Archive for February, 2018

Correlation and Causation and Guns and Games

February 24, 2018

Seventy-two percent of the recent decline in youth violence can be attributed to video games.

I am combining and re-issuing two articles from the past (2012 and 2014) because they are again relevant, but need re-casting. They deal with the relationship between violence in video games and violence (particularly gun violence) in real life.

This is important, because the President and the Governor of Kentucky, among others, have both made that connection. They are both wrong, and to the extent that they are in a position to know they are wrong, they are both lying for political gain.

The key point, true in all science, is that if the correlation is zero, then you can’t tell me there’s a real-world relationship. And if the correlation is negative, then the relationship goes the other way — an increase in one causes a decrease in the other.

Here’s a couple of examples.

Back in 2012, the Washington Post had an article on the game/gun relationship. The TL;DR version is: There isn’t any, get over it. Here’s a helpful graphic. If there was a relationship, the gun violence levels would go up with the levels of video games. Notice how that doesn’t happen. At all.

Source: Washington Post

Source: Washington Post

The study they posted compared spending on video games in different countries, vs gun deaths in those countries. Leaving out China, a distinct social and governmental entity all its own, video game spending varies by a factor of almost three, from Germany to socially similar Netherlands. Gun deaths vary from near zero in the UK and Japan, to 0.5 per 100,000 in Canada, which is almost an outlier, because everyone else is down near 0.25. Except for the US, of course, which is a true outlier at 3.2 — for a country that spends less per capita than even Germany.

Lack of correlation creates a strong presumption of lack of causation. If I claim that solar eclipses cause plagues, and you look at two thousand years of solar eclipses and find that the overwhelming majority did not take place immediately before a plague outbreak, then it’s a pretty good bet that my hypothesis is wrong.

Science can’t really prove claims, no matter how strong the evidence, because a later test might show the claims to be wrong. What science can say is that theory x has passed every test we have set for it. What science can say is, theory y fell at the first jump, because its claims of correlation have been shown to be not true.

Want another example? OK, this from 2014, from Florida. Florida, guys.

C.J. Ferguson, at Stetson University,did a simple study* of the correlation between real world youth violence vs video game violence, using historical statistics.

Here’s the key graphic.

A good example of non-causality

As the level of video game violence goes up, the level of youth violence goes down. Based on this, you could claim that video game violence actually reduces youth violence. After all, if you’re at home playing games, you’re not out on the street, getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting. It’s what’s called a negative correlation. Specifically, it has bivariate correlation value of -0.85. And as any statistician will tell you, this give you an R² of 0.72, which means that 72% of the decline in youth violence can be attributed to video games.

The studies are four and six years old. Politicians have staffs. Politicians have helpful outsiders providing them with facts — and in some cases, with fake news. If they chose to listen to the fake news, they are choosing to lie to the public to advance their own agenda, specifically to dispel any efforts at gun control. If they lie about this, what else are they lying about?


Cancer Report 19 Jan – 9 Feb

February 9, 2018

So, my plan is to update this record every three weeks, right after the consult with my oncodoc. And if nothing of import happens, I’ll roll it in to the next 3-week update.

This cycle, there was import.

My blood pressure has been running low. This is a common occurrence when BP meds and chemo meds combine. It didn’t seem to be too bad of a problem, because my seated morning BP was in the 116/x range.

Then, at the beginning of February, I went to Deaconess to get my two infusions of chemo. They took my bodily measurements, and the next thing I knew I was strapped down in a chair for an hour and a half with a bag of fluids plugged in to me. My standing BP was 88/x, way down from what they wanted, and I was suffering from near-fainting spells (bad enough that the infusion ladies were propping me up and asking if I needed a wheelchair). Doc didn’t want me driving home like that. In addition to the fluids, they adjusted my BP meds (dropping terazosin for now), and we’ll see. Post-fluids had it back to 100/x, and post terazosin it’s creeping back up over 100/x. It’s still low, but not dangerously so.

Meanwhile, I seem to be stuck in a weekly cycle of exciting intestinal cleanout. We won’t go into details. Suffice it to say, the students have been remarkably patient with me having to run sprint out of class in the middle of a lecture.

Meanwhile meanwhile, my stamina continues down, I get cold easily, and the Dex messes with my wake/sleep cycle, which is why this has been posted when it was.

At the consult I wrote down all the marker numbers, then didn’t save. Students, let that be a lesson to you. Roughly, M was 2.5 and is now down to 0.3, which is normal; F1 was 3400 and is now 190, which is normal; and F2? was 343, but is now … also in the normal range. These are all excellent, he says. The best measure, however, is the result of the bone biopsy, where they take this … device … and pull enough marrow out of your hip to make soup with, and see how it plays on Iron Chef, or something.

We have four more cycles before we do that, and the goal is to drive the biopsy results into undetectability. That doesn’t mean I’m cured, because of the incurable, but it forecasts a long time before relapse. We’ll see how that works out. By my calculation, we will know around the first week of May.

Sorry, Barnes & Noble, you’re too hard to deal with

February 3, 2018

In order to keep up a certain amount of competition with Amazon, I’m willing to put up with a certain amount of inconvenience from places like B&N. A certain amount.

I had this vague notion that I could use B&N for downloadable e-books, and Amazon Prime for movement of molecules. That worked OK for a while, and then it all went pear-shaped.

If I am looking at an e-book and click on the picture, it sends me to a page that will order the paperback, meanwhile claiming that I’m reviewing the e-book. I have to click on the book title to get to the version I want.

Then, their site navigation doesn’t seem to pass information from one part to another. When I click on that book to order it, it sends me to a popup that wants me to establish an account. Meanwhile, it has my name in the header bar.

Meanwhile, my credit card expired. So I went to Manage Accounts to update the date. That worked OK, except the popup can’t tell the difference between N and North on my address (it’s worked fine for the last year, B&N, did you get a new DB admin?). Am I done? No. It needs a phone number. It pre-filled in everything else, but it doesn’t have my phone? Yeah, yeah, here it is. Click OK, and get a note that I’ve already updated my address.

Security email saying my account has changed. Glad you noticed.

Ready to order. Order. Popup. Something along the lines of, “We can’t fill your order because we don’t have an account for you, and your address isn’t in our DB, and your credit card is out of date…”

Is it any wonder that Amazon is eating their lunch?



Green Thumb Up My Nose: Plans for 2018

February 1, 2018

Getting ready to order seeds for Spring. It’s still a La Nina year, but it hasn’t been all that cold, or wet. Right now (1 Feb), there’s no snow on the ground, and the highs have hit the upper 40’s at times. The current weekly forecast is for lows in the mid 30’s, and highs in the mid 40’s, with rain. More like March than February.

Here’s the preliminary 2018 Plan:

Section 1
Peas, cucumbers, carrots. Maybe Squash, melons.

Section 2

Section 3
Greens, lettuce, maybe cabbage.

Section 4
Asparagus, maybe amaranth. Looking for something permanent, that can take a fair amount of shade.

Deck Containers
The usual tomatoes

House Containers
Tomatoes, cucumbers