Misleading Infographic Classics

This infographic from the WIPO has some classics from the misinformation tool kit. It wants to show the increase in Domain Name cases in 2016 and the relative sizes of the industry sectors they came from. But by increasing both the height and width of shapes used to represent them, the differences are exaggerated.

This graphic tries to show that the number of cases has increased by 10% and the height of the shaded square behind is indeed 10% taller than the unshaded one in front.  But the width has also been increased by 10%.  This is deceptive because the area of the shaded square is 21% greater than the unshaded one.  A more accurate representation would look like this:

The same error is made in the breakdown by country, but it is especially egregious in the case of France.

This attempts to illustrate the 38.3% increase in cases from France.  But an increase of 38.3% in both the height and width of a square results in an increase in area of a staggering 91%.  A more accurate represe…

Irish Free State Registered Trade Mark No. 1

Irish Free State Registered Trade Mark No. 1

The first registered trade mark in force in Ireland was the UK's Trade Mark No. 1 for Bass Ale. However, following independence in 1922 Ireland put in place its own intellectual property regime. The Industrial and Commercial Property (Protection) Act 1927 established a trade mark register for Ireland.  Deanta I nEireann is Irish for Made in Ireland.

A trade mark that merely designates the country of origin would not be registrable today.

Ryanair's New Website - Fail

Ryanair's website has long been overdue a makeover.  The new site is much more attractive.  It was not working properly over the weekend, but seemed to be open for business again yesterday.

It still has a ways to go though.  Although accepts bookings from passengers who have non-ASCII characters in their names, it doesn't properly print their boarding cards.  This belies a very anglo-centric view of the world.

Transport for Ireland Epic Fail

The routing algorithm used by Transport for Ireland clearly needs tweaking. It suggests that passengers travelling from Bishopstown to Ballincollig should go all the way into town and change busses there, despite the routes intersecting much earlier.  That could add an hour to the journey on a bad day.  I wonder is it because the bus routes don't share an actual stop, the routing algorithm does not consider them to intersect?  At the point where they first meet, the busses are travelling opposite directions they don't share any stops with the same number.  But of course most passengers would be happy to get off and cross the road to save an hour.

I've reported the problem to the website operators. It'll be interesting to see how long it takes to fix it.

I received a details response within hours.
The error was fixed within the week.

Umbrellas cause ejaculation

Sex with 21 Women Lowers Risk of Prostate Cancer

I saw this story reported today and it stuck me as particularly poor science. As click bait, it is irresistible. It has it all: sex, cancer, an excuse to use the word ejaculation and the conclusion that promiscuity is better than monogamy, unless you're gay.
The study found that men who had slept with more than 20 women had significantly lower instances of prostate cancer than those men who slept with less.
I have no reason to doubt the numbers.  But many reports of the findings illustrate the classic fallacy of confusing correlation with causation.  I have noticed that on on days when lots of people carry umbrellas, the buses are much fuller.  But it would be wrong to jump to the conclusion that umbrellas cause busses to fill up, and that increasing the  number of umbrellas on our streets would improve bus company revenues.  It is similarly incorrect to conclude that the full busses cause people to carry umbrellas. There is only corre…

User Interface Hall of Shame


Men, Women, & Balls

I caught an interesting episode of Freakonomics Radio today, and it got me thinking. It described an experiment by Uri Gneezy of U.C. San Diego. He wanted to explore attitudes to competition in men and women and determine if the differences he has observed are innate to the sexes, or if they are acquired from the culture.  He conducted an experiment that gauged people’s attitude to competition and risk, in two different cultures. The first was the Masai in Tanzania.  This is a very patriarchal society and women are not held in high esteem there.  The second culture was the matriarchal Khasi society of India. In this society women have most of the power and make of the decisions.
Participants in the experiments were tasked with throwing tennis balls into a bucket from a distance. The more balls they got in the bucket, the more money they could win. However each participant could chose from two payment options.  A participant could chose the first option and be paid $1 per ball.  Howeve…