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Buzzfeed, Porn, Kansas…That Can’t Be Good

This post is by David K. Park and courtesy of Alex Palen Ellis…

Thought you might find this funny:

Buzzfeed set out to study porn consumption versus the red/blue political spectrum. And they failed miserably. An article form opennews.org outlines six major fallacies Buzzfeed committed, the best of which resulted in the Kansas effect:

“Pornhub’s writeup omitted any explicit description of their methodology—this is never a good sign—but it seems to have involved mapping the IP addresses from which users visited the site to physical addresses and reverse geocoding those to get states…. a large percentage of IP addresses could not be resolved to an address any more specific than “USA.” When that address was geocoded, it returned a point in the centroid of the continental United States, which placed it in the state of—you guessed it—Kansas!”

As a result, Kansas was 2.95 std dev above the mean. Those pervs!

from: https://source.opennews.org/en-US/learning/distrust-your-data/

8 Comments

  1. numeric says:

    Back in the 60′s, there were 7 subscribers to Al Goldstein’s “Screw” magazine in Kansas, and 4 of them were postal inspectors. The Feds eventually got him also, and he went to prison (at least I read that at the time–the Wikipedia article on him just indicates the charges were eventually thrown out–to reconcile these two things I would have to think he was convicted but his sentence was overturned while in prison).

    Anyway, Kansas has a long history of being associated with pornography. Glad to see another instance.

  2. Paul Alper says:

    The “ecological fallacy” is similar to Durkheim’s where he noted that the more Protestant the Prussian province, the larger the suicide rate–>However, the suicides were actually committed by Catholics, not Protestants. The analogy here is (possibly)–>in Democratic states, the Republicans are the ones who are engaging in pornography.

  3. Paul Alper says:

    The following web site reversed the axes

    http://www.mischiefsoffaction.com/2014/04/are-democrats-pervs-some-problems-with.html
    so we obtain the rotated graph

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-OajJJkwemfY/U1RzYXOcb2I/AAAAAAAAGpI/GmZDUAGrcxA/s1600/porn+and+the+2012+vote.png

    This “reverse causality” has porn viewing “causing” the Obama vote whereas the original has the Obama vote “causing” porn viewing. Instead of the loaded term, “causing,” this web site tongue-in-cheek uses the more proper statistical jargon:

    “Porn pageviews explain 16 percent of the variance in state level presidential vote shares. Each per capita pageview is associated with a two-tenths of a percentage point increase in a state’s Democratic vote share, and this is statistically significant at the p≤.01 level.”

    • Daniel Gotthardt says:

      I really think that the “statistical jargon” of “explained variance” can be highly misleading outside of the science sphere and maybe even inside. Of course we all know now that correlation does not imply causation (or we could at least really like to believe that everyone knows …) but “explained variance”? That must be something else! I think “explain” is quite strong word and strongly implies causation for non-statisticians.

  4. pretendous says:

    I wonder if accessing websites through google incognito or ie inprivate leads to the vague IP addresses recorded by the website.

  5. Bob Rudis says:

    My co-author & I covered this “Potwin Effect” in our book “Data-Driven Security”, which Google Books conveniently displays the relevant excerpt from here: http://books.google.ca/books?id=LQigAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA113&dq=potwin+effect&hl=en&sa=X&ei=WTqFU4KWK4mlyATpxYLgBA&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=potwin%20effect&f=false

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