purpose of self-improvement through the identification of behavioral and environmental variables critical to one’s physical and psychological makeup. Recognizing the importance of this premise to QS allows us to trace back through the scientific fields which have strongly influenced the QS movement—from both a consumer and product standpoint. Doing so, however, reveals a seeming incommensurability between an otherwise analogous pair: QS and eugenics. A eugenical emphasis on heredity sits in direct conflict to a self-tracker’s belief that a focus on environmental factors could change one’s life for the better—even while both are predicated on statistical analysis, both purport to improve the human stock, and both, as argued by Dale Carrico, make assertions towards what is a “normal” human.

A more complicated relationship between the two is revealed upon attempting this genealogical connection. What I have outlined over the past few weeks is, I hope, only the beginning of such a project. I chose not to produce a rhetorical analysis of the visual and textual language of efficiency in both movements—from that utilized by the likes of Frederick Taylor and his eugenicist protégés, the Gilbreths, to what Christina Cogdell calls “Biological Efficiency and Streamline Design” in her work, Eugenic Design, and into a deep trove of rhetoric around efficiency utilized by market-available QS device marketers. Nor did I aim to produce an exhaustive bibliographic lineage. I did, however, seek to use the strong sense of self-experimentation in QS to work backwards towards the presence of behaviorism in early-twentieth century eugenical rhetoric. Then, moving in the opposite direction, I tracked the proliferation of Galtonian psychometrics into mid-century personality test development and eventually into the risk-management goals of the neoliberal surveillance state. I hope that what I have argued will lead to a more in-depth investigation into each step along this homological relationship. In the grander scheme, I see this project as part of a critical interrogation into the Quantified Self. By throwing into sharp relief the linkages between eugenics and QS, I seek to encourage resistance to fetishizing the latter’s technologies and their output, as well as the potential for meaningful change via those technologies."]
gabischaffzin  quantifiedself  2017  kevinkelly  garywolf  eugenics  anthropometrics  psychometrics  measurement  statistics  heredity  francisgalton  charlesdarwin  adolphequetelet  normal  psychology  pernilsroll-hansen  michelfoucault  majianadesan  self-regulation  marginalization  anthropology  technology  data  personality  henryfairfieldosborn  moralbehaviorism  behaviorism  williamepstein  mitchelldean  neoliberalism  containment  risk  riskassessment  freedom  rehabilitation  responsibility  obligation  dalecarrico  fredericktaylor  christinacogdell  surveillance  nikolasrose  myers-briggs  mbti  katherinebriggs  isabelbriggsmeyers  bellcurve  emilkraepelin  charlesspearman  rymondcattell  personalitytests  allenneuringer  microsoft  self-experimentation  gamification  deborahlupton  johnwatson  robertyerkes  ginaneff  dawnnufus  self-tracking  melanieswan  benjaminfranklin  recordkeeping  foucault 
may 2017 by robertogreco
The Common Core Costs Billions and Hurts Students - The New York Times
"FOR 15 years, since the passage of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, education reformers have promoted standardized testing, school choice, competition and accountability (meaning punishment of teachers and schools) as the primary means of improving education. For many years, I agreed with them. I was an assistant secretary of education in George H. W. Bush’s administration and a member of three conservative think tanks.

But as I watched the harmful effects of No Child Left Behind, I began to have doubts. The law required that all schools reach 100 percent proficiency as measured by state tests or face harsh punishments. This was an impossible goal. Standardized tests became the be-all and end-all of education, and states spent billions on them. Social scientists have long known that the best predictor of test scores is family income. Yet policy makers encouraged the firing of thousands of teachers and the closing of thousands of low-scoring public schools, mostly in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

As the damage escalated, I renounced my support for high-stakes testing and charter schools. Nonetheless, I clung to the hope that we might agree on national standards and a national curriculum. Surely, I thought, they would promote equity since all children would study the same things and take the same tests. But now I realize that I was wrong about that, too.

Six years after the release of our first national standards, the Common Core, and the new federal tests that accompanied them, it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.

The people who wrote the Common Core standards sold them as a way to improve achievement and reduce the gaps between rich and poor, and black and white. But the promises haven’t come true. Even in states with strong common standards and tests, racial achievement gaps persist. Last year, average math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress declined for the first time since 1990; reading scores were flat or decreased compared with a decade earlier.

The development of the Common Core was funded almost entirely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was a rush job, and the final product ignored the needs of children with disabilities, English-language learners and those in the early grades. It’s no surprise that there has been widespread pushback.

In 2009 President Obama announced Race to the Top, a competition for $4.35 billion in federal grant money. To qualify, states had to adopt “college and career ready standards,” a requirement that was used to pressure them into adopting national standards. Almost every state applied, even before the specifics of the Common Core were released in June 2010.

The federal government, states and school districts have spent billions of dollars to phase in the standards, to prepare students to take the tests and to buy the technology needed to administer them online. There is nothing to show for it. The Race to the Top demoralized teachers, caused teacher shortages and led to the defunding of the arts and other subjects that were not tested. Those billions would have been better spent to reduce class sizes, especially in struggling schools, to restore arts and physical education classes, to rebuild physically crumbling schools, and to provide universal early childhood education.

Children starting in the third grade may spend more than 10 hours a year taking state tests — and weeks preparing for them. Studies show that students perform better on written tests than on online tests, yet most schools across the nation are assessing their students online, at enormous costs, because that is how the Common Core tests are usually delivered. Computer glitches are common. Sometimes the server gets overloaded and breaks down. Entire states, like Alaska, have canceled tests because of technical problems. More than 30 states have reported computer testing problems since 2013, according to FairTest, a testing watchdog.

Standardized tests are best at measuring family income. Well-off students usually score in the top half of results; students from poor homes usually score in the bottom. The quest to “close achievement gaps” is vain indeed when the measure of achievement is a test based on a statistical norm. If we awarded driver’s licenses based on standardized tests, half the adults in this country might never receive one. The failure rates on the Common Core tests are staggeringly high for black and Hispanic children, students with disabilities and English-language learners. Making the tests harder predictably depresses test scores, creating a sense of failure and hopelessness among young children.

If we really cared about improving the education of all students, we would give teachers the autonomy to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the children in front of them and to write their own tests. We would insist that students in every school had an equal opportunity to learn in well-maintained schools, in classes of reasonable size taught by expert teachers. Anyone who wants to know how students in one state compare with students in other states can get that information from the N.A.E.P., the existing federal test.

What is called “the achievement gap” is actually an “opportunity gap.” What we need are schools where all children have the same chance to learn. That doesn’t require national standards or national tests, which improve neither teaching nor learning, and do nothing to help poor children at racially segregated schools. We need to focus on that, not on promoting failed ideas."
2016  dianeravitch  commoncore  standardization  standardizedtesting  testing  government  us  nclb  rttt  georgehwbush  gatesfoundation  billgates  standards  education  schools  publischools  poverty  inequality  segregation  naep  statistics  achievementgap  opportunitygap  politics  policy 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Why Young Americans Are Giving Up on Capitalism | Foreign Policy
"Imagine that you’re twenty years old. You were born in 1996. You were five years old on 9/11. For as long as you can remember, the United States has been at war.

When you are twelve, in 2008, the global economy collapses. After years of bluster and bravado from President George W. Bush — who encouraged consumerism as a response to terror — it seems your country was weaker than you thought. In America, the bottom falls out fast.In America, the bottom falls out fast. The adults who take care of you struggle to take care of themselves. Perhaps your parent loses a job. Perhaps your family loses its home.

In 2009, politicians claim the recession is over, but your hardship is not. Wages are stagnant or falling. The costs of health care, child care, and tuition continue to rise exponentially. Full-time jobs turn into contract positions while benefits are slashed. Middle-class jobs are replaced with low-paying service work. The expectations of American life your parents had when you were born — that a “long boom” will bring about unparalleled prosperity — crumble away.

Baby boomers tell you there is a way out: a college education has always been the key to a good job. But that doesn’t seem to happen anymore. The college graduates you know are drowning in student debt, working for minimum wage, or toiling in unpaid internships. Prestigious jobs are increasingly clustered in cities where rent has tripled or quadrupled in a decade’s time. You cannot afford to move, and you cannot afford to stay. Outside these cities, newly abandoned malls join long abandoned factories. You inhabit a landscape of ruin. There is nothing left for you.

Every now and then, people revolt. When you are fifteen, Occupy Wall Street captivates the nation’s attention, drawing attention to corporate greed and lost opportunity. Within a year, the movement fades, and its members do things like set up “boutique activist consultancies.” When you are seventeen, the Fight for 15 workers movement manages to make higher minimum wage a mainstream proposition, but the solutions politicians pose are incremental. No one seems to grasp the urgency of the crisis. Even President Barack Obama, a liberal Democrat — the type of politician who’s supposed to understand poverty — declares that the economy has recovered."



"Does this mean that the youth of America are getting ready to hand over private property to the state and round up the kulaks? No. As many of those who reported on the Harvard survey noted, the terms “socialism” and “capitalism” were never defined. After meeting with survey takers, John Della Volpe, the director of the Harvard poll, told the Washington Post that respondents did not reject capitalism inherently as a concept. “The way in which capitalism is practiced today, in the minds of young people — that’s what they’re rejecting,” he said.

Capitalism, in other words, holds less appeal in an era when the invisible hand feels like a death grip. Americans under 20 have had little to no adult experience in a pre-Great Recession economy. Things older generations took for granted — promotions, wages that grow over time, a 40-hour work week, unions, benefits, pensions, mutual loyalty between employers and employees — are increasingly rare.

As a consequence, these basic tenets of American work life, won by labor movements in the early half of the twentieth century, are now deemed “radical.” In this context, Bernie Sanders, whose policies echo those of New Deal Democrats, can be deemed a “socialist” leading a “revolution”. His platform seems revolutionary only because American work life has become so corrupt, and the pursuit of basic stability so insurmountable, that modest ambitions — a salary that covers your bills, the ability to own a home or go to college without enormous debt — are now fantasies or luxuries.

Policies like a $15 per hour minimum wage — brought to mainstream attention not by Sanders, but by striking fast food workers years before — are not radical, but a pragmatic corrective to decades of wage depreciation. The minimum wage, which peaked in 1968, would have reached $21.72 in 2012 had it kept pace with productivity growth. Expectations of American life are formed on the premise that self-sufficiency is possible, but nearly half of Americans do not have $400 to their name. The gap between the rhetoric of “economic recovery” and “low unemployment” and the reality of how most Americans live is what makes Sanders seem unconventional: he describes widespread economic hardship many leaders rationalize or deny. Voters are not only rejecting the status quo, but how the status quo is depicted by media and politicians — the illusion that the economy is strong, and that suffering is the exception, not the rule.

We live in an era where heated rhetorical battles are fought over terms that have lost clear meaning. In an attempt to placate an angry populace, all three major candidates — Sanders, Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton — have at various times positioned themselves as “anti-establishment”: a dubious description of two career politicians and a billionaire tycoon. “Neoliberal” has gone from a term that describes an advocate of specific economic and political policies to an insult hurled indiscriminately on social media. Thanks to Trump, the word “fascist” has reentered the American political vocabulary, with some playing down Trump’s brutal and unlawful policies on the grounds that they do not precisely emulate foreign fascist leaders of the past. Meanwhile, Trump castigates Clinton for not using the term “radical Islam.” This sparring over labels illustrates the depths of our ideological confusion.

It is in this rhetorical morass that the debate over whether young Americans support “socialism” or “capitalism” takes place. Omitted from most coverage of the Harvard poll was the fact that youth were asked not only about socialism and capitalism but four other categories. “Which of the following, if any, do you support?” the questionnaire inquired, giving the options of socialism, capitalism, progressivism, patriotism, feminism, and social justice activism. None of the terms were defined. Respondents could choose more than one. “Socialism,” at 33 percent, actually received the lowest support. “Patriotism” received the highest support, at 57 percent, while the three remaining categories were each supported by roughly half the respondents.

What do these category-based questions really tell us, then, about the allegiance of youth to ideologies? Nothing. The real answers are found in questions about policies. When asked whether they support the idea that “Basic necessities, such as food and shelter, are a right that the government should provide to those unable to afford them,” 47 percent of all respondents said “yes.” Does this indicate support for socialism? Not necessarily. It indicates that respondents grew up in an America where a large number of their countrymen have struggled to afford food and shelter — and they want the suffering to stop.

You do not need a survey to ascertain the plight of American youth. You can look at their bank accounts, at the jobs they have, at the jobs their parents have lost, at the debt they hold, at the opportunities they covet but are denied. You do not need jargon or ideology to form a case against the status quo. The clearest indictment of the status quo is the status quo itself."
age  capitalism  economics  us  socialsafetynet  socialism  2016  occupywallstreet  ows  democracy  labor  work  minimumwage  education  highered  highereducation  debt  neoliberalism  progressivism  patriotism  donaldtrump  hillaryclinton  barackobama  opportunity  hope  despair  frustration  ideology  berniesanders  employment  unemployment  youth  politics  policy  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Upper Middle Class, Lower Class And The Great Squeeze In The Middle | David Stockman's Contra Corner
"What does it take to be upper middle class? According to one analyst, the answer is: at least $100,000 a year for a family of three. The Growing Size and Incomes of the Upper Middle Class (Urban Institute).

The paper claims the upper middle class has grown from 12.9% of the population in 1979 to 29.4% in 2014–in essence, the shrinkage of the “middle class” is not just from households dropping down the ladder but millions of households climbing up to the upper middle class.

Not Just the 1%: The Upper Middle Class Is Larger and Richer Than Ever (WSJ.com)

While the evidence broadly supports this secular shift–the concentration of income and wealth in the top 20% increases while the wealth and income of the bottom 80% stagnates–I think the claim that 30% of all U.S. households are upper middle class grossly overstates the reality, which is it’s become increasingly costly to even qualify as middle class, never mind upper middle class.

I’ve explored these topics in depth over the past few years:

How Many Slots Are Open in the Upper Middle Class? Not As Many As You Might Think (March 30, 2015) http://www.oftwominds.com/blogmar15/few-slots3-15.html

What Does It Take To Be Middle Class? (December 5, 2013) http://www.oftwominds.com/blogdec13/middle-class12-13.html

If we measure financial characteristics of middle class status rather than income, we find $100,000 is borderline middle class, not upper middle class.The above essay lists the baseline of 10 minimum metrics of middle class status. In high-cost regions, $100,000 barely qualifies a household as middle class; to be upper middle class, households must earn closer to $200,000.

A household income of $190,000 is in the top 5% nationally. According to the Social Security Administration data for 2013 (the latest data available), individuals who earn $125,000 or more are in the top 5% of all earners. Two such workers would earn $250,000 together. The 2.8 million households with incomes of $250,000 or more are in the top 2.5%.

