Jeb Bush: Trump Supporters Aren’t ‘A Bunch Of Idiots’ (he is right)

Jeb Bush said the following:

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said Saturday that supporters for GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump aren’t “a bunch of idiots” and should be respected, CNN reported.

“What I fear is that people, kind of looking down their nose, will say the people that are supporting Donald Trump are a bunch of idiots. They’re not. They’re legitimately scared. They’re fearful,” Bush reportedly said at an event in Amsterdam. “They’re not as optimistic for legitimate reasons and there should be respect for that. And on the other side, a similar respect needs to be shown.”

Now of course, this statement (which I think should be obvious) has met with ridicule. Yes, I know, I know, we’ve all seen the cherry picked photos of Trump supporters and of Trump rallies:



So, yes, there are some dumb people supporting Donald Trump. And yes, there are some evil ones too.

But when are talking about a national candidate with millions of supporters, a tiny selection of supporters tells you very little about the whole.

Here is an example of what I mean: think of 2008, when i was a proud Obama supporter. Well, some of then Senator Obama’s support came from the..well, less than informed people

and some came from morally questionable people too.

Again, this is just statistics in action; the larger the population, the more the population resembles the larger population.

So, what can say about Trump supporters, “in general”?

For one thing, on the average, they tend to have a higher household income than either Sanders supporters or Clinton supporters.: (the data I report measures median household income; “median” means “that income that is in the middle range of supporters; half of incomes are above, half are below”; this is done to mitigate the effects of a few very large incomes)

72K per year as compared to 61k per year for both Clinton and Sanders supporters. Now this isn’t true in every state: in New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and Virginia the median household income of a Clinton supporter exceeds that of a Trump supporter. Trump supporters earn more than Sanders supporters in all of the surveyed states.

Secondly, there is a positive correlation between income and IQ; on the average those with higher IQs tend to earn more money than those with lower ones. NOTE: the New Scientist article I linked to also deals with wealth too and there isn’t much of a correlation with IQ and household wealth (example: those with higher incomes might well spend more):

The work reveals that while exceptionally smart individuals typically earn more, they are also more likely to spend to their credit card limit, compared with people of average intelligence.

Jay Zagorsky at Ohio State University in Columbus, US, analysed personal financial information collected from 7500 people between the ages of 33 to 41. Subjects provided details about their cash flow – including wages, welfare payments, alimony, and stock dividends – and their overall net worth. They also answered questions about whether they had “maxed out” any of their credit cards, missed bill payments or filed for bankruptcy.


On the surface, Zagorsky’s analysis confirms the findings of previous studies linking higher intelligence with higher income. “Each point increase in IQ test scores is associated with $202 to $616 more income per year,” he says. For example, a person with a score of 130 (in the top 2%, in terms of IQ) might earn about $12,000 more per year than someone with an average IQ score of about 100.

On the surface, people with higher intelligence scores also had greater wealth. The median net worth for people with an IQ of 120 was almost $128,000 compared with $58,000 for those with an IQ of 100.

But when Zagorsky controlled for other factors – such as divorce, years spent in school, type of work and inheritance – he found no link between IQ and net worth. In fact, people with a slightly above-average IQ of 105 , had an average net worth higher than those who were just a bit smarter, with a score of 110.

Again, there is the correlation between INCOME (not net worth) and IQ.

So, if anything, the data might suggest that Trump supporters might be somewhat brighter than the Sanders and Clinton supporters, on the average. I say “might” because I don’t know the “n” for these income samples. It might be that the Clinton and Sanders groups are larger groups, and therefore subject to “regression to the mean” effects whereas the early Trump supporters might be a more selective sample of people (fewer people).

But I think that there is no evidence that Trump supporters are dumber than either Sanders or Clinton supporters.

May 22, 2016 Posted by | 2008 Election, 2016, politics, politics/social, social/political, statistics | , , | Leave a comment

Rant: recognizing the limits of what one knows

I’ll admit that I am an expert in a very narrow slice of mathematics. But I am at least an AU from being an international or even a national caliber expert in that narrow field of mathematics.
And yes, I often read about topics that are not in my area; I enjoy popular books and articles on topics from the various branches of science, economics and the like.

