Tuesday 5 July 2016

Digesting The Numbers

While the non-legally binding referendum result continues to weigh heavily on the country's future, an additional correlation factor has been found to join those of age, education / class and race / religion.

Age - Those aged over 60 were the most likely group to want to leave the EU.
Education / Class - The higher the level of education, the higher the EU support. People in semi-skilled or unskilled labour, those in casual labour and pensioners were more likely to support Leave.** 

Race / Religion - Areas with high immigration wanted to stay in the EU. 58 per cent of Christians backed Leave.

And now, weight for it, this is hard to swallow... Obesity: The weight of Brexit: Areas with high obesity rates more likely to vote Leave
It does indeed appear that high proportions of Leave votes are associated with high proportions of obese adults.
Looking at all 326 districts the correlation between the % of obese adults in a district and the % of Leave votes is high, with a correlation coefficient of 0.8 (0 implying no correlation and 1 perfect correlation).
 The author, Peter L Ormosi, is anxious to remind readers not to make a meal of it, and that:
Despite what some sensationalist sources appear to highlight, this blog does not make claims about the physical attributes of Leave voters. It focuses on geographical areas (!) and not individuals, and identifies an interesting correlation – not necessarily causation.
In fact, the author's follow up post detailing how his initial findings went viral and were misunderstood is just as interesting. In this follow up post, he writes:
When I said that areas with high obesity rates are typically areas with high Leave vote rates, to most people it means all areas with high obesity rates voted leave. This should not have surprised me. As an economist dealing with lawyers, I have noted this many times in the past, but it had never struck me with such intensity.
I largely underestimated the power of availability heuristics: people rate personal anecdotal evidence higher than distant data-based evidence. “It didn’t happen to me so it cannot be true.” Again, this is something I had known, but I naively thought that sharing the data for replication would cancel this effect out. I can confirm, up to today nobody has downloaded the data I attached.
We certainly shouldn't be mean about fat people; they have enough on their plate.

My mother is a great example of the power of personal anecdotal evidence - you can give her all the statistics available, but if she hasn't personally experienced it, then they are worthless. Unless they've been published in the Daily Mail of course.

So if you voted Leave, and you're not old, uneducated, poor, Christian, self-servingly politically ambitious or fat - who are you?

** I hadn't actually seen this before today, but not surprising to read that:
Britain’s 132 university vice-chancellors had come out 132-0 in favour of Remain, arguing that EU membership helped research collaboration and academic mobility, and allowed Britain to receive a net gain of £1 billion ($1.78bn) in EU research funding.
Vice-chancellors must be slim atheists, and yes, many studies have found a correlation between higher intelligence and lower religiosity. 

1 comment:

James said...

Whilst "the non-legally binding referendum" is just that I would not want to be an MP that stood in its way. Otherwise, the next general election will be pretty gruesome for the establishment.

Your sports data research is very good.