I think it is reasonable to define the 12% of households earning between $125,000 (top 15%) and $350,000 (the cut-off for the top 1%) as upper middle class. This is around 14.5 million households, out of a total of 121 million households.

This is a far cry from 30% of all households qualifying as upper middle class.What we’re seeing is the inflation of “middle class” to “upper middle class,” just as a B grade is now an A, and jobs that don’t require a university degree now nominally require a bachelors degree or higher.

The increasingly desperate effort to reach the upper middle class is evidenced by a slew of books and articles on what it takes to succeed in an increasingly winners-take-all economy, and on the anxieties of those trying to “make it”: note that most of the articles are published in magazines/media outlets that appeal to the very upper middle class that’s anxious about maintaining their tenuous hold on prosperity:

How to Save Like the Rich and the Upper Middle Class (Hint: It’s Not With Your House) (WSJ.com)

The Hidden Cost for Stay-At-Home American Parents (Bloomberg)

The War on Stupid People: American society increasingly mistakes intelligence for human worth (The Atlantic)

The Limits of “Grit” (New Yorker)

The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How. (via Ron G.)

The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley (via Ron G.)

Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance (book)

I’ve laid out my own bootstrap blueprint in Get a Job, Build a Real Career and Defy a Bewildering Economy (hint: don’t cling to credentials and privilege as your strategy–acquire skills and entrepreneurial income streams).

What’s left unsaid in all these articles is much of the upper middle class is prospering due to privileged positions that are increasingly at risk of disruption–a topic I discussed in If You Want More Jobs and More Job Stability, Disrupt More, Not Less (June 21, 2016) and How Many Law Schools Need to Close? Plenty (June 20, 2016).

And just a reminder: of the supposed 30% of households who are upper middle class, only the top 10% have significant wealth-building assets: that tells us in no uncertain terms that two-thirds of the supposedly upper middle class 30% are only middle class."
charleshughsmith  middleclass  uppermiddleclass  society  income  incomeinequality  wealth  wealthinequality  disparity  inequality  economics  policy  politics  grit  precarity  2016  statistics 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Algebra II has to go.
"It drives dropout rates and is mostly useless in real life. Andrew Hacker has a plan for getting rid of it."



"So Hacker’s book is deeply comforting. I’m not alone, it tells me—lots of smart people hate math. The reason I hated math, was mediocre at it, and still managed to earn a bachelor’s degree was because I had upper-middle-class parents who paid for tutoring and eventually enrolled me in a college that doesn’t require math credits in order to graduate. For low-income students, math is often an impenetrable barrier to academic success. Algebra II, which includes polynomials and logarithms, and is required by the new Common Core curriculum standards used by 47 states and territories, drives dropouts at both the high school and college levels. The situation is most dire at public colleges, which are the most likely to require abstract algebra as a precondition for a degree in every field, including art and theater.

“We are really destroying a tremendous amount of talent—people who could be talented in sports writing or being an emergency medical technician, but can’t even get a community college degree,” Hacker told me in an interview. “I regard this math requirement as highly irrational.”

Unlike most professors who publicly opine about the education system, Hacker, though an eminent scholar, teaches at a low-prestige institution, Queens College, part of the City University of New York system. Most CUNY students come from low-income families, and a 2009 faculty report found that 57 percent fail the system’s required algebra course. A subsequent study showed that when students were allowed to take a statistics class instead, only 44 percent failed.

Such findings inspired Hacker, in 2013, to create a curriculum to test the ideas he presents in The Math Myth. For two years, he taught what is essentially a course in civic numeracy. Hacker asked students to investigate the gerrymandering of Pennsylvania congressional districts by calculating the number of actual votes Democrats and Republicans received in 2012. The students discovered that it took an average of 181,474 votes to win a Republican seat, but 271,970 votes to win a Democratic seat. In another lesson, Hacker distributed two Schedule C forms, which businesses use to declare their tax-deductible expenses, and asked students to figure out which form was fabricated. Then he introduced Benford’s Law, which holds that in any set of real-world numbers, ones, twos, and threes are more frequent initial digits than fours, fives, sixes, sevens, eights, and nines. By applying this rule, the students could identify the fake Schedule C. (The IRS uses the same technique.)

In his 19-person numeracy seminar, the lowest grade was a C, Hacker says. But he says that the math establishment—a group he calls “the Mandarins” in his book—doesn’t take kindly to a political scientist challenging disciplinary dogma, even at Queens College. The school has reclassified his class as a “special studies” course.

Hacker’s previous book, Higher Education? How Universities Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids, took a dim view of the tenured professoriate, and he extends that perspective in The Math Myth. Math professors, consumed by their esoteric, super-specialized research, simply don’t care very much about the typical undergraduate, Hacker contends. At universities with graduate programs, tenure-track faculty members teach only 10 percent of introductory math classes. At undergraduate colleges, tenure-track professors handle 42 percent of introductory classes. Graduate students and adjuncts shoulder the vast majority of the load, and they aren’t inspiring many students to continue their math education. In 2013, only 1 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded were in math.

“In a way, math departments throughout the country don’t worry,” Hacker says. “They have big budgets because their classes are required, so they keep on going.”

Hacker attacks not only algebra but the entire push for more rigorous STEM education—science, technology, engineering, and math—in K-12 schools, including the demand for high school classes in computer programming. He is skeptical of one of the foundational tenets of the standards-and-accountability education reform movement, that there is a quantitative “skills gap” between Americans and the 21st-century job market. He notes that between 2010 and 2012, 38 percent of computer science and math majors were unable to find a job in their field. During that same period, corporations like Microsoft were pushing for more H-1B visas for Indian programmers and more coding classes. Why? Hacker hypothesizes that tech companies want an over-supply of entry-level coders in order to drive wages down.

After Hacker previewed the ideas in The Math Myth in a 2012 New York Times op-ed, the Internet lit up with responses accusing him of anti-intellectualism. At book length, it’s harder to dismiss his ideas. He has a deep respect for what he calls the “truth and beauty” of math; his discussion of the discovery and immutability of pi taught me more about the meaning of 3.14 than any class I’ve ever taken. He’s careful to address almost every counterargument a math traditionalist could throw at him. For example, he writes that students will probably learn little about concepts of proof that are relevant to their lives, such as legal proof, by studying abstract math proofs; they’d be better served by spending time studying how juries consider reasonable doubt. More controversially, he points out that many of the nations with excellent math performance, such as China, Russia, and North Korea, are repressive. “So what can we conclude about mathematics, when its brand of brilliance can thrive amid onerous oppression?” he writes. “One response may be that the subject, by its very nature, is so aloof from political and social reality that its discoveries give rulers no causes for concern. If mathematics had the power to move minds toward controversial terrain, it would be viewed as a threat by wary states.”

I found Hacker overall to be pretty convincing. But after finishing The Math Myth, I kept thinking back to how my husband talked about derivatives, how he helped me connect the abstract to the concrete. As a longtime education reporter, I know that American teachers, especially those in the elementary grades, have taken few math courses themselves, and often actively dislike the subject. Maybe I would have found abstract math more enjoyable if my teachers had been able to explain it better, perhaps by connecting it somehow to the real world. And if that happened in every school, maybe lots more American kids, even low-income ones, would be able to make the leap from arithmetic to the conceptual mathematics of algebra II and beyond.

I called Daniel Willingham, a cognitive psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies how students learn. He is worried about any call to make math—or any other subject—less abstract. I told him that even though I once passed a calculus class, my husband had to explain to me what a derivative was, as opposed to how to find it using an equation; Willingham replied, “This is very common. There are three legs on which math rests: math fact, math algorithm, and conceptual understanding. American kids are OK on facts, OK on algorithm, and near zero on conceptual understanding. It goes back to preschool. And this is what countries like Singapore do so well. They start with the conceptual business very, very early.” Willingham believes substituting statistics for algebra II might not solve the problem of high school math as a stumbling block. After all, basic statistical concepts—such as effect size or causality—also require conceptual understanding.

Of course, if math teachers are to help students understand how abstract concepts function in the real world, they will have to understand those abstractions themselves. So it’s not reassuring that American teachers are a product of the same sub-par math education system they work in, or that we hire 100,000 to 200,000 new teachers each year at a time when less than 20,000 people are majoring in math annually.

Could better teachers help more students pass algebra II? Given high student debt, low teacher pay, and the historically low status of the American teaching profession, it would be a tough road. In the meantime, it’s probably a good idea to give students multiple math pathways toward high school and college graduation—some less challenging than others. If we don’t, we’ll be punishing kids for the failures of an entire system. "
danagoldstein  math  mathematics  education  teaching  algebra  algebraii  andrewhacker  statistics  danielwillingham  stem 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Transcript | This American Life: 406: True Urban Legends
"Act One. What's That Smell?

Ira Glass
What's that smell? The way Steve Poizner sees it, he did something admirable, something daring, something unusual. And when I read his account of what he did, he seemed sincere about it too. He's a bit of a corny writer. Though even that, you can kind of forgive him. He's not a professional author.

At the age of 45, after starting one Silicon Valley company that he sold for $30 million and a second one that sold for $1 billion, Poizner didn't need to work anymore. He says, he wanted to do some good for people. And so he called a dozen public high schools and volunteered to be a guest teacher of some sort. One called him back, a high school called Mount Pleasant. And Poizner got into his car, drove the 15 miles from his neighborhood in Los Gatos in Silicon Valley to East San Jose."



"I heard about Steve Poizner and the controversy over whether his book got things wrong when a publicist for the book contacted our radio program. She wrote an email describing the incident at the bookstore this way, "Liberal activist took offense at how he describes the school, accurately, as plagued by gangs, teen pregnancy, and disrepair. They are trying to shut him up and discredit his argument about charter schools." Poizner makes a case for charter schools late in the book. "This is a classic case of liberals refusing to listen to simple facts and rational solutions."

So I read the excerpt of his book online. There's a full chapter, and Poizner links to it from his campaign website. You can read it yourself. And it raised more questions than it answered. It's a very odd chapter, all about Poizner's first days teaching a class at Mount Pleasant. There's scene after scene where he's floundering, standing in front of the class asking big, abstract questions. "Would you want to live in a country where the leader didn't want to lead, if the money issued by the government wasn't any good, or people were treated unfairly?" None of the students respond.

He's a rookie teacher. He doesn't know how to engage them yet. Nothing unusual there. But here's the strange thing. The conclusion Poizner comes to, again and again, during these scenes isn't that he's doing anything wrong, or he has anything to learn as a teacher. Instead, he blames the kids. They're tough. They're unmotivated. They lack ambition. They're wired differently.

The students, meanwhile, in every scene in the book-- I've read the whole book-- seem utterly lovely. Polite, they don't interrupt, they don't talk back. They just seem a little bored. His very worst student is a graduating senior, who's hoping to go into the Marines. Checking school records, I learn that Poizner's unmotivated, unambitious class included one of the school valedictorians, Charles Rudy, who graduated and went to college.

Could he be getting this so completely wrong, I wondered? Could he have written an entire book misperceiving so thoroughly what was happening in front of his own eyes and was now trying to use that book to run for governor? It seemed too incredible. And that's what brought me to San Jose last week to visit the school and its neighborhood."

[PLUS]

"Foreigners arrive in the United States believing all kinds of misinformation about us...misinformation that turns out to be true. Mary Wiltenburg tells the story."

[audio here: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/406/true-urban-legends

"Act Two. Fleeing is Believing.

A retired millionaire tries to understand the reality of a tough, seedy, inner city neighborhood. But what if the neighborhood is none of those things? Ira Glass evaluates the claims of this millionaire, Steve Poizner, who is also running for governor of California."]
stevepoizner  2010  sanjose  losgatos  california  education  schools  perception  class  poltics  urbanlegends  via:robertsears  data  statistics  mountpleasanthighschool  eastsanjose  condescencion  refugees  immigration  culture  society  thisamericanlife 
february 2016 by robertogreco
How the Idea of a 'Normal' Person Got Invented - The Atlantic
"The notion that there is a “normal” height or a “normal” salary is a relatively new one, and it's had a profound effect on how people think about each other and themselves."
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"In the early 1840s, Quetelet analyzed a data set published in an Edinburgh medical journal that listed the chest circumference, in inches, of 5,738 Scottish soldiers. This was one of the most important, if uncelebrated, studies of human beings in the annals of science. Quetelet added together each of the measurements, then divided the sum by the total number of soldiers. The result came out to just over 39 ¾ inches—the average chest circumference of a Scottish soldier. This number represented one of the very first times a scientist had calculated the average of any human feature. But it was not Quetelet’s arithmetic that was history-making—it was his answer to a rather simple-seeming question: What, precisely, did this average actually mean?

It seems like the answer would be obvious, but it’s not actually clear what the significance of average size is. Is it a rough guide to the size of normal human beings? An estimate of the size of a randomly selected person? Or is there some kind of deeper fundamental meaning behind the number? Quetelet’s own interpretation—the first scientific interpretation of a human average—was, not surprisingly, conceived out of concepts from astronomical observation.

Astronomers believed that every individual measurement of a celestial object (such as one scientist’s measurement of the speed of Saturn) always contained some amount of error, yet the amount of aggregate error across a group of individual measurements (such as many different scientists’ measurements of the speed of Saturn, or many different measurements by a single scientist) could be minimized by using the average measurement. In fact, a celebrated proof by the mathematician Carl Gauss appeared to demonstrate that an average measurement was as close to a measurement’s true value (such as the true speed of Saturn) as one could ever hope to get. Quetelet applied the same thinking to his interpretation of human averages: He declared that the individual person was synonymous with error, while the average person represented the true human being.

After Quetelet calculated the average chest circumference of Scottish soldiers, he concluded that each individual soldier’s chest size represented an instance of naturally occurring “error,” whereas the average chest size represented the size of the “true” soldier—a perfectly formed soldier free from any physical blemishes or disruptions, as nature intended a soldier to be.

Quetelet followed the same line of reasoning with regard to humanity as a whole, claiming that every one of us is a flawed copy of some kind of cosmic template for human beings. Quetelet dubbed this template the “Average Man.” Today, of course, someone described as “average” is implied to be inferior or lacking. But for Quetelet, the Average Man was perfection itself, an ideal that Nature aspired to, free from error. He declared that the greatest men in history were closest to the Average Man of their place and time.

Eager to unmask the secret face of the Average Man, Quetelet began to compute the average of every human attribute he could get data on. He calculated average stature, average weight, and average complexion. He calculated the average age couples got married and the average age people died. He calculated average annual births, average number of people in poverty, average annual incidents of crime, average types of crimes, the average amount of education, and even average annual suicide rates. He invented the Quetelet Index—today known as the body mass index, or BMI—and calculated men’s and women’s average BMIs to identify average health. Each of these average values, claimed Quetelet, represented the hidden qualities of the Average Man.