Nevertheless, I also realize that when I read such a book or article, or when I attend a public lecture, I am getting a watered down, simplified treatment of the subject. I lack the context and the prerequisite knowledge to appreciate a presentation aimed at the experts.

And there lies one of my biggest frustrations when it comes to talking to people, either on the internet or in person. There are so many who really can’t detect the difference between expert knowledge and what they read (and perhaps half-digested …if that much) from a popular book. It is THAT level of “lack of humility” that makes some unpleasant conversation companions; I am ok with ignorance. After all, I am ignorant of the vast majority of human knowledge. I think that all of us are.

And, sadly, I see this lack of intellectual humility in political or social issues discussion, especially from the “losing side”. It appears to me that being on the losing side of an election (and I’ve been there, many, many times) brings out the worst in people in several ways.

Example: I had someone try to tell me that Hillary Clinton’s popular vote is “within the margin of error”, when one factors in the caucus states.

Of course, that is a dumb statement for a number of reasons.

1. There is a difference between a vote count and a poll count, even though both have a margin of error (remember Florida in the 2000 general election). The margin of errors in vote count is much smaller than it is for a poll.

2. The margin of error for a poll is 1.96 * \frac{.5}{\sqrt{n}} (assuming a 95 percent confidence interval and a relatively close election; this comes from the normal approximation to the proportion distribution. So as n increases, the confidence interval, and therefore the margin of error, decreases. Note: for more on polls, read this wonderful little article written by a physics professor.

3. Hillary Clinton leads by about 3 million votes, even when one counts the caucus votes. The latter doesn’t add much as there are fewer caucus states, and these tend to be smaller states. Anyhow, she leads about 57-43.

4. The person making the claim appeared to not understand that winning a small state by a very large percentage didn’t make up for winning a bigger state by a smaller margin.

Yes, by knowing that Sanders won a lot of caucus states and that there IS such a thing as margin of error puts this individual into the “above average” category. But this person was clearly ignorant of their own ignorance.

There is another factor in play: I really think that desperation makes one dumber. When one really likes a candidate or a person, or even a sports team, it is tough to accept an unpleasant reality. I’ve become acquainted with the latter as an Illinois football fan (“yeah, we have a shot at being Wisconsin!” Sure.)

Desperation can lead to an abandonment of one’s values. Check out the Republican Chairman’s take on Donald Trump

Oh sure, few would be surprised at Donald Trump’s behavior, and I doubt that a certain type of Republican really cares that much (“hey, what do you expect with Trump anyway?”)

May 16, 2016 Posted by | Personal Issues, political/social, politics, poll, ranting, statistics | , , , | 1 Comment

West Virginia votes today and…and uncomfortable right wing cartoon

The cartoon:


Yes, liberals tend to reflexively take the side of the underdog and, all too often, liberals conflate complaints about the more regressive practices of Islam (example) with justifications of anti-Muslim bigotry (which I openly oppose).

I’ll make it clear: saying that Islam (on the whole) enables many regressive practices is NOT the same as opposing the building of mosques, backing noxious anti-Muslim immigration policies, etc.

West Virginia votes today This should be a rather easy victory for Sanders. This would cut Clinton’s lead in pledged delegates from 285 to 280 or so. However, this shouldn’t be like the 2008 blowout where Clinton crushed Obama by about 40 points (and still trailed by 100 delegates or so); the link is to an old Daily Show (with Jon Stewart) episode which had a funny take on it. Of course, I can put West Virginia in the Republican column right now, though it wasn’t always that way.

National Election

Donald Trump is now turning to the Republican Party for funds. So maybe this election will be more conventional than previously thought.

And yes, you’ll hear that Hillary Clinton is trailing in this battle ground state or that one. Reality: she has a good sized lead right now and it will take something special to change it.

