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Old 9th November 2020, 03:40 PM   #201
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Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
Already debunked.
Who is debunking math?
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:44 PM   #202
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Originally Posted by No Other View Post
Who is debunking math?
The notion that Benford's law would apply to precinct-by-precinct votes in a particular State has been debunked. In each State, each precinct has roughly the same number of votes; i.e. there are not orders of magnitude in difference. Therefore, Benford's law would not apply.
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:48 PM   #203
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
It amazes me that so many people don't mind being wrong. I hate being wrong.
It's a time-efficient strategy. Grab a bunch of theories and have others vet them. It doesn't matter if a lot of them are incorrect because you were never invested in any particular one anyway. The claims that cannot be debunked might be worth holding.
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:48 PM   #204
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
They said something like that, but I'm not sure what they are basing the statement on. I don't see in your example why it wouldn't apply to the case you describe, so long as the underlying process was one where the odds decreased as the number increased in the appropriate way. If pages of a log table work here, where we are presumably talking about numbers not wildly greater than the ones you are talking about, I don't see what the objection is.
I've reached my limit of expertise on this topic. Someone else will not doubt be capable of carrying on.
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:49 PM   #205
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Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
Where?
Well, to be honest I was relying on reading about it's use years ago. A quick google search show's the Washington Post using it to analyse the Russian elections in 2016.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...stical-finger/

There are plenty of examples of it's use in academic papers. Maybe it is no good? but it is hardly an out there technique that Trump supporters have raised up out of some pseudo-mathematics netherworld. It's been discussed on this forum in the past.
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:52 PM   #206
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
When and how?
On this very thread, earlier.

Starts here with Zig. For some reason, he is now gone.

Main debunking is here and here. Others also noted unsuitability of Benford's law for detecting election/vote fraud.

You even start to participate after that, so you had to see that. But I guess you are blind to what you do not want to see.

Originally Posted by No Other View Post
Who is debunking math?
Lol. You are speaking like parody of conspiracy theorist. Protip: it is possible to use math in wrong way.

For example, you lied earlier that
Quote:
All you need to use Benford's Law is that your universe has a range across it of at least an order of magnitude.
Nope. Wikipedia article about Benford's law has section commenting on when it can and cannot be used.
Most important genera rule is, of course:
Quote:
Distributions that do not span several orders of magnitude will not follow Benford's law.
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:54 PM   #207
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
The notion that Benford's law would apply to precinct-by-precinct votes in a particular State has been debunked. In each State, each precinct has roughly the same number of votes; i.e. there are not orders of magnitude in difference. Therefore, Benford's law would not apply.
I don't see that that would mean that the least significant digit wouldn't follow benford's law. Surely benfords law applies to each precinct. For any given candidates vote in any given precinct there is ~30% probability that the least significant digit is 1, an 18% probability that it is 2... start adding precincts and a curve should emerge...? No?

It feels like I'm missing something here. Could you explain?
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Old 9th November 2020, 03:57 PM   #208
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Originally Posted by Minoosh View Post
It amazes me that so many people don't mind being wrong. I hate being wrong.
Hopefully not too much of a tangent:

There are at least two epistemic goals- A desire to avoid making the wrong choice, and a desire to avoid missing the right choice. In real world circumstances, we're rarely given 100% certainty, so sometimes the weight we give one of these goals over the other makes a difference in what we accept and how we categorize our beliefs.

Most of us use some of both on a case by case basis, but I suspect a significant part of cultural and political divides can be explained at least partly by the difference in people more prone to one goal or the other.

As skeptics, more of us are more concerned with avoiding adopting false beliefs.

I'm guessing that believers in Trump's conspiracy theories, white nationalists, religious folks and republicans in general are more prone to beeing concerned about missing the true beliefs.

It creates a cultural divide where we can't understand each other's concept of "true" because no one talks about the roots of our epistemological practice.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:07 PM   #209
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
In regards to the claim "Biden got fewer votes than Obama or Hillary in every state other than Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin," I'll say he got one thing right:

He used "fewer" correctly
In ST's case, "less" would have been appropriate, because it was only the lesser races that voted for Biden.

