Wednesday, October 1, 2014

SanityIID #Senate #model for October 1, 2014

Welcome to October. Just a little over a month until the U.S. elections.

The SanityIID Senate model run for this morning shows the Republicans solidifying their lead in the short term and making the long term predictions more stable.

As you can see, the most likely probability is that Democrats will win 49 out of 100 U.S. Senate seats, giving control of the Senate to the Republicans. But remember, this model assumes that Orman will caucus with the Democrats. If he decides to caucus with the Republicans due to their taking control of the Senate, then the most probable outcome will be for the Democrats to win 48 out of 100 seats.

Since my last writing, I have added a few more predictions to the SanityIID model. These predictions use the same polling data, but they force the outcome into a win-lose-tie decision. While not as helpful overall as a probabilistic outcome like the above graph, it does help to see where the polling is going over time.

I have broken the data down into long term, medium term, and short term deterministic predictions. Here are the deterministic predictions from the SanityIID model:

Short Term

Democrat Republican Tie
Assumed Wins 44 45
Model Predicts 4 7 1
Total Seats Per Party 48 52

Med. Term

44 45

4 6 1

48 51

Long Term

44 45

4 5 2

48 50

As you can see, using the long term data, the Republicans win 50 seats, the Democrats 48 seats, and two seats are considered a tie. Medium term data gives one of the tie seats to the Republicans for a 51-48 split with one tie remaining. And finally, with the short term data, the final tie is given to the Republicans showing them at 52-48.

While these aren't necessarily the way I expect the elections to come out (I much prefer the probabilistic model as shown by the graph), it does show that the more recent the polling, the more likely they show the Republicans in the lead. Is this a trend? If so, will the trend continue? We only have a little over a month to wait to find out.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

US House Data

I currently don't have a model for the United States House of Representatives, but I am beginning to follow the data. As with all my data at the moment, this data comes directly from the HuffPost Pollster. The only real change is that I have put it in a form that is easier for me to follow.

This chart is for all the polls that have been completed in the past month:

SanityIID Senate model for September 27, 2014

The Republicans are coming! The Republicans are coming!

After updating the SanityIID Senate model with the latest polling data as reported from the HuffPost Pollster, the statistics show that the Republicans have expanded their lead this week.

The chart shows that the most likely scenario is for the next Senate split to be Democrats 49, and Republicans 51. But the next most likely split is Democrats 48, Republicans 52.

What happened? In a word, Alaska.

Just over a week ago, Dan Sullivan (R) took the lead back from Mark Begich (D). Since that time, as the polls have continued to come in, Dan Sullivan has continued to hold the lead all the way through our most recent polls.

All the other states have been relatively stable over the last week.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Small update to the SanityIID Senate model

While this isn't a regular day that I update my model, I made some changes and I wanted to post the results.

I added three new states to the model's statistics: Georgia, Kentucky, and Michigan. While these didn't really have any effect on the outcome, periodically there are political reports that discuss these three states. I guess you could say that I added them to the SanityIID Senate model just to be sure I wasn't missing anything.

Secondly, I made a change to the number of Monte Carlo iterations that the model performs. I originally didn't want to do this since it can give the impression of having more confidence in the model than the underlying numbers would justify; but on the other hand, it does keep the probabilities from swinging too far without any underlying polling behind the number.

Here is the histogram from the last run using the data from September 24, 2014:

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Republicans still on track to retake Senate

There's only been a few polls updated since the last run of the SanityIID Senate model. The changes those few polls made only had the effect of making the Republicans slightly more likely to retake the Senate.

As for the details; Alaska, Colorado, and Iowa are a tossup. Their mean (average) polling is so close that statistics aren't really meaningful. They are essentially a coin toss at this point in time. The Monte Carlo distribution I am using shows this in the elevated probabilities of 48, 49, or 50 seats.

As for Kansas, it desperately needs to clarify the issue of exactly which candidates are going to be on the ballot. Once that is done, there needs to be more polling if there is going to be better predictions.

