Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Highway
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Highway »

Number 6 wrote: 10 Nov 2020, 11:29
Highway wrote: 10 Nov 2020, 10:42
Number 6 wrote: 10 Nov 2020, 10:00 Thank you, Highway. I guess I'm not sure what digits are being referred to, or why they'd be relevant to a vote count.
Basically, it's taking all of the vote counts from precincts, and only looking at the first digits of those counts. So say that the precincts had the following vote counts:

175
180
245
97
382
727

Then you'd take the first digits there: 1,1,2,9,3,7 and plot a bar graph of their occurrences. So the 1s would be twice as high as all the rest. If you do that with a lot more data, you expect to see a smooth decreasing curve from 1 to 9. But as you can see, with small sample sizes, you don't get a smooth curve. Say the second precinct there had 25 more people come vote, for a total of 205. So you'd have 1,2,2,9,3,7. Now you'd have a spike at 2, where you wouldn't expect it.

All "Benford's Law" is is a rough description of the expected relationship of a lot of numbers. It's useful as a quick tool for auditing financial records, because it can show that there may be some data that doesn't look right. It's not a proof of anything, just a 'this isn't what we'd expect, let's look closer at it."
So, the argument is that there are anomalous numbers of people casting ballots in some precincts? I'm guessing that the person thinks that there are improbably high numbers of ballots being cast in democratic leaning precincts, and is implying ballot stuffing in Dem precincts, and/or ballots being undercounted in Rep precincts. Seems like an easy thing to check-voter lists and turnout numbers aren't exactly secret, or even difficult to come across.
But I also take the point that the numbers are too small at the precinct level for any of this to mean anything.
Actually, the only argument is that the distribution of first digits doesn't follow a smooth curve, so some people believe that indicates irregularities. But as thoreau said, if every precinct was targeted at something like 600 voters, then there's no way that Benford's Law would give any reasonable clue whether there was some irregularity.

Basically it's just throwing something at the wall that sounds important and trying to sow disinformation.
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Number 6
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Ah. Thank you, Highway. It's good to have a bunch of mathy type people to explain things.
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Hugh Akston
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Number 6 wrote: 10 Nov 2020, 13:25 Ah. Thank you, Highway. It's good to have a bunch of mathy type people to explain things.
Plus if you're short of lunch money, you can just shove them in a locker and take theirs.
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JasonL
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by JasonL »

I'm curious if violations of the heuristic are common or uncommon in precinct counts. Proving "why" this is the case and for which sets is not all that straightforward, so before anyone launches an inquisition, I'd like to know if it's even all that uncommon.
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Highway
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Highway »

This post from Radley Balko's thread argues that the individual ward data, which was used in the original post to 'raise questions' about the results, was too fragmented to provide a meaningful analysis.

It seems eminently logical to me that you'd end up with violations of this heuristic when you're talking about segmentation that is intended to keep numbers at a certain level (like limiting the number of people going to a polling place).

ETA: Another twitter thread linked in Radley's thread also describes that the sizes of Chicago's precincts were such that the vote totals rarely got over 1000 votes. So that gives a good reason why Benford's Law wouldn't apply. Trump's numbers from those same precincts more follow it because his vote totals were shitty.
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Jadagul
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Jadagul »

Benford's law mostly holds when you have numbers that range over several orders of magnitude.

The basic idea is, if you have a number that's 500 +/- 20%, you might get first digits of 4 or 5. If you have a number that's 800 +/- 20%, you'll probably get a first digit of 7 or 8, and might get 6 or 9. If you have a number that's 1000 +/- 20%, you might get 8, you might get 9, and you're pretty likely to get 1; suddenly the distribution is strongly asymmetrical.