And about the election coverage: Gin and Tacos, while giving Nate Silver proper credit, seems annoyed that many don’t realize that what he does is really, at least by academic standards, well, sort of basic. (and yes, Ed admits some jealousy, but what about me? I don’t even have the best blog on the 4’th floor of my building!:-) )

I’ll tell you what I like about Nate Silver: he got his stuff out there, and in 2012, it was a very useful counter to all of the garbage that places like NPR were putting out. My friends who followed the election on NPR were scared to death, even though I told them that the election wasn’t close and showed them the battle ground state polls:

Screen shot 2012-11-06 at 4.38.49 AM

Romney only lead in a few of these and always at “margin of error” levels. There was no hope for him here, though the media constantly reported a “close race”. Silver was the public face against such nonsense; I call the 2012 election as a “victory for the nerds.”

May 10, 2016 Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social, religion, statistics, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Bad political writing: an example

I saw the following article on a FB friend’s wall. The article contained the following passage:

“In short, the Clinton campaign is in the midst of an historic collapse — much of it due to the unraveling of support for Clinton among nonwhite voters — and the national media has yet to take any notice.
Clinton’s 48-point lead in New York less than two weeks ago is now just a 12-point lead, according to the latest Quinnipiac Poll. That poll shows Sanders with approximately 300 percent more support among African-American voters in New York than he had in Mississippi earlier this month.

Wow…that looks pretty bad for Clinton right? Well, let’s look at a series of New York Democratic Primary polls:(chronological order, 2016 polls only, which the bottom being the most recent:

Clinton + 21
Clinton + 21
Clinton +48
Clinton + 12
Clinton + 10

Do you see what is going on? Clearly, the “Clinton by 48 points” is an outlier poll. But because using that poll as a baseline fit the narrative of the article writer, that is the baseline he used!
Climate change deniers do something very similar when they take an unusually hot year (say, 1998) as a baseline and then start arguing that subsequent years are cooler, when in fact those subsequent years are still warmer than the years preceding the unusually hot year.

But back to the political article: yes, there HAS been movement toward Sanders, but hardly the outrageous amount that is claimed by the article.

While we are on the subject of “being misleading”, take a look at an official Trump campaign meme:


Yes, it doesn’t say anything false and it does cherry pick the most favorable poll…which still shows Trump trailing (albeit within the margin of error).

April 3, 2016 Posted by | politics, politics/social, statistics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Games, free speech, terrorism, etc.

Workout notes: 10 K “run” on the track: 9:59, 9:44, 9:33, 9:32, 9:27. 9:44 then 3:10 walk/jog inner lane 2 laps (58:03 at 6, 1:01:13 for 10K). It was mostly an empty track.
Gads. Though this was not a race effort by any means, IT WAS WORK. Sigh…

Posts: It is the start of Thanksgiving break and so I played hooky and went to a daytime game (no classes). The Bradley women got creamed 72-59 by Western Michigan; WMU lead by 16 before freely substituting.

But hey, it was a game to watch.:-)

Statistics Yes, I know the technical definition of p-value and what “it means”. But attempts to “make it intelligible” to non-experts often fail:

What I learned by asking all these very smart people to explain p-values is that I was on a fool’s errand. Try to distill the p-value down to an intuitive concept and it loses all its nuances and complexity, said science journalist Regina Nuzzo, a statistics professor at Gallaudet University. “Then people get it wrong, and this is why statisticians are upset and scientists are confused.” You can get it right, or you can make it intuitive, but it’s all but impossible to do both.

No fly zones: Turkey shot down a Russian fighter. Ugh. Last I heard, Turkey claimed that the fighter was over Russian airspace and Russia denies that.

Free speech A survey came out about whether it is a good thing to censor speech that “is offensive to minorities”. Not surprisingly, Democrats were more approving of censorship than Republicans (though NOT the majority of Democrats) and the youngest generation (millennials) were strongest in favor of censorship. The good news is that the more educated the person, the less likely that they would approve of censorship. That is good news, given some of the nonsense one hears coming from college campuses these-a-days.