As much as Quetelet admired the Average Man, he held an equal amount of antipathy toward those unfortunate individuals who deviated from the average. “Everything differing from the Average Man’s proportions and condition, would constitute deformity and disease,” Quetelet asserted. “Everything found dissimilar, not only as regarded proportion or form, but as exceeding the observed limits, would constitute a Monstrosity.” He also pronounced, “If an individual at any given epoch of society possessed all the qualities of the Average Man he would represent all that is great, good, or beautiful.”

Though today an average person isn’t thought to embody perfection, it is presumed that an average person is a prototypical representative of a group—a type. There is a powerful tendency in the human mind to imagine that all members of a group—such as “lawyers,” “the homeless,” or “Mexicans”—act according to a set of shared characteristics, and Quetelet’s research endowed this impulse with a scientific justification that quickly became a cornerstone of the social sciences. Ever since Quetelet introduced the idea of the Average Man, scientists have delineated the characteristics of a seemingly endless number of types, such as “Type-A personalities,” “neurotic types,” “micro-managers,” and “leader types,” arguing that useful predictions could be made about any given individual member of a group simply by knowing the traits of the average member—the group’s type.

Since Quetelet’s concept of the Average Man seemed to impose welcome order on the accelerating jumble of human statistics while simultaneously validating people’s natural urge to stereotype others, it’s little wonder his ideas spread as they did."
normal  averages  average  roddrose  2016  statistics  adolpgeqetelet  data 
february 2016 by robertogreco
You Can’t Trust What You Read About Nutrition | FiveThirtyEight
"Our foray into nutrition science demonstrated that studies examining how foods influence health are inherently fraught. To show you why, we’re going to take you behind the scenes to see how these studies are done. The first thing you need to know is that nutrition researchers are studying an incredibly difficult problem, because, short of locking people in a room and carefully measuring out all their meals, it’s hard to know exactly what people eat. So nearly all nutrition studies rely on measures of food consumption that require people to remember and report what they ate. The most common of these are food diaries, recall surveys and the food frequency questionnaire, or FFQ.

Several versions of the FFQ exist, but they all use a similar technique: Ask people how often they eat particular foods and what serving size they usually consume. But it’s not always easy to remember everything you ate, even what you ate yesterday. People are prone to underreport what they consume, and they may not fess up to eating certain foods or may miscalculate their serving sizes.

“The bottom line here is that doing dietary assessment is difficult,” said Torin Block, CEO of NutritionQuest, a company that conducts FFQs and was founded by his mother, Gladys Block, a pioneer in the field who began developing food frequency questionnaires at the National Cancer Institute. “You can’t get away from it — there’s error involved.” Still, there’s a pecking order in terms of completeness, he said. Food diaries rank high and so do 24-hour food recalls, in which an administrator sits the subject down for a guided interview to catalog everything eaten in the past 24 hours. But, Block said, “you really need to do multiple administrations to get an assessment of someone’s usual long-term dietary intake.” For study purposes, researchers are not usually interested just in what people ate yesterday or the day before, but in what they eat regularly. Studies that use 24-hour recalls tend to under- or overestimate nutrients people don’t eat every day, since they record only a small and perhaps unrepresentative snapshot."
nutrition  food  health  statistics  2016  christineaschwanden  diet  correlation 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Seven Reasons We Hate Free-Range Parenting - Bloomberg View
"Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of Maryland want to raise their children as "free-range kids," which is to say giving them the kind of range of movement that those of us over 30 recall as a normal part of childhood. One of my cherished childhood memories is the long walks my best friend and I would take home from church through New York's Riverside Park, which Google Maps records as a distance of a mile and a half, stopping at every playground along the way. This is slightly longer than the walk home from the playground that caused Montgomery County's Child Protective Services to investigate the Meitivs last year, after someone called the police to report the alarming sight of ... children walking down the street alone. On Sunday, after another "good Samaritan" called the cops, CPS seized the children, leaving the parents frantic with worry for hours.

One could argue that this is a good lesson for the parents. One could also argue that it would be bracing to have the police periodically break into our homes to educate us about weak points in our security systems. In fact, the sort of abduction that CPS apparently wants the Meitivs to obsess over is incredibly rare and always has been.

Why has America gone lunatic on the subject of unattended children? Parents hover over their kids as if every step might be their last. If they don't hover, strangers do, calling the police to report any parent who leaves their child to run into the store for a few minutes. What's truly strange is that the parents who are doing this were themselves left to their own devices in cars, allowed to ride their bikes and walk to the store unsupervised, and otherwise given the (limited) freedom that they are now determined to deny their own kids. The police are making arrests that would have branded their own parents as criminals. To hear people my age talk about the dangers of unsupervised children, you would think that the attrition rate in our generation had been at least 30 percent.

Even people who haven't gone crazy are afraid of the Pediatric Patrol. A mom of my acquaintance whose house backs up to a school playground, with a gate that lets her children walk straight into the schoolyard, is afraid to let them go through the gate without an adult, for fear that someone would call the same nutty CPS that has taken to impounding the Meitiv children. She compromises by letting them play alone in the playground only when she is in the backyard, so that she can intervene if the police arrive.

Think about that: Kids have the priceless boon of a playground right in their backyard, but they can't use it unless Mom drops everything to accompany them. I am running out of synonyms for "insane" to describe the state we have worked ourselves into. What on earth has happened to us?

As it happened, I looked into that for my book, and the disappointing news is that I didn't find much good research to explain this mass shift in American parenting. I did, however, develop some theories from watching parents, law enforcement officials and others discuss the pros and cons of free-range parenting.

I should add a caveat: I don't have kids, so I lack an important perspective. And I should say that if I did have kids, I'm sure I too would be a safety paranoiac, making my own baby food from organic ingredients just in case pesticides in their unsweetened applesauce turn out to cause cancer. So I'm not blaming individual parents; this is a collective insanity, not a personal foible.

So how can we explain it?

1. Cable news. When you listen to parents talk about why they hover, you'll frequently hear that the world is more dangerous than it used to be. This is the exact opposite of the truth. The New York City where I walked to school, past housing projects with major crime problems and across busy streets, was much more dangerous than the New York of today. And that is true of virtually everywhere. The world is not more dangerous. But it feels more dangerous to a lot of people because the media landscape has shifted.

Think of it this way: There were always stranger abductions, but they were always extremely rare, perhaps 2 or 3 per 1 million children under 12 in the U.S. each year. However, in the 1970s, you most likely only heard about local cases, and because these were rare, you would hear about one every few years in a moderately large metropolitan area. This made it sound like what it is: an unimaginably terrible thing that thankfully almost never happens. Very occasionally, a case would catch the imagination and make national news, like the Lindbergh baby. But these almost always happened in big cities like New York, or to rich people, so people didn't imagine that this was a risk that faced them.

Then along came cable news, which needed to fill 24 hours a day with content. These sorts of cases started to make national news, and because our brains are terrible at statistics, we did not register this as "Aha, the overall rate is still low, but I am now hearing cases drawn from a much larger population, so I hear about more of them." Instead, it felt like stranger abductions must have gone up a lot.

The Internet also enables parents to share stories of every bad thing that happens to their children. We used to be limited to collecting these stories from people we actually met, which meant that we didn't hear a lot of truly terrible stories. Now we have thousands at the tips of our fingers, and the same failures of statistical intuition make it feel like wow, terrible things are happening all the time these days.

2. Economic insecurity. As college degrees, and particularly elite degrees, have become more valuable, parents have come to feel that they must micromanage their children's lives in order to make a good showing on college applications. The result is vastly more supervised activities. This has shrunk the pool of kids who are around to play with, making free-range childhood less rewarding.

3. Mothers working. In suburbs and small towns, stay-at-home moms formed "eyes on the street," so that even if your kid was roaming the neighborhood, there was a gentle adult eye periodically sweeping across their activity. But I don't think we can lean on this too much, because kids in cities also had a lot more independence back then, and the Broadway of my youth was not exactly a sweet, sheltered world where nothing much could go wrong.

There's another reason I think this matters, however. More mothers are paying others to take care of their children. It's easy to impose severe limits on the mobility of your children when you are not personally expected to provide 24-hour supervision. When I was a kid, there were a lot of mothers at home who believed that being home with kids was important but did not actually personally enjoy playing with 4-year-olds. Those parents would have rebelled at being told that they should never let their kids out of hearing range. Those mothers are now at work, paying someone else to enjoy playing with their 4-year-old or at least convincingly fake it.

4. Collective-action problems. When it comes to safety, overprotective parents are in effect taking out a sort of regret insurance. Every community has what you might call "generally accepted child-rearing practices," the parenting equivalent of "generally accepted accounting principles." These principles define what is good parenting and provide a sort of mental safe harbor in the event of an accident. If you do those things and your kid gets hurt -- well, you'll still wish that you'd asked them to stay home and help bake cookies, or lingered a little longer at the drugstore, or something so that they weren't around when the Bad Thing happened. But if you break them and your kid gets hurt, you -- and a lot of other people -- will feel that it happened because you were a bad parent. So you follow the GACP.

Over time, these rules get set by the most risk-averse parent in your social group, because if anything happens, you'll wish you had acted like them. This does not mean that the kids are actually safer: Parents in most places "shelter" their kids from risk by strapping them into cars and driving them to supervised activities, which is more dangerous than almost anything those kids could have gotten up to at home.

5. Lawsuits. In the U.S., the liability revolution of the 1970s has made every institution, from parks departments to schools, much more sensitive about even tiny risks, because when you go before the jury in a case about a hurt child, arguing that what happened was less likely than getting hit by a bolt of lightning is going to have much less impact than the evidence of a hurt child.

6. Mobile phones. All these strangers calling 911 to report a 6-year-old who has been left in a car outside a store for a few minutes are probably doing so because it's easy. If that person had to dig for a piece of paper and a pen to write the license plate down, then take time out of their day to find a pay phone, dial the police and stand around talking to the 911 operator, most would probably think "You know, I bet his mom is going to come out of the store in a minute, and I really need to get home to start dinner." Now you can just take a picture of the license plate and call from the comfort of your car. It would be surprising if we lowered the price of being an officious busybody and didn't get a lot more of it.

7. We're richer. Richer countries can afford more safety. That's a good thing, but there can be too much safety. There are major downsides to this form of parenting, as many authors have laid out: It's hard on the parents, may result in the kids developing more phobias, and stunts the creativity and self-reliance that we theoretically want to develop in children so that they can become happy and productive adults.

I don't think there's one easy answer to why we've become insane; rather, there are a lot of forces that are pushing in this direction. But that doesn't mean we can't push back. And a good start would be for … [more]
parenting  children  safety  meganmcardle  freedom  free-rangeparenting  2015  media  news  statistics  liability  litigiousness  law  legal  helicoperparents  helicopterparenting  labor  work  economics  insecurity  micromanagment  lawenforcement  childcare  overprotection  risk  riskassessment  risktaking  lawsuits  mobile  phones  wealth  cps  via:ayjay  helicopterparents 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Exposing the great 'poverty reduction' lie - Al Jazeera English
[See also: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development-professionals-network/2015/mar/30/it-will-take-100-years-for-the-worlds-poorest-people-to-earn-125-a-day ]

"The received wisdom comes to us from all directions: Poverty rates are declining and extreme poverty will soon be eradicated. The World Bank, the governments of wealthy countries, and - most importantly - the United Nations Millennium Campaign all agree on this narrative. Relax, they tell us. The world is getting better, thanks to the spread of free market capitalism and western aid. Development is working, and soon, one day in the very near future, poverty will be no more.

It is a comforting story, but unfortunately it is just not true. Poverty is not disappearing as quickly as they say. In fact, according to some measures, poverty has been getting significantly worse. If we are to be serious about eradicating poverty, we need to cut through the sugarcoating and face up to some hard facts.

False accounting
The most powerful expression of the poverty reduction narrative comes from the UN's Millennium Campaign. Building on the Millennium Declaration of 2000, the Campaign's main goal has been to reduce global poverty by half by 2015 - an objective that it proudly claims to have achieved ahead of schedule. But if we look beyond the celebratory rhetoric, it becomes clear that this assertion is deeply misleading.

The world's governments first pledged to end extreme poverty during the World Food Summit in Rome in 1996. They committed to reducing the number of undernourished people by half before 2015, which, given the population at the time, meant slashing the poverty headcount by 836 million. Many critics claimed that this goal was inadequate given that, with the right redistributive policies, extreme poverty could be ended much more quickly.

But instead of making the goals more robust, global leaders surreptitiously diluted it. Yale professor and development watchdog Thomas Pogge points out that when the Millennium Declaration was signed, the goal was rewritten as "Millennium Developmental Goal 1" (MDG-1) and was altered to halve the proportion (as opposed to the absolute number) of the world's people living on less than a dollar a day. By shifting the focus to income levels and switching from absolute numbers to proportional ones, the target became much easier to achieve. Given the rate of population growth, the new goal was effectively reduced by 167 million. And that was just the beginning.

After the UN General Assembly adopted MDG-1, the goal was diluted two more times. First, they changed it from halving the proportion of impoverished people in the world to halving the proportion of impoverished people in developing countries, thus taking advantage of an even faster-growing demographic denominator. Second, they moved the baseline of analysis from 2000 back to 1990, thus retroactively including all poverty reduction accomplished by China throughout the 1990s, due in no part whatsoever to the Millennium Campaign.

This statistical sleight-of-hand narrowed the target by a further 324 million. So what started as a goal to reduce the poverty headcount by 836 million has magically become only 345 million - less than half the original number. Having dramatically redefined the goal, the Millennium Campaign can claim that poverty has been halved when in fact it has not. The triumphalist narrative hailing the death of poverty rests on an illusion of deceitful accounting."



"A more honest view of poverty

We need to seriously rethink these poverty metrics. The dollar-a-day IPL is based on the national poverty lines of the 15 poorest countries, but these lines provide a poor foundation given that many are set by bureaucrats with very little data. More importantly, they tell us nothing about what poverty is like in wealthier countries. A 1990 survey in Sri Lanka found that 35 percent of the population fell under the national poverty line. But the World Bank, using the IPL, reported only 4 percent in the same year. In other words, the IPL makes poverty seem much less serious than it actually is.

The present IPL theoretically reflects what $1.25 could buy in the United States in 2005. But people who live in the US know it is impossible to survive on this amount. The prospect is laughable. In fact, the US government itself calculated that in 2005 the average person needed at least $4.50 per day simply to meet minimum nutritional requirements. The same story can be told in many other countries, where a dollar a day is inadequate for human existence. In India, for example, children living just above the IPL still have a 60 percent chance of being malnourished.

According to Peter Edwards of Newcastle University, if people are to achieve normal life expectancy, they need roughly double the current IPL, or a minimum of $2.50 per day. But adopting this higher standard would seriously undermine the poverty reduction narrative. An IPL of $2.50 shows a poverty headcount of around 3.1 billion, almost triple what the World Bank and the Millennium Campaign would have us believe. It also shows that poverty is getting worse, not better, with nearly 353 million more people impoverished today than in 1981. With China taken out of the equation, that number shoots up to 852 million.

