• Researchers found that a slight "hot hand effect" in basketball does exist, but that it is not strong enough for fans or players to detect Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 30 May 2020 11:39

    BASKETBALL FANS missing the squeak of sneakers on hardwood have lapped up “The Last Dance”, a documentary about the Chicago Bulls’ National Basketball Association (NBA) championship run in 1998. ESPN, the sports cable network that produced it, says the show is its most-watched documentary ever. The show owes its success to its protagonist, Michael Jordan, who is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time. His remarkable accomplishments were, at times, a mystery to the player himself. In the first game of the 1992 NBA Finals, Mr Jordan made six three-pointers in the first half alone. After hitting his sixth, he glanced at his friend, Magic Johnson, on the sidelines and shrugged. As Mr Johnson recalled in the documentary: “He was so hot that night.”

    But is the “hot hand” a myth? The notion that a player becomes more likely to score with every successful attempt has been debated for decades. The idea that success begets success, irrespective of other factors,...

  • Dodgy journals exploit the popular “open-access” model—charging fees to authors, rather than to readers Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 30 May 2020 01:24

    AS COVID-19 spreads, scientists are racing to study it. Although journals have tried to speed up peer review, many authors bypass it altogether by uploading working papers to preprint sites. Flimsy findings can then travel as fast as the virus.

    Most scholars who share preprints are doing their best to make vital discoveries. However, some authors seek to pad thin résumés by publishing underwhelming, repetitive or fake research. As safeguards are relaxed, journalists and governments need to be on high alert to spot such studies.

    These articles mostly appear in “predatory” journals, which make use of the popular “open-access” model—charging fees to authors, rather than to readers—to publish any old tosh for money. According to Cabells, a firm that maintains a blacklist of such journals in English, some 1,000 existed in 2010. Today there are at least 13,000.

    Some scammers are careless. Mike Daube, a professor of public health, got his dog onto seven journals’...

  • Manhattanhenge is sure to generate some breathtaking images on social media which, luckily, can be enjoyed by anyone, locked down or not Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 29 May 2020 21:34

    IN 1808 JOHN RANDEL JUNIOR, New York City’s 20-year-old chief surveyor, was asked to design and develop the island of Manhattan, from what is now Houston Street, near its southern tip, to 155th Street, eight miles north. More than two centuries on, Randel’s grid is celebrated by locals and tourists alike—never more so than when the parallel streets running west to east between the Hudson and East Rivers line up perfectly with the setting sun. This phenomenon, which occurs twice a year, on May 29th-30th and July 12th-13th, was dubbed “Manhattanhenge” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, in 2002. Viewing the sun descending like a globe of fire between the Big Apple’s skyscrapers into neighbouring New Jersey has since become a biannual event for aspiring photographers.

  • This week in charts: America's grim milestone, “the end of Hong Kong” and a year without holidays Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 29 May 2020 20:29

    During the pandemic, international travel has all but stopped. Some countries, such as India, ended all road and rail transport, grounded all flights and shuttered airports. By the tourism industry’s reckoning, 330m jobs depend on travellers. Yet, even as countries ease lockdowns, 2020 will be for a lot of people a year without holidays. Many will not be able to afford them. Those that can may find they cannot travel to their chosen destination. China is leading the world out of travel lockdowns, but still largely within its own borders. Whether—and how fast—the Chinese rediscover their yen for venturing abroad matters to the rest of the world. Once a tourism tiddler, China now sends more visitors overseas than any other country.

  • The notion that a basketball player becomes more likely to score with every successful attempt has been debated for decades Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 29 May 2020 19:19

    BASKETBALL FANS missing the squeak of sneakers on hardwood have lapped up “The Last Dance”, a documentary about the Chicago Bulls’ National Basketball Association (NBA) championship run in 1998. ESPN, the sports cable network that produced it, says the show is its most-watched documentary ever. The show owes its success to its protagonist, Michael Jordan, who is widely regarded as the greatest player of all time. His remarkable accomplishments were, at times, a mystery to the player himself. In the first game of the 1992 NBA Finals, Mr Jordan made six three-pointers in the first half alone. After hitting his sixth, he glanced at his friend, Magic Johnson, on the sidelines and shrugged. As Mr Johnson recalled in the documentary: “He was so hot that night.”

    But is the “hot hand” a myth? The notion that a player becomes more likely to score with every successful attempt has been debated for decades. The idea that success begets success, irrespective of other factors,...

