Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘statistical analysis

Damned lies and statistics?

Sebastian Wernicke turns the tools of statistical analysis on TEDTalks, to come up with a metric for creating “the optimum TEDTalk” based on user ratings. How do you rate it? “Jaw-dropping”? “Unconvincing”? Or just plain “Funny”?

Sebastian Wernicke. Data scientist

After making a splash in the field of bioinformatics, Sebastian Wernicke moved on to the corporate sphere, where he motivates and manages multidimensional projects. Full bio

Filmed in Feb 2010

If you go on the TED website, you can currently find there over a full week of TEDTalk videos, over 1.3 million words of transcripts and millions of user ratings.

And that’s a huge amount of data. And it got me wondering: If you took all this data and put it through statistical analysis, could you reverse engineer a TEDTalk?

Could you create the ultimate TEDTalk? (Laughter) (Applause) And also, could you create the worst possible TEDTalk that they would still let you get away with?

0:49 To find this out, I looked at three things:

I looked at the topic that you should choose,

I looked at how you should deliver it and the visuals onstage.

Now, with the topic: There’s a whole range of topics you can choose, but you should choose wisely, because your topic strongly correlates with how users will react to your talk.

to make this more concrete, let’s look at the list of top 10 words that statistically stick out in the most favorite TEDTalks and in the least favorite TEDTalks. So if you came here to talk about how French coffee will spread happiness in our brains, that’s a go. (Laughter) (Applause) Whereas, if you wanted to talk about your project involving oxygen, girls, aircraft — actually, I would like to hear that talk, (Laughter) but statistics say it’s not so good.

If you generalize this, the most favorite TEDTalks are those that feature topics we can connect with, both easily and deeply, such as happiness, our own body, food, emotions. And the more technical topics, such as architecture, materials and, strangely enough, men, those are not good topics to talk about.

How should you deliver your talk?

TED is famous for keeping a very sharp eye on the clock, so they’re going to hate me for revealing this, because, actually, you should talk as long as they will let you. (Laughter) Because the most favorite TEDTalks are, on average, over 50% longer than the least favorite ones.

And this holds true for all ranking lists on except if you want to have a talk that’s beautiful, inspiring or funny. Then, you should be brief. (Laughter) But other than that, talk until they drag you off the stage.

While you’re pushing the clock, there’s a few rules to obey. I found these rules out by comparing the statistics of four-word phrases that appear more often in the most favorite TEDTalks as opposed to the least favorite TEDTalks.

I’ll give you 3 examples. First of all, I must, as a speaker, provide a service to the audience and talk about what I will give you, instead of saying what I can’t have.

Secondly, it’s imperative that you do not cite The New York Times. (Laughter) And

finally, it’s okay for the speaker — that’s the good news — to fake intellectual capacity. If I don’t understand something, I can just say, “etc., etc.” You’ll all stay with me. It’s perfectly fine. (Applause)

 let’s go to the visuals. The most obvious visual thing on stage is the speaker.

And analysis shows if you want to be among the most favorite TED speakers, you should let your hair grow a little bit longer than average, make sure you wear your glasses and be slightly more dressed-up than the average TED speaker.

Slides are okay, though you might consider going for props. And now the most important thing, that is the mood onstage. Color plays a very important role.

Color closely correlates with the ratings that talks get on the website. (Applause) For example, fascinating talks contain a statistically high amount of exactly this blue color, (Laughter) much more than the average TEDTalk.

Ingenious TEDTalks, much more this green color, etc., et. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, personally, I think I’m not the first one who has done this analysis, but I’ll leave this to your good judgment.

it’s time to put it all together and design the ultimate TEDTalk.

Now, since this is TEDActive, and I learned from my analysis that I should actually give you something, I will not impose the ultimate or worst TEDTalk on you, but rather give you a tool to create your own. And I call this tool the TEDPad. (Laughter)

And the TEDPad is a matrix of 100 specifically selected, highly curated sentences that you can easily piece together to get your own TEDTalk.