Some economists go further and advocate for an IPL of $5 or even $10 - the upper boundary suggested by the World Bank. At this standard, we see that some 5.1 billion people - nearly 80 percent of the world's population - are living in poverty today. And the number is rising.
These more accurate parameters suggest that the story of global poverty is much worse than the spin doctored versions we are accustomed to hearing. The $1.25 threshold is absurdly low, but it remains in favour because it is the only baseline that shows any progress in the fight against poverty, and therefore justifies the present economic order. Every other line tells the opposite story. In fact, even the $1.25 line shows that, without factoring China, the poverty headcount is worsening, with 108 million people added to the ranks of the poor since 1981. All of this calls the triumphalist narrative into question.

A call for change

This is a pressing concern; the UN is currently negotiating the new Sustainable Development Goals that will replace the Millennium Campaign in 2015, and they are set to use the same dishonest poverty metrics as before. They will leverage the "poverty reduction" story to argue for business as usual: stick with the status quo and things will keep getting better. We need to demand more. If the Sustainable Development Goals are to have any real value, they need to begin with a more honest poverty line - at least $2.50 per day - and instate rules to preclude the kind of deceit that the World Bank and the Millennium Campaign have practised to date.

Eradicating poverty in this more meaningful sense will require more than just using aid to tinker around the edges of the problem. It will require changing the rules of the global economy to make it fairer for the world's majority. Rich country governments will resist such changes with all their might. But epic problems require courageous solutions, and, with 2015 fast approaching, the moment to act is now."
jasonhickel  poverty  capitalism  2014  economics  thomaspogge  inequality  statistics  lyingwithstatistics  worldbank 
april 2015 by robertogreco
It will take 100 years for the world’s poorest to earn $1.25 a day | Global Development Professionals Network | The Guardian
"The sustainable development goals will aim to eradicate poverty by 2030 but our current economic model, built on GDP, could never be inclusive or sustainable"



"If you follow international news you will be accustomed to headlines announcing that world leaders have succeeded in cutting global poverty in half over the past couple of decades. Its sounds like brilliant news, but it’s just not true. The numbers have been furtively manipulated to make it seem as though our economic system is working for the majority of humanity when in fact it is not.

The sustainable development goals, to be decided in September, will take this dubious good-news story a step further. This time, the main goal is not just to further reduce extreme poverty, but to eradicate it entirely – and to do so by no later than 2030. This is a welcome move: it’s about time we finally got around to putting poverty eradication firmly on the agenda. But it also raises some tough questions. Is it possible to end poverty under our current economic system?

A few weeks ago economist David Woodward tackled this question in an article published in the World Economic Review. His findings are shocking. He shows that, given our existing economic model, poverty eradication can’t happen. Not that it probably won’t happen, but that it physically can’t. It’s a structural impossibility.

Let’s assume that we can maintain the fastest rate of income growth that the poorest 10% of the world’s population have ever enjoyed over the past few decades. That was between 1993 and 2008 – after the debt crisis of the 1980s that crippled much of the developing world and before the banking collapse of 2008. During that period, their incomes increased at a rate of 1.29% each year.

So how long will it take to eradicate poverty if we extrapolate this trend? 100 years.

That’s what it will require to bring the world’s poorest above the standard poverty line of $1.25/day. Compare that with the SDGs’ 2030 target. And keep in mind that Woodward’s methodology is not able to capture the poorest 1% of the world’s population, who will still remain in poverty even at the end of this period. That’s 90 million people, more than the entire population of Germany today, who will remain in poverty forever. Whatever the SDGs will achieve, poverty “eradication” won’t be one of those things.

Even this extremely optimistic, best-possible scenario does not account for the slowdown in income growth since the financial crash. It doesn’t factor in the spikes in food prices that have effectively wiped out the incomes of the poor over the past few years, or the fact that climate change is already unravelling development gains across the global south. It imagines all of this away, and assumes that no further economic or ecological crises will happen in the next 100 years – which is a very big assumption indeed.

As if the 100-year timeline isn’t disappointing enough, it gets worse. A growing number of scholars are beginning to point out that $1.25/day – which is the official poverty line of the SDGs – is actually not adequate for people to survive on. In reality, if people are to meet their most basic needs and achieve normal human life expectancy, they need closer to $5/day. How long would it take to eradicate poverty at this more accurate line? 207 years.

Progress is woefully slow because to date the only strategy for reducing poverty is to increase global GDP growth. Politicians, economists and the development industry all have no other ideas. But GDP growth doesn’t really benefit the poor – or the majority of humanity, for that matter. Of all the income generated by global GDP growth between 1999 and 2008, the poorest 60% of humanity received only 5% of it. The richest 40%, by contrast, received the rest – a whopping 95%. So much for the trickle-down effect.

To eradicate poverty global GDP would have to increase to 175 times its present size if we go with $5/day. In other words, if we want to eradicate poverty with our current model of economic development, we need to extract, produce, and consume 175 times more commodities than we presently do. This is horrifying to contemplate. And even if such outlandish growth were possible, it would drive climate change to unimaginable levels and wipe out any gains in poverty reduction.

It’s a farcical proposition – a cruel joke played at the expense of the poor. And, as if to add insult to injury, to achieve this level of GDP growth, global per capita income would have to be no less than $1.3 million. In other words, the average income would have to be $1.3 million per year simply so that the poorest two-thirds of humanity could earn $5 per day. It’s completely absurd, but shows just how deeply inequality is hardwired into our economic system.

But it is in fact possible to eradicate poverty in fewer than 207 years, and to do so without destroying our ability to inhabit this planet. We need to abolish debts owed by developing countries, close down the tax havens, install a global minimum wage, place a moratorium on land grabs, and put an end to the structural adjustment programmes that allow rich countries to control the fates of poor countries. On top of all this, we need to dethrone the GDP measure and replace it with something more rational – like the Genuine Progress Indicator or the Happy Planet Index.

Unfortunately, the SDGs do not provide the answer, because they are not allowed to challenge dominant economic interests. Despite the fact that we’re already overshooting our planet’s total biocapacity by about 50% each year, growth, production, and consumption remain at the centre of their agenda. Yes, it’s all qualified by terms like “inclusive” and “sustainable”, but there are no clear commitments on what this is supposed to look like.

Of course, the corporations and rich-country governments that control the SDG process are very unlikely to adopt the change needed to truly eradicate poverty, because it would threaten the interests of the global 1%. But that’s exactly the point, and we need to be making it every chance we get."

[See also: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/08/exposing-great-poverty-reductio-201481211590729809.html ]
poverty  economics  2015  jasonhickel  capitalism  davidwoodward  inequality  measurement  statistics  lyingwithstatistics  gowrth  gdp  politics  optimism 
april 2015 by robertogreco
To Count for Nothing: Poverty Beyond the Statistics by Professor Ruth Lister - YouTube
"The lecture, chaired by Professor Sir John Hills CBE FBA, London School of Economics, was held at the British Academy in Carlton House Terrace in London on February 5th 2015.

Beyond the statistics that tend to dominate much public debate, a focus on the experience of poverty reveals its relational as well as material nature. The lecture explored this understanding of poverty with reference to the impact of the discourses that shame 'the poor' as 'the other' who 'count for nothing'. It argued that acknowledgement of the agency of people in poverty and the structural constraints and insecurity within which it is exercised together with a focus on human rights can frame counter discourses. The lecture ended with some brief reflections on political and policy implications.

About the speaker:
Ruth Lister is a Member of the House of Lords and Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, Loughborough University. She is also Honorary President and former Director of the Child Poverty Action Group, and Member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Baroness Lister has served on various independent Commissions, and she has published widely on poverty, social security, citizenship and gender."

[via somewhere I have forgotten a while ago and now via: https://twitter.com/josiefraser/status/581437348082249729 ]
ruthlister  poverty  resilience  policy  economics  agency  dignity  humanrights  2015  constraints  shame  benefits  dehumanization  humanism  sanctioning  statistics  welfare  wages 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Education at Risk: Fallout from a Flawed Report | Edutopia
"Nearly a quarter century ago, "A Nation at Risk" hit our schools like a brick dropped from a penthouse window. One problem: The landmark document that still shapes our national debate on education was misquoted, misinterpreted, and often dead wrong."



"Once launched, the report, which warned of "a rising level of mediocrity," took off like wildfire. During the next month, the Washington Post alone ran some two dozen stories about it, and the buzz kept spreading. Although Reagan counselor (and, later, attorney general) Edwin Meese III urged him to reject the report because it undermined the president's basic education agenda -- to get government out of education -- White House advisers Jim Baker and Michael Deaver argued that "A Nation at Risk" provided good campaign fodder.

Reagan agreed, and, in his second run for the presidency, he gave fifty-one speeches calling for tough school reform. The "high political payoff," Bell wrote in his memoir, "stole the education issue from Walter Mondale -- and it cost us nothing."

What made "A Nation at Risk" so useful to Reagan? For one thing, its language echoed the get-tough rhetoric of the growing conservative movement. For another, its diagnosis lent color to the charge that, under liberals, American education had dissolved into a mush of self-esteem classes.

In truth, "A Nation at Risk" could have been read as almost any sort of document. Basically, it just called for "More!" -- more science, more math, more art, more humanities, more social studies, more school days, more hours, more homework, more basics, more higher-order thinking, more lower-order thinking, more creativity, more everything.

The document had, however, been commissioned by the Reagan White House, so conservative Republicans controlled its interpretation and uses. What they zeroed in on was the notion of failing schools as a national-security crisis. Republican ideas for school reform became a charge against a shadowy enemy, a kind of war on mediocrity.

By the end of the decade, Republicans had erased whatever advantage Democrats once enjoyed on education and other classic "women's issues." As Peter Schrag later noted in The Nation, Reagan-era conservatives, "with the help of business leaders like IBM chairman Lou Gerstner, managed to convert a whole range of liberally oriented children's issues . . . into a debate focused almost exclusively on education and tougher-standards school reform."

The Inconvenient Sandia Report

From the start, however, some doubts must have risen about the crisis rhetoric, because in 1990, Admiral James Watkins, the secretary of energy (yes, energy), commissioned the Sandia Laboratories in New Mexico to document the decline with some actual data.

Systems scientists there produced a study consisting almost entirely of charts, tables, and graphs, plus brief analyses of what the numbers signified, which amounted to a major "Oops!" As their puzzled preface put it, "To our surprise, on nearly every measure, we found steady or slightly improving trends."

One section, for example, analyzed SAT scores between the late 1970s and 1990, a period when those scores slipped markedly. ("A Nation at Risk" spotlighted the decline of scores from 1963 to 1980 as dead-bang evidence of failing schools.) The Sandia report, however, broke the scores down by various subgroups, and something astonishing emerged. Nearly every subgroup -- ethnic minorities, rich kids, poor kids, middle class kids, top students, average students, low-ranked students -- held steady or improved during those years. Yet overall scores dropped. How could that be?

Simple -- statisticians call it Simpson's paradox: The average can change in one direction while all the subgroups change in the opposite direction if proportions among the subgroups are changing. Early in the period studied, only top students took the test. But during those twenty years, the pool of test takers expanded to include many lower-ranked students. Because the proportion of top students to all students was shrinking, the scores inevitably dropped. That decline signified not failure but rather progress toward what had been a national goal: extending educational opportunities to a broader range of the population.

By then, however, catastrophically failing schools had become a political necessity. George H.W. Bush campaigned to replace Reagan as president on a promise to confront the crisis. He had just called an education summit to tackle it, so there simply had to be a crisis.

The government never released the Sandia report. It went into peer review and there died a quiet death. Hardly anyone else knew it even existed until, in 1993, the Journal of Educational Research, read by only a small group of specialists, printed the report.

Getting Educators Out of Education

In 1989, Bush convened his education summit at the University of Virginia. Astonishingly, no teachers, professional educators, cognitive scientists, or learning experts were invited. The group that met to shape the future of American education consisted entirely of state governors. Education was too important, it seemed, to leave to educators.

School reform, as formulated by the summit, moved so forcefully onto the nation's political agenda that, in the 1992 presidential campaign, Bill Clinton had to promise to outtough Bush on education. As president, Clinton steered through Congress a bill called Goals 2000 that largely co-opted the policies that came out of the 1989 Bush summit.

After the 2000 election, George W. Bush dubbed himself America's "educator in chief," and until terrorism hijacked the national agenda, he was staking his presidency on a school-reform package known as the No Child Left Behind Act, a bill that -- as every teacher knows -- dominates the course of public education in America today."



"Reform, Not Improve
Bush Sr. launched the idea of a national education policy shaped at the federal level by politicians. Clinton sealed it, and our current president built on this foundation by introducing a punitive model for enforcing national goals. Earlier education activists had thought to achieve outcomes through targeted spending on the theory that where funding flows, school improvement flourishes. The new strategy hopes to achieve outcomes through targeted budget cutting -- on the theory that withholding money from failed programs forces them to shape up.

Which approach will actually improve education? Here, I think, language can lead us astray. In everyday life, we use reform and improve as synonyms (think: "reformed sinner"), so when we hear "school reform," we think "school improvement." Actually, reform means nothing more than "alter the form of." Whether a particular alteration is an improvement depends on what is altered and who's doing the judging. Different people will have different opinions. Every proposed change, therefore, calls for discussion.

The necessary discussion cannot be held unless the real alternatives are on the table. Today, essentially three currents of education reform compete with each other. One sees inspiration and motivation as the keys to better education. Reform in this direction starts by asking, "What will draw the best minds of our generation into teaching? What will spark great teachers to go beyond the minimum? What will motivate kids to learn and keep coming back to school?"

In this direction lie proposals for building schools around learners, gearing instruction to individual goals and learning styles, pointing education toward developing an ever-broader range of human capacities, and phasing in assessment tools that get at ever-subtler nuances of achievement. Overall, this approach promotes creative diversity as a social good.

A second current, the dominant one, sees discipline and structure as the keys to school improvement. Reform in this direction starts by asking, "What does the country need, what must all kids know to serve those needs, and how can we enforce the necessary learning?" In this direction, the curriculum comes first, schools are built around the curriculum, and students are required to fit themselves into a given structure, controlled from above. As a social good, it promotes national unity and strength. This is the road we're on now with NCLB.

A third possible direction goes back to diversity and individualism -- through privatization, including such mechanisms as tuition tax credits, vouchers (enabling students to opt out of the public school system), and home schooling. Proponents include well-funded private groups such as the Cato Institute that frankly promote a free-enterprise model for schooling: Anyone who wants education should pay for it and should have the right to buy whatever educational product he or she desires.

