by   Ranker
Staff
in Data Science, Pop Culture, prediction

Comparing World Cup Prediction Algorithms – Ranker vs. FiveThirtyEight

Like most Americans, I pay attention to soccer/football once every four years.  But I think about prediction almost daily and so this year’s World Cup will be especially interesting to me as I have a dog in this fight.  Specifically, UC-Irvine Professor Michael Lee put together a prediction model based on the combined wisdom of Ranker users who voted on our Who will win the 2014 World Cup list, plus the structure of the tournament itself.  The methodology runs in contrast to the FiveThirtyEight model, which uses entirely different data (national team results plus the results of players who will be playing for the national team in league play) to make predictions.  As such, the battle lines are clearly drawn.  Will the Wisdom of Crowds outperform algorithmic analyses based on match results?  Or a better way of putting it might be that this is a test of whether human beings notice things that aren’t picked up in the box scores and statistics that form the core of FiveThirtyEight’s predictions or sabermetrics.

So who will I be rooting for?  Both methodologies agree that Brazil, Germany, Argentina, and Spain are the teams to beat.  But the crowds believe that those four teams are relatively evenly matched while the FiveThirtyEight statistical model puts Brazil as having a 45% chance to win.  After those first four, the models diverge quite a bit with the crowd picking the Netherlands, Italy, and Portugal amongst the next few (both models agree on Colombia), while the FiveThirtyEight model picks Chile, France, and Uruguay.  Accordingly, I’ll be rooting for the Netherlands, Italy, and Portugal and against Chile, France, and Uruguay.

In truth, the best model would combine the signal from both methodologies, similar to how the Netflix prize was won or how baseball teams combine scout and sabermetric opinions.  I’m pretty sure that Nate Silver would agree that his model would be improved by adding our data (or similar data from betting markets that similarly think that FiveThirtyEight is underrating Italy and Portugal) and vice versa.  Still, even as I know that chance will play a big part in the outcome, I’m hoping Ranker data wins in this year’s world cup.

– Ravi Iyer

Ranker’s Pre-Tournament Predictions:

FiveThirtyEight’s Pre-Tournament Predictions:

by   Ranker
Staff
in Data

Men and Women Both Lie—But They Do It For Different Reasons

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We all tell white lies now and then (yes you do, don’t lie!) but did you know that men and women lie for different reasons? The data from our list of Things People Lie About All the Time shows a pattern that may hint at this difference.

The poll lists 49 common lies and asks respondents to vote “yes” if they’ve lied about that in the past 6 months or “no” if they have not. According to votes cast by over 350 people, women are more likely to lie about things that “keep the peace socially” while men are more likely to lie over matters of “self-preservation.”

On the list, women are 8 times more likely than men to lie about “being too swamped to hang out” and 4 times more likely to claim that their “phone died.” These results imply that women may be more likely to feel guilty about canceling on friends or having alone time.

In contrast, men were 2 times more likely to admit to saying things like “Oh yeah! That makes sense!” when they did not understand something and 5 times more likely to say, “No officer, I do not know why you pulled me over,” when, presumably, they did know why. These types of lies could point to men’s desire to show themselves in the best possible light and cover up wrongdoing.

Differences aside, both men and women voted similarly on many items on this list. In fact, the top 3 most popular lies were the same for both men and women.

The Top 3 Lies for BOTH Men and Women Are:

1. I’m Fine

2. I’m 5 Minutes Away

3. Yeah, I’m Listening.

Which goes to show that men and women may be able to see eye-to-eye after all… just as long as they don’t ask each other how they are doing, where they are and whether or not they are listening.

by   Ranker
Staff
in prediction

Predicting the Movie Box Office

The North American market for films totaled about US$11,000 million in 2013, with over 1300 million admissions. The film industry is a big business that not even Ishtar, nor Jaws: The Revenge, nor even the 1989 Australian film “Houseboat Horror” manages to derail. (Check out Houseboat Horror next time you’re low on self-esteem, and need to be reminded there are many people in the world much less talented than you.)