  • Scammers tend to have patchy archives and lack transparent policies Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 29 May 2020 17:09

    AS COVID-19 spreads, scientists are racing to study it. Although journals have tried to speed up peer review, many authors bypass it altogether by uploading working papers to preprint sites. Flimsy findings can then travel as fast as the virus.

    Most scholars who share preprints are doing their best to make vital discoveries. However, some authors seek to pad thin résumés by publishing underwhelming, repetitive or fake research. As safeguards are relaxed, journalists and governments need to be on high alert to spot such studies.

    These articles mostly appear in “predatory” journals, which make use of the popular “open-access” model—charging fees to authors, rather than to readers—to publish any old tosh for money. According to Cabells, a firm that maintains a blacklist of such journals in English, some 1,000 existed in 2010. Today there are at least 13,000.

    Some scammers are careless. Mike Daube, a professor of public health, got his dog onto seven journals’...

  • The best Manhattanhenge pictures are taken at Tudor City, at least in the opinion of fellow Instagrammers Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 29 May 2020 15:18

    IN 1808 JOHN RANDEL JUNIOR, New York City’s 20-year-old chief surveyor, was asked to design and develop the island of Manhattan, from what is now Houston Street, near its southern tip, to 155th Street, eight miles north. More than two centuries on, Randel’s grid is celebrated by locals and tourists alike—never more so than when the parallel streets running west to east between the Hudson and East Rivers line up perfectly with the setting sun. This phenomenon, which occurs twice a year, on May 29th-30th and July 12th-13th, was dubbed “Manhattanhenge” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, in 2002. Viewing the sun descending like a globe of fire between the Big Apple’s skyscrapers into neighbouring New Jersey has since become a biannual event for aspiring photographers.

  • New Yorkers knowledgeable enough to avoid tourist traps go east to view Manhattanhenge, to Tudor City Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 29 May 2020 09:38

    IN 1808 JOHN RANDEL JUNIOR, New York City’s 20-year-old chief surveyor, was asked to design and develop the island of Manhattan, from what is now Houston Street, near its southern tip, to 155th Street, eight miles north. More than two centuries on, Randel’s grid is celebrated by locals and tourists alike—never more so than when the parallel streets running west to east between the Hudson and East Rivers line up perfectly with the setting sun. This phenomenon, which occurs twice a year, on May 29th-30th and July 12th-13th, was dubbed “Manhattanhenge” by Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist, in 2002. Viewing the sun descending like a globe of fire between the Big Apple’s skyscrapers into neighbouring New Jersey has since become a biannual event for aspiring photographers.

  • Most journals in English from Nigeria and India are on a blacklist Link
    The Economist Data Team Thu 28 May 2020 23:18

    AS COVID-19 spreads, scientists are racing to study it. Although journals have tried to speed up peer review, many authors bypass it altogether by uploading working papers to preprint sites. Flimsy findings can then travel as fast as the virus.

    Most scholars who share preprints are doing their best to make vital discoveries. However, some authors seek to pad thin résumés by publishing underwhelming, repetitive or fake research. As safeguards are relaxed, journalists and governments need to be on high alert to spot such studies.

    These articles mostly appear in “predatory” journals, which make use of the popular “open-access” model—charging fees to authors, rather than to readers—to publish any old tosh for money. According to Cabells, a firm that maintains a blacklist of such journals in English, some 1,000 existed in 2010. Today there are at least 13,000.

    Some scammers are careless. Mike Daube, a professor of public health, got his dog onto seven journals’...

  • A vast number of dubious academic journals have launched since 2010 Link
    The Economist Data Team Thu 28 May 2020 17:43

    AS COVID-19 spreads, scientists are racing to study it. Although journals have tried to speed up peer review, many authors bypass it altogether by uploading working papers to preprint sites. Flimsy findings can then travel as fast as the virus.

    Most scholars who share preprints are doing their best to make vital discoveries. However, some authors seek to pad thin résumés by publishing underwhelming, repetitive or fake research. As safeguards are relaxed, journalists and governments need to be on high alert to spot such studies.

    These articles mostly appear in “predatory” journals, which make use of the popular “open-access” model—charging fees to authors, rather than to readers—to publish any old tosh for money. According to Cabells, a firm that maintains a blacklist of such journals in English, some 1,000 existed in 2010. Today there are at least 13,000.

