Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Are Murder Rates Spiking? Part 3

First, the New York Times erroneously reports that murder rates are spiking all across America. Likely, then, FBI Director James Comey reads the story, or anyway some of the follow-on coverage of it. And so now Comey gets up and gives a speech about the possible causes of this generally non-existent spike—a speech which the New York Times then dutifully covers as front-page news.

I think this is called "epistemic closure."

Actually, it's not so bad. Based on the front-page NYT story as well as this report from NPR, I would say that Comey is improving the quality of this discussion, at least from a statistical point of view, because although he is shopping an unsupported and controversial theory, he is at least honest that he has no data to back it up, and also because whenever he discusses the spiking murder rate itself, he seems careful to add the qualifier "in some cities," which means that he is at least devoting his time to talking about something that exists. The reporters who cover him would do well to catch up.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

ASCII Art Word Search

A couple of years ago I saw "the dog puzzle," which is a one-word version of a word-search puzzle. I wished I'd thought of it myself! Later, I saw some cool examples of ASCII art. Yesterday, it occurred to me that I could combine these neat ideas! So today I made the word search puzzle shown in a thumbnail image below—click here to print it out.

Clown Word Find