Given the importance of the film industry, we were interested in using Ranker data to make predictions about box office grosses for different movies. The ranker list dealing with the Most Anticipated 2013 Films gave us some opinions — both in the form of re-ranked lists, and up and down votes — on which to base predictions. We used the same cognitive modeling approach previously applied to make Football (Soccer) World Cup predictions, trying to combine the wisdom of the ranker crowd.

Our basic results are shown in the figure below. The movies people had ranked are listed from the heavily anticipated Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Thor: The Dark World down to less anticipated films like Simon Killing, The Conjuring, and Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa. The voting information is shown in the middle panel, with the light bar showing the number of up-votes and the dark bar showing the number of down-votes for each movie. The ranking information is shown in the right panel, with the size of the circles showing how often each movie was placed in each ranking position by a user.

This analysis gives us an overall crowd rank order of the movies, but that is still a step away from making direct predictions about the number of dollars a movie will gross. To bridge this gap, we consulted historical data. The Box Office Mojo site provides movie gross totals for the top 100 movies each year for about the last 20 years. There is a fairly clear relationship between the ranking of a movie in a year, and the money it grosses. As the figure below shows, a few highest grossing movies return a lot more than the rest, following a “U-shaped” pattern that is often found in real-world statistics. If a movie is the 5th top grossing in a given year, for example, it grosses between about 100 and 300 million dollars. if it is the 50th highest grossing, it makes between about 10 and 80 million.

We used this historical relationship between ranking and dollars to map our predictions about ranking to predictions about dollars. The resulting predictions about the 2013 movies are shown below. These predictions are naturally uncertain, and so cover a range of possible values, for two reasons. We do not know exactly where the crowd believed they would finish in the ranking list, and we only know a range of possible historical grossed dollars for each rank. Our predictions acknowledge both of those sources of uncertainty, and the blue bars in the figure below show the region in which we predicted it was 95% likely to final outcome would lie. To assess our predictions, we looked up the answers (again at Box Office Mojo), and overlayed them as red crosses.

Many of our predictions are good, for both high grossing (Iron Man 3, Star Trek) and more modest grossing (Percy Jackson, Hansel and Gretel) movies. Forecasting social behavior, though, is very difficult, and we missed a few high grossing movies (Gravity) and over-estimated some relative flops (47 Ronin, Kick Ass 2). One interesting finding came from contrasting an analysis based on ranking and voting data with similar analyses based on just ranking or just voting. Combining both sorts of data led to more accurate predictions than using either alone.

We’re repeating this analysis for 2014, waiting for user re-ranks and votes for the Most Anticipated Films of 2014. The X-men and Hunger Games franchises are currently favored, but we’d love to incorporate your opinion. Just don’t up-vote Houseboat Horror.

by   Ranker
Staff
in Game of Thrones, Popular Lists

Hypocritical Politicians, Birthday Fails & HODOR!!

In case you missed these gems, here are some of our favorite lists y’all have been ranking this month. Enjoy!

Introducing: Ranker of Thrones
All Men Must Rank. Visit our ‘Game of Thrones’ hub for interactive GoT content you won’t find anywhere else on the web. Rank the most epic insults in Westeros, listen to original GoT songs, and ponder which cats actually look like characters from the show. Stop by and get your Hodor fix. Hodor!

16 Prominent Anti-Gay Activists Who Were Caught Being Gay
Lots of hypocrites out there, ladies and gentlemen. This week, news broke that Steve Wiles, an anti-gay GOP Senate candidate, used to be an openly-gay drag queen named Miss Mona Sinclair. Thank goodness for the Internet.

40 Hilarious Birthday Fails/Wins
These photos prove that just because it’s your special day, doesn’t mean that you’re safe from your crazy relatives.

Simpsons Jokes That Actually Came True in Real Life
We’ve always loved how ‘The Simpsons’ riffs on current events and pop culture, but we never thought that real life would follow in the footsteps of the show. Weird.

The 13 Craziest Deaths Caused by Social Media
Everyone is guilty of doing their fair share of internet sleuthing, stalking, creeping, and… killing? Well, at least these 13 people are. Read about the weird, effed up things people are doing through social media these days.