What's Next?
Don't be shocked if NCLB ends up channeling American education into that third current, even though it seems like part of the mainstream get-tough approach. Educational researcher Gerald Bracey, author of Reading Educational Research: How to Avoid Getting Statistically Snookered, writes in Stanford magazine that "NCLB aims to shrink the public sector, transfer large sums of public money to the private sector, weaken or destroy two Democratic power bases -- the teachers' unions -- and provide vouchers to let students attend private schools at public expense."

Why? Because NCLB is set up to label most American public schools as failures in the next six or seven years. Once a school flunks, this legislation sets parents free to send their children to a school deemed successful. But herds of students moving from failed schools to (fewer) successful ones are likely to sink the latter. And then what? Then, says NCLB, the state takes over.

And there's the rub. Can "the state" -- that is, bureaucrats -- run schools better than professional educators? What if they fail, too? What's plan C?

NCLB does not specify plan C. Apparently, that decision will be made when the time comes. But with some $… [more]
anationatrisk  2007  tamimansary  assessment  diversity  class  ronaldreagan  georgehwbush  georgewbush  nclb  policy  education  1983  1990  1993  1989  1992  2000  billclinton  sandiaeport  testing  standardizedtesting  statistics  power  politics  publischools  privatization  curriculum  rttt 
march 2015 by robertogreco
"Stranger Danger" to children vastly overstated - Boing Boing
"Oft-cited stats about child abduction puts kidnappers behind every bush. But the numbers are old and frequently mangled, distorting our understanding of genuine risks to children."



"People send Skenazy their stories and media clippings of law-enforcement overreactions, some of which bubble up to national coverage. (Skenazy writes for the libertarian publication Reason.) She cites an appeals court decision in January 2014 in New Jersey which upheld the conviction of a mother for leaving her 19-month-old child asleep in a car for 5 to 10 minutes while she shopped.

The judge writing for the appeals panel cited a variety of potential risks: "…on a hot day, the temperature inside a motor vehicle can quickly spike to dangerously high levels, just as it may rapidly and precipitously dip on a cold night."

But the day wasn't hot, it wasn't night, and the child was never in danger. The decision left open the potential for any parent to be criminally charged and convicted for leaving a child in a car up to the age of 17, as the appeals court provided no cut-off date nor other parameters. It also thought because the task wasn't urgent, that more imaginary danger should have been considered. "Because she wasn't fantasizing, she was guilty," says Skenazy.

Many states have laws that mandate the age at which a child may be left alone at home or in a car (and the duration, among other factors), or provide such broad guidance that even if it's within the law, a child could be put in foster care and a parent arrested.

In Texas, leaving a child under seven without someone 14 or over in a car for over five minutes, is a Class C misdemeanor ($500 fine, no jail time). Texas has no rules about the age at which a kid can be left at home alone, but its definition of "neglectful supervision" includes not just "bodily injury" but "substantial risk of immediate harm to the child." This leaves an awful lot of latitude for enforcement, which we've seen in practice errs towards worst first thinking.

Skenazy says there's secondary effect, too. Parents who might otherwise make sensible choices about their kids' capabilities must also factor in the worst first thinking of neighbors and strangers. "They imagine that the authorities are using that criteria when they are making a decision about your parenting," and that results in calls to protective services and the police for behavior that isn't dangerous or unreasonable.

While the legal side remains tricky, Skenazy says parents' attitudes can be changed. For her TV show, producers received submissions from 2,000 families and picked the most-anxious 13, including a mother who still spoon fed her older child and an 8-year-old only allowed to stand on a skateboard on his front lawn. Another couple accompanied their children next door to the kids' grandparents.

She spent a few afternoons with the kids without their parents, and they bloomed. But even better, "It changes the parents utterly, completely, and forever, once the kids do something on their own. What looked like bone-deep fear, that even I — I wondered why am I here and not a psychiatrist? It's socially imposed." This gives her hope."
strangers  strangerdanger  statistics  2015  children  parenting  fear  lenoreskenazy  caution  overcaution  joelbest  halloween  risks  glennfleishman 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The NYPD Slowdown Is Proving That ‘Broken Windows’ Is a Failure - The Root
"So what is the real takeaway from the NYPD slowdown where “broken windows” is concerned? We already knew that it was flawed in theory, and we have seen it fail miserably in application. One wild and crazy idea is that this approach to policing and the slowdown are both about little more than power and economics. The Police Department is attempting to flex its muscles to remind de Blasio and the thousands of nonviolent protesters who have dared to speak out against NYPD practices that the city needs them. The message is essentially that, even beyond the prevention of crime, police are still needed to help generate critical amounts of revenue for the city’s operating budget."
brokenwindows  laweenforcement  police  policy  2015  crime  statistics  revenue  nyc  nypd  power  economics 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Final Boss Form: An Incomplete List of Interesting Books about Economics
"Here are the three most important books in forming my own worldview on economics.

• Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber. Before there was money, there was debt. This makes this book a great place to start. One of my favorite books of the last decade.

• The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Economy of Cities, Cities and the Wealth of Nations, and The Nature of Economies by Jane Jacobs. Jane Jacobs was not a traditional economist but her work in understanding how cities operate made me see economies not as a product of nations but as the result of the activity within cities and regions. ‘Death and Life’ and ‘The Economy of Cities’ are so important to me that I gift them to people like missionaries hand out bibles. Here’s a nice writeup of two of her books.

• Civilization and Capitalism (Vol. 1-3) by Fernand Braudel.The single most important book in getting me to understand the connection between capitalism, markets, and everyday life. It also introduced me to the Annales School which is full of interesting ideas. Note: this one is loooooooooong and it took me years to read all three volumes (ok tbh, I’ve read two and half volumes.)

If I were to start reading from scratch, I would start with one or more of these books as an intro. They’re clever and fun and great texts for getting your bearings.

• Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science by Charles Wheelan. A good introduction to general concepts in economics through fantastic storytelling. Check out socoftw's outline of the book here.

• The Little Book of Economics: How the Economy Works in The Real World by Greg Ip. Nice primer. Some bits are a little too FREE MARKET RULEZ! for me but it was also a really good book for me to read. I recommend it because I was able to leap tall-ish articles in a single read after this book.

• The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford. This is the book that explains why your cup of Starbucks costs what it does (among other things.)

These books are a good place to begin thinking critically about conventional economic theory.

• Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. A clever look at conventional wisdom in economics. Also just a fun read. Also available as an excellent blog, podcast, and twitter feed.

• Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. A summary of three decades of Kahneman’s work in understanding individual behavior in markets. Questions a lot of the “rational behavior” assumptions of neoclassical economics.

• How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff. Statistics are stories told to people as “facts.” Considering how many economic decisions are made based on statistics, it’s important background to know. This book is a classic. (Speaking of facts: I got introduced to this book in high school by none other than George Gallup Jr.)

• The Surprising Design of Market Economies by Alex Marshall. The government builds our markets through property law, taxation, and infrastructure and yet our political conversations purposefully ignore this. This would be lolworthy if not for, you know, people making really bad policy decisions that affect the rest of us.

Okay, now that I’m into this, I want to dive a bit deeper.

• An Engine, Not a Camera by Donald Mackenzie. Finance theory doesn’t exist separate from the economy. By creating a theory of markets, you alter the fate of those markets over and over again.

• Development as Freedom by Amartya Sen. Economic development shouldn’t be seen merely an increase in basic income but as an increase in personal freedom, political freedom, opportunity (including credit), and social security. (Excerpt here.)

• The Work of Nations by Robert Reich. How do you value labor over wealth and reconfigure a workforce for a globalized economy? (I’d also follow his tumblr)

• Capitalism: Its Origins and Evolution as a System of Governance by Bruce R. Scott. A comprehensive look at capitalism and market economies. (Note: this book is sitting on my shelf but I haven’t read it yet.)

These are the books that reflect my current interest in heterodox economics and economic dynamics.

• Capital and Affects: The Politics of the Language Economy by Christian Marazzi. This book was a good introduction to “postfordism” which is a funny word for what comes after an age of industrial, mass market production.

• The Science of Passionate Interests: An Introduction to Gabriel Tarde’s Economic Anthropology by Bruno Latour & Vincent Antonin Lépinay. How do you measure economics not solely in terms of money but as an intensification of passionate interests?

• The Atlas of Economic Complexity by Ricardo Hausmann, CA Hidalgo, et al. Can you predict economic growth based on a measure of “productive” knowledge? Read an overview of the Atlas here. Peep all of the visualizations here and here. (Beware: charts are a highly evolved form of statistics.)

• Complex Economics: Individual and Collective Rationality by Alan Kirman. We make lots of assumptions in our current economic models: rationality, independence, and impersonal interactions. These aren’t based in any mathematical or market truths — they’re just formalisms. So what happens if the purpose of economics wasn’t efficiency but coordination? (Note: this is another book that is sitting on my shelf but I haven’t read it yet.)

Reading Important Old Theorists Is Important Because Everybody Interprets Their Words For Their Own Ends.

• The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I suggest reading the whole thing but also understand if you can’t — it’s a long ass book written for an audience from 200 years ago. In that case, the Wikipedia article is a decent summary as long as you follow the links.

• Capital, Vol 1-3 by Karl Marx. I’ve only read Volume 1. Friedrich Engels’ synopsis is a great overview of the basics. The WP article is also a good primer.

• Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman. I would suggest reading the Wikipedia article about him.

• The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money by John Maynard Keynes. Oh, so this is where macroeconomic theory comes from.

Oh yeah, these books are good too.

• Principles of Economics by Greg Mankiw. This is a good 101 read but it’s also an overpriced textbook so look for a used earlier edition that only costs $20 or so. Also browse Greg Mankiw’s blog here.

• The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World by Niall Ferguson. You can also watch the PBS series based on the book here"
books  booklists  economics  2014  kenyattacheese  capitalism  davidgraeber  janejacobs  fernandbraudel  annalesschool  charleswheelan  gregip  timharford  stevenlevitt  stphendubner  danielkahneman  darrellhuff  statistics  alexmarshall  donaldmackenzie  amartyasen  robertreich  brucescott  christianmarazzi  gabrieltarde  brunolatour  vincentantoninlépinay  ricardohausmann  cahidalgo  alankirman  adamsmith  karlmarx  miltonfriedman  johnmaynardkeynes  gregmankiw  niallferguson 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Wandering The City Heights Data Desert | KPBS
"For a foundation that's made such a public commitment to turn City Heights around, you'd expect its president to come to an interview armed with statistics that trumpet the group's accomplishments in the community. That didn't happen with Robert Price of Price Philanthropies.

"We haven't focused so much on statistics," he said. "We're more about doing. We feel that if we're doing enough good things here, a lot of it will stick and help people."

Price Philanthropies has transformed the physical and nonprofit landscapes of City Heights, developing more than 50 acres with affordable housing, a police station and library. It's spent about $100 million on resident leadership programs during the past decade."

[See also: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2014/nov/18/san-diegos-richest-poor-neighborhood-two-decades-l/
https://pinboard.in/u:robertogreco/b:d05290a9d991 ]

[Cross-posted to:
http://voiceofsandiego.org/2014/11/20/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ and
http://www.speakcityheights.org/2014/11/wandering-the-city-heights-data-desert/ ]

[See too the comments here and on the same cross-posted at VOSD. Ignore the immigrant hater “California Defender” and consider the following:

Ann Martin: "The lack of a measurable impact of all the dollars invested demonstrates that concentrating socially and economically disadvantaged people in one area does not provide a benefit to them. This "urban apartheid" contributes to the problem. If the City mandated that affordable housing units will be built as a percentage of every new development (actually built, not pay to get out of it), people in the situation that the folks in City Heights are in can then live everywhere throughout the City. They would have access to the same high performing schools, live in areas with lower crime rates, more parks and other amenities, be closer to better jobs, and be able to escape the cycle of poverty and despair that permeates the disadvantaged areas of the city."

Matt Wattkins: "Strikes me that any organization seeking to do good things in a beleaguered community has to straddle a line: how to make things better for residents while still keeping it affordable to live here. (I am a City Heights home owner/resident.) City Heights is within walking distance of North Park and Kensington and Normal Heights. Those neighborhoods are among the most desirable neighborhoods south of the 8. (I'd argue there are no more desirable neighborhoods anywhere in San Diego county; Normal Heights is easily the most walkable neighborhood in the city.) Those neighborhoods have also gentrified relatively recently, so it doesn't take much imagination to see that process encroaching east of the 805 and south of Meade. White collar families like my own are already buying into City Heights because property values are relatively reasonable (my house located a mile west of its current location would cost 2-3 times what I paid), and it has walkable amenities and fairly quick access to Adams Ave. and 30th St., i.e. a 10 minute bike ride. I mean, if a Trader Joe's had gone into the Albertsons spot instead of El Super, I think affordable housing in our community would have been doomed within a decade. (And it's not terribly affordable now; rent for a stand-alone house with 2 or more bedrooms runs $1500+/month.)

Anyway, neither the article nor the study mention quality of life improvements to the neighborhood; the Urban Village complex is always in use. Our library is open longer hours than most libraries in the city; our Starbucks is bustling; the playground is teeming with kids; the rec center and swimming pool offer great classes; every evening (it seems) there are soccer or baseball games on the playing fields, and local youth swarm the walkway doing tricks on skateboards and BMX bikes. We have a brand new YMCA going in on El Cajon; a couple of walk-in health clinics, pretty good transit access, some really great city parks (Azalea Garden, Hollywood) and a lot of potential in our canyon spaces, with teams of folks currently doing monthly maintenance in Olivia, Swan, and Manzanita Canyons. Most of these things are directly or indirectly a result of philanthropic dollars in our community. It's hard to quantify their impact, but similarly hard to argue that they don't improve the quality of residents' lives."

Chris Brewster: "Interesting to note that on Price Charities’ tax forms (apparently a different but related organization) the highest paid executive is Sherry Bahrambeygui. According to these forms her reportable compensation from related organizations was approximately: $1.8 million in 2010; $3.79 million in 2011 (plus $60k in other compensation); and $7.9 million in 2012 (plus $56k in other compensation). Rather astounding actually, but perhaps there is a back story?"

Dan Beeman: "adly the wealthy are manipulating the "public" system. Here we see two large conflict of interests, by two different media companies that are not asking the hard questions. This will continue to happen until we get the rich out of the media business, and trying to control community/public by their wealth. Remember they are not dumping all this money in without getting tax credit and/or write offs, it is not about being altruistic, but generally about getting their way by paying out some tax credit donations while were caught up with the long time bills. Here it was first the tenants of the housing, and businesses along 44th St/Fairmount area. We the City constituents and taxpayers are still paying off the Redevelopment loans, loan financing and insurance, plus other costs. Also the private landholders lost lots of land that is now off the tax rolls because they are either non-profits and/or government owned.



