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Anaala Richardson


Anaala Richardson

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I've known this for some time now. Its nice to have the facts see more mainstream attention. People have been made irrational on this topic and quite frankly its dangerous because most people equate registered sex offender with pedophiles.
"Sex offenders are far more likely to re-offend than any other kind of offender."

This sentence, and ones like it, are repeated so often to have become a cultural truism, something that we never examine, but use instead as the basis for our decisions -- to create sex offender registries, to approve indefinite "administrative detention," to mark anyone convicted of a sex-related offense -- whether it's urinating in an alleyway* or molesting a child -- as a danger to society.

What's interesting is that it's almost certainly not true. The statistic rose to tremendous prominence after being used in a 2002 Supreme Court case, but as new research shows, that number was copied from a filing that copied it from an book that copied it from an article in Psychology Today, where it was given as a wholly unbacked assertion by someone in the business of running treatment programs.

In fact, the most recent serious study of the subject shows the reverse: sex offenders, on the whole, are less likely to re-offend than other kinds of offender. Even among "high-risk" offenders, the recidivism rate is low, and diminishes over time: out of 8,000 cases studied, there were zero examples of anyone who had gone 16 years or longer without committing a sex crime then committing one after that.

All of which shouldn't really be surprising; they suggest that sex crimes are not, ultimately, fundamentally different from other kinds of crimes in what they require of their perpetrators. (They do differ in the complexities of prosecuting them, and in the ways society justifies and/or condemns them)

But this raises the question: Does it make any sense at all for us to have a completely separate legal system for those convicted of these crimes, without any of the baseline norms (like "you should have some meaningful way to contest being held in prison for life") that we expect elsewhere? 

* Not kidding, here: it's indecent exposure, and in many states will land you on a sex offender registry for a decade or longer. As will things like being a 19-year-old dating a 17-year-old. The consequences of being on such a registry include not being able to live essentially anywhere but in small areas outside of town, being excluded from most jobs, and having to notify your neighbors in person of your existence and your status.

h/t +Jennifer Freeman for the article.
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This is something that feels like it should have been obvious, but wasn't. Purdue University has an average class size of 31. But when you survey students about their class sizes, you find that they see an average size of 56. How is this possible?

It's not a perception bias: it's something much simpler. Say you have two classes with ten people, and one class with 100 people. The average class size is 40. But if you're surveying students, then you'll encounter more students who are in the big class than in the small class, because there are more students in the big class than the small class. In fact, you'll find that 5/6 of the students are in the big class, and so the average experience of a student is a class size of 85.

This is called the "inspection paradox," and it boils down to this: "How common is X" and "how commonly do people experience X" are not the same thing. In particular, if something happens when a lot of people are trying to do the same thing -- say, a crowded class -- then the average person will experience that much more often than average!

There are plenty of examples of this: how often do you have to wait a long time to get a cab, or how often is the train crowded? If one train a day is jam-packed and the rest are empty, you'd say that most trains are pretty good. But most people will never experience the empty train; by definition, most people are on the full train.

For those who want some simple math to explain it: say everyone gets broken into two groups, a big group with B people and a small group with S people. Your chance of being in the big group is B/B+S; your chance of being in the small group, S/B+S. If you sample people and find out the average number of people which people report seeing in their groups, you'll therefore find that it's (B^2+S^2) / (B+S). If B is much bigger than S, this is approximately equal to B-S, or just B: everyone experiences the big group, not the small group.

The article below shows all sorts of examples of this, from running speed to Facebook friends to prison sentences. Variations of this are everywhere, and they can profoundly affect our perception of the world. Be aware!

h/t +Richard Elwes.
The following is a draft of an article I have submitted for publication in CHANCE Magazine, a publication of the American Statistical Association. With their encouragement, I am publishing it here to solicit comments from rea...
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Oh! My sides!
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+Shane Martin 
Artist Quadforcefive created this hilarious comic showing Skeletor and friends playing Dungeons & Dragons. The Masters of the Universe villain has been a subject of countless parodies and fan-made works like this, and it's funny seeing him role-play as He-Man in this comic. Read the comic here:  Artist: QuadForceFive  (via: Geeks are Sexy)
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I feel like I've entered an alternate dimension. I have spent much of the last month sleeping on account of the fibromyalgia and other assorted health problems so I haven't checked my stream in some time. I come back and its "omg windows 10 spies on everything you do!" Or this one guy is a psychopath because this thoroughly debunked psychopath checklist says so. Or omg let's kill all the trophy hunters because this one guy killed one lion but the other 599 don't matter because they weren't famous.

God I am so sick of this bullshit. People need to stop acting like sheep and learn to read. Just a little research before you start yakking goes a long way. Especially when it comes to the economic reasons why trophy hunters do more for conversation that a few hundred bullies camped outside a dentist's office.

As for windows 10 and privacy. Its the same as any modern OS. Or haven't you noticed how much data is being complied on you by Google and iOS? And for the same reason no less. Making products that do what people want.

I think I'll go back to sleep for another month. Maybe the stupid will blow over. Because as it is I'm grinding my teeth reading my stream. Thank heavens for the cute animal posts.
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Good show, +Financial Times web page developers.

"Moral Hazard: Showing you this page would only encourage you to want more pages."

"Speculative bubble: The page never actually existed and was fundamentally impossible, but everyone bought into it in a frenzy and it's all now ending in tears."
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