5 reasons the Senate race polls in Alabama are wrong

Who’s going to win the special election for the next U.S. Senator from Alabama? According to the two most recent polls, it’s either Republican Roy Moore by 9 points or Democrat Doug Jones by 10 points. How is this much variation even possible? Unless a pollster stands over the shoulder of each individual who votes … Continued

The Insight Debate: Words vs. Numbers

Moderator: Welcome to the first Insight Debate of 2017. We’ll be hearing from two distinguished purveyors of knowledge, Words and Numbers. I’m Professor Insight, your moderator. Let’s begin. On my left, I’d like to introduce Words. Since the dawn of communication — and certainly since the dawn of written communication over 5000 years ago — words have … Continued

Nate Silver wasn’t wrong

My Facebook feed is full of people angry at election forecaster Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com, declaring him a failure. They’re wrong. Here’s why he was right . . . and why you’re blaming the wrong guy. My argument has three simple points: Nate Silver’s forecast wasn’t wrong, because he didn’t predict a Clinton win. Polling … Continued

Why all this talk about the “median” income?

The US Census Bureau released figures yesterday showing that, in 2015, the median annual household income in America increased by 5.2% over a year earlier. That’s an increase of $2,798, to $56,516 per year. Why talk about the “median” and how is that different from an average? I’ll explain. Put simply, when you’re talking about income, the … Continued

5 ways to use evidence to back up (or challenge) an argument

Based on the material I’m reading and editing, a lot of people have forgotten how to use evidence in their writing. They make unsupported statements that the reader is just supposed to swallow whole. If you want to persuade me that your assessment is valid, your prediction is accurate, or your advice is effective, here are five ways … Continued

Happy passengers matter, even if an airline study couldn’t prove it

An International Air Transport Association study was unable to find a connection between passenger “happiness” and airline profitability. But that’s boring. So the travel news site Skift reported it as if happy passengers don’t matter. The lack of a finding, like a vacuum, sucked up the truth. Skift’s article, by Marisa Garcia, was titled “IATA Study Finds You … Continued

10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them

There are plenty of folks happy to tell you how to write better, just as any doctor will tell you to “eat right and exercise.” But changing your writing (or eating) habits only happens when you understand why you do what you do. I can help you with that. That proposal or email you wrote must now compete for … Continued