    Some scammers are careless. Mike Daube, a professor of public health, got his dog onto seven journals’...

  • It is still mothers who spend much more of their time looking after children Link
    The Economist Data Team Thu 28 May 2020 02:27

    FOR ALL the talk about responsible fathering and child care, it is still mothers who spend much more of their time looking after children—even during the pandemic, even when both parents are furloughed and even when both are working from home. That is one of several findings from a study published this week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a British think-tank, seeking to answer the question: “How are mothers and fathers balancing work and family under lockdown?”

    Not very well, appears to be one of the main conclusions. For their study the IFS researchers surveyed more than 3,500 two-parent heterosexual couples in England about how they are using their time during lockdown. Comparing the activities of mothers and fathers throughout the day, the researchers found that, although they spend almost exactly the same time grooming, sleeping and watching Netflix, the differences in paid work and unpaid work at home are stark (see chart).

  • When dads do look after children they are more likely to take on “passive” tasks (watching the kids while they watch TV) than “active” ones (helping with homework) Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 27 May 2020 20:16

    FOR ALL the talk about responsible fathering and child care, it is still mothers who spend much more of their time looking after children—even during the pandemic, even when both parents are furloughed and even when both are working from home. That is one of several findings from a study published this week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), a British think-tank, seeking to answer the question: “How are mothers and fathers balancing work and family under lockdown?”

    Not very well, appears to be one of the main conclusions. For their study the IFS researchers surveyed more than 3,500 two-parent heterosexual couples in England about how they are using their time during lockdown. Comparing the activities of mothers and fathers throughout the day, the researchers found that, although they spend almost exactly the same time grooming, sleeping and watching Netflix, the differences in paid work and unpaid work at home are stark (see chart).

  • As demand for the ingredients needed to make tests has soared, richer countries have muscled African ones out of the market Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 27 May 2020 11:01

    AFRICA’S FIRST confirmed case of coronavirus was recorded in Egypt on February 14th. Some worried that, as outbreaks took hold across the globe, the virus would rapidly overwhelm the continent’s fragile health-care systems. For the moment, if official figures are to be believed, such fears have not been realised: Africa, home to 17% of the world's population, currently accounts for just 1.5% of the world’s confirmed covid-19 cases and 0.1% of deaths, according to the World Health Organisation.

    The true death toll may be far higher. The low numbers reported so far may partly reflect a paucity of testing. Africa CDC, a public-health agency of the African Union, reckons that just 1.8m Africans have been tested for the virus, or slightly more than 0.1% of the population (Germany, by comparison, has tested nearly 4% of its people; across the OECD, the testing rate is 2.3%, on average). Africa CDC plans to distribute another 1m tests. But even if they succeed, this will still...

  • Africa CDC reckons that just 1.8m Africans have been tested for the virus, or slightly more than 0.1% of the population Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 27 May 2020 03:56

    AFRICA’S FIRST confirmed case of coronavirus was recorded in Egypt on February 14th. Some worried that, as outbreaks took hold across the globe, the virus would rapidly overwhelm the continent’s fragile health-care systems. For the moment, if official figures are to be believed, such fears have not been realised: Africa, home to 17% of the world's population, currently accounts for just 1.5% of the world’s confirmed covid-19 cases and 0.1% of deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    The true death toll may be far higher. The low numbers reported so far may partly reflect a paucity of testing. Africa CDC, a public-health agency of the African Union, reckons that just 1.8m Africans have been tested for the virus, or slightly more than 0.1% of the population (Germany, by comparison, has tested nearly 4% of its people; across the OECD, the testing rate is 2.3%, on average). Africa CDC plans to distribute another 1m tests. But even if they succeed, this will...

  • The relatively low number of covid-19 cases reported in Africa so far may partly reflect a paucity of testing Link
    The Economist Data Team Tue 26 May 2020 22:00

    AFRICA’S FIRST confirmed case of coronavirus was recorded in Egypt on February 14th. Some worried that, as outbreaks took hold across the globe, the virus would rapidly overwhelm the continent’s fragile health-care systems. For the moment, if official figures are to be believed, such fears have not been realised: Africa, home to 17% of the world's population, currently accounts for just 1.5% of the world’s confirmed covid-19 cases and 0.1% of deaths, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    The true death toll may be far higher. The low numbers reported so far may partly reflect a paucity of testing. Africa CDC, a public-health agency of the African Union, reckons that just 1.8m Africans have been tested for the virus, or slightly more than 0.1% of the population (Germany, by comparison, has tested nearly 4% of its people; across the OECD, the testing rate is 2.3%, on average). Africa CDC plans to distribute another 1m tests. But even if they succeed, this will...

