Last month we reported on some claims of irregularities in the recent Russian elections. Just as a reminder, here are a couple graphs:
Yesterday someone pointed me to two online articles: Mathematical proof of fraud in Russian elections unsound and US elections are as ‘non-normal’ as Russian elections.
I know nothing about Russian elections and will defer to the author and his commenters on the details. That said, I don’t find the arguments to be at all persuasive. The protesters show drastic differences between the patterns of votes of Putin’s party and the others, and the linked articles seem a bit too eager to debunk.
I wouldn’t necessarily blog on this but I was unhappy to see this material on the website of Significance, which is an official publication of the American Statistical Association and the Royal Statistical Society.
The quality control at this site seems low. I clicked through the links and found this:
Barring the revelation of a hoax or a savage Al-Qaeda retaliation, President Obama will be able to stand proudly at the helm during the re-election campaign. Even if unemployment numbers remain against him, other numbers are strongly on his side: zero serious Republican contenders (as of now) to compete for the seat in the oval office, 5 to 1 odds in favor of past presidential incumbent, and one historic executive order that eliminated the single most pernicious foe to ever threaten American security.
First off, it’s ridiculous to say there are “zero serious Republican contenders.” What does it take to be a “serious contender”? Several of the Republican candidates have experience that’s comparable to the eight years in the state legislature and half a U.S. Senate term, which is what Obama had when he ran for president.
Second, Osama Bin Laden was really “the single most pernicious foe to ever threaten American security”? Tell that to George III, Jefferson Davis, Tojo, and Stalin.
Again, I have no desire to pick on the people writing this stuff. I have purposely avoided naming them (you can click through the links to see), as a way of emphasizing that I’m not trying to slam them personally. They are not professional journalists, they’re academic researchers who are trying to do a public service by submitting material to this statistics site.
It’s just that, as a member of the American Statistical Association, I don’t like this sort of poorly-thought-through material being the public face of our profession. I understand the motivation to raise the profile of Significance magazine via frequent postings on topical issues, but I worry about our organizations appearing to endorse some misinformation.
P.S. More on the Russian election here.