Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Netflix On Benford's Law

Yesterday, I posted a notice that Joe Biden's vote count violated a mathematical observation known as Benford's Law,  Joe Biden’s Votes Violate Benford’s Law.

After the post, Target Liberty reader Viresh Amin pointed me to a Netflix series that has an episode on Benford's Law.

It is truly fascinating. The series is called "Connected" and the episode is called "Digits."

It is 45 minutes long but I am not stretching things by saying it is fascinating.

Watch it if you can and you will be even more suspicious about Biden's vote count and more fascinated by the world. 

Here is the trailer for the entire series:




  1. I wonder if it's possible to apply Benford's Law to the American economy when we were on a gold standard vs now when the standard is fiat money. Or the economy regulated by the free market vs one regulated by government intervention.

    Fascinating episode.

  2. Benford's Law can be something of a rabbit hole to burrow into.

    I came across a history of mathematics intro to Benford's Law here.

    For a vey brief, no math required, text intro, this short article is good too - http://www.abc.net.au/science/k2/moments/test.htm
    Parents should quote this as an example to kids why they need to do their math homework.

    Foresnsic accountants apparently use Benford's Law as part of their professional tool kit

    There is some debate about the applicability of Benford's Law to election malfeasance analysis that is discussed here (as well as Wikipedia edits on the Benford's Law article) - https://taylor-carr.medium.com/there-is-no-undeniable-evidence-of-election-theft-63a3722b955b

    My amateur understanding of this is that the forensic analysts use it as an "early warning" or "red flag" indicator - not definitive proof of malfeasance. And, of course, showing something mathematically may be suspicious is not the same as proving it in court and having higher courts act on the same.

    I suspect about the most one can expect of this is that state and electoral officials in states like PA, GA and MI will be embarassed by the controversy. This may motivate them - like Florida after 2000 - move to clean up their act sometime over the next two decades.

  3. BTW. Mark Nigrini, the pioneer of applying Benford's Law to Forensic Analysis has a blog at - http://www.nigrini.com/blog/.

  4. Benford's law only applies to quantities that vary over several orders of magnitude. That does not generally apply to vote totals from precincts where the range can be less than one order of magnitude (power of 10). See this video for a detailed analysis of Chicago precinct totals and where deviations from Benford's law can be explained by this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etx0k1nLn78&feature=youtu.be .

    1. Oh please, the guy in the youtube actually understand Benford's Law so his video is even more outrageous. Notice he doesn't talk about Trump's and Joregenson's votes which follow the Benford's Law. And then he brings in noise with his discussion of the normal curve. Very clever but very devious. Look at his twitter feed he is as anti-Trump as you can get. And we know their motto.

    2. The original article you referenced (https://bit.ly/32EM8Cw) referred to Wikipedia, which says that "in many naturally occurring collections of numbers" and "in sets that obey the law" the distribution will be observed, but did not tell us when it should apply or why it should apply to the data sets shown, nor did it even tell us what the data sets were.

      The first chart came from https://bit.ly/3f5VWdX, where we can see that the data come from https://github.com/cjph8914/2020_benfords. It is precinct level data, which very likely does not span enough orders of magnitude to approximate having "scale invariance" (https://primes.utm.edu/glossary/page.php?sort=BenfordsLaw) that would predict Benford's distribution. So resemblance of any of the charts on that page to Benford's is likely coincidental. Many of them are not all that close.

      Whether the mathematician in the video actually understands Benford's I can't say. I know that forensic accountants and the like are careful about which datasets they use it on and that degree of care has not been taken in the source of these claims.

    3. On your claim about Wikipedia, it lists 71 reference links!!

      Mostly from mathematical journals. Your claim that there is no discussion of application is absurd. Read the 71 reference articles.

      That's it from me.

      I have really tried to show the problems with the earlier arguments you link to. I just can't keep on doing this with you bringing up new arguments that can be dismissed with a little thought. . I do not plan on writing a book on Benford's law. Benford's Law is a tangential topic on a kind of observation at a time the world is collapsing. It is time wasted to spend any more time on it. You have had your three strikes.

    4. As Walter Block would say, get a peer reviewed article on your thesis published and I will then comment on it.

    5. Bob, I didn't say that Wikipedia didn't discuss applications, I said the article you pointed to didn't justify the use of Benford's law. In fact at Wikipedia they discuss its application to election data, where they make my point, including specifically with election data (https://bit.ly/35vlHB7): "[Two researchers] agreed that there are many caveats to the application of Benford's law to election data".