  • The 90% economy is likely to be a more solitary and less fun sort of society—the sort of place where the office is open but the pub isn’t Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 25 May 2020 21:34

    LAST MONTH The Economist coined the term “90% economy” to describe what will happen as lockdowns are eased across the world. Under strict lockdowns, economies tend to operate at about 60% capacity, analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests. But as they are eased, that figure rises to 90%. Many offices and factories reopen—but not all do, and people, scared of being infected, are likely to shun many social activities. Unemployment is structurally higher, and is particularly concentrated in occupations which rely on plenty of face-to-face contact. According to one estimate, if Americans chose to avoid person-to-person proximity of the length of an arm or less, occupations worth approximately 10% of national output would become unviable.

    But the idea of the 90% economy captures something qualitative too. The 90% economy will undoubtedly be characterised by relief, fellow feeling, and newly felt or expressed esteem for those who have worked to keep people safe. But the term...

  • Analysis suggests that weekday subway trips in China have recovered faster than weekend ones Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 25 May 2020 16:34

    LAST MONTH The Economist coined the term “90% economy” to describe what will happen as lockdowns are eased across the world. Under strict lockdowns, economies tend to operate at about 60% capacity, analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests. But as they are eased, that figure rises to 90%. Many offices and factories reopen—but not all do, and people, scared of being infected, are likely to shun many social activities. Unemployment is structurally higher, and is particularly concentrated in occupations which rely on plenty of face-to-face contact. According to one estimate, if Americans chose to avoid person-to-person proximity of the length of an arm or less, occupations worth approximately 10% of national output would become unviable.

    But the idea of the 90% economy captures something qualitative too. The 90% economy will undoubtedly be characterised by relief, fellow feeling, and newly felt or expressed esteem for those who have worked to keep people safe. But the term...

  • Some American states have started to lift lockdowns, but there is little sign of economies roaring back Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 25 May 2020 13:44

    LAST MONTH The Economist coined the term “90% economy” to describe what will happen as lockdowns are eased across the world. Under strict lockdowns, economies tend to operate at about 60% capacity, analysis from Goldman Sachs suggests. But as they are eased, that figure rises to 90%. Many offices and factories reopen—but not all do, and people, scared of being infected, are likely to shun many social activities. Unemployment is structurally higher, and is particularly concentrated in occupations which rely on plenty of face-to-face contact. According to one estimate, if Americans chose to avoid person-to-person proximity of the length of an arm or less, occupations worth approximately 10% of national output would become unviable.

    But the idea of the 90% economy captures something qualitative too. The 90% economy will undoubtedly be characterised by relief, fellow feeling, and newly felt or expressed esteem for those who have worked to keep people safe. But the term...

  • Our data analysis shows that across three prominent models, projections made on April 12th for the death toll two weeks ahead had an average absolute error of 17% Link
    The Economist Data Team Sun 24 May 2020 23:49

    SOME 80 DAYS have now passed since the first death from covid-19 occurred on America’s shores. Since then over 90,000 people in the country have succumbed to the virus. That toll is greater than America’s combat deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Whereas governments do not release their forecasts of how many people will be killed in wars, predictions of covid-19 deaths in America have been published and are widely scrutinised.

    As in the fog of war, early epidemiological projections have been subject to the largest errors. One of the first prominent institutions to issue a long-run forecast for covid-19 was the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. On March 26th it predicted that a total of 81,000 people were likely to die from the epidemic in America. Though they were uncertain about the precise toll—estimates ranged from 38,000 to 162,000—their model was confident that the virus would be done by July....

  • A model built by a young graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has recently been more accurate than forecasts from many established outfits Link
    The Economist Data Team Sun 24 May 2020 15:48

    SOME 80 DAYS have now passed since the first death from covid-19 occurred on America’s shores. Since then over 90,000 people in the country have succumbed to the virus. That toll is greater than America’s combat deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Whereas governments do not release their forecasts of how many people will be killed in wars, predictions of covid-19 deaths in America have been published and are widely scrutinised.