Republicans and Donald Trump

Sure it is still early and most people haven’t started to pay attention to the election. Nevertheless, Donald Trump really is doing well and it should not be that surprising:

Indeed. You have a party whose domestic policy agenda consists of shouting “death panels!”, whose foreign policy agenda consists of shouting “Benghazi!”, and which now expects its base to realize that Trump isn’t serious. Or to put it a bit differently, the definition of a GOP establishment candidate these days is someone who is in on the con, and knows that his colleagues have been talking nonsense. Primary voters are expected to respect that?

And it isn’t a surprise that the terror attacks in Paris helped him:

Conventional wisdom on the politics of terror seems to be faring just as badly as conventional wisdom on the politics of everything. Donald Trump went up, not down, in the polls after Paris — Republican voters somehow didn’t decide to rally around “serious” candidates. And as Greg Sargent notes, polls suggest that the public trusts Hillary Clinton as much if not more than Republicans to fight terror.

May I suggest that these are related?

After all, where did the notion that Republicans are effective on terror come from? Mainly from a rally-around-the-flag effect after 9/11. But if you think about it, Bush became America’s champion against terror because, um, the nation suffered from a big terrorist attack on his watch. It never made much sense.

What Bush did do was talk tough, boasting that he would get Osama bin Laden dead or alive. But, you know, he didn’t. And guess who did?

So people who trust Republicans on terror — which presumably includes the GOP base — are going to be the kind of people who value big talk and bluster over actual evidence of effectiveness. Why on earth would you expect such people to turn against Trump after an attack?

Hey, Fox News and Rush Limbaugh created Donald Trump’s candidacy.

November 24, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, politics, republicans, republicans politics, running, statistics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

A timely Kathleen Parker column

Kathleen Parker wrote a column which started out about Donald Trump:

Exhibit A: Donald Trump, who can’t stop talking about how rich he is.

My father used to say, “People who have it (money) don’t talk about it.” No one told his mother, whose tropes included, “If you got it, honey, flaunt it.” They didn’t get along.

“Be slow to know” was another of my father’s favorite refrains. As in, be a little mysterious, don’t give away everything, keep yourself to yourself. When I was a child, the most humiliating reprimand from a parent was, “Don’t be a showoff.”

To be a showoff was to signal to the world that you were so lacking in character or talent that you had to attract attention some other way. Enter Trump, though he does apparently have a talent for making money. It helps if your father leaves you millions, as Trump’s did.

Whereas humility was once the universally acknowledged virtue to which one aspired, today we “humble-brag.” As in: “I looked like a wet mop the day I got the Pulitzer.” Something like that. […]

But she goes on to say something else:

Cox and Emanuel hugged. She tweeted. I marveled. I should have tweeted that they hugged, but I’ve just written it so all those readers — did I mention 80 million? (#braggingisfun) — now know about it. Which is meaningless. What matters is that Cox has 1.3 million followers and I (@kathleenparker) have something well south of that.

I’m told this is embarrassing.

Really? I’m embarrassed when I forget that the word “media” is a plural noun and should be followed by “are” not “is.” I’m embarrassed when I put a comma before “but” when it follows a negative predicate. As in: Having few Twitter followers isn’t only embarrassing(,) but is also career-limiting, as the following anecdote illustrates.

I kind of chuckled about that.

But on my Facebook feed, I saw a friend share this meme:

millennial fail

When I went to the source of the meme, I saw that the creator was thrilled that so many were sharing it. That she misspelled “millennials” or that she made a massive logical error mattered not at all.

If you didn’t catch the logical error: there are 75.3 million millennials in the US (using 18-34 as the guide) to 74.9 million baby boomers. So even if both groups vote at the same rate (and they don’t), a majority of millennials voting for one candidate won’t ensure a “landslide”; in fact it won’t ensure a mere victory! Example: suppose 51 percent of the millennials vote for candidate X and 55 percent of boomers vote for Y…if both groups vote at the same rate, Y wins easily.

But hey, they are AWESOME.:-)

July 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics/social, social/political, statistics | , , , | Leave a comment

Cartoons and Trolls

Today’s cartoons were unusually good: we have masters degrees that don’t help one’s employment prospects, science, a true fact about the memory-less-ness of the Bernoulli trial and the lack of effort on the part of students.





