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Ctrl + ← Incongruous Police, Poverty And Poker

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. Is Sunscreen A Lifesaver Or A Poison?
  2. Here’s What Happens When A Pitcher Throws A Meatball
  3. These Cavs Could Be LeBron’s Best Supporting Cast Ever
  4. Dear Mona Followup: Where Do People Drink The Most Beer, Wine And Spirits?
  5. Rory McIlroy Could Be A Bigger Threat To Jack Nicklaus Than Tiger Woods
  6. The Scrabble King Is Dead, Long Live The Scrabble King
  7. Stephen Curry Isn’t Better Than LeBron On Offense — But He’s As Close As Anybody
  8. Baseball Scouts Use Numbers, Too
  9. Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Have A Problem On Her Left
  10. How Will Being Indicted Affect Rick Perry’s 2016 Presidential Hopes?


Incongruous Police: In the wake of Michael Brown’s killing and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, Dan Keating, Emily M. Badger and Kennedy Elliott at The Washington Post used 2010 Census Bureau police data to demonstrate the consistent discrepancy between the racial composition of police forces and the communities they are supposed to serve and protect.

The interactive graphic showed that in every one of the 22 cities in America with more than 600,000 residents, whites are overrepresented in police forces. In Detroit, Michigan, that gap between the share of white officers and white residents is 29 percentage points. Of all 755 cities in the Census Bureau data, three quarters have a higher percentage of white police officers than white residents.

There’s more detail about the data in their accompanying story — and there’s more context to that data on our sister site Grantland, where Rembert Browne wrote about his first-hand experiences in Ferguson and Wesley Morris reflected on the attitudes of, and attitudes toward, cops in America.

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Poverty and race: The Urban Institute used census data to understand and visualize poverty in America since 1980 “to understand the evolving realities of poverty, race, and place in their communities.” Each dot on its map represents 20 people with income below the poverty line, and the colors indicate the race of those individuals. You can select either a national view, or zoom into a specific state and see how the prevalence and racial composition of poverty in America has changed over time.

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Where were you born? A few weeks ago, I wrote an article about America’s most cosmopolitan cities, exploring which have the highest share of foreign-born residents and from which countries those individuals hailed. Well, I know when I’ve been outdone, and the New York Times has well and truly surpassed me. Gregor Aisch, Robert Gebeloff and Kevin Quealy analyzed every state in the country to look at how international and domestic migration patterns have changed since 1900. So if you’re curious about how much of California may have had a Texan drawl in 1925 or the percentage of Maine that comes from New York, the answers are just one click away.

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Kale under the microscope: Chris Walker at Mic, tired of hipsters ranting about the benefits of quinoa and almond milk, assembled an internet rant in charts. Using data from the USDA and the Institute of Medicine’s dietary reference tables, he compared ten “fad foods against traditional alternatives, based on the nutrients in one serving.” Most of the hyped foods do outperform their substitute products — although it’s not clear whether the nutritional differences account for the gaps in price.


Variance sucks: When Daniel Colman won a poker tournament last month, he walked away from the table with $15 million. You’d expect him to be happy. He wasn’t. He was angry about mathematical principles. As Tom Ley at Deadspin reported, a statement from the champion read, “To have a job where you are at the mercy of variance can be insanely stressful and can lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. I would never in a million years recommend for someone to try and make it as a poker pro.” After watching someone lose a million bucks in 3 minutes and 49 seconds, I’ll take that advice.

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.