Baby Animals That Could Melt the Coldest of Hearts (Photos)
Adorable baby animals: everyone loves them. But which type are actually the cutest? Until now, science has had no way to decide… but with your help, we may have the found the answer.

That’s it! Stay in touch, and we hope you’re having a great month!

by   Ranker
Staff
in Game of Thrones

Gender and the Moral Psychology of Game of Thrones

Most of my published academic work is in the field of moral psychology, where we study the moral reasoning behind judgments of right and wrong.  As I have previously argued, such study does not belong solely in the realm of university psychology labs, but also should be extended to the realm of “big data”, where online behavior is examined for convergence with what we see in the lab.  Ranker collects millions of user opinions each month on all sorts of topics, and one of them, where users rank the most uncomfortable moments in Game of Thrones, is actually very similar to psychology studies where we ask participants to rate the rightness or wrongness of various situations.

Amongst the situations to be voted on are:

  • Graphic Violence (Khaleesi Eats a Horse Heart, Execution of Eddard Stark)
  • Incest (Lannister Family Values, Theon Makes a Pass at Sister)
  • Sexual Violence (Danerys And Viserys, Jamie Rapes His Sister)
  • Homosexuality (Loras and Renly Shave and Scheme)

Men and women were equally likely to vote on items on this list (each gender averaged six votes per user), but women were twice as likely to be affected by sexual violence toward women, including Viserys’ lude treatment of his sister Danerys or The Red Wedding, which included the stabbing of a pregnant woman, than were men.  In contrast, men were made most uncomfortable by hints of homosexuality (Loras and Renly shaving each other’s chests), being seven times more likely to find this scene uncomfortable.  These patterns are convergent with research on mirror neurons, which indicate that people are most likely to be made uncomfortable by situations that threaten their self-identity, as well as accounts of women being driven to stop watching the show, due to the prevalence of depictions of violence against women.

Other patterns on this list also converged with previous research.  Americans, who may be less sensitive to violence due to its prevalence in American culture, were less affected by scenes such as the execution of Eddard Stark and Khaleesi eating a horse heart.  Southerners, who are more likely to be sensitive to purity concerns, were more affected by Petyr Baelish and Lord Varys’ discussion of perversity.

None of these findings are carefully controlled trials, so these patterns could have many explanations.  However, all research methods have flaws, and I would argue that it is the convergence of real world behavior with academic research that leads to true understanding.  Given Ranker’s new emphasis on Game of Thrones related content (like our Ranker of Thrones Facebook page if you’re a fan), more analyses of the repeated moral ambiguity in Game of Thrones are forthcoming and I would welcome new hypotheses to test.  What would you expect men/women to agree or disagree on?  Older vs. Younger fans?  West coasters vs. East Coasters?

– Ravi Iyer

by   Ranker
Staff
in Data, Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones: Don’t Get Too Comfortable

[Spoiler Alert: This post contains references to Seasons 1-4, Episode 3 of the show. There are no references to the books. If you're all caught up on the show, then you are safe!]

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Have you recently found yourself unreasonably happy about a certain child’s death? Excited, even, to watch the bile frothing out of his mouth and the blood streaming from the far corners of his eyes? Have you rationalized incest-rape and chalked it up to the pressures of the times? Rejoiced as a small girl murders a man in cold blood? (Something wrong with your leg, boy?)

Don’t get too comfortable.

Now that you’re fully immersed in the world of the Seven Kingdoms, your capacity for moral relativism may surprise you. You may feel like nothing on the show could totally shock or upset you anymore. Now that you’re sort of OK with incest-rape, should you just hang up your hat and quit? Can’t anything feel uncomfortable or shocking anymore?!

Don’t worry: If we’ve learned anything about this series so far, there will be plenty of horrific incidents to come. And according to our data, there is pretty much something on the show to upset every sensibility.