    As in the fog of war, early epidemiological projections have been subject to the largest errors. One of the first prominent institutions to issue a long-run forecast for covid-19 was the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. On March 26th it predicted that a total of 81,000 people were likely to die from the epidemic in America. Though they were uncertain about the precise toll—estimates ranged from 38,000 to 162,000—their model was confident that the virus would be done by July....

  • The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation's model raised concerns among fellow health experts because it used an unorthodox “curve-fitting” approach Link
    The Economist Data Team Sun 24 May 2020 00:03

    SOME 80 DAYS have now passed since the first death from covid-19 occurred on America’s shores. Since then over 90,000 people in the country have succumbed to the virus. That toll is greater than America’s combat deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Whereas governments do not release their forecasts of how many people will be killed in wars, predictions of covid-19 deaths in America have been published and are widely scrutinised.

    As in the fog of war, early epidemiological projections have been subject to the largest errors. One of the first prominent institutions to issue a long-run forecast for covid-19 was the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. On March 26th it predicted that a total of 81,000 people were likely to die from the epidemic in America. Though they were uncertain about the precise toll—estimates ranged from 38,000 to 162,000—their model was confident that the virus would be done by July....

  • How do different covid-19 models work and why are some better than others? Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 23 May 2020 14:47

    SOME 80 DAYS have now passed since the first death from covid-19 occurred on America’s shores. Since then over 90,000 people in the country have succumbed to the virus. That toll is greater than America’s combat deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Whereas governments do not release their forecasts of how many people will be killed in wars, predictions of covid-19 deaths in America have been published and are widely scrutinised.

    As in the fog of war, early epidemiological projections have been subject to the largest errors. One of the first prominent institutions to issue a long-run forecast for covid-19 was the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. On March 26th it predicted that a total of 81,000 people were likely to die from the epidemic in America. Though they were uncertain about the precise toll—estimates ranged from 38,000 to 162,000—their model was confident that the virus would be done by July....

  • A model built by a young graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has recently been more accurate than forecasts from many established outfits Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 23 May 2020 01:27

    SOME 80 DAYS have now passed since the first death from covid-19 occurred on America’s shores. Since then over 90,000 people in the country have succumbed to the virus. That toll is greater than America’s combat deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Whereas governments do not release their forecasts of how many people will be killed in wars, predictions of covid-19 deaths in America have been published and are widely scrutinised.

    As in the fog of war, early epidemiological projections have been subject to the largest errors. One of the first prominent institutions to issue a long-run forecast for covid-19 was the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington. On March 26th it predicted that a total of 81,000 people were likely to die from the epidemic in America. Though they were uncertain about the precise toll—estimates ranged from 38,000 to 162,000—their model was confident that the virus would be done by July....

  • Excess mortality is one of the key metrics needed to track the covid-19 pandemic. We have made the data we gather publicly available Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 22 May 2020 23:42

    Our tracker uses data from a number of statistical bureaus, health ministries and government departments. For each country, you can find the relevant source documents in the /source-data/ folder, including some old versions in each country's /archive/ folder. Some of the data are automatically downloaded from official websites in cleaning_script.R, an R file that formats the data consistently across countries.

    We have also collated a full list of sources and links in a file called list_of_sources.csv. In general we have tried to use the most expansive official estimate of covid-19 deaths available in each country. Belgium, Britain and Sweden all publish restrospectively adjusted estimates of when deaths occurred or were registered, rather than when they were reported. For most other countries, we have used the figures maintained by the ECDC and Our World In Data. We have subtracted one day from the ECDC's time series (since it uses 10am CET as its cut-off point).

    ...
  • Red states tend to be more sparsely inhabited than blue ones, which might hamper the transmission of the virus Link
    The Economist Data Team Fri 22 May 2020 21:17

    IT IS A cruel twist that America, which is already strongly polarised between Republicans and Democrats, should suffer a health crisis that splits the country deeper along those lines. That, so far, is what covid-19 has done. By mid-May the official mortality rate was three times higher, on average, in states won by Hillary Clinton in 2016 than in those won by Donald Trump. President Trump has often insinuated that this is because of incompetence by local politicians, whom he also holds responsible for the economic harm wrought on their constituents. He tweeted on April 27th: “Why should the people and taxpayers of America be bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, as example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run and managed, when most of the other states are not looking for bailout help?”

    Data gathered by Opportunity Insights, a research institution based at Harvard University, confirm that the pandemic has affected workers and companies more severely in blue...

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