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Disgrasian

Disgrasian

Posted: June 26, 2009 06:55 PM

People Who Suck at Math (Ahem, Iran Election Riggers)

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Two interesting stories surfaced this week about people who suck at math.

The first had to with an American Institutes for Research report that's created a new international grading index to compare state and national math scores with those of other countries. And guess what? The U.S. sucks at math, earning a C+ overall and coming in 12th in the world. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Japan scored the highest in that order. (Dude. Even Kazakhstan and Latvia punked us.)

But whatever, the U.S. lagging behind Asian countries in math is not really news, right?


The other story about people sucking at math that's a bit more surprising has to do with the Iran election. First came the report from British think tank, Chatham House, which showed that Ahmadinejad received 13 million more votes than he and other conservatives got in 2005, an unlikely occurrence considering his waning popularity. They also found that in two provinces, Mazandaran and Yazd, turnout was more than 100 percent.

Then Bernd Beber and Alexandra Scacco, two Ph.D. candidates in political science at Columbia, performed their own mathematical experiment, publishing their results in a Washington Post op/ed. Beber and Scacco looked at "digit frequencies" in the vote counts--when numbers recur at certain rates it suggests human tampering--to come up with a statistical probability that the election was fair.

And, according to their findings, the probability that the election was fair came out to .005 percent.

What does all this mean? The Iranian election riggers--Ahmadinejad & Co.--really really really suck at math. But perhaps what makes them even stupider is that they didn't have the good sense to outsource that numbers-tampering shit to people who don't suck at math. To people, say, in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, or Japan (duh!).

[AP: Analysis casts doubts on Ahmadinejad's victory]
[Washington Post: The Devil Is in the Digits]

 

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