We were looking at our list of The Most Uncomfortable Game of Thrones Moments again (weird, we know — we like to keep the wounds fresh) and noticed an interesting pattern in our data that gives us an insight on what makes certain viewers uncomfortable. So far, over 1,000 people have voted on this list an average of 5 times. There are 18 uncomfortable moments to choose from, and they are ordered from jaw-dropping to ain’t-no-thing. (Vote if you haven’t already. It’s fun!)

As more and more people vote, some interesting correlations have emerged.

TheonFor example, Ranker users who said that they were very uncomfortable when Theon Greyjoy lost his “most prized possession” were far more likely to also feel uncomfortable when Jaime Lannister’s right hand was cut off. Jaime
A particular distaste for bodily harm, it would seem.

[In plain English: The majority of people who hated watching that first scene also hated watching the second. Most people who didn't mind the first also didn't mind the second.]

But there’s more. Two main “camps” of voters emerged in our data. We’ll call them “Camp Emotional” and “Camp Physical.

People who voted for one thing that could be considered emotionally distressing — witnessing an incest scene between brother and sister, for example – were highly likely to also vote for other moments that can be associated with emotional distress: Lysa Tully’s disturbing breastfeeding scene and Viserys Targaryan’s willingness to whore out his own sister in exchange for power both come to mind.

Similarly, people who voted on one item in “Camp Physical” were more likely to vote on other physically revolting scenes. Viserys Targaryen getting “crowned,” Khaleesi eating a horse heart, and the execution of Eddard Stark were all positively correlated.

Disgusting GoT Tastes Graph smaller 500

The “Game of Thrones” show creators certainly have their bases covered as far as upsetting every sensibility.

Don’t mind a six year-old suckling on the teat of his mother? Maybe your favorite character will be brutally executed. Don’t think the gory stuff is that big of a deal? Maybe a character you thought you trusted will double-cross his sister, have sex with his mother, and steal the crown for himself. This is all just speculation, of course, but we’re just saying: no one is safe. Not even you. 

by   Ranker
Staff
in Popular Lists

The Best Secret Menu Items From Any Restaurant (Infographic)

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The best secret menu items from all restaurants with secret menus compiled into one list of the greatest menu items from any restaurant. These restaurants are collectively responsible for producing some of the best fast food burgers, the best french fries, and some of the fast food items with the biggest cult followings; and that’s just the stuff you know about.

 photo Ranker-Infographic-footer.jpg

Embed Best Secret Menus items from any Restaurants on Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

by   Ranker
Staff
in Entertainment, Trends

Can Colbert Bring Young Fans to the Late Show?

Stephen Colbert

In 2015, Stephen Colbert will depart from his home at Comedy Central where he’s amassed a huge cult following and head over to the mainstream late show game, replacing David Letterman. CBS is sure hoping he’ll bring all those young fans too. 

Say Late Show and you may have already lost a younger demographic of TV viewers whose watching habits have never been tethered to a specific time or place. TiVo, you’ll remember, was first introduced in 1999, when today’s demographic of 18-25 year olds were only children, ages 3-10. The idea of watching the same TV program at the same time every night is not something that Millenials do.

And while David Letterman’s show is available to watch online, many young viewers associate the style and tone of the Late Show with their parent’s generation.

Millennials, it turns out, like TV, just not necessarily from networks. And they like it served two ways: as part of a gluttonous binge (aka that time you didn’t go outside for a whole weekend and watched 2 entire seasons of House of Cards) or in tiny, viral pieces (aka short-form videos) that are easy to watch at work and share on social media. Jimmy Fallon, by the way, has been killing it in this second category with his viral comedy sketches. Ratings for NBC’s The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon are up 46% this week compared to the same week last year. 

So, how will Stephen Colbert do with younger viewers? And perhaps more importantly, will be able to hit that sweet-spot of broad appeal that allows him to pick up a large number of new viewers–young and old?

Despite the ire of those who disagree with The Colbert Report’s politics, CBS is definitely addressing this need to compete better for younger viewers. The majority of Ranker users are in the 18-25 age bracket and The Colbert Report ranks higher than the Late Show on almost every list that they are both on, including the Funniest TV shows of 2012 (19 vs. 28), Best TV Shows of All-Time (186 vs. 197), and Best TV Shows of Recent Memory (37 vs. 166).

