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PreviousNextUpdates made to The Millenium Project in November 2017

November 1, 2017

I made my annual trip to Wollongong to speak to the very smart kids at the Science Teachers' Association of NSW Young Scientist Awards. You can read what I said here.

November 15, 2017

Australians were expensively polled to find their opinions on same sex marriage, despite all the previous opinion polls showing strong support for equality and fairness. I had something to say in Australasian Science magazine about the methodology.

Counting the Opinions

People who might never have heard of George Santayana would still be familiar with the quote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

At the time of writing, Australia is going through a process which repeats mistakes from the past.

The 1936 US presidential election was between the incumbent Democrat Franklin D Roosevelt and Republican Alf Landon, Governor of Kansas. Roosevelt was partway through implementing his New Deal program, something which was seen by many conservatives as ushering in a form of socialism and anathema to those who saw libertarianism, small government and individual personal freedom as the foundations of US polity.

The magazine The Literary Digest mailed out about 10 million survey forms to subscribers and others asking them to predict who would win. 2.3 million replies were received suggesting that Landon would win 370 of the 531 Electoral College votes, and therefore the Presidency. Roosevelt received 500 Electoral College votes, and over 60% of the popular vote.

So how did The Literary Digest get the prediction so wrong?

You can find the answer to this and other questions here.


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