As of this writing, my model is showing Kansas with about a 75% chance of electing Orman, but I also believe these percentages to be overly skewed toward him due to lack of polling. There are only four (4) polls that come from different polling places and are relatively new. Since the state of Kansas is still in flux, expect this to change in the coming weeks and months.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Inaugural run of the SanityIID Senate model

My new Senate model is finished! All the data has been updated and the programming is done. So without further ado, here is the results produced by the model:

As you can imagine, being a Democrat, I don't like the output of the model.

Each vertical line represents the probability that the Democrats will hold that number of seats if the election were held today. But remember, the Democrats need to hold 50 seats to be able to retain control of the Senate. And as this model shows, the most likely outcome is for the Democrats to retain only 49 seats.

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Election Forecasting Model!

I am so happy to announce that the mathematics is finished on my new election model. My old model, which worked pretty well in the previous elections, was a deterministic model. The new model uses the same basic inputs, but the output is now probabilistic.

While the math is done, I still have to program all the equations before I can run it for the first time. I am hoping to be done either today or tomorrow.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If you like #statistics, the #Senate races are the best races in town.

The chances of the House of Representatives switching hands to Democratic control are best described as slim to none, with very little slim involved. Additionally, since this is a midterm election year, there isn't anything to look at concerning the President -- statistically speaking. That leaves us with the Senate to play with, and boy what fun we can have with the Senate.

The Democrats currently control the Senate, but there is a fairly good chance that it will switch hands after the midterm elections. This is the kind of year that the terms 'nail bitter' and 'cliff hanger' were made for. The most optimistic statistics that I can find give the Republicans a 30% chance of taking control of the Senate, while the vast majority of statisticians put the Republican's chance of Senate control after the midterms at 50% or greater.

It all comes down to the decisions of a few people in a few states that might be willing to switch their vote from one candidate to another. There haven't been margins this close (that I am aware of) since Gore vs Bush in the Florida elections of 2000.

So, where do we stand?

I have been limiting the statistics and polls that I have been watching. There is a little danger to this in the sense that something could happen in a state that I'm not paying attention to that would cause the probability of overall control of the Senate to switch without my knowledge. That being said, I am currently expect control of the Senate to rest on three states:

Iowa, Alaska, and Colorado.

Despite the most recent poll, my statistics still put Colorado into Democratic hands. Polling data also places Alaska into Democratic hands, but there are so few polls that my confidence isn't very high concerning Alaska.

But the state that is the most interesting is Iowa. Iowa is a scatter-shot pattern of polls all over the place. Even looking at the statistical median, that will help eliminate outliers, Iowa is a coin flip.

So how do all these different states fit into the overall picture of Senate control? As my statistics break down right now, the Republicans should have 50 seats. The Democrats, and the Independents that caucus with them, should have 50 seats (assuming that Greg Orman caucuses with the Democrats). That will keep the Senate control in Democratic hands since Joe Biden, being the Vice President, is the President of the Senate.

If the coin toss of Iowa goes the other way, then that will give the Democrats and Independents a 51-49 majority in the Senate. So despite the close race in Iowa, I give the Democrats good odds of retaining control of the Senate.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

#GamerGate and gaming content

Several years ago, when I played World of Warcraft (WoW) as many hours as I could, there was an interesting phenomenon with respect to the way that your player character dressed. The more armor that was visible on a male character, the better protected they were against the dangers of the game. Conversely; the less armor that was visible on a female character, the better protected she was against the dangers of the game. This phenomenon led to the joke that if you ever saw a female character running toward you wearing only pasties and a g-string, you had better run the other way as fast as you could!

If you assumption of a "gamer" is an adolescent, straight boy, then it could be seen as a reward for your character to become more skimpily dressed the more work you put into them. For others, this isn't the case. Blizzard helped tremendously with this problem by allowing players to change the look of the armor they were wearing to suit their own purpose. Suddenly you could be a female, playing a female character, and not look like a teenage boy's idea of a stripper.