You see the report didn't say anything about the cost of living increases in the area/community. It also didn't mention the costs of the new schools, redevelopment loans, or other government funding put into the area. It didn't tell about what businesses failed or moved: ie tortilla store, 2 auto dealerships, the old Albertsons, etc. The new national franchise stores pay higher rent, increasing the market rate commercial rent in the area, as well as adding lots of other new commercial spaces that do the same! These higher rental rates, and astronomical new property values kill small businesses while also hurting families. The national franchises bring a few new management positions, but mostly pay low wage/limited to no benefit jobs, that many times get HUGE government tax credits! So when the BIG corporations don't pay their fair share of the taxes who do you think pays for it? YOU!! the "weak" taxpayer! They didn't make one mention of the higher cost in gasoline/fuel and/or the huge rate of inflation for vehicles. But they don't want to mention these things. They want you trapped in public transportation that also pays low wages to their workers while giving the private corporation and Billionaire CEO/owner that runs it huge profits.

This is just a few of the truths that should be known in projects like this. Be aware next ten years they will be looking to steal property from Barrio (already happening), Sherman Heights and SE San Diego via Civic San Diego and more eminent domain. And once again you will flip for the bills while the rich gain lots of property, huge tax credits, and write offs. Just like they have gentrified North & South Park, they will continue to steal the property, hope, and money from the poor. All while patting you on the head and kissing your cheek. Good luck City Heights, you will continue to be in my prayers."]
cityheights  sandiego  2014  data  statistics  pricephilanthropies  californiaendowment  crime  employment  income  meganburks  unemployment  healthinsurance  inequality  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  corporations  eminentdomain  taxes  costofliving  funding  government  redevelopment  incentives  charitableindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Making Poverty History | Jacobin
"How does the UN explain this rise in inequality? What the data suggests, the UN reports, is that “inequality has increased mainly because the wealthiest individuals have become wealthier, both in developed and developing countries.” The top 1% has siphoned off the social wealth for its private gain, and the bottom 99% — which produced the social wealth – has to live off its crumbs. What’s clear is that capitalism is incapable of ending poverty or substantially reducing inequality.

Word comes from China and India that they have dramatically reduced poverty. Take the case of India. Based on official data on poverty, things appear better now than before. But the data is based on a reassessment of the indicators.

The government created a new measure – one is poor if one consumes less than twenty-four pounds of grain per month. The UN World Food Program asked quite simply if it was reasonable to assume that the person who had twenty-five pounds of grain per month was not poor.

Let us remain at the level of calorie consumption. In 2009, almost three quarters of the Indian population consumed less than 2,100 calories per day. This percentage is up from 64 percent in 2005 and 58 per cent in 1984. So caloric intake in India has declined for very many more people during its relatively high growth rates."



"What we do instead is insane: we build homes that are heated. Inside the heated homes, we have a freezer that draws power against the heated home to keep food frozen. Then in the freezer, because we do not want to allow it to become impacted by ice, we have a small heating coil to maintain the temperature. In other words, we have mass marketed a commodity – the freezer – that uses an obscene amount of energy and makes little sense for at least four months of the year.

A world that makes a freezer in the Global North an essential household item, but not a smokeless stove in the Global South, is a society that has subordinated itself to the laws of capital. “The ruling ideas of a time are the ideas of the ruling class,” wrote Marx and Engels. They were right.

The powerful not only control the social wealth, they also control the public policy discussion – and what counts as intellectually correct. Good ideas are never sufficient. They are not believed or enacted simply because they are right. They become the ideas of our time only when they are wielded by those who come to believe in their own power, who use this power to struggle through institutions and advance their ideas.

Everyone knows about wealth inequality. Everyone knows about poverty. Boredom greets conversations about these kinds of things. Someone must be doing something to take care of it. That’s true. There are a host of people’s movements across the world who are trying to battle the existence of the greatest purveyor of social brutality – poverty. But with little success.

The Arab Spring was a vast anti-poverty protest – a revolution for “Bread, Freedom, and Social Justice” (aish, hurriya, adala igtimaiyya) as the slogan went. It resonated across Tahrir Square. Bread or ‘aish, in the Arabic of Egypt, refers to life. The call for bread is a call for life."



"What produces poverty? Not the lack of property titles, or the lack of high growth rates or the lack of twenty-first century infrastructure. What produces poverty is a system of social production for private gain — in other words, capitalism. Capital superbly organizes all the hitherto slumbering forces of production into one effectively organized social process. The gentle time of the pre-capitalist era is thrust aside as capital condenses labor power into each second. Waste is forbidden, and rest is sin.

Capitalism – terrifying in its long-term social effects – is imperiled by its own contradictions. Crises emerge, and then get sorted out before the next crisis comes. But these crises do not bring capitalism to its knees, do not inaugurate a new order.

The protagonist for the transformation, even in the twenty-first century, remains the working class. Whether employed or not, this is the class that has no capital and must forage in the dark alleyways for livelihood. Sentiments of impossibility have turned us away from the possible history of the future.

This has to be shrugged off. It is more realistic to believe that a socialist alternative, rather than charity or World Bank policies, will make poverty history."
poverty  inequality  politics  2014  capitalism  socialism  karlmarx  friedrichengels  marxism  vijayprashad  measurement  statistics  un  worldbank  infrastructure  hernandodesoto  olivierdeschutter  arabspring  society 
november 2014 by robertogreco
BBC - Blogs - Adam Curtis - THE VEGETABLES OF TRUTH
"This is really just an excuse to show a wonderful film about vegetables.

But it is also about how modern science has radically changed in a way that hasn’t been fully understood.

How it has gone from promising extraordinary new worlds of the future - to become a powerfully conservative force that holds progress back and tends to keep people in their place.

And the odd role vegetables have played in showing how this has happened.

There are two - parallel - universes of science. One is the actual day-to-day work of scientists, patiently researching into all parts of the world and sometimes making amazing discoveries.

The other is the role science plays in the public imagination - the powerful effect it has in shaping how millions of ordinary people see the world.

Often the two worlds run together - with scientists from the first world giving us glimpses of their extraordinary discoveries. But what sometimes happens is that those discoveries - and what they promise - get mixed up with other social and political ideas. And then the science begins to change into something else.

This happened in a dramatic way in the second half of the twentieth century. Science did very well in the second world war and after the war ambitious scientists promised they could build a new kind of world.

But by the 1970s it became clear that there were unforeseen consequences. It started with chemical pollution - especially DDT killing wildlife. But it was nuclear power that really broke the faith in the optimistic view of science - with the disaster at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979.

What emerged instead was a powerful distrust of the idea that science and technocratic experts could make a better world. Here is a good example of that new mood. It’s an anti-nuclear rally held in New York after Three Mile Island.

Jane Fonda makes a celebrity appearance - and her interview articulates the mood very well. I also love the protest song at the end.

“Just give me the restless power of the wind

Give me the comforting glow of the wood fire

But please take all your atomic poison power away”

[video]

But if the scientists had been naive - so too was much of the counter-reaction.

The truth was that it might not have been the science itself that was at fault - but the way the science had been distorted and corrupted by the economic and political demands made on it.

Here is a section of a film I made about what went wrong with the building of the first big nuclear reactors. It shows how the companies building them - like General Electric - were under enormous economic pressure and political demands because of the cold war. And the technologists designed giant systems they knew were potentially unsafe.

[video]

Then came the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. All the distrust of big science that had been building up exploded out - and science became the problem. Not the solution any longer.

There was one man who articulated this new view of science very powerfully. He was a German political scientist called Ulrich Beck who wrote a book just before the Chernobyl explosion called Risk Society. In the wake of the disaster it captured the public imagination - and has been incredibly influential on social and political thinking in the west ever since.

The book was powerful because it laid out a new way of looking at the world. Beck said that what the scientists and technologists had been doing with these giant projects was not building a new and glorious future. Without realising it they had been doing the opposite - they had been creating enormous new dangers for the world.

Beck used the word risk. The scientists he said had been “manufacturing risks”.

In the past the big risks to human societies tended to be freak events of nature - like earthquakes and volcanoes and storms. But now the risks came from human ingenuity and ambition. Much of what had been created had potentially world-threatening side effects - like atomic fallout and ecological disasters.

The world had been turned upside down. It wasn’t nature that was the real threat to human existence any longer - it was now human science and technology that had the power to destroy nature and the whole of the planet. And it wasn’t going to stop - this was a new and growing danger.

It meant - Beck said - that the whole role of politics would inevitably change. In the past politicians’ main aim had been to create a more equal society. That was now in decline. In the new “risk society” their main focus should be to create safety.

Beck didn’t mince his words:
“Whereas the utopia of equality contains a wealth of substantial and positive goals of social change, the utopia of the risk society remains peculiarly negative and defensive. Basically, one is no longer concerned with attaining something ‘good’, but rather with preventing the worst.

The dream of the old society is that everyone wants and ought to have a share of the pie. The utopia of the risk society is that everyone should be spared from poisoning”

That was written in 1986 - and it is remarkably prescient. Because that short paragraph pretty much describes the present day mood in our society. A world where individuals are constantly calibrating risks in their lives, while politicians are expected to anticipate and avoid all future risks and dangers.

And everyone gives up on the idea of creating equality, which allows inequality to increase massively.

Beck’s book is extraordinary - because he came from the liberal left. Yet he is basically saying that in the face of these new potential risks we will have to move away from the political idea of progress and social reform - and instead hunker down in the brace position and try and anticipate all dangers that might be coming at us out of the darkness.

To be fair to Beck he is ambiguous in the book about the kind of pessimistic and anxious society that will arise from this new approach. But he says it is inevitable. And in a way it is a very honest depiction of what happened to the liberal mind set at the end of the 1980s - how it retreated into a gloomy pessimism where the only response to events is “oh dear.”

I think the truth probably is that it was the baby boomers losing their youth - and finding themselves unable to face the fact of their own mortality - they started to project their fears onto the rest of society. But somehow people like Beck transformed this into a grand pessimistic ideology.

I want to put up part of an extraordinary documentary made during the events of 1986 that dramatically shows just how different our attitudes to risk used to be. It is the record of the group of Soviet technologists who volunteered to go into the ruined reactor core at Chernobyl after the disaster.

It is extraordinary because they all knew they would die. Their protection against the radiation - as you see in the film - was minimal. It consisted of taping up their cuffs and trouser legs and not much else. But they went in because it was the only way to find out how to contain the disaster.

It is so moving because they are men from an older world. To them risk is irrelevant. They believe in something grander - bigger than their own lives. There is also the most fantastic remote controlled camera - it is mounted on a toy tank and its images are great.

…"
capitalism  media  science  adamcurtis  2014  politics  history  ulrichbeck  risk  statistics  measurement  society  perception  tomsanders  correlation  risksociety 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Is This Working? | This American Life
"Stories of schools struggling with what to do with misbehaving kids. There's no general agreement about what teachers should do to discipline kids. And there's evidence that some of the most popular punishments actually may harm kids."

PROLOGUE: When it comes to disciplining young people, teachers are winging it. We ask middle school teachers all over the country to walk us through how they get a kid to take his hat off. The book Ira mentions is called Building a Better Teacher by reporter Elizabeth Green; it’s eye-opening in a number of ways.

ACT ONE: We start out exploration of discipline and schools at the very beginning … in preschool. Tunette Powell is a writer in Omaha and mother to JJ and Joah.

ACT TWO: About 20 years ago, a group of educators launched one of the biggest recent experiments in American education when they started creating charter schools designed for poor, minority kids. The idea was to create classrooms that are rigorous and strict. We talk with a student named Rousseau Mieze, who grew up in a school like that and then became a teacher.

ACT THREE: We spend a semester in a public school in New York City called Lyons Community School. Lyons is trying to avoid suspensions, detentions and basically all other forms of traditional punishment."

[Also here: https://soundcloud.com/this-american-life/538-is-this-working ]
thisamericanlife  education  psychology  discipline  schooltoprisonpipeline  statistics  schooling  schools  discrimination  suspension  2014  texas  teaching  howweteach  socialjustice  justice  injustice  restorativejustice 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Learning From @NateSilver538's OMG-Wrong #Bra vs #Ger Prediction — The Message — Medium
"Problem One: Ignoring Measurement Error in Your Data



All measurements are partial, incorrect reflections. We are always in Plato’s Cave. Everything is a partial shadow. There is no perfect data, big or otherwise. All researchers should repeat this to themselves, and even more importantly, to the general public to avoid giving the impression that some kinds of data have special magic sauce that make them error-free. Nope."



"In other words, this time, the hedgehogs knew something the fox didn’t. But this fox is often too committed to methodological singularity and fighting pundits, sometimes for the sake of fighting them, so it often doesn’t like to listen to non-statistical data. In reality, methodological triangulation is almost always stronger, though harder to pull-offs.

The Fix? Find Experts You Trust and/or do Qualitative Pull-Outs.
Instead of the aggressive pundit-versus-data stance taken by some big data proponents, it’s important to recognize that substantive area experts are often pretty good at recognizing measurement errors."



"If the substantive experts are deemed unreliable, another option is “qualitative pull-outs” of your data to check for measurement error."



"Problem Two: Ignoring Field (or Broad) Effects

Many data analytic efforts look only at the network (or the team at hand) without considering how events affect the whole field."



"Since humans have this thing called psychology, it’s not easy to run data analysis by replacing one human with another as it were Lego pieces and looking at the resulting structure. It rarely works that way. In fact, the original analysis of FiveThirtyEight mention this factor, but their predictive score seems completely unaffected by this reality."



"The Fix? Recognize Frailties in Studying Human Endeavors
This one is hard because this is a structural feature of most human endeavors—and one that disciplined efforts like militaries and organized sports try to minimize through extensive training and drilling so people do act like cogs in a machine, even under pressure. Still, though, it’s hard to fully account for."



"Problem Three: Humans Are Not Gases in a Chamber, but reflexive beings who react to events.

A problem with much statistical analysis is ignoring the fact that humans, umm, react to things around them. (Social science jargon for this is reflexivity). I know this seems so simple, but it’s amazing how much predictive analytics don’t factor this in.



