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Ctrl + ← Gas, Laundromats And Super Bowl Ads

This is Ctrl ←, our weekly data journalism roundup. You’ll find the most-read FiveThirtyEight articles of the past week, as well as gems we spotted elsewhere on the Internet.


  1. The Patriots And Seahawks Are The Best. This Could Be The Worst Super Bowl Ever.
  2. Kickers Are Forever
  3. NBA Power Ratings And Playoff Odds: The Cavs Make A Move
  4. Your Guide To Deflate-gate/Ballghazi-Related Statistical Analyses
  5. Meet The 80 People Who Are As Rich As Half The World
  6. The Queen Of Code
  7. How Meteorologists Botched The Blizzard Of 2015
  8. There’s A Gap Between What The Public Thinks And What Scientists Know
  9. Men, Those Tightie Whities Really Are Killing Your Sperm Count
  10. Here’s Why ‘Mortdecai’ And All Movies Are Terrible This Time Of Year


Cheap, but not that cheap: The steady decline of gasoline prices over the past four months has made headlines but few analysts have looked at the long-term historical picture. David Leonhardt at The New York Times finds that, at $2.13 a gallon, gas prices today are low, but still considerably higher than they were between 1986 and 2002, when they averaged just $1.87.

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Clean data: This week, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer asked listeners to his radio show if gentrification was forcing laundromats to go out of business where they lived. Ben Wellington, a visiting assistant professor at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, used New York City’s open data platform to try to answer Lehrer’s question by mapping the number of laundromats per 1,000 residents across the city. Although time trends weren’t available, the data did show a pretty low correlation between median income and laundromat presence, suggesting that gentrification isn’t putting laundromats out of business. It’s a pretty counter-intuitive conclusion, but an interesting one: After looking at the numbers, Wellington concludes that drop-off services probably mean that laundromats are able to survive by serving rich and poor alike.


Super Bowl season: It may have escaped your notice but the Super Bowl will be played Sunday and you can expect to see (or have bathroom/snack breaks during the) 42 minutes and 50 seconds of ads. Kantar Media looked at TV ad spending on the big game from 1995 to 2014 and which sectors and companies spent the most. The products sharing first place: Coca Cola Classic, the Chrysler 200 and Bud Light.

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Junk stats: If you take nothing else from the deflate-gate scandal, take a lesson in statistics. Our own Neil Paine rounded up the coverage on different analyses of the saga, including this one from Gregory J. Matthews and Michael Lopez at Deadspin on under-inflated balls and fumbles. As they point out, the data on fumbles is misleading partly because analysts aren’t setting their y-axis to zero.


Bitcoin’s fall: It wasn’t long ago that the digital currency Bitcoin was making big headlines. In late 2013, the value of the decentralized currency was soaring against the dollar. But Shelly Banjo at Quartz notes that the success appears to have been short-lived, leaving the currency’s platform, Coinbase, (somewhat ironically) reaching out for government regulation to survive.

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Mona Chalabi is data editor at the Guardian US, and a columnist at New York Magazine. She was previously a lead news writer for FiveThirtyEight.