Then we have troll pages. One of the best troll pages is the Your Tattoos Make You a Horrible Mother Facebook page. People have fallen for it so hard that they become enraged and try to get it shut down; for those of us who like to laugh at clueless outrage, it is an almost endless source of amusement. Yes, I know; I should have better things to do with my time; but this is a bit like a train wreck. I don’t want to look..but I can’t help myself.:-)

The page attracts outraged people who, well, aren’t the most educated and who don’t write all that well. The usual response is:

1. “I’ve got tattoos and I am a GREAT (or AWESOME) mom and my kids are all geniuses” or “having a tattoo doesn’t make you a bad mom”
2. “YOU SUCK” or some version of “Your (sic) and idiot”, often followed by obscenities, most of which are spelled correctly and
3. Some wish that those who run the page and like the page have a violent demise.

All of this is written at about a 3’rd to 6’th grade level, with a few exceptions.

The idea that the page isn’t advocating that someone do something illegal doesn’t phase the visitors; all they know is that they are offended and therefore want the page shut down.

June 3, 2015 Posted by | blog humor, blogs, humor, statistics | , | Leave a comment

Clinging to outliers: hope springs eternal

Workout notes: though it has been a while, (it started with a scratchy throat on 18 February and peaked Sunday, 22 February; first workout back was 27 February) I am STILL not back near 100 percent. Yesterday’s “almost 5K (2.9 miles)” at a 8:35 pace left me sore. So I did work out, but I have an ever-present “mild fatigue” that hindered my performance:

Weights: pull ups, 4 sets of 10, 7, 1, 5. I couldn’t get that 5’th set of 10. Rest: rotator cuff and back exercises.
bench press: 10 x 135, 1 x 180 (not really strong), 4 x 170 (and THAT was hard),
incline: 135: 1 set of 3 (weights slid off; forgot to set one of the clips) and then a set of 5.
circuit: 3 sets of 10 on machines: rows (110), pull downs (130), military (90 each arm).

I was feeling a bit run down so I walked indoors though it was a pretty day: 4 miles in 50:09 (middle lane): 13:13, 12:36, 12:33, 11:46. It wasn’t a bad walk, but it wasn’t exactly blazing fast either.

Hope and outliers
Yesterday’s 5K run chopped off part of the usual course; this was apparent when I got to what should have been mile 2 (14:30…ok, 10 years ago…maybe?) and finished in 24:42; this was my best time last year (certified course). I came in tired and had heavy legs during the warm up; this was about 2.87-2.9 miles and equates to a 26:30-26:40 on a true 5K course, and THAT reflects where I was yesterday.

But I wanted to believe that this was a full 5K. It wasn’t.

That got me to thinking a bit more about denial. Early this season, our Division I basketball team lost to a Division III team 58-56. Now of course, many fans didn’t want to admit the obvious: our team was a very bad basketball team. Some fans went back to memory lane and remembered famous upsets like this one. And it is true: you can comb the annals of basketball history to see some legitimately good teams suffering embarrassing losses in the preseason or early in the season.

But those are the exception: the vast majority of a time, a D-1 team loses to a D-3 team because they aren’t any good. And yes, we finished 9-24 overall and 3-15 in conference play, though we did beat a 9-22, 6-12 team in the conference tournament…only to lose by 25 the next game.

And yes, you see this with regards to test scores; witness the satirical treatment of this rather dumb facebook meme:


Yes, on rare occasion, someone with a math ACT of 19 makes it past calculus 3; there is a CEO of a company who did poorly on a standardized test, and I know of one language professor whose GRE scores were a disaster…and her logical abilities were limited..but she was/is a genius with languages. No, those tests didn’t pick that up.

But those are outliers. Most of the time, the tests reflect reasonably well what the student knows and what their academic abilities.

It works the other way too. I remember watching the Boston Marathon in 2001 and seeing Lee Bong Ju win. During the race, the announcer said that, while he was in high school, he had set national records in Korea. At first I thought “wow”…then “DUH….what kind of person leads (and wins) the Boston Marathon?” That he had run some fast times while as a youngster is the least surprising thing in the world.