Furthermore, people who tend to like The Colbert Report also report liking many shows that are currently in the cultural zeitgeist: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and 30 Rock. In contrast, preference for the Late Show is correlated with older shows like The Sopranos and 60 Minutes. Between David Letterman and Stephen Colbert, it looks like it’s Colbert for the win on attracting younger viewers.

There is some overlap between these audiences as fans of both shows like The West Wing and The Daily Show, indicating that Colbert may be able to appeal to current fans as well as new (older) audiences.

by   Ranker
Staff
in Popular Lists

Dirty Airline Secrets, ’90s Supermodels + Not-So-Smart Criminals

Spring is in full swing and we can hear the birds chirping. Passover, Easter, Earth Day, 4/20… there sure is a lot to celebrate this month! Our gift to you: a handy roundup of our favorite new lists on Ranker.

9 Bad Things That Happened on Good Friday
Though it is not the merriest holiday for Christians (or Jesus for that matter), it still seems pretty crazy that so many murders, crimes, and disasters have gone down on Good Friday.

18 Dirty Facts About Flying That Airlines Don’t Want You To Know
Warning: some of these appalling airline practices cannot be unseen. If you’re squeamish, there is still time to turn back and continue to be blissfully unaware that your aircraft’s wing may or may not be held on with duct tape.

15 Criminals Who Got Caught By Bragging About Their Crimes
Some people are just in the habit of sharing everything about themselves on the Internet. You eat mac n’ cheese for dinner, you tweet a pic of yourself enjoying your meal. You rob a bank, you post a pic of yourself fanning out the money–D’oh!

Easy Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Environment
You don’t have to be a hero or a hippie to know that our environment could use a little help. In honor of Earth Day this month, here’s a fun roundup of easy things you can do to make a difference.

Stunning Snapshots of ’90s Supermodels (Then and Now)
Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell. . . they were all household names back in the ’90s. We all know that Tyra Banks is as crazy as ever, but what are the rest of these beauties up to and how have they aged?

20 Jobs That No Longer Exist
It’s insane that PEOPLE ever did some of these tasks. (See: the job that was replaced when alarm clocks were invented.) But they did and we have the pictures to prove it.

The Worst People On Planes
Whenever you board a plane, you hope that everything runs smoothly. Of course, that means safely, but it also means not having to deal with the many types of obnoxious people you’re likely to encounter. Here’s a rundown of the usual suspects.

by   Ranker
Staff
in Market Research, Opinion Graph, Pop Culture, Rankings

Can Colbert bring young Breaking Bad Fans to The Late Show?

I have to admit that I thought it was a joke at first when I heard the news that Stephen Colbert is leaving The Colbert Report and is going to host the Late Show, currently hosted by David Letterman.  The fact that he won’t be “in character” in the new show makes it more intriguing, even as it brings tremendous change to my entertainment universe.  However, while it will take some getting used to, looking at Ranker data on the two shows reveals how the change really does make sense for CBS.

Despite the ire of those who disagree with The Colbert Report’s politics, CBS is definitely addressing a need to compete better for younger viewers, who are less likely to watch TV on the major networks.  Ranker users tend to be in the 18-35 year old age bracket and The Colbert Report ranks higher than the Late Show on most every list that they both are on including the Funniest TV shows of 2012 (19 vs. 28), Best TV Shows of All-Time (186 vs. 197), and Best TV Shows of Recent Memory (37 vs. 166).  Further, people who tend to like The Colbert Report also seem to like many of the most popular shows around like Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, and 30 Rock.  In contrast, correlates of the Late Show include older shows like The Sopranos and 60 Minutes.  There is some overlap as fans of both shows like The West Wing and The Daily Show, indicating that Colbert may be able to appeal to current fans as well as new audiences.

Colbert Can Expand Late Show's Audience to New Groups, yet Retain Many Current Fans.

I’ll be sad to see “Stephen Colbert” the character go.  But it looks like my loss is CBS’ gain.

– Ravi Iyer

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