...a companion blog to "Math-Frolic," specifically for interviews, book reviews, weekly-linkfests, and longer posts or commentary than usually found at the Math-Frolic site.

"Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty – a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show." ---Bertrand Russell (1907) Rob Gluck

"I have come to believe, though very reluctantly, that it [mathematics] consists of tautologies. I fear that, to a mind of sufficient intellectual power, the whole of mathematics would appear trivial, as trivial as the statement that a four-legged animal is an animal." ---Bertrand Russell (1957)

******************************************************************** Rob Gluck

Friday, November 11, 2016

Potpourri, For A Week That May Live In Infamy....

What a week!... Some folks warned months ago that Donald Trump would be elected President WHEN the Chicago Cubs won a World Series (meaning, at the time, when Hell froze over!). Anyway, a quick request if anyone cares to take me up on it:
There's been a lot of discussion/criticism of prior polling since the election outcome... often proclaiming the polls surprisingly inaccurate. In fact though, as best I can tell (and others have noted), IF you take into account margin-of-error, the polls were pretty darn on-the-mark!... it was THEIR INTERPRETATION by press pundits and others that was off-base and poorly-understood.
In any event, I'm curious to hear, from anyone involved who can speak to it, just how, representative, randomized national/state polls are even conducted these days when such a reduced percentage of the population have landlines (which I presume were the staple for most polling in the past). Just what are the basic procedures now for attaining a random, but representative sample?
If you can answer that in a few lines in the comments great, OR, if someone would like to write something up as a 'guest post' here about the mechanics and difficulties of current polling methods, let me know what you have in mind [sheckyr at a gmail account]; I'd be interested.

Meanwhile, this week's math-mix:

1)  Looks like the folks over at "DataGenetics" may have had a little too much time on their hands one day ;-):

2)  A post on pseudoscience and the 'garden of forking paths' from Scott Alexander for the tinfoil-hat crowd:

3)  Mathologer videos are always worthwhile, and the latest is no exception:

4)  The gender bias in math journals:

5)  Simon Singh reviews Alex Bellos' latest:

...and if you like 'hat' problems Alex had this good Monday workout for you:

...and still more examples from his book:

6)  Ben Orlin's latest:

7)  John McGowan considers Facebook, algorithms, echo chambers, fake news, and the election:

8)  And the latest from Evelyn Lamb, more on Ramsey Theory:

Potpourri BONUS! (extra NON-mathematical links of interest):

1)  Yanis Varoufakis on capitalism and democracy, from TED Radio Hour:

2)  "Squirrel Cop" was one of those classic (and hysterical) "This American Life" episodes (from 2013). They re-ran it last weekend:


ADDENDUM: No one has yet offered to do a guest post, but a reader did send me a few pertinent links about election polling, the two most helpful being these:

Seems clear that current methods/options for polling are especially vulnerable to a variety of problems. In fact I’m even more impressed now with someone like Nate Silver’s ability to ‘massage’ or tweak meta-poll data to attain the level of accuracy he does!

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