Yes, one Boston Marathon winner had started his running career as a recreational runner to lose weight! But that is the rare exception.

But dreams die hard. Think about lottery mania. I tried to tell my dad that he was wasting his time and money by buying a ticket. His response: “someone wins”. Well, “someone dies on their way to buy their ticket too” and, as we can see, the odds of dying while picking up a ticket are greater than buying the winning ticket!

The odds of dying by a car accident are 1.58 \times 10^{-8} per mile traveled. The odds of winning a lottery jackpot are about 5.7 \times 10^{-9}

So there you go.

March 8, 2015 Posted by | illness, running, sickness, statistics, weight training | , , | Leave a comment

Finally, something to write about: p-values, venting about college students

First my workout: This was my first weight workout in about 2 weeks and I felt it.

Pull ups: 4 sets of 10, 2 sets of 5. Quality: ok, not stellar. Rotator cuff
bench press: 10 x 135, 1 x 180, 5 x 160 (pathetic) (rotator cuff)
incline press: 7 x 135 (bad)
standing military: 3 sets of 10 x 40 dumbbells (weak)

It was a start, but it was rather bad.

Running went marginally better: treadmill, 0.5 incline, started at 5.3 mph and increased by 0.1 every 1/4 mile
2 miles in 21:18, 3 in 30:55, 4 in 39:47 (last 5 minutes at 7 mph)
Yes, I coughed afterward, but this time only for 2-3 minutes or so, instead of 10. It IS getting better, albeit more slowly than I’d like.
After the workout weight (dr. scale): 176.0

Basically, I was weaker with the weights than with the run. The swim is going to be UGLY tomorrow.


There is some chatter among professors about the appropriateness of calling out certain types of student behavior. The old model is that this is somewhat untoward as “professors had more power than the students”. But things have changed; often the professors are adjunct professors with little real power and these-a-days there is a tendency for administration to use student evaluations to evaluate the professors (at least at the more teaching oriented places).

I see something else going on here:


The above refers to grade school. But in the college setting, replace the parents with deans, administrators or even professors from departments that are desperate to retain their students.

There is where the tension comes from. Most professors expect 18-20 year old students to…well, behave like 18-20 year old students. Getting undermined from other parts of the same campus is very irritating and it happens too many times (though not all of the least right now).

You may have read things like “most of the newly reported science results are wrong” and this is because, well, one is more likely to report a positive finding, and many positive findings are honestly done false positives. So, one psychology journal has decided to prohibit the reporting of p-values in its articles. That makes no sense to me, and evidently it makes no sense to some scientists and statisticians either.

March 5, 2015 Posted by | education, running, science, statistics, weight training | , , , | Leave a comment

Statistical stupidity from NPR

I am no longer surprised when NPR commits a statistical howler.

Today, they aired a touching story about a black hockey player and the racism that he endured. So far, so good.

But then, they go on to say this:

Despite stars like P.K. Subban and Evander Kane, hockey remains a stubbornly white sport. Only about five percent of NHL players are black 28 years after James.

Uh, exactly why is this a problem?

1. Backs are about 12.6 percent of the US population.

2, Blacks are about 2.9 percent of the Canadian population.

3. These days, the NHL gets about 50 percent (just over) of its players from Canada, and just under 25 percent from the United States.

So making the assumption that one would expect zero black players from other than the US or Canada (think of the hockey powers of this world), IF the representation were exactly proportional, we’d expect:

(.5)(2.9) + (.25)(12.6) = 4.6 percent, which is about what they have.

So why is 5 percent a problem? My guess: they assume that blacks are grossly over represented in football and basketball, they should be in hockey as well? If so, why?

Of course, this isn’t as bad as some idiot academic administrator with a Ph. D. insisting that everyone needs to be above the department average, but …well…let’s just say that I am cranky and that NPR comes across as smug.

February 27, 2015 Posted by | media, social/political, statistics | , | Leave a comment


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