Stats & Diagrams I want to see

1. Economic Inequality over time on a Bell Curve chart. 

1.1 Country-by-country charts where the X axis is earnings (in Inflation & PPP-adjusted USD), and the Y axis is % of population in that range. The chart then shows consecutive time periods like Gapminder.com. 
- The earnings axis would probably be a number of ranges, and ranges we have data in would probably be different for different countries.
- This data may not exist for the majority of countries throughout history. 
    - Hypothesis: I have no idea what this would yield. I can envision a number of scenarios: 
  1. The chart would have a U-shape throughout much of the middle ages as the middle class was small? Not likely - it would probably have a big slope from left to right throughout history. 
  2. Globally, the chart would have a big slope from left to right (poorest to richest) in the "developing" age. 
  3. In developed countries, I would expect to see a slight bulge / bell curve. 
- I would view deviations from a bell curve as being less fair (and less desirable) as long as 
- If development really has been doing so well, then on a global scale we should see a hump moving from left to right 

This experiment is predicated on a bell-curve distribution being "Fair", so a detailed analysis and caveats should be presented. In the "fairness from nature: whatever is the norm in the Animal kingdom might be fair" argument, you could look through data on characteristics in organisms that lead to reproductive success and see if they tend to approximate a bell curve. 

I think "fair as random" is a starting point; I don't think we're there yet, but I think we will have come a long way if we ever get there. Sustainably moving beyond "fair as random" would come later. But if we can leapfrog it, I'm all for that. 

- Possible problems:
  1. This could end up embroiled in the g controversy, the "Bell Curve" (Book) controversy, etc.
- Responses:
1. - This is only an imperfect tool, but I think it is better than other ones. 
2. - My hypothesis is, "lets do at least as "well" as nature; people seem to get used to the idea that on any given trait, there tend to be other people who exhibit that trait more strongly and more weakly, and that if you average out all the traits, my hypothesis is that you would get a bell curve. My argument might be, "a bell curve doesn't necessarily show inequality as much as it shows diversity; diversity is not necessarily bad (in fact, it is very often good), but we would need to perform a qualitative analysis on the data (and the real people that the data is from) to really answer questions of fairness, equality, and justice. 
3. - For me, statistics is a starting point: take a snapshot of the world (with all the loss of resolution and translational difficulties that entails, as photographers can tell you) and then move to philosophy to try to make sense of it. Because of people like John Rawls, I have a framework for what I would expect to see on an inequality chart - but I believe that the most interesting work will be done by people who have had the benefit of that equality chart and are able to bring deductive and inductive reasoning together. (By "inductive reasoning", I mean my own version of empiricism influenced by John Locke and David Hume.)

2. History of Violence: Is the "Red" world shrinking?

2.1 Map of the world showing a history of conflict above a certain level by % of population affected colored red, and other states/areas neutrally colored. 

- This would also entail a map that includes the shifting borders & empires, and white spaces for the spots where we don't have data. 
- Could we make meaningful extrapolations in any of those "white spaces"?
    - Hypothesis: The number of red states will decline as time goes on.
- Difficulties: 
1. The data for each place would have to be vetted carefully for each point in time that it is claimed: the footnote list would be huge. 
- Solutions:
1. A multi-national, multi-university project that uses undergraduates to build up each element of the larger picture as follows:
  1. An international coordinating body sets up a collaborative website and a list of universities to approach.
  2. The coordinating body gets buy-in from university professors in each country to coordinate efforts with their undergraduate and graduate students.
    1. Undergrads act as research assistants for grad students as part of their in-class assignments.
    2. Grad students are in charge of getting a complete history of "violence" for a certain time period for a certain geographical location.
    3. Grad students would probably work with Sociology and History departments. 
    4. The university professors would be in charge of coordinating the work and getting buy-in from their colleagues to assign portions of the project to their undergrad students. 
  3. All of the data is evaluated as per the standards of the individual universities, though the coordinating body may give guidelines. 
  4. All of the data is entered into the collaborative website (Even better if the research is conducted on the collaborative website; i.e., it is even better if the tools of production are an inherent part of the project, where everyone uses the same tools) - if that can work across the broad spectrum of cultures we would need to deal with. 
Comments