Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Skeptical Stats

        If you have seen David McCandless' TED Talk, you know that he is known for his bright and fun graphs. When I watched this video, one graph in particular caught my eye; "Peak Break-up Times" on Facebook. At first, I wanted to scrape statuses from Facebook and create a similar graph, a graph that showed the common times for a relationship to begin. However, the more I researched data scrapers and tried to get one going, the less confident I became in my venture. My teacher showed me the site "weknowwhatyouredoing.com", and I began to think that perhaps David McCandless' data and graph were not totally accurate, so I decided to pick apart his graph and give other reasons for why someone might be posting "broke up" or "break up" in their Facebook status. I tore apart the graph from left to right, explaining that on Valentine's Day, someone might not be posting about a significant other that broke up with them, but could say: "My boyfriend broke up my night of studying by taking me to dinner and a movie". The peaks leading up to spring vacation, summer vacation, and Christmas vacation, could all have a similar reason, too. Who wouldn't post about "taking a break up at the cabin" over summer break? Or post a question on Facebook about whether Joseph broke up with Mary when he found out she was pregnant? And what David McCandless claims as the "safe day", or Christmas, could really just be a decrease in status updates, or more posts about what people are doing with their families instead of a depressing relationship status change. Overall, it was a fun project to do! I didn't have to be serious and calculate a ton of numbers, but use my imagination and think outside the box!

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