So if you have numbers distributed all up and down the scale, you'll get disproportionately many with low first digits rather than high first digits. But if your range is more tightly constrained, that doesn't happen. If, say, you're tracking adults' height in inches, for instance, most people will will be 6 or 7, with some 5s and 8s scattered around (and the occasional 4, I think). But no one is going to have a 1.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Kolohe
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Kolohe »

This guy makes good math videos and I see he’s made one on Benford’s law and the recent election
https://youtu.be/etx0k1nLn78
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JD
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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An interesting interview on why polling has underestimated Republican strength lately: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics ... david-shor
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Pham Nuwen
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Pham Nuwen »

My god. Guiliani is such an idiot. Imagine being so buffoonish that it actually overshadows Trumps antics for a short time.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Pham Nuwen wrote: 14 Nov 2020, 19:04 My god. Guiliani is such an idiot. Imagine being so buffoonish that it actually overshadows Trumps antics for a short time.
I honestly wonder if Guiliani is suffering from dementia.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Pham Nuwen »

So is "stolen election" going to be the new "show us your birth certificate"?

I did not come up with that but now that I read that it sounds so correct. I am sad now.
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Number 6
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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It's the new Lost Cause
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
11/3/2020: Never forget.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
Does that mean the Blues get to wreck the South again?
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by Pham Nuwen »

Aresen wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:27
Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
Does that mean the Blues get to wreck the South again?
They are way to good at it themselves to need any assistance.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Aresen wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:27
Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
Does that mean the Blues get to wreck the South again?
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Number 6
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Aresen wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:27
Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
Does that mean the Blues get to wreck the South again?
I'm in. We can start by building the wall where it should have been in the first place-on the Mason Dixon Line.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Pham Nuwen wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:00 So is "stolen election" going to be the new "show us your birth certificate"?

I did not come up with that but now that I read that it sounds so correct. I am sad now.
Yes, in that it's a meme subscribed to by an extremely small but very loud minority of people who propagate it with social media superconductors, and is amplified by a breathless news media desperate for clickbait content and easy narratives for their 24-hour news cycle, which will ultimately have little effect on politics or culture. See also: Left Shark and Rickrolling.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Number 6 wrote: 16 Nov 2020, 10:26
Aresen wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:27
Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
Does that mean the Blues get to wreck the South again?
I'm in. We can start by building the wall where it should have been in the first place-on the Mason Dixon Line.
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thoreau
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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Number 6 wrote: 16 Nov 2020, 10:26
Aresen wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:27
Number 6 wrote: 15 Nov 2020, 21:05 It's the new Lost Cause
Does that mean the Blues get to wreck the South again?
I'm in. We can start by building the wall where it should have been in the first place-on the Mason Dixon Line.
Now, now, you need to show charity towards these wayward folks.

Toss some blankets over the wall so they can stay warm in winter. Maybe send them some bat meat.
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JD
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by JD »

It's kind of interesting to go back and look at the first few pages of this thread. The one of the main things that people got wrong is that people thought Trump was going to be more warlike. In retrospect, he hasn't been particularly militaristic, although I think this is mostly because to prosecute a war you have to have an attention span longer than thirty seconds.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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JD wrote: 16 Nov 2020, 12:38 It's kind of interesting to go back and look at the first few pages of this thread. The one of the main things that people got wrong is that people thought Trump was going to be more warlike. In retrospect, he hasn't been particularly militaristic, although I think this is mostly because to prosecute a war you have to have an attention span longer than thirty seconds.
I did think Trump was likely to start a war. I'm glad I was wrong. Also, I remember a report about Trump calling off a strike on Iran because "too many Iranians would die". I was hella surprised at the time, but if the report is true, I have to give him credit.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

I was less afraid Trump would prosecute a war than that he'd stumble into one. I'd just as soon not keep pressing our luck on that.
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Re: Calling 2020 for Entropy

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D.A. Ridgely wrote: 16 Nov 2020, 13:20 I was less afraid Trump would prosecute a war than that he'd stumble into one. I'd just as soon not keep pressing our luck on that.
At least we know if Biden starts a war, it will be deliberate. (Assuming he can remember he is POTUS.)
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