Monday, December 30, 2013

Happy New Year

Is it better to be right or be happy? A British Medical Journal report investigates this research question in their lighthearted Christmas issue. The research sample consisted of one married couple (n=2). The female was blind to the null hypothesis being tested: it is better to be right than happy. The female was assigned the "right" condition. The male was assigned the condition of agreeing with the female's "every opinion and request without complaint." Happiness was measured on a 10 point Likert scale labeled Quality of Life. Unfortunately this study was terminated early because of "severe adverse outcomes." The males Quality of Life fell 4 points in 12 days, whereas the female's Quality of Life increased slightly from 8 to 8.5. The researcher's findings: "The results of this trial show that the availability of unbridled power adversely affects the quality of life of those on the receiving end."

Be nice in the new year and be happy.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Probability of a White Christmas

The map above is the current snow cover (as of 13 December 2013) in the US according to the Compare this to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map from the last few years of Christmas morning snow cover over the last five years.
Combining such maps from 1908 to 2010, NOAA maps out the probability of a white Christmas (that is, 1" of snow on the ground).

They also have a report from 1995 that maps the probability of 1", 5", or 10" of snow on Christmas morning.

Except for the Northeast, a many of the areas of the greatest chances are not densely populated. 
I wonder, what is the expected percentage of the US population that experiences a white Christmas?

Happy Holidays.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Scatterplot Waldo staff writer Ben Blatt has examined the wide range of Where's Waldo picture books,
looking for a useful search strategy to find Martin Handford's elusive cartoon character. Blatt plotted the horizontal and vertical page location of Waldo in 68 pictures in, what he calls, the seven "primary" Where's Waldo books. He claims to have sat for three hours with a tape measure in a Barnes & Noble bookstore and measured Waldo's location on each 20" X 12.5" two-page spread. The image above shows these locations and two horizontal bands of 1.5" each: one three inches from the bottom of the page and the other seven inches from the bottom. Blatt found that Waldo can be found in these bands in 53% (36) of the 68 images.

We can see the higher frequency of occurrence in bands by finding the marginal histograms from digitized locations in Blatt's scatterplot (data shown below). Here is the marginal histogram of the vertical locations of Waldo. The regions found by Blatt stand our prominently in the two modal peaks in the histogram.
Horizontally there is a less prominent patten of the locations across the two-page spread.
Perhaps we could improve on the two-vertical-strips strategy by concentrating on the far left and far right of the two-page spread with then a glance just left of center?
Here are the data:
horizontal vertical horizontal vertical horizontal vertical horizontal vertical
1.02 11.97 9.52 7.21 11.79 6.22 8.8 2.95
7.78 10.22 10.51 7.71 14.78 5.72 12.57 3.71
8.51 9.99 11.52 7.97 14.51 4.96 17.76 3.97
9.26 9.46 11.29 6.95 18.03 5.43 18.03 4.21
10.77 10.48 12.19 7.77 18.75 5.43 19.01 4.47
11.99 11.48 12.51 8.24 1.8 3.97 16.81 2.95
13.27 10.48 12.51 7.48 1.31 3.45 1.04 2.72
16.26 11.21 14.51 8.21 2.26 3.18 1.54 1.93
19.48 12 14.25 7.21 3.77 4.21 1.54 1.43
16.26 9.99 15.62 7.48 3.51 3.45 3.28 1.2
17.5 9.99 17.24 7.48 3.8 3.45 7.29 1.93
17.74 9.46 18.49 7.21 5.31 3.97 8.27 1.2
15.5 8.97 19.25 7.48 4.79 2.98 8.53 0.44
5.78 8.24 2.76 6.75 5.54 3.21 10.54 2.45
6.76 7.97 3.8 6.98 6.76 4.44 17.5 2.69
7.52 8.47 3.28 5.96 8.27 4.21 19.48 2.45
8.51 8.47 5.54 6.72 9.03 3.45 18.98 1.93

Monday, December 9, 2013

Scatterplot Artists

Here is a scatterplot of writers placed, very subjectively, by J. Chen at htmlgiant on scales of Mediocrity to Genius on the horizontal axis and Modesty to Arrogance on the vertical.  Some eclectic combinations along straight lines: Tom Wolfe, John Updike, T.S. Eliot, Jonathan Swift(?), and D.F. Wallace along a line of decreasing arrogance and increasing genius. He's also produced similar scatterplots for musicians: rappers and rockers (+Miles Davis?). For the writers, those that are Mediocre and Modest appear under-represented in his evaluation. Perhaps not surprising for writers, but check out his third quadrant for rappers.
This type of scatterplot is regularly published in the New York Magazine. Last year, the actress Meryl Streep was treated to a scatterplot that place her various movie roles on the axes from Cold to Warm and Frivolous to Serious.

And here's another from New York Magazine for Bruce Willis.
And in 2001 Newsweek magazine did the same for TV shows. For several years I referred to this in my lecture on scatterplots for Basic Statistics students. Of course, it's quite dated now. My current students were six years old when these shows were on TV!