Biden's lack of "coattails" can probably be best explained by loyal Republicans who were embarrassed by Trump.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:10 PM   #210
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It appears that many on this thread are using Wikipedia's "Benford's Law" article. There is a comment highlighted in the footnotes is as follows..." Raimi makes the brief comment: "...many writers ... have said vaguely that Benford's law holds better when the distribution ... covers several orders of magnitude."

Yet, the above quote has morphed into... "Distributions that do not span several orders of magnitude will not follow Benford's law."

Ralph Rami wrote a review article in 1976 debunking the need for multiple magnitudes. The quote that people are quoting which says there is a need for multiple magnitudes... is exactly opposite of what Rami proved in his hallmark book and publication.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:11 PM   #211
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I don't see that that would mean that the least significant digit wouldn't follow benford's law. Surely benfords law applies to each precinct. For any given candidates vote in any given precinct there is ~30% probability that the least significant digit is 1, an 18% probability that it is 2... start adding precincts and a curve should emerge...? No?

It feels like I'm missing something here. Could you explain?
I can't explain in any cohesive way, but I would point you to that paper I linked to which specifically looks at using Benford's law to find fraud in elections.

The abstract sums it up:
Quote:
The proliferation of elections in even those states that are arguably anything but democratic has given rise to a focused interest on developing methods for detecting fraud in the official statistics of a state's election returns. Among these efforts are those that employ Benford's Law, with the most common application being an attempt to proclaim some election or another fraud free or replete with fraud. This essay, however, argues that, despite its apparent utility in looking at other phenomena, Benford's Law is problematical at best as a forensic tool when applied to elections. Looking at simulations designed to model both fair and fraudulent contests as well as data drawn from elections we know, on the basis of other investigations, were either permeated by fraud or unlikely to have experienced any measurable malfeasance, we find that conformity with and deviations from Benford's Law follow no pattern. It is not simply that the Law occasionally judges a fraudulent election fair or a fair election fraudulent. Its “success rate” either way is essentially equivalent to a toss of a coin, thereby rendering it problematical at best as a forensic tool and wholly misleading at worst.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:14 PM   #212
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Fox News cuts off Kayleigh McEnany's press conference, refusing to air her claims about election fraud without evidence.

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Old 9th November 2020, 04:21 PM   #213
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Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
On this very thread, earlier.

Starts here with Zig. For some reason, he is now gone.

Main debunking is here
That doesn't look like it discusses benford's law. It's an argument about a particular graph. In discussing benford's law's applicability to elections, I'd really rather not use the comments of random people on the internet writing on stackexchange specifically about this election. Everybody is far to invested.

Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
here.
There are papers in journals using Benford's law on elections. I quoted the Washington post article applying it to the Russian election. I have seen the paper claiming it's a coinflip as well. You don't debunk something by finding one paper that agrees with you in a sea of others that don't. The threshold for debunking seems to be very low.

Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
Others also noted unsuitability of Benford's law for detecting election/vote fraud.
Other's have claimed it, based on I'm not sure what and I'm really not sure how mathematically knowledgeable the people claiming it are.

Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
You even start to participate after that, so you had to see that. But I guess you are blind to what you do not want to see.
Yes, I see people repeatedly state it is inapplicable, yet it seems to be pretty widely used for exactly this purpose. The people claiming it is inapplicable don't seem to know what they are talking about. At the very least, given it's wide use it's not crazy that people are being falling into error and using it.

Given that it has been debunked, could somebody explain why benford's law doesn't work on elections?

Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
Lol. You are speaking like parody of conspiracy theorist. Protip: it is possible to use math in wrong way.
Sure, but does anybody claiming it is debunked actually understand the maths? or are they just regurgitating statements that they don't understand.

Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
For example, you lied earlier that
No I didn't lie. I could have been wrong. For ***** sake, we are having a discussion about Beford's law because it is interesting. Nothing we say here has any impact on whether Trump manages to pull a miracle out of the bag or not.

Originally Posted by Mader Levap View Post
Nope. Wikipedia article about Benford's law has section commenting on when it can and cannot be used.
Most important genera rule is, of course:
This is an interesting point. I think I was wrong about that part and I will rethink. Couldn't you use a different base to mitigate the constraint? In any case, it doesn't seem like it matters to the main discussion since the variability in the vote in the different counties and so forth seems very much more than this.