The Fix? Recognize that Stability and Instability are not that far apart for structural reasons
This, too, comes under “hard to predict exact timing but not hard to substantively discuss possibility” category. It means recognizing that models that are snapshots in time are just that—and that events themselves carry force in feedback loops."
zeyneptufekci  data  statistics  fox  hedgehog  worldcup  behavior  psychology  socialscience  measurement  2014  qualitativedata  quantification 
july 2014 by robertogreco
No, Tech Adoption Is Not Speeding Up
"Well, what do you know? The graph doesn't show a progressively faster rate of technology adoption by the American public. What was once a clean graph that fit convenient and largely unquestioned ideas about exponential growth in tech suddenly becomes more complex.P

But please don't go passing around this new graph either. Because it's nearly as worthless as Vox's graph as a way to understand the history of technology. Why would it matter how long a technology took to go from "invention" (a really messy and complex concept) to 25 percent adoption?P

Fun With Arbitrary Numbers

If we really want to play this game, perhaps we can look at a different measure of adoption: from about 5 percent to 50 percent. To be clear, this is just as arbitrary as trying to pin down an invention date and seeing how many years it took to reach 25 percent adoption. But it feels like a slightly more honest way to measure tech growth.P

When a technology is in about 5% of American households, this means it's still in the hands of early adopters, tinkerers, and the wealthy. Breaching 50 percent usually means that it's within the reach of the middle class. So what if we look at TV technology through this lens?"
data  mattnovak  2014  technology  radio  television  internet  electricity  statistics  adoption  mobile  phones  cellphones  telephones  computers  pcs 
april 2014 by robertogreco
FiveThirtyEight | Sending Email Via Carrier Pigeon
"Either we’d need to start sending fewer emails, or else the Earth would need to be inhabited by 243 times more pigeons than humans to cope with an Internet failure. Of course, if the apocalypse does come, our emailing needs might change. Those TPS reports might not be a top priority."
email  math  mathematics  statistics  technology  data  pigeons  monachalabi 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Thoughts on Elite Private Independent Schools and Public Education Reforms | School Finance 101
[See also: http://sbschoolorg.wordpress.com/2014/01/08/gathering-research/
and http://redqueeninla.k12newsnetwork.com/2014/01/16/whats-in-a-choice/
"This whole duplicitous campaign of “school choice” is just a way of obscuring the reality of what all families need: a system of accessible, responsive — democratic — control of school education policy that truly maximizes educational opportunity and availability of educational best-practices – true excellence — for all." ]
independentschools  education  learning  classsize  poverty  2014  nais  choice  johnchubb  elitism  statistics  enrollment  policy  publicschools  schools  etaching  us  harknesstables  mattchingos  erichanushek  margueriteroza  robinlake  checkerfinn  brucebaker  research  harknessmethod  harkness 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Lying with Statistics | Deborah Meier on Education
"To avoid being fooled by statistics requires using the knowledge we already possess. A lost art? I struggle with this constantly.

To print data claiming that: Shanghai and Singapore have a better educated workforce than the USA when they certainly must realize that (1) neither is a country; and (2) to ignore the fact that China’s low-income workforce are treated as part-time immigrants in Shanghai, whose children are not allowed to attend their schools and/or in most cases (including Singapore) live beyond these city’s boundaries, means either purposely misusing data or not using one’s own knowledge. Not to mention the naiveté of accepting any data’s reliability when dealing with a totalitarian regime. These are simple facts that any journalist reporting on these statistics should know. As we gentrify the remaining sections of Manhattan where low-income people of color still reside, we might enter Manhattan in the world’s test score rankings. In fact, we have several states that would rank pretty high up if we decided to call them separate nations, much less excluded the scores of “immigrants.” It’s bad enough when they—the US media-—take US test score data at face value, much less accepting without question the data from nations we know often lie to us and their own people.

Our dilemma is far more serious than upgrading our math courses in order to better compete with Asia. Where they outdo us is not in having enough highly skilled workers but in low paid ones. Maybe we’ll be more successful competitors if we continue to lower our wage scales to match theirs? (Which requires getting rid of unions.) If that’s the plan, it’s one that we haven’t been consulted about.
Or, we might insist that all schools math programs give more attention to understanding data (statistics, probability, et al) and less attention to calculus. A calculus driven math course of study is not only irrelevant to the jobs of the past and future, but our focus directs attention away from precisely the mathematical skills and understanding our economy and citizenship actually need. It leads to many students’ failure to graduate. What disturbs me most is that few of us were prepared for a world in which understanding how millions and billions differ matters—other than adding zeros, or what the odds are for winning the lottery. It’s this everyday kind of math illiteracy that we have ignored for far too long in pursuit of a goal that best serves elite interests—if even theirs. (And I am not anti-calculus! Just first things first.)

Never mind. We seem stuck with a “ruling class” media determined to focus on every weakness they can locate, except their own. Thus the lack of mathematical knowledge found among average Americans becomes more significant than their own failure to grapple with—and make sense of—the data they are fed, most particularly how they could have “missed” the data that led, in hindsight, to explaining the 2008 crash."
deborahmeier  2014  testing  testscores  china  singapore  shanghai  statistics  media  us  policy  politics  comparison  education  schools 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Kevin Slavin: Debunking luck
"Pioneering gamer Kevin Slavin takes the PopTech audience on a colorful tour of the history of luck in America, games of chance, gambling and mathematical formulas. "That's amazing, the idea that anything that seems to be built out of chance or instinct or luck can yield to a computational assault.""
2013  kevinslavin  games  play  history  luck  statistics  saschapohflepp  crispinjones  mohansrivastava  shingtat-chung  dariuskazemi  boardgames  gametheory  dice  jacksonlears  stanulam  nicholasmetropolis  georgedyson  computing  johnvonneumann  edwardthorp  teetotums  chance  meritocracy  jasonrohrer  unpredictability  success 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero—and Perhaps Less | Pew Hispanic Center
"The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—most of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped and may have reversed, according to a new analysis of government data from both countries by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center."
immigration  mexico  us  data  statistics  2012  border  borders  migration 
july 2013 by robertogreco
New data shows school “reformers” are full of it - Salon.com
"In other words, elite media organizations (which, in many cases, have their own vested financial interest in education “reform”) go out of their way to portray the anti-public-education movement as heroic rather than what it really is: just another get-rich-quick scheme shrouded in the veneer of altruism.

That gets to the news that exposes “reformers’” schemes — and all the illusions that surround them. According to a new U.S. Department of Education study, “about one in five public schools was considered high poverty in 2011 … up from about to one in eight in 2000.” This followed an earlier study from the department finding that “many high-poverty schools receive less than their fair share of state and local funding … leav(ing) students in high-poverty schools with fewer resources than schools attended by their wealthier peers.”

Those data sets powerfully raise the question that “reformers” are so desperate to avoid: Are we really expected to believe that it’s just a coincidence that the public education and poverty crises are happening at the same time? Put another way: Are we really expected to believe that everything other than poverty is what’s causing problems in failing public schools?

Because of who comprises it and how it is financed, the education “reform” movement has a clear self-interest in continuing to say yes, we should believe such fact-free pabulum. And you can bet that movement will keep saying “yes” — and that the corporate media will continue to cheer them as heroes for saying “yes” — as long as public education money keeps being diverted into corporate coffers."
education  politics  reform  edreform  2013  statistics  poverty  schools  accountability  michellerhee  teaching  learning  us  policy  michaelbloomberg  nyc  rahmemmanuel  chicago  inequality  wallstreet  specialinterests  unions  teachersunions  teachers  arneduncan  incomegap  davidsirota  seanreardon 
june 2013 by robertogreco
ACM Web Science talk, as written | Quinn Said
"they are values of an incorporeal world, made corporeal, to the great disruption of accepted political structures."



"this talk is as much about describing new landmarks on the landscape of the semi-consensual hallucination that is our shared reality, as it is about the people doing strange things on the internet."



"For the purposes of this next bit, I dub myself Pope, so that I may canonize a saint for the internet, and that saint shall be Jorge Luis Borges. He gave us the Library of Babel, and we are endeavoring as hard and fast as we can to give it back to him."



"All this is to say that because I study and am part of something largely illegible to 20th century taxonomies, but born of them, I have to use the language of the wrong century to describe my life. My problem is I need a new literature to describe network culture in terms that are true to itself, your problem is you need a new science to do the same."



"People don’t go online to become someone else, they go online and the network makes them into many selves, all as true in the moment as any other, and all changing the world with their tiny ephemeral footprints, making a trillion memories none of us will ever remember to remember, all watched over by machines of loving grace.

Let us consider how all these lies are, in fact, more true than all of our statistics about them."



"There is an aesthetic crisis in writing, which is this: how do we write emotionally of scenes involving computers? How do we make concrete, or at least reconstructable in the minds of our readers, the terrible, true passions that cross telephony lines? Right now my field must tackle describing a world where falling in love, going to war and filling out tax forms looks the same; it looks like typing."

[See also: http://www.cbc.ca/spark/blog/2013/12/01/dramatizing-the-internet/ ]
language  2013  borges  taxonomies  timerifts  literature  internet  thelibraryofbabel  libraries  networks  web  webscience  digitalhumanities  networkculture  writing  storytelling  corporeal  politics  statistics  multiplicity  identity  online  ephemerality  ephemeral  canon  quinnnorton 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Michael Shanks: Archaeological manifesto
"Archaeologists don't discover the past;
they work on what remains
with a view to the present and the future.

Archaeology is THE discipline of things - the history of design, innovation, creativity, how people get on with the material world, materiality itself.

Archaeologists deal in the life of things.

Archaeology is also our only access to a long term perspective on history and what it is to be human Archaeological evidence frequently provides insights counter to the great narratives of history that we have grown so used to over the last couple of centuries.

I have researched megalithic monuments in an archaeology of the prehistoric body, ancient Greek perfume jars in the early city state, the design of contemporary beer cans, managed a project with DaimlerChrysler to develop a model of the car interior of 2015, in an archaeology of the contemporary past. My current fieldwork is revisiting an old genre of writing on the land - chorography - in a study of the Roman borders with Scotland - how to understand and represent a region, in the context of imperial incursion and local response.

Archaeology stretches from genetics to art history, includes laboratory study, fieldwork and survey, statistical analysis, and textual interpretation, combining media old and new, from graphics to virtual reality. I am committed to hybrid practice where art becomes scientific research, where the academy becomes an art sudio, where pedagogy mingles with outreach into the community and industry, where practice can be research, where old disciplinary divisions give way to a committed address to matters of common human concern.

All made possible by our newly fashioned freedoms of digital authorship, collegiality, collaboration and creativity.

New Humanities Post disciplinary practices ...
shifting a custodial model of stewardship - looking after the past
to one of production and creativity - working on what remains to help guide us now and for the future.

Archaeologists work on what remains of the past...
This means that
we are all archaeologists now ..."
archaeology  michaelshanks  past  present  time  humanities  interdisciplinary  creativity  future  genetics  arthistory  fieldwork  statistics  art  media  newmedia  chorography  writing  deepmaps  innovation  materiality  design  designthinking  manifestos  stewardship 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Tax Cuts Don't Lead to Economic Growth, a New 65-Year Study Finds - Derek Thompson - The Atlantic
"In short, the study found that top tax rates don't appear to determine the size of the economic pie but they can affect how the pie is sliced, especially for the richest households.

The paper is a good reminder to be humble about taxes as a tool for growing the economy. They remain, above all, a tool for collecting revenue and tweaking incentives for specific economic behavior. Congress has cut tax rates repeatedly over the last 60 years, while the country and the global economy have undergone considerable changes that probably had a greater effect on growth. For years after World War II, the U.S. was a singular economic powerhouse with an enormous manufacturing base that employed nearly 40% of the economy. For the last decade-plus, the economy has grown at a considerably slower pace and the gains have accrued to a smaller and more elite share of the economy."
economicgrowth  taxpolicy  policy  wealth  wealthdistribution  incomegap  growth  statistics  history  taxcuts  taxrates  taxes  us  economics 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Who Needs ACORN?
"But unlike African Americans or college students, WVWV targets were not geographically clustered in specific neighborhoods whose sidewalks could be stalked by clipboard-carrying canvassers. Gardner knew she would have to seek them out individually, but it wasn’t obvious how to do that: Databases used by campaigns and parties usually included voters’ ages and flagged them by race, but did not identify their marital status. But Gardner happened to be launching her new group just as the political world was discovering the value of commercial data warehouses initially created for credit agencies and consumer marketing. She bought lists of all voting-age adults and then cross-referenced them with voter-registration rolls: The names that appeared on one and not the other became a potential universe of targets. She then had analysts develop statistical models that mined demographic variables for each woman on that list to predict the likelihood that each was unmarried. Women’s Voices Women’s Vote didn’t have to wait for these voters to come to them. They sent the women on their list a letter.

During campaign years, the group issues quarterly mailings.* Each mailing has a randomized experimental design built in, allowing the group to test various ways of packaging a registration form, adjusting everything from cover letter language to envelope typography. By paying the postal service to track which of its forms were sent along to registration authorities, it is possible to determine which packages get the best response. In a 2010 test, for example, WVWV found that Ohio-specific forms sent to targets in that state got returned at a rate 1 percentage point higher than a standardized national alternative. Analysts can also apply statistical models to identify the attributes of those recipients who have been most responsive to each appeal. With time, WVWV learned that those who have recently moved, or just turned 18, are twice as likely to respond to any mailed registration appeal as the broader population.

After the group’s June 2012 mailing, WVWV analysts and designers made 13 improvements to the way it builds a list of new targets.* Each was designed to slightly increase the odds of response, and thus lower the cost of a registering a voter. A decade of such tests and tweaks has cut the price of a new registration more than half from the $15 that Gardner estimated it cost a decade ago to administer traditional site-based programs using paid canvassers. “We have kept driving the cost of registering a person down cycle after cycle,” she says. “Our lists are getting better, our models are getting better, our targeting is getting better.” With that data-centric approach came something unimaginable at the card table: the ability to put on the rolls only those people you wanted to see cast a ballot.*"
vote  participation  vip  voting  politics  statistics  acorn  vpc  via:migurski 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Now I Understand Why Bill Gates Didn’t Want The Value-Added Data Made Public « GFBrandenburg's Blog
"In any introductory statistics course, you learn that a graph like the one below is a textbook case of “no correlation”. I had Excel draw a line of best fit anyway, and calculate an r-squared correlation coefficient. Its value? 0.057 — once again, just about as close to zero correlation as you are ever going to find in the real world.

In plain English, what that means is that there is essentially no such thing as a teacher who is consistently wonderful (or awful) on this extremely complicated measurement scheme. How teacher X does one year in “value-added” in no way allows anybody to predict how teacher X will do the next year. They could do much worse, they could do much better, they could do about the same.

Even I find this to be an amazing revelation. What about you?

And to think that I’m not making any of this up. (unlike Michelle Rhee, who loves to invent statistics and “facts”.)"
publicschools  education  politics  lies  policy  correlation  statistics  learning  teaching  michellerhee  valueadded  schools  nyc  2012  via:tom.hoffman  billgates 
march 2012 by robertogreco
Squishy Not Slick - this has something to do with teaching (pt. 10)
“What it means to be human is to bring up your children in safety, educate them, keep them healthy, teach them how to care for themselves and others, allow them to develop in their own way among adults who are sane and responsible, who know the value of the world and not its economic potential. It means art, it means time, it means all the invisibles never counted by the GDP and the census figures. It means knowing that life has an inside as well as an outside.” ― Jeanette Winterson, The Stone Gods

[Also here with Louis CK photo: http://lukescommonplacebook.tumblr.com/post/17291552677/slaughterhouse90210-what-it-means-to-be-human ]
values  purpose  humanism  human  learning  children  cv  living  slow  time  measurement  statistics  leisure  leisurearts  art  thestonegods  deschooling  unschooling  education  parenting  parents  jeanettewinterson  immeasurables  economics  gdp  well-being  life  artleisure  shrequest1 
february 2012 by robertogreco
simple tumblr stats
"This tool tells you about your tumblr style using charts and graphs."

