Archive for the ‘Meta’ Category

Failed Ideas

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Meta

Finding good subject material to write about for this blog can be difficult.  Indeed, even once I have a what seems like a good idea for an article, sometimes it doesn’t pan out.  While I keep looking for more ideas, I thought I’d share a few of the past ones that didn’t really work out, for one reason or another.

  • An analysis of President (then candidate) Obama’s 2008 comment about putting air in tires instead of drilling for oil.  Won’t do it, because many people already did.  See here for a good example of what I would hope to have done, if they hadn’t done it first.  Looking into this helped me realize that I needed to seek claims and questions that would be subject to more unusual or unorthodox analysis, not just number crunching.
  • An analysis of a claim on Conservapedia‘s page describing public schools.  The claim is “Given that public schools educate about 90% of Americans, it is astounding how few prominent Americans attended public school after the banning of school prayer in 1962. ”  I actually did a large amount of research on this one before this blog existed, and collected a fairly large list of prominent conservative Americans sorted by schooling (my compulsion to do that research was one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place), but it doesn’t make sense to put it up here, since the methodology is pretty sloppy, and picking apart bias from Conservapedia feels almost unfairly easy.
  • An attempt to quantify military success rates of countries that allow gays to serve openly vs. those that do not allow gays at all, also based in part on previous research.  The problem with this is that most wars are messy things without clear winners and with multiple parties on each side, and data on precisely when each country might have changed its policies on gays in the military is even harder to find than just what that policy is.   The short version is that Israel allows gays to serve in the military, and if there’s a country on this planet that needs every bit of military efficiency it can get, it’s Israel.
  • Some sort of data-based analysis of the media coverage of Hurricane Irene relative to its tangible effects.  I had just started to ponder how to approach this analysis when I saw that Nate Silver did it better than I could hope to.
  • An analysis of the “13 keys to victory” election prediction that was making the rounds on the Internet.  While I waited for the book to come via inter-library loan, Nate Silver ninja’d me again.  I’m working on a different kind of analysis that complements rather than retreading what Mr. Silver did, but it is slow going.


Posted: June 24, 2011 in Meta

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