• Category Archives statistics
  • Girls are dirty. I like that

    On the left is a breakdown of same sex experiences and desires amongst women on dating site okcupid who described themselves as straight. Over half of them have had, or want to have, a sexual encounter with someone of the same sex.

    Ladies, I salute you.

    The guys are letting the side down by comparison (right pie chart). Come on boys, get your thumbs (and other bits) out. (In the interest of full disclosure, I fall into the 7% slice of this pie.)

    People who’ve signed up to a dating site are a self selecting bunch as far as the deeper meaning of these statistics go. They’re likely to be a bit more adventurous than the general population. However, I think these pie charts illustrate the wonderful fluidity of human sexuality. It’s far more varied, and fun, than the homophobes would have us believe.

    The pie charts were taken from this interesting post about statistical differences between gay and straight members of okcupid.

    via Ben Goldacre’s twitter feed.


  • Still saying nothing with numbers

    Not satisfied with simply being homophobic and mysoginist, would be holy warrior Richard Carvath is branching out into racism*. He’s terrified that Mohammed was the 16th most popular name for baby boys in 2009. 16th! All the good white Christian folk are going to be ground under the heels of the Allah chanting brown hordes!

    Except that there were 15 more popular names (here’s the top 100). Oliver was most popular- we’re in danger of being overrun by urchins! Harry was third- prepare for the speccy wizard apocalypse! Alfie was fourth- fear the coming wave of cockney lotharios! Etc.**

    I know what Carvath thinks he’s saying- the muslim community is growing fast enough for one of their most popular boy’s names to slot into the list amongst all the properly Christian christian names. Something should be done! Because we all know that every single muslim is only one halal burger away from exploding and killing himself and everyone around him.

    This fear of a brown neighbour is really weak and quite cowardly. People like Carvath who talk tough about fighting the “evil Mohammedan cult” reveal a lack of faith in the strength of their own beliefs. If they were so sure they were right they’d just go out there and sell their own religion. The only long term solution to religious extremism is secularism and humanism. Politicians need to stop pandering to those who whine loudest about the rights they demand because of their imaginary friend.

    *I know that prejudice against Islam isn’t strictly racist, but it’s a fair bet that when Carvath says “Muslim” he’s thinking of brown men with beards, often wearing non Western styles of clothing.

    **Jack was second. I can’t think of a cliche associated with Jack. Sorry.


  • What are perversion activities, and where can I get some

    My post a fortnight ago “How To Say Nothing With Numbers” generated a bit of a comment thread as the subject of the post- wannabe politician Richard Carvath- dropped in to prove that he couldn’t understand my point. He’s quite good at repeating his claims over and over after they’ve been shown up and then declaring it a victory. When he stopped doing that he did say a couple of things which deserve some closer inspection.

    Carvath is adamant that only 1% of the population is gay. I used this figure in my calculations as well as the old “1-in-10” to get a spread of figures for take up of civil partnerships. The true pink percentage is somewhere between those two figures- different polling techniques in different countries return widely varying results. Carvath sticks to his 1% and implies that as they’re only a hundredth of the population homosexuals are too insignificant a minority to be listened to or to have equal rights extended to. Never mind that it’s how we behave toward the minorities, rather than constantly favouring the majority, which shows how good or bad we are as a society, Carvath is on very shaky ground when he starts dismissing small segments of the population. He describes himself as a “Hebraic evangelical Christian”. I’m not at all sure what that is, and Googling it doesn’t help. A strict search for that exact phrase returns one result (maybe two now). I’m not sure that being a Googlewhack counts as a religion. Maybe he can be put into the “Other Christian” denomination in the breakdown of British denominations, which would make the group he’s affiliated to 0.4% of the population. An insignificant minority, by Carvath’s standards, not worth paying attention to. However, as I’m not him, I don’t think we should limit their ability to marry.

    More interesting, though, is a phrase that Carvath started using toward the end of the thread. Apparently, gay couples can’t marry because they’re not sexually compatible. All they can manage are “perversion activities”. Colour me intrigued. These perversion activity things sound quite interesting. What are they, exactly? I asked, but he wasn’t forthcoming with definitions. I really want to know, can anyone tell me what on earth Richard Carvath means when he goes on about “perversion activities”? Suggestions in the comments please.


  • How to say nothing with numbers

    I used to analyse data for a living. It’s fascinating to take a whole load of numbers, postcodes and geodemographic data (in my case) and come up with something meaningful, particularly if it makes a pretty map or graphic. I haven’t done any hardcore number crunching for years, and sometimes I miss it. What I did this morning hardly counts, but it was a little bit of fun.

    Religious-idiot Richard Carvath did some primary school maths and was awfully pleased with the result. In the last 5 years 80,000 people have entered into civil partnerships. If the population of the UK is 60 million then you just divide one by the other and multiply by 100 to find that a mere 0.13% of the British population is interested in civil partnership! This is so small that it really means that nobody is interested! Civil partnership is irrelevant so we should stop doing them! (We’ll pass over Carvath’s usual bleating about how civil partnerships are destroying the institution of marriage. I don’t think he can comprehend that it can’t be both insignificant and a clear and present danger at the same time.)

    Of course, that number is meaningless. For a start,around 19% of the country’s population is aged under 16. Take them out of the numbers and you have an adult population of around 48.6 million. Do the maths again and now 0.16% of the adult population is in a civil partnership. Still a tiny proportion, you might say, but this is still a flawed number. Most of the population aren’t gay- the majority of people would qualify for a “normal” marriage.

    Carvath has insisted that only 1% of people are homosexual, a more commonly held figure is 10%. So between 1.65% and 16.5% of those eligible have taken up civil partnerships since they were introduced. How many heterosexual marriages have there been in that same period?

    Well the Office of National Statistics says there were 232,990 marriages in England and Wales in 2008. Perhaps the Scots don’t get married. Rounding that up to 250,000 to give the straights a chance, that’s half a million people getting married every year, 2.5 million married people within five years. Between 5.2% and 5.72% of the straight adult population has got married within the last 5 years. If homosexuals are really as tiny a minority as Carvath likes to think then the numbers actually show that they’re over three times more likely to get civil partnered than straights are to get married. More realistic figures give marriage the threefold advantage over civil partnership.

    The article Carvath cribbed his figures from crows about an increase in the number of civil partnerships being dissolved- 351 in 2009. Per thousand people married, this means that around 8.75 will get divorced. For the record the equivalent number for straight marriages in 2008 was 11.2. So it’s not clear what they were trying to prove.

    What has my data mining proved? Mostly that if you want meaningful statistics you have to do a little bit of work establishing context etc.. It’s not clear whether Carvath was behaving like a tabloid- working out the worst looking number and assuming his audience are too dumb and gullible to question it or spot the logical flaws- or he really thought he was doing some clever analysis. I’m normally a charitable chap, but experience tells me that the latter is more likely than the former, not that either speak well for the man.