Friday, August 1, 2014

The Mind Unleashed: pseudoscientific clickbait

From The Rational Wiki: is a pseudoscientific, woo-peddling, clickbait website with a propensity to misrepresent data from studies and present it as scientific fact for their own gain. With just a soup├žon of bigotry for flavor.

Neither the site itself nor the whois say anything about who owns and runs the place.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

United States among the few countries without a guarantee of paid maternity leave.

There are 185 nations studied in the International Labour Organization's report, Maternity and paternity at work. "Oman, New Guinea and the United States are the only ones without a guarantee of paid maternity leave. In the States, if you have worked long enough for a company with 50 or more employees, you get 12 weeks of unpaid leave to care for a newborn, adopted or foster child. Only in California, New Jersey and Rhode Island is any provision made for paid leave in these circumstances."

Read more in the Daily Kos.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Regulation of Bitcoin in Selected Jurisdictions

Source: Library of Congress

This report surveys forty foreign jurisdictions and the European Union, reporting on any regulations or statements from central banks or government offices on the handling of bitcoins as well as any significant use of bitcoins in business transactions. Topics covered include whether bitcoins are recognized as legal tender, the possibility of negative impacts on the national currency, concerns about fraud, and how transactions using the Bitcoin system are viewed by tax authorities.

Of those countries surveyed, only a very few, notably China and Brazil, have specific regulations applicable to bitcoin use. There is widespread concern about the Bitcoin system’s possible impact on national currencies, its potential for criminal misuse, and the implications of its use for taxation. Overall, the findings of this report reveal that the debate over how to deal with this new virtual currency is still in its infancy.

June 2014 update

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dancing statistics: explaining the statistical concept of correlation through dance

A four minute film demonstrating the statistical concept of correlation through dance.

Project title: 'Communicating Psychology to the Public through Dance' (AKA 'Dancing Statistics')

Founder & Co-Producer: Lucy Irving
Project Manager & Co-Producer: Elise Phillips
Statistical Lead & Co-Producer: Professor Andy Field
Choreographer: Masha Gurina
Filmmaker: Kyle Stevenson

These films were funded by a BPS Public Engagement with additional funding from IdeasTap.

Monday, July 28, 2014

How much do you know about the laws that govern us? And have you ever wanted to know exactly what they say?
The “Laws and Regulations” page at is a good place to find out. Get details on recent laws like the Affordable Care Act, or laws that differ from state to state like gun regulations. You can also see bills that have been introduced in Congress and learn how to get involved and contact your elected officials.

United Nations metadata

UN data sets include:

The United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) stores more than 1 billion trade data records from 1962.

The Energy Statistics Database contains comprehensive energy statistics on the production, trade, conversion and final consumption of primary and secondary; conventional and non-conventional; and new and renewable sources of energy.

The Environment Statistics Database contains selected water and waste statistics by country.

FAOSTAT provides access to over 3 million time-series and cross sectional data relating to food and agriculture.

The United Nations Industrial Commodity Statistics Database provides annual statistics on the production of major industrial commodities by country.

International Financial Statistics (IFS) is a standard source of international statistics on all aspects of international and domestic finance.

The LABORSTA is an International Labour Office database operated by the ILO Department of Statistics which has data and metadata on labour statistics for over 200 countries or territories.

Other entities address health, marriage and fertility, population, telecommunication, tourism, weather, and other statistical information.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Let’s Stop Pretending the Death Penalty Is a Medical Procedure

An editorial from Scientific American:

The idea of testing how to most effectively kill a healthy person runs contrary to the spirit and practice of medicine. Doctors and nurses are taught to first “do no harm”; physicians are banned by professional ethics codes from participating in executions. Scientific protocols for executions cannot be established, because killing animal subjects for no reason other than to see what kills them best would clearly be unethical. Although lethal injections appear to be medical procedures, the similarities are just so much theater.

Yet even if executions are not medical, they can affect medicine. Supplies of propofol, a widely used anesthetic, came close to being choked off as a result of Missouri's plan to use the drug for executions... The manufacturer feared that if the drug was used for lethal injection, E.U. regulators would ban all exports of propofol to the U.S....

Propofol is the most popular anesthetic in the U.S. It is used in some 50 million cases a year—everything from colonoscopies to cesareans to open-heart surgeries—and nearly 90 percent of the propofol used in the U.S. comes from the E.U. After 11 months, Missouri relented and agreed to return the drug.

Such incidents illustrate how the death penalty can harm ordinary citizens.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Anniversary of Americans with Disabilities Act: July 26

July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in employment, transportation, public accommodations, commercial facilities, telecommunications, and state and local government services.
Population Distribution
56.7 million
Number of people in the United States in 2010 with a disability. People with disabilities  represented 19 percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population. Persons with a disability have a physical or mental impairment that affects one or more major life activities, such as walking, bathing, dressing, eating, preparing meals, going outside the home, or doing housework. A disability can occur at birth or at any point in a person’s life.
By age —
• 8 percent of children under 15 had a disability.
• 21 percent of people 15 and older had a disability.
• 17 percent of people 21 to 64 had a disability.
• 50 percent of adults 65 and older had a disability.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 
Percentage of females with a disability, compared with 17 percent of males.
Source: Americans with Disabilities: 2010 
Where They Live
Percent of the civilian noninstitutionalized population in West Virginia with a disability ─ the highest rate of any state in the nation. Utah, at 9 percent, had the lowest rate.
Source: 2012 American Community Survey, Table R1810

Thursday, July 24, 2014

What local government employees make in New York State

The Empire Center for Public Policy released the 2014 edition of "What They Make," an overview of local government payrolls (outside New York City) for the period of April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

The Center's analysis revealed that 1,803 local government employees were paid more than the statutory salary of Governor Andrew Cuomo ($179,000).

The report includes:
Regional rankings of average pay for county, city, town and village employees.
Lists of the highest-paid local government employees in each region.
A list of the 50 highest-paid local government employees in the state.
Regional highlights: Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, Long Island, Mid-Hudson, Mohawk Valley, North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York.