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.
– Ravi Iyer
[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!]
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.
For 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
I’ll be sad to see “Stephen Colbert” the character go. But it looks like my loss is CBS’ gain.
– Ravi Iyer
An octopus called Paul was one of the media stars of the 2010 soccer world cup. Paul correctly predicted 11 out of 13 matches, including the final in which Spain defeated the Netherlands. The 2014 world cup is in Brazil and, in an attempt to avoid eating mussels painted with national flags, we made predictions by analyzing data from Ranker’s “Who Will Win The 2014 World Cup?” list.
Ranker lists provide two sources of information, and we used both to make our predictions. One source is the original ranking, and the re-ranks provided by other users. For the world cup list, some users were very thorough, ranking all (or nearly all) of the 32 teams who qualified for the world cup. Other users were more selective, listing just the teams they thought would finish in the top places. An interesting question for data analysis is how much weight should be given to different rankings, depending on how complete they are.
The second source of information on Ranker are the thumbs-up and thumbs-down votes other users make in response to the master list of rankings. Often ranker lists have many more votes than they have re-ranks, and so the voting data potentially are very valuable. So, another interesting question for data analysis is how the voting information should be combined with the ranking information.
A special feature of making world cup predictions is that there is very useful information provided by the structure of the competition itself. The 32 teams have been drawn in 8 brackets with 4 teams each. Within a bracket, every team plays every other team once in initial group play. The top two teams from each bracket then advance to a series of elimination games. This system places strong constraints on possible outcomes, which a good prediction should follow. For example, Although Group B contains Spain, the Netherlands, and Chile — all strong teams, currently ranked in the top 16 in the world according to FIFA rankings — only two can progress from group play and finish in the top 16 for the world cup.
We developed a model that accounts for all three of these sources of information. It uses the ranking and re-ranking data, the voting data, and the constraints coming from the brackets, to make an overall prediction. The results of this analysis are shown in the figure. The left panel shows the thumbs-up (to the right, lighter) and thumbs-down (to the left, darker) votes for each team. The middle panel summarizes the ranking data, with the area of the circles corresponding to how often each team was ranked in each position. The right hand panel shows the inferred “strength” of each team on which we based our predicted order.
Our overall prediction has host-nation Brazil winning. But the distribution of strengths shown in the model inferences panel suggests it is possible Germany, Argentina, or Spain could win. There is little to separate the remainder of the top 16, with any country from the Netherlands to Algeria capable of doing well in the finals. The impact of the drawn brackets on our predictions is clear, with a raft of strong countries — the England, USA, Uruguay, and Chile — predicted to miss the finals, because they have been drawn in difficult brackets.
– Michael Lee
Happy spring! Here are the best lists you crazy kids have been upvoting this month:
Which Ex-Presidents Would You Want to Go on a Bender With?
Did you know that some of the former presidents of the U.S. were huge drinkers and recreational drug users? Huge! Read about the scandalous habits of these former POTUSes (or would that be POTI?) and then vote for the ex-pres that you’d most want to get down with.
The Craziest Things Girls Will Do to Make You Like Them
Quit playing games with my heart! Really. No, not really. We all can get a little crazy when it comes to romance. Whether they’re just flirting or looking to put a ring on it, some ladies will do some pretty insane things to get noticed.
25 Celebrities Who Lost a Ton of Weight (Before and After Photos)
These stars transformed themselves from fat to all that! From flabby to fabby. From obese to bitch, please! Okay, I think we’re done here.
Who Did These Eventually Famous Kids Grow Up To Be?
When kids are young, they have the potential to be anything: astronauts, politicians, police officers… or they could go the way of Darth Vader and cross over to the Dark Side. From these vintage childhood photos, can you guess who turned in to whom?
The Biggest Turn Ons in a Person
Wondering how to be charming and attractive to the opposite sex? This is what men – and women – truly want.
25 Movie Couples Who Got Together in Real Life
After pretending to be an item on the silver screen, these sexy celebrities rode that wave of attraction all the way to Couplesville.
Top 10 Most Ironic Deaths of All Time (Vol. 2)
These incidents are far more serious than having “too many spoons when all you need is a knife.” Folks died here, people. Bonus: If you really love yourself some ironic deaths, check out Volume 1: The Top Ironic Deaths of All Time. You weirdo.
20 Celebrities Who Have Had Hair Transplants
We aren’t 100% certain how these balding men managed to halt the cruel hands of time… but we’re guessing that science had something to do with it, because most human beings don’t lose hair and then miraculously get it back.