It seems like GamerGate (Wikipedia link) might have started from the dislike of Zoe Quinn (Wikipedia link). It seems like after her game was published, she was accused of sleeping her way to better reviews by her ex-boyfriend. Later, the GamerGate cry expanded to Anita Sarkeesian (Wikipedia link) and her video series Tropes VS Women (feministfrequency YouTube channel) exploring the problems of the way women are treated by game designers. And finally, the GamerGate tags began to point toward game reviewers that weren't publishing reviews that "gamers" liked, such as GameSpot's Dead Rising 3 Review Justifies why we need #GamerGate (article link).

I have spent days reading over the material that people would send me on Twitter from the #GamerGate hash tag, but with few exceptions, it all turns out the same. People that like games don't want to take a risk that they won't be able to laugh at transsexuals or flamboyant gay stereotypes. They won't get to view scantily clad (sometimes dead) women under the guise of a video game. Or, heaven forbid, someone might make games for a broader demographic.

But what they fail to see is that there are more people that like to play games than just them. Some of us are women, or gay, or transsexual, or any other minority group. We want games for us where we aren't forced to look at degrading caricatures of ourselves or those we care about. If the aforementioned gamers really want the zenith of their gaming experience to be shanking a prostitute in Grand Theft Auto, I have no problem with that. But for those of us that want something different from our gaming experience, or simply don't want to feel degraded every time we play a game, we deserve the same consideration, development, and thoughtful reviews as the other gamers.

Everyone might not have been happy with the way that WoW developed over the years. I'm sure some people wanted wall to wall breasts every time they logged into the game. Regardless, Blizzard found a way where, if we couldn't all get along, at least we could all tolerate each other and the game.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

How God Made the Earth: Part 1

How God Made the Earth: Part 1

Hi, and welcome to another edition of modeling scripture. After going over the source material, I'm going to cut this model into two pieces. There is just too much information presented for one long blog post. Even the first part is really long due to it covering the entire chapter of Genesis 1. I do hope that you will read the post, or at least read the notes and get the feel of the order of creation and where we go wrong in reading this particular scripture.


Day 0: Forget your current knowledge.
Day 1: Light and Darkness.
Day 2: Firmament to divide the waters above from the waters below.
Day 3: Gathered waters below, formed land, created plants.
Day 4: Sun, moon, and stars; placing them in the firmament.
Day 5: Flying things and sea creatures (fish, etc...)
Day 6: Land creatures, insects, man, and woman.

It can be really difficult to understand the Bible for what it says instead of what we think it should say. It can be as difficult as leaving out a lifetime of education and taking the Bible at its word. After all, even before many of us started school we had learned the basics of astronomy. I learned about the sun, moon, stars, tilt of the Earth, and seasons long before I ever covered any of those topics in school. And to this day, astronomy is still one of my favorite pastimes.

But we have to forget all of our modern knowledge. They didn't have that knowledge in biblical times. They were brilliant people, but they didn't have our education, or scientists, or books. They didn't even have printing presses at the time. There were no mass produced books to purchase and teachers being paid to educate you simply for showing up at a school building. Every piece of knowledge you knew had to be painfully acquired from either your own experience or someone else that you could convince to teach you. That's one of the things that made the Bible so compelling: it was supposed to be divine knowledge direct from the creator or the world sent to all people without error. If the Bible was correct, you could actually learn real knowledge in bulk for, perhaps, the first time ever.

So let's look at how the author or authors of Genesis thought the Earth was created.

1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

So far so good. Notice right from the start there was already water, a void, and darkness.

3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

Now we're making some headway. We now have light and dark. But here is where you have to set some of your knowledge aside. We don't have a sun, moon, or stars yet. This light doesn't have any source. It is just there. And not only is it there, it has been separated from the dark.

6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Now the preexisting waters from Genesis 1:2 have now been split by a firmament. Some of the water went above the firmament and some of the water went below the firmament. So what in the world is a firmament?