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Old 9th November 2020, 04:23 PM   #214
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Originally Posted by Armitage72 View Post
Fox News cuts off Kayleigh McEnany's press conference, refusing to air her claims about election fraud without evidence.

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Old 9th November 2020, 04:23 PM   #215
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A lot of people in this thread have allowed themselves be put in the position in the which they are explaining to conspiracy theorists why something is not correct.

This is a trap in which the conspiracy theorists force you to assume a position and defend it while they escape that burden.

Please do not fall for it.

Force them to take a position and defend it, and watch them scatter like roaches when the lights come on.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:26 PM   #216
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
I can't explain in any cohesive way, but I would point you to that paper I linked to which specifically looks at using Benford's law to find fraud in elections.

The abstract sums it up:
Yes, that is one paper. The same one quoted by Wayerin. Equally there are many, many papers, and newspaper articles using Benford's law to analyse elections. You don't prove/debunk something by finding one paper whose abstract agrees with you. Chiropractic, homeopathy, and clairvoyance are 100% legit by that criteria.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:27 PM   #217
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Originally Posted by No Other View Post
Benford's Law is perfect for this type of forensics. All you need to use Benford's Law is that your universe has a range across it of at least an order of magnitude.
Benfords Law isn't black and white. It gets more accurate the larger the range of the sample being considered.

i.e. if you have a set of values that span one order of magnitude it might apply or it might not.

if your dataset spans two orders of magnitude, it might apply it might not, though it's more likely to apply than a dataset of one order of magnitude

if your dataset spans 10 orders of magnitude it is very likely to apply.

Somewhere along the line of one oom to ten oom there' a point where you can say this dataset is not a naturally occuring set of numbers to a very high degree of confidence.

In order to say a dataset has occurred naturally or has been manipulated you need a high degree of confidence - which doesn't exist when your dataset spans a low number of orders of magnitude. (or doesn't follow a power law)

The short version is WE DO NOT KNOW WHY BENFORDS LAW WORKS - what we can say is that it's a very useful tool in the times and places that we know it does work and, spoiler alert, detecting election fraud ain't one of them.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:27 PM   #218
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Here is a paper that warns agains the use of Benford's law in elections:
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journ...F3C61CE91AAF6D
To quote from the abstract

Quote:
Its “success rate” either way is essentially equivalent to a toss of a coin, thereby rendering it problematical at best as a forensic tool and wholly misleading at worst.
They used simulated date and found that there was no correlation between the conclusions of Benford's and "fraud"
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:28 PM   #219
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Originally Posted by Cavemonster View Post
As skeptics, more of us are more concerned with avoiding adopting false beliefs.
This has been a skeptic board in name only for a very long time now.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:35 PM   #220
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
This has been a skeptic board in name only for a very long time now.
Prove it.


Buying into CTs is not skepticism. Every single claim about problems with the election have been dismantled.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:36 PM   #221
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Hey if you really want to bake your noodle and are having trouble following Benfords law google the Zipf distribution.

Vsauce did a video on it a few years back.

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(and no that won't help with detecting election fraud either, but learning new stuff is always fun)
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:36 PM   #222
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Originally Posted by No Other View Post
It appears that many on this thread are using Wikipedia's "Benford's Law" article. There is a comment highlighted in the footnotes is as follows..." Raimi makes the brief comment: "...many writers ... have said vaguely that Benford's law holds better when the distribution ... covers several orders of magnitude."

Yet, the above quote has morphed into... "Distributions that do not span several orders of magnitude will not follow Benford's law."

Ralph Rami wrote a review article in 1976 debunking the need for multiple magnitudes. The quote that people are quoting which says there is a need for multiple magnitudes... is exactly opposite of what Rami proved in his hallmark book and publication.
I can't believe I didn't check. The wikipedia article is being edited to claim that benford's law today. Quotes from editors:
Quote:
Seems like a coincidence, doesn't it? A seemingly unchanged, relatively ignored article, about a law that indicated voter fraud time and time again, now discredited?
and

Quote:
It actually discredited Benford's law being used for election fraud months before the 2020 election, as you can see from this older edit. However, in recent days an anonymous user repeatedly removed that text, causing it to have to be re-added. In fact, the most recent edit added an extra sentence to cast doubt on the study that supposedly "discredited" the application of Benford's law to elections. So by all metrics, Wikipedia got changed in the direction of saying that Benford's law IS applicable to voter fraud.
The section everybody is quoting was added only on the 9th. Below is the version before people started to edit the article to win the argument post election:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php...ford's_law

I'll try and go back and find what it said before all this fun began.

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Old 9th November 2020, 04:36 PM   #223
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Seriously, "skepticism" means we are supposed accept the claims of voter fraud?
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:38 PM   #224
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
This has been a skeptic board in name only for a very long time now.
Do you believe that mass voter fraud has occurred?
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:38 PM   #225
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I don't see that that would mean that the least significant digit wouldn't follow benford's law. Surely benfords law applies to each precinct. For any given candidates vote in any given precinct there is ~30% probability that the least significant digit is 1, an 18% probability that it is 2... start adding precincts and a curve should emerge...? No?

It feels like I'm missing something here. Could you explain?
To understand, you have to understand where that 30% comes from. What's the deal? What magic is this?

The answer is that log10(2)~0.30.
The 18% comes from the fact that log10(3)~.48.

In order to follow Benford's law, the kind of data that you are tracking has to be the sort of thing that has some sort of logarithmic element to it. Lots of natural processes have that sort of property. Another thing that has that sort of property is the product of a group of uniformly distributed random integers. In other words, if I roll a die 10 times, and multiply the results together, and take the first digit, the results will follow Benford's law.

On the other hand, sums of data won't do that. If I roll those same dice and add the results, there won't be any digit in there that follows Benford's law. Not the first. Not the last.

A lot of natural processes do follow Benford's law, because they have an exponential characteristic. That's why engineers use log paper a lot.

"How many people voted for Joe Biden in precinct X" is not the sort of thing you can plot on log paper.

So, how do those people who analyzed the Iranian election come up with something that follows Bedford's law? I have no idea. Products of two randomly selected precincts? I think that would work. I think the result might follow Bedford's law, if the results were legitimate. I really don't know how that all works. I don't know what numbers anyone selected to make that work with election data.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:41 PM   #226
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
The section everybody is quoting was added only on the 9th. .
The paper supplied by xjx was published in 2011.

It concluded that there is no correlation between the results of Bedford's law and election outcomes.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:41 PM   #227
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Yes, that is one paper. The same one quoted by Wayerin. Equally there are many, many papers, and newspaper articles using Benford's law to analyse elections. You don't prove/debunk something by finding one paper whose abstract agrees with you. Chiropractic, homeopathy, and clairvoyance are 100% legit by that criteria.
It's one paper, true. There are others, here's one.
Quote:
Therefore, this article will apply the test to the 2009 German Federal Parliamentary Election against which no serious allegation of fraud has been raised. Surprisingly, the test results indicate that there should be electoral fraud in a number of constituencies. These counter intuitive results might be due to the naive application of the 2BL-test which is based on the conventional χ2 distribution. If we use an alternative distribution based on simulated election data, the 2BL-test indicates no significant deviation. Using the simulated election data, we also identified under which circumstances the naive application of the 2BL-test is inappropriate. Accordingly, constituencies with homogeneous precincts and a specific range of vote counts tend to have a higher value for the 2BL statistic.
OTOH, proponents of the "Benford's Law applies" viewpoint have yet to present any citations whatsoever. The fact that it has been used to try and detect election fraud says nothing about the suitability of the Law for elections. Do you have anything?
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:45 PM   #228
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In March there wasn't any talk that I can see about it being no good under these curcumstances:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php...ford's_Law

and a pre-Trump one in June 2015

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php...#Election_data

what you have is the following:

Quote:
Benford's Law has been invoked as evidence of fraud in the 2009 Iranian elections,[19] and also used to analyze other election results. However, other experts consider Benford's Law essentially useless as a statistical indicator of election fraud in general.[20][21]
So, some experts say it's good, others say it isn't. Hence not debunked but perhaps open to dispute?
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:45 PM   #229
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I can't believe I didn't check. The wikipedia article is being edited to claim that benford's law today. Quotes from editors:


and



The section everybody is quoting was added only on the 9th. Below is the version before people started to edit the article to win the argument post election:
https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php...ford's_law

I'll try and go back and find what it said before all this fun began.
That's hilarious.