I was recently forwarded an article about Squerb, which shares an opinion we have long agreed with. Specifically…
““Most sites rely on simple heuristics like thumbs-up, ‘like’ or 1-5 stars,” stated Squerb founder and CEO Chris Biscoe. He added that while those tools offer a quick overview of opinion, they don’t offer much in the way of meaningful data.
It reminds me a bit of State, another company building an opinion graph that connects more specific opinions to specific objects in the world. They too are built upon the idea that existing sources of big data opinions, e.g. mining tweets and facebook likes, have inherent limitations. From this Wired UK article:
Doesn’t Twitter already provide a pretty good ‘opinion network’? Alex thinks not. “The opinions out there in the world today represent a very thin slice. Most people are not motivated to express their opinion and the opinions out there for the most part are very chaotic and siloed. 98 percent of people never get heard,” he told Wired.co.uk.
I think more and more people who try to parse Facebook and Twitter data for deeper Netflix AltGenre-like opinions will realize the limitations of such data, and attempt to collect better opinion data. In the end, I think collecting better opinion data will inevitably involve the list format that Ranker specializes in. Lists have a few important advantages over the methods that Squerb and State are using, which include slick interfaces for tagging semantic objects with adjectives. The advantages of lists include:
- Lists are popular and easily digestible. There is a reason why every article on Cracked is a list. Lists appeal to the masses, which is precisely the audience that Alex Asseily is trying to reach on State. To collect mass opinions, one needs a site that appeals to the masses, which is why Ranker has focused on growth as a consumer destination site, that currently collects millions of opinions.
- Lists provide the context of other items. It’s one thing to think that Army of Darkness is a good movie. But how does it compare to other Zombie Movies? Without context, it’s hard to compare people’s opinions as we all have different thresholds for different adjectives. The presence of other items lets people consider alternatives they may not have considered in a vacuum and allows better interpretation of non-response.
- Lists provide limits to what is being considered. For example, consider the question of whether Tom Cruise is a good actor? Is he one of the Best Actors of All-time? one of the Best Action Stars? One of the Best Actors Working Today? Ranker data shows that people’s answers usually depend on the context (e.g. Tom Cruise gets a lot of downvotes as one of the best actors of all-time, but is indeed considered one of the best action stars.)
- Lists are useful, especially in a mobile friendly world.
In short, collecting opinions using lists produces both more data and better data. I welcome companies that seek to collect semantic opinion data as the opportunity is large and there are network effects such that each of our datasets is more valuable when other datasets with different biases are available for mashups. As others realize the importance of opinion graphs, we likely will see more companies in this space and my guess is that many of these companies will evolve along the path that Ranker has taken, toward the list format.
– Ravi Iyer
January is almost over. Good riddance! Have you given up on your New Year’s Resolutions yet? Trust us, you’ll feel much better once you just let go. For your enjoyment, here are the most popular lists that people have been upvoting on Ranker this month. Enjoy!
If you grew up in the ’90s, odds are that in between playing Pogs or watching reruns of “Saved by the Bell”, you were telling your mom to “talk to the hand” and that her cooking was Da Bomb…Not! Looking back, slang from the ’90s involved giving people a lot of attitude and tricking them.
“I did not get my Spaghetti O’s. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this.”
Nip slips, wedgies and rips, oh my! Last year was an epic one for crazy celebrity wardrobe malfunctions. For your enjoyment, here are the best (read: most embarrassing).
Matthew McConaughey lost 47 pounds for his role in Dallas Buyer’s Club. Jared Leto lost nearly 40. Christian Bale packed on 43 pounds and a huge beer belly for American Hustle. Those aren’t even the most extreme cases! See the shocking before and after pictures of actors who completely changed their bodies for a movie role.
You instantly thought of at least one person when you saw the name of this list, didn’t you? Odds are that you have at least one special person in your life that is a major Facebook offender. Take heart, it happens to the best of us.
Embarrassing selfies happen when a sexy guy or gal is trying just a little too hard to look good for the camera. They are obviously sucking it in (Chris Pratt, Justin Bieber) or showing a bit too much skin that no one wants to see (Lindsay Lohan). We would feel bad…but these celebs did post these photos to their own social media.
Similar to getting drunk and singing at the top of your lungs, being naked is fun (!!) if not always appropriate. Whether an activity involves sharp, flying objects, extreme heat or compromising positions, there are some things that you should just never do naked. Ever.
That’s it! Stay in touch and we hope you’re having a great month!