Radiolab
Radiolab
Nov 13, 2020
Breaking Benford
Play • 30 min

In the days after the US Presidential election was called for Joe Biden, many supporters of Donald Trump are crying foul.  Voter fraud. And a key piece of evidence? A century-old quirk of math called Benford’s Law.  We at Radiolab know Benford’s Law well, and have covered it before.  In this political dispatch, Latif and Soren Sherlock their way through the precinct numbers to see if these claims hold up. Spoiler: they don’t. But the reason why is more interesting than you’d expect.

This episode was reported by Latif Nasser. 

Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.    

Links: 

Walter Mebane, “Inappropriate Applications of Benford’s Law Regularities to Some Data from the 2020 Presidential Election in the United States”

Consider This from NPR
Consider This from NPR
NPR
Their Family Members Are QAnon Followers — And They're At A Loss What To Do About It
The QAnon conspiracy theory originated in 2017, when an anonymous online figure, "Q" started posting on right-wing message boards. Q claims to have top secret government clearance. Q's stories range from false notions about COVID-19 to a cabal running the U.S. government to the claim there's a secret world of satanic pedophiles. This culminates in the belief that President Trump is a kind of savior figure. Today, U.S. authorities are increasingly regarding QAnon as a domestic terror threat — especially following last week's insurrection at the Capitol. But the people in the best position to address that threat are the families of Q followers — and they're at a loss about how to do it. Some of those family members spoke with us about how their family members started following QAnon and how that has affected their relationships. Travis View researches right-wing conspiracies and hosts the podcast QAnon Anonymous. He explains how the QAnon story is not all that different from digital marketing tactics, and how followers become detached from reality. Dannagal Young is an associate professor of communications at the University of Delaware and studies why people latch onto political conspiracy theories. She share some ways to help family members who are seemingly lost down one of these conspiracy rabbit holes. In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what's going on in your community. Email us at considerthis@npr.org.
14 min
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