You only have to make one decision, and that is: Are you going to use the white version for very good TEDTalks, about creativity, human genius? Or are you going to go with a black version, which will allow you to create really bad TEDTalks, mostly about blogs, politics and stuff? So, download it and have fun with it.

I hope you enjoy the session. I hope you enjoy designing your own ultimate and worst possible TEDTalks. And I hope some of you will be inspired for next year to create this, which I really want to see.

Patsy Z and TEDxSKE shared a link.

What is your position on legalized abortion? Accounting for two-third in reduced crime rate?

Let’s state a few facts, if you believe in the statistical analysis of vast numeric data:

First, an unwanted child, born from a single mother, or raised by a single parent, and not enjoying any extended family support, is 50% more likely than average to live in poverty and ending up with low-educational level;

Second, an unwanted child, born from a single mother, or raised by a single parent, and not enjoying any extended family support, doubles a child propensity to commit crimes;

Third, an unwanted child, born from a single mother, or raised by a single parent, and not enjoying any extended family support, lives in an environment of low-educational surrounding and poor neighborhood, two strong indicators for a future criminal behavior;

Four, a teenage single mother is more likely to end up an addict and to commit crimes;

Fifth, potential mothers have a much better understanding of “what they can do and are willing to do with their unborn child” than all the experts combined. Teenage mothers with no family support know how their born child will fare in life:  They cannot afford to live with a lost case, especially if their education level is pretty low…

Suppose the single mother is a drug addict or alcoholic: Wouldn’t the child be born at a disadvantage from the start, physically and mentally? Would you dare condemn a single mother for aborting an unwanted child, knowing that the newborn is going to suffer from handicaps, and be mentally retarded, or die before reaching the age of 5?

Are you ready to finance a teenage single mother and support her with good jobs in order to facilitate raising a child by herself? If not, how dare you condemn abortion?

There are people who base their position on religious or ideological grounds.  There are people who are against abortion 100%, regardless of situations and conditions.  There are people who support abortion 100% regardless of situations and conditions.

For the first extremist group, a newborn is worth as much as any fetus. For the second group, a newborn is worth thousands of fetuses. Rational people can select a range in between the two ends:  They can select how much a newborn is worth of fetuses.

Suppose that you say: “A newborn is worth one hundred fetuses”. Currently, the US society is witnessing 1.5 million abortions per year. Consequently, a simple math would result is the equivalent loss of agreed upon 15, 000 casualties in collateral damage.  This is about the number of people who die in homicides cases in the US every year.

Before legalized abortion, a single mother had to find $500 and a back alley for the abortion: The fetus was lost, the mother died, or suffered long-lasting trauma due to pain, indignity, humiliation, and culpability. After legalized abortion, a single woman has to pay $100 and enjoy an accredited hospital.  The additional benefit is a facility to attend to social and psychological counseling before deciding on any abortion.  Isn’t legalized abortion a qualitative jump to quality of life to “the living”?

Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner in “FreakOnomics” demonstrated that two-third in the steady decline in the rate of violent crimes in the last two decades can be attributed to mother enjoying the legal right for abortion.  The unwanted children who were not born, and the pool of potential troublemakers were not in the street to indulge in criminal activities! More on that issue in a follow-up article.

On Jan. 22, 1973, the US Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe vs Wade legalized abortion. Justice Harry Blackmun wrote the majority opinion:

“The detriment that the State would impose upon the pregnant woman, by denying this choice altogether, is apparent…Maternity, or additional offspring, may force upon the woman a distressful life and future.  Psychological harm may be imminent. Mental and physical health may be taxed by child care.  There is also the distress, for all concerned, associated with the unwanted child, and there is the problem of bringing a child into a family already unable, psychologically and otherwise, to care for it.”

A mother was given the opportunity to make her own mind and decide on the abortion alternative.  She does a good job of figuring out if she is ready, willing, and in a position to raise the baby well, within acceptable standards of quality of life.

What is your position on legalized abortion?

Note: Article inspired by “FreakOnomics” of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner




January 2023

Blog Stats

  • 1,515,915 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by

Join 822 other subscribers
%d bloggers like this: