It’s been niggling me since the result was announced, but there were other things to do, so it took me a few days to sit down and scratch this itch. The headline is simple. Older voters defeated the Scottish independence referendum, as illustrated by this graph breaking down voter intentions. But data journalism can be… Continue reading What’s wrong with this graph?
How questions are phrased in a survey is important, as any market researcher or social scientist will tell you. And appearing early on a list matters too. One Irish TD even went to court a few years ago to argue that when arranging names in alphabetical order, the returning officer should ignore the Ó at… Continue reading God and the census
Here’s a graph showing the year on year change in Irish property prices, based on the latest Central Statistics Office statistics. You can examine the raw data on the CSO website, in an article headlined Residential Property Prices rise by 3.6% in the year to September. It’s a heartwarming image. Glance at it without too… Continue reading Lies, damned lies, and property prices
A poll is a snapshot, capturing a moment in time. A still image, and a blurry one at that. The margin of error (usually around three percent) means the picture isn’t always crystal clear. The margin of error can also tempt newspapers, hungry for exciting headlines, to pump up a statistically insignificant gain or loss in… Continue reading Snapshots, moving pictures, and unknowns
A barman, a TV repairman, four trade union officials, five solicitors, a salesman, a stockbroker, a publican, a post office clerk, two postmasters, a political advisor, four political party officials, an operations manager, a plant hire company owner, a painter/decorator, a newsagent, a management consultant, a fisherman, a FAS community employment scheme supervisor, fourteen farmers,… Continue reading What’s my line?
Hang around the courts for a while, as many journalists do, and you begin to notice some odd patterns. Consider these snippets from a google search of reports on drugs convictions, for example: “16.43 grammes of cocaine valued at €1150” “a kilogram of cocaine worth € 70000” “962 grammes of cocaine worth €67340” “932 grammes… Continue reading Street value
It’s been bothering me for a while, but until tonight I never bothered to do any research on it. Here’s Brian Lenihan’s version of it, as paraphrased by The Journal earlier today: “The Finance Minister said Ireland’s taxation system was no longer “fit for purpose”, saying that the upper 8% of taxpayers accounted for 60%… Continue reading Numbers game
I spent Tuesday at Hacks & Hackers Hack. Organised by Scraperwiki, and sponsored by the Guardian Open Platform, NUJ Dublin Freelance Branch and Innovation Dublin, HH&H was a one day exercise uniting Hacks (journalists) and Hackers (computer coders) to extract data from public databases. Since the introduction of safety camera zones has been in the… Continue reading Are speed camera zones about safety or revenue?
CountMeOut, a website which allows people to formally defect from the Catholic Church, had suspended its website. The reason given is that the Catholic church has changed the rules, so it is no longer possible to leave. According to CountMeOut, about 1000 people in Dublin alone went gone through the formal defection process last year.… Continue reading Counting heads
On the final day of my holiday in Donegal, I passed by a health food store. In the window was a handwritten notice offering “herbal swine flu remedies”. Then today, the Mayo News used their twitter account to promote the same idea. ‘Beat swine fly naturally with herbal remedies.’ Oh dear! Pseudoscience has been a… Continue reading Junk Watch