[See also: http://www.studiomoh.com/fun/tumblrbestof/ ]
statistics  analytics  tumblr 
january 2012 by robertogreco
BBC Dimensions: How Many Really?
"How Many Really? compares the number of people involved in key historical events or situations to the people you know through Facebook or Twitter. You can also add your own numbers — for example, the amount of students in your class.

Choose a story to get started."
berg  berglondon  bbc  comparison  history  visualization  data  statistics  numbers  scale  howmanyreally? 
september 2011 by robertogreco
How to Fix Our Math Education - NYTimes.com
"Imagine replacing the sequence of algebra, geometry and calculus with a sequence of finance, data and basic engineering. In the finance course, students would learn the exponential function, use formulas in spreadsheets and study the budgets of people, companies and governments. In the data course, students would gather their own data sets and learn how, in fields as diverse as sports and medicine, larger samples give better estimates of averages. In the basic engineering course, students would learn the workings of engines, sound waves, TV signals and computers. Science and math were originally discovered together, and they are best learned together now."
education  math  mathematics  curriculum  solgarfunkel  davidmumford  2011  learning  problemsolving  realworldproblems  statistics  finance  science  engineering 
august 2011 by robertogreco
State Of The Internet 2011
"The Internet is a strange, huge beast. It is getting bigger, faster and more mobile each day. Ferocious social networks fight each other to be on top and gain more of our attention and personal information. An entire economy is generated from our browsing habits.This is the face of the Internet now."
internet  visualization  statistics  socialmedia  interactive  online  web  dashboard  2011 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Dangers of Bread
"Well, I've done a little research, and what I've discovered should make anyone think twice....

1. More than 98 percent of convicted felons are bread eaters.

2. Fully HALF of all children who grow up in bread-consuming households score below average on standardized tests.

3. In the 18th century, when virtually all bread was baked in the home, the average life expectancy was less than 50 years; infant mortality rates were unacceptably high; many women died in childbirth; and diseases such as typhoid, yellow fever and influenza ravaged whole nations.

4. More than 90 percent of violent crimes are committed within 24 hours of eating bread.

5. Bread is made from a substance called "dough." It has been proven that as little as one pound of dough can be used to suffocate a mouse. The average American eats more bread than that in one month!

6. Primitive tribal societies that have no bread exhibit a low occurrence of cancer, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and osteoporosis…"
humor  food  politics  science  research  bread  bias  classideas  via:lukeneff  statistics  context  fear 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Controversy over the Christakis-Fowler findings on the contagion of obesity — The Monkey Cage
"To return to Christakis and Fowler: I’d be interested to see their reply to the criticisms of Lyons and others. Perhaps they’ll simply step back a few paces and say that the Framingham data are sparse, that they’ve found some interesting patterns that they hope will inspire further study in other contexts.

After all, even if the Framingham results were unambiguously statistically significant, robust to reasonable models of measurement error, and had a clean identification strategy—even then, it’s just one group of people. In that sense, the debate about Christakis and Fowler’s particular claims, interesting and (methodologically) important as it is, is only part of a larger story of personal networks, health, and behavior. I hope that Lyons’s article and any responses by Christakis, Fowler, and others will be helpful in designing and analyzing future studies and in piecing together the big picture."
2011  nicholaschristakis  jamesfowler  statistics  socialscience  research  data  controversy  obesity  math 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Social contagions debunked: Reports of infectious obesity and divorce were grossly overstated. - By Dave Johns - Slate Magazine
"But just because contagion is important in one context doesn't mean something like obesity spreads like a virus—much less one that can infect someone as remote from you as your son's best friend's mother. (For the record, I & my best friend's mother will eat our hats if it turns out to be true, as Christakis & Fowler claim, that loneliness is infectious, too.) Yes, we influence each other all the time, in how we talk & how we dress & what kinds of screwball videos we watch on the Internet. But careful studies of our social networks reveal what may be a more powerful & pervasive effect: We tend to form ties w/ the people who are most like us to begin with. The mother who blames her son's boozebag friends for his wild behavior must face up to the fact that he prefers the fast crowd in the first place. We are all connected, yes, but the way those links get made could be the most important part of the story."

[via: http://mindhacks.com/2011/07/05/doubts-about-social-contagion/ ]
[Previously: http://www.slate.com/id/2250102/pagenum/all/ ]

[Update: There are some dead links, but one of the articles is here: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/science/2011/07/disconnected.single.html ]
contagion  socialcontagion  jamesfowler  nicholaschristakis  rosemcdermott  statistics  mathematics  research  publishing  socialscience  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  evidence  sciencejournalism  journalism  politics  policy  science  peerreview  media  2011  obesity  behavior  divorce  davejohns 
july 2011 by robertogreco
You Can’t Read Everything - The Rumpus.net
“I had gone through and thought about the number of books you could conceivably read in a year, for example. And then if you extrapolate it out over your lifetime, how many can you reasonably read? And it got me thinking about how vast the world of books is, and how small what you will ever take in actually is. And it becomes a sort of overwhelming thought when you realize that no matter how hard you try, no matter how smart you are, no matter how much you love to read – as I put it in the piece, statistically speaking, you’re going to die having missed almost everything.”

[via: http://jslr.tumblr.com/post/7205844487/i-had-gone-through-and-thought-about-the-number ]
reading  limits  human  scale  books  insignificance  antilibraries  life  wisdomofcrowds  statistics  lindaholmes  slow  patience  knowledge 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The National Atlas of the United States of America- Perry-Castañeda Map Collection - UT Library Online
"The National Atlas of the United States of America (1970)" [Always love a jaunt through the UT map library]
via:joguldi  maps  mapping  1970  us  demographics  data  statistics  history  government 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Real-World Math - storify.com
"Hey, kids! Ever wonder how math is done in the real world? This is the way math is done in the real world."

Storify that I put together to document a conversation on Twitter about a specific math problems that Diana Kimball asked for help with.
math  mathematics  realworld  cv  storytelling  storify  collaboration  twitter  2011  timcarmody  robinsloan  dianakimball  games  boardgames  problemsolving  statistics  probability  conversation  comments 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Borderland › Hearts and Minds
"I am done caring about reformist nonsense. At staff meeting…discussing AimsWeb Data…how many students in each grade are below proficient, at risk, proficient based on how well they handled oral 1-minute timed reading…disgusting display of a brain-dead method…We were asked to say what we planned to do…When it was my turn, I said I’d be going with the happiness plan. What’s that? It’s getting the kids to enjoy reading so that they do it on their own. How does it work? Easy. Give them choices & time to read every day, & then celebrate their accomplishments. I got a round of applause. Kind of sad, really, when I think about what that might mean."<br />
<br />
"I’ve seen enough “data”. Next year my classroom is going to be about creativity, projects, & having fun w/ ideas. The way I look at it now, every year may be my last, & I don’t want to go out playing a numbers game that was rigged against me & my students from the start. Rigidly applied standards will fail the kids; that’s not my job."
dougnoon  teaching  reading  creativity  well-being  resistance  pedagogy  2011  data  testing  standardizedtesting  poverty  theprivateeye  standards  standardization  numbersgame  statistics  schools  policy  reform  schoolreform  arneduncan  barackobama  rttt  nclb 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Obama at the ‘Miracle In Memphis’ | Gary Rubinstein's TFA Blog
"I hate to be a party pooper. But when the party is one that propagates the myth that education is where it is in this country because there are too many lazy teacher and, as proof, point to miracle schools whose only difference from the failing local school is the hard-working teachers, then I guess I’ll poop away. In reality, there’s a lot more to improving ‘graduation rates’ than that including, as I’ll demonstrate, some creative defining of ‘graduation rate’ and also some external factors that enable a school to rid themselves of the students that bring down that rate.<br />
<br />
When I heard about the miracle, I did some searching which took me to the official Tennessee Department of Education Report Card for that school On the page describing the graduation rates, I saw something unusual."
dropoutrates  schools  policy  politics  barackobama  arneduncan  miracleschools  education  graduationrates  2011  statistics  teaching  learning 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Of Data Scientists, Big Data, the City and Dancers « Rev Dan Catt's Blog
"Lefebvre…talks about rhythm of cities…flow of people, morning coffee routine, lunchtime decisions…

How people shape the city, the pulse as agents gather together to form a temporary autonomous zone before collapsing back to being shaped by the city. To be not just in the city, but of the city.

I’m not a fan of cities…can’t design for cities as I don’t understand them.

Lefebvre’s writing suggests that to analyze a city you need to have been consum/mat/ed by it.

…same as Big Data. You can’t have someone who’s a “Data Scientist” just turn up & apply tools, clusters & statistics…haven’t been in-it enough…can’t have someone who’s w/in company, understands & feels flow of data everyday, unless…they know how to separate themselves…get outside. When people grow w/ a company, love it, understand everything that it could be, getting outside it is a hard won skill. “Scientist” needs to be able to remove self & apply clear analytical skill, but w/ fundamental understanding of subject."
revdancatt  cities  fata  henrilefebvre  understanding  urban  urbanism  empathy  objectivity  bigdata  datascience  statistics  programming  2011 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Desire Lines: Let Your Audience Shape Your Design | Van SEO Design
"As designers we want to control how people perceive our designs and keep people on our predefined path. We create lines for the eye to follow so they notice what we want them to notice. We direct them to the actions we want to them to take. We create navigation through our sites for how we expect people to travel our web pages.

And then along come real people who use our sites and view our pages, however they like. These people are creating desire lines through our websites. We can try our best to force them to do it our way, but they won’t. They’ll either do it their way or leave. A better approach would be to understand where the desire lines in our sites being created and adjust our designs to those desire lines."
design  desirelines  elephantpaths  deschooling  control  use  users  web  reading  statistics  ui  accommodations 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Understanding San Diego's Crime Drop - voiceofsandiego.org: Data-drive
"In San Diego, the number of violent crimes — murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault — dropped 5.3 percent from the previous year and the number of property crimes — burglary, theft and vehicle theft — dropped 4.6 percent. (Nationwide, violent crime dropped 5.5 percent and property crimes were down 2.8 percent.)

San Diego stood out in at least one crime category, though. Police reported 29 murders last year, a 29 percent drop from the previous year and the lowest number since 1963. It was a steeper drop than all other major cities and far greater than the nationwide drop, 4.4 percent.

San Diego also continued to have one of the lowest violent crime rates among major cities, with 428 crimes per 100,000 residents. Only San Jose had a lower rate, with 331 crimes per capita. By comparison, the average for major cities was 700 crimes per capita."
sandiego  crime  data  statistics  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
On The Media: Transcript of "The 'Decline Effect' and Scientific Truth" (May 13, 2011)
[Great story told with Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich, and Jonah Lehrer]

"Surprising and exciting scientific findings capture our attention and captivate the press. But what if, at some point after a finding has been soundly established, it starts to disappear? In a special collaboration with Radiolab we look at the 'decline effect' when more data tells us less about scientific truth."

[From the "Data Show": http://www.onthemedia.org/episodes/2011/05/13 See also "The Personal Data Revolution" http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2011/05/13/01 AND "Data Journalism" http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2011/05/13/02 AND "Two Cautionary Data Tales" http://www.onthemedia.org/transcripts/2011/05/13/03 ]

[See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer_effect ]
declineeffect  2011  radiolab  jonahlehrer  jadabumrad  robertkrulwich  psychology  observation  science  research  statistics  data  reality  truth  perception  placebos  observereffect 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Guernica / The Straight Dope — Bill Moyers interviews David Simon, April 2011
"David Simon would be happy to find out that The Wire was hyperbolic and ridiculous, and that the “American Century” is still to come. But he's not betting on it. An excerpt from Bill Moyers Journal: The Conversation Continues, forthcoming from The New Press."

"I am very cynical about institutions and their willingness to address themselves to reform. I am not cynical when it comes to individuals and people. And I think the reason The Wire is watchable, even tolerable, to viewers is that it has great affection for individuals. It’s not misanthropic in any way. It has great affection for those people, particularly when they stand up on their hind legs and say, “I will not lie anymore. I am actually going to fight for what I perceive to be some shard of truth.”"
davidsimon  billmoyers  toread  interviews  thewire  tv  television  politics  drugs  cities  baltimore  2011  government  policy  society  economics  journalism  statistics  progress  crime  lawenforcement  criminology  urban  urbanism  laissezfaire  markets  marketfundamentalism  decriminalization  underclass  class  race  incarceration  institutions  cynicism  reform  change  individualism  people  human  humancondition  humans  democracy  control  corruption  mexico  us  ideology 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The Really Smart Phone - WSJ.com
"Researchers are harvesting a wealth of intimate detail from our cellphone data, uncovering the hidden patterns of our social lives, travels, risk of disease—even our political views."
mobile  phones  cellphones  data  statistics  predictablity  health  predictions  research  2011  politics  policy  movement  travel  behavior  society  psychology  socialcontagion  robertleehotz  mit  alexpentland  humandynamiclaboratory  sms  texting  twitter  communication  happiness  smartphones  socialnetworks 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Rethinking Evaluation Metrics in Light of Flickr Commons | conference.archimuse.com
"cultural heritage institutions, including archives, libraries, and museums, have been placing their collections in Web spaces designed for collaboration and communication. Flickr Commons is one example of a highly visible space where cultural heritage institutions have partnered w/ a popular social networking site to provide greater discovery to, access of, & opportunities to interact w/ image collections on a large scale. It is important to understand how to measure the impact of these kinds of projects. Traditional metrics, including visit counts, tell only part of the story: much more nuanced information is often found in comments, notes, tags, & other info contributed by the user community. This paper will examine how several institutions on Flickr Commons - LoC, Powerhouse Museum, Smithsonian, NYPL, & Cornell U Library - are navigating the concept of evaluation in an emerging arena where compelling statistics are often qualitative, difficult to gather, & ever-changing."
flickr  metrics  socialmedia  statistics  museums  flickrcommons  commons 
april 2011 by robertogreco
The 12 States of America - The Atlantic
"Since 1980, income inequality has fractured the nation. Click each icon to see each of the dozen states, which counties belong to them and how median income has changed over the last 30 years."
economics  culture  us  maps  mapping  statistics  income  incomegap  diversity  disparity  inequality  1980  2010  classideas 
march 2011 by robertogreco
How big is the problem? | The wrong cure | False Economy
"No country can run huge deficits every year for ever.

The bigger the national debt that builds up, the more expensive it is to meet interest payments. At some point it becomes more difficult and more expensive for governments to borrow extra money because people become reluctant to lend to them.

But we are nowhere near that point in the UK. Let's look more closely at the national debt. "
uk  debt  nationaldebt  2011  infographics  charts  economics  statistics  policy 
march 2011 by robertogreco
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