(Not you. The fact that a Wikipedia article about an obscure mathematical property is being edited a few days after an election.)
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:46 PM   #230
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
The paper supplied by xjx was published in 2011.

It concluded that there is no correlation between the results of Bedford's law and election outcomes.
Sure, I'm aware of that. I was talking about the Wikipedia article.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:46 PM   #231
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
Benfords Law isn't black and white. It gets more accurate the larger the range of the sample being considered.

i.e. if you have a set of values that span one order of magnitude it might apply or it might not.

if your dataset spans two orders of magnitude, it might apply it might not, though it's more likely to apply than a dataset of one order of magnitude

if your dataset spans 10 orders of magnitude it is very likely to apply.
The greater the sample size, the greater the refinement. That is pretty much with anything... But that is not what Benford's law is about, it works perfectly fine with one magnitude.

Quote:
Somewhere along the line of one oom to ten oom there' a point where you can say this dataset is not a naturally occuring set of numbers to a very high degree of confidence.
accuracy is more appropriate.

Quote:
In order to say a dataset has occurred naturally or has been manipulated you need a high degree of confidence - which doesn't exist when your dataset spans a low number of orders of magnitude. (or doesn't follow a power law)
Provide an example of what you mean.

Quote:
The short version is WE DO NOT KNOW WHY BENFORDS LAW WORKS - what we can say is that it's a very useful tool in the times and places that we know it does work and, spoiler alert, detecting election fraud ain't one of them.
Exactly how is this tool inappropriate for election results?
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:48 PM   #232
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This guy's in on it too.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:49 PM   #233
pgwenthold
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Sure, I'm aware of that. I was talking about the Wikipedia article.
Well that's really silly. Hand-wringing over whether Wikipedia is sufficiently complete?

Talk about pointless.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:52 PM   #234
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Originally Posted by johnny karate View Post
Do you believe that mass voter fraud has occurred?
I know we quibble here about voter fraud and election fraud here. There is also the question of what you mean by "mass". In any case, I don't know. Result impacting voter/election fraud/"human error" involving 10s of thousands of votes has certainly occurred in the past. I see no reason in principle why it shouldn't have occurred now.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:54 PM   #235
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
Well that's really silly. Hand-wringing over whether Wikipedia is sufficiently complete?

Talk about pointless.
The sections of the article that were being quoted as "debunking" had only been added after the election. I had naively not checked that, and was bringing it to people's attention who might have been similarly naïve.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:55 PM   #236
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
OTOH, proponents of the "Benford's Law applies" viewpoint have yet to present any citations whatsoever. The fact that it has been used to try and detect election fraud says nothing about the suitability of the Law for elections. Do you have anything?
Benford's Law is Empirical what more do you require?
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:56 PM   #237
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Originally Posted by acbytesla View Post
I'm not trying to do the impossible. He's desperately throwing crap that is served up to him on Qanon and other nutjob news sources on the wall hoping it sticks.

I find that the facts stick better.
Can you point to anyone else in this thread who flipped from Al Franken loving Obama voter to what I am now? Looks like I have possibly the best record for being convinced out of stuff of anyone in here.

As for QAnon? Those people are a joke and I’ve never paid the slightest molecule of attention to their stupidity.
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Old 9th November 2020, 04:59 PM   #238
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Originally Posted by Meadmaker View Post
That's hilarious.

(Not you. The fact that a Wikipedia article about an obscure mathematical property is being edited a few days after an election.)
This happens all the time, see Miriam-Webster doing a "scheduled update" to their definition of 'sexual preference' hours after it was claimed to be derogatory in the Coney Barrett hearing. The past and language is updated continually to better serve the purposes of the present.
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Old 9th November 2020, 05:01 PM   #239
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
The short version is WE DO NOT KNOW WHY BENFORDS LAW WORKS - what we can say is that it's a very useful tool in the times and places that we know it does work and, spoiler alert, detecting election fraud ain't one of them.
What? Of course we know how it works. It's a mathematical law that describes processes that fit particular criteria. In what sense don't we know how it works?
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Old 9th November 2020, 05:03 PM   #240
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Originally Posted by pgwenthold View Post
Seriously, "skepticism" means we are supposed accept the claims of voter fraud?
Skepticism means you don't call them debunked on the basis of one study that agrees with you.
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