The word "firmament" is used to translate raqia, or raqiya`, a word used in Biblical Hebrew. The connotation of firmness conveyed by the Vulgate's firmamentum is consistent with that of stereoma, the Greek word used in the Septuagint, an earlier translation. The notion of solidity is advanced explicitly in several biblical passages.
The original word raqia is derived from the root raqa, meaning "to beat or spread out", e.g., the process of making a dish by hammering thin a lump of metal. Raqa adopted the meaning "to make firm or solid" in Syriac, a major dialect of Aramaic (the vernacular of Jesus) and close cognate of Hebrew.

So we have this dome-like thing -- probably solid -- that separates the water above from the water below. And this inverted bowl, or dome, he called Heaven.

Now the next day there is a little bit more going on, so we are going to take it in two parts.

9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.
10 And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

We finally have what we think of as Earth. Prior, their might have been a "heaven and earth" but they weren't what we think of as Earth since it had no land.

You have to forget what you learned about a spherical earth with water sitting on the outside. That isn't the model used by the Bible. The Bible seems to have all the dirt and water just sitting out there in the chaos -- or void -- waiting to be made into something. It is almost like raw materials waiting in a bin somewhere for a craftsman to make something out of it.

Now that God created land, he then got busy with putting things on it.

11 And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
12 And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
13 And the evening and the morning were the third day.

In the later part of the third day God put all the plants and trees on the Earth. There was light and dark (day and night) from the first day, but there isn't anything causing the day and night. That wasn't an oversight though. We know that our day and night are caused by the rotation of the Earth, but they didn't know that in biblical times. They didn't know that the sun is the source of out light, and without the sun there wouldn't be enough light or heat for anything to survive.

14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
15 And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so.
16 And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also.
17 And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth,
18 And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good.
19 And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

And now we have the sun, moon, and stars. The sun was created to rule the day, the moon was created to rule the night, and He made stars as well. Now we've had light and dark since the second day, but now we have the sun. Here is another place where you have to leave your present knowledge out of what the Bible says. The sun was created to rule the light. It doesn't have to be the originator of the light and heat that get to the Earth. It is more of a decoration that was put there for signs, seasons, days, and years. Think of it as a signpost telling you what the light and heat are going to do. Don't think of it as the source of light and heat.

The same is true for the moon. Forget your knowledge that the moon is simply reflected light from the sun. The moon was given its own light so that it could rule the night. As far as the stars go; since the sun, moon, and stars are all set in the firmament, the stars are more like little sparkly lights that are placed on a Christmas tree for pure entertainment (oh, and signs etc...). You have to forget the fact that they are the same size or larger than the sun and just farther away. They are hung in the firmament like cellphone charger lights stuck in your ceiling.

And now, on with day five:

20 And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

I would like to make a note here about the firmament. The fact that the birds can fly in the "open firmament" tells us that the firmament isn't all that far above our heads. We don't exactly know how thick it is yet, but we know that it isn't all that far up there.

21 And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.
23 And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

The fifth day was kind of busy, but it didn't have a lot of description. All the winged fowl and all the creatures of the sea. Since the model put forth in Genesis only includes land and sea, then every creature that lived in the water had to be made on the fifth day.

And now on with the sixth day, which was a lot like the fifth day except for the land instead of the sea.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

That was the last part of God's creation. He makes everything that goes on the land. He made all the cattle, beasts, and creeping things. Right at the end of the day -- or at least the end of His creation -- He created man and woman in his image. Creation is now finished. The only thing left to do is give us some directions and place humans in charge as a sort of landlord for the Earth.

28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.
30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.
31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

And there you go; creation in a nutshell. Even though the entire creation is covered in one chapter containing just thirty-one verses, it is still insanely difficult for me to keep my present knowledge from contaminating the clear directions from Genesis. As soon as I quit thinking about it my mind fills in the sun as the source of light and heat, water only being available on the land instead of half of it over a firmament, land coalescing first prior to liquid water, stars that are gigantic yet so far away that they look like dots and some farther than we can see, a reflective moon instead of a moon with its own light, and the list goes on.

Regardless of how difficult it is to keep straight, Genesis chapter 1 has all the raw material to assemble into our model of creation, which we will get to in How God Made the Earth: Part 2.