April 15, 2014

"Now that we know the basic probabilities of individual tags... how often do a deciduous tree and a coniferous tree appear in the same painting?"

"We know that 57 percent of paintings contain a deciduous tree and 53 percent of paintings contain a coniferous tree. According to our data set, 20 percent of paintings contain at least one of each.... We know that 44 percent of Ross’s paintings contain clouds, 9 percent contain the beach and 7 percent contain both the clouds and the beach. We can use this information to figure out two things..."

So here's FiveThirtyEight endeavoring, as promised, to help us understand things through statistical analysis, and I can use this "A Statistical Analysis of the Work of Bob Ross" to figure out 2 things: 1. Calmly coasting cozily with expertise applied where it doesn't really matter can provide observers with relaxing comfortable lightweight pleasure, and 2. It doesn't really matter whether I'm talking, as I blog comfortably, cozily, floatingly, about Bob Ross or FiveThirtyEight.

26 comments:

madAsHell said...

“The majority of people who watch Bob Ross have no interest in painting,” she said. “Mostly it’s his calming voice.”

Two sentences that should have been the beginning, and the end of the article.

rhhardin said...

John Constable was deciduous.

Which means they lose their leaves.

khesanh0802 said...

They get paid for this?

Henry said...

Komar and Melamid anticipated Five Thirty Eight by some years with their Most Wanted Paintings on the Web project, in which paintings were created to match polling results. Historical figure: Good! Orange: Bad!

Alex Melamid's satiric riff on numbers could well be a credo for Nate Silver:

In a way it was a traditional idea, because a faith in numbers is fundamental to people, starting with Plato's idea of a world which is based on numbers. In ancient Greece, when sculptors wanted to create an ideal human body they measured the most beautiful men and women and then made an average measurement, and that's how they described the ideal of beauty and how the most beautiful sculpture was created. In a way, this is the same thing; in principle, it's nothing new. It's interesting: we believe in numbers, and numbers never lie. Numbers are innocent. It's absolutely true data. It doesn't say anything about personalities, but it says something more about ideals, and about how this world functions. That's really the truth, as much as we can get to the truth. Truth is a number.

Mark O said...

How often do they appear together in nature? Were they separated at birth? Has anyone ever really seen them together?

Sam L. said...

Well, this could possibly be worthwhile to someone in the bar-bet business.

Otherwise, I see it as trivia.

Ann Althouse said...

"Komar and Melamid anticipated Five Thirty Eight by some years with their Most Wanted Paintings on the Web project, in which paintings were created to match polling results."

I think the project predates this "on the Web" presentation. The book "Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid's Scientific Guide to Art" got a lot of attention when it came out, back in the 90s. I bought a copy.

Meade said...

What about paintings of Larches — deciduous conifers.

RecChief said...

We know that 57 percent of paintings contain a deciduous tree and 53 percent of paintings contain a coniferous tree

that's 110%.

Is this explanatory journalism?

how did he call the election correctly with work like this?

Meade said...

To my eye, Bob Ross's evergreens all look like larches.

Ann Althouse said...

"that's 110%."

You missed the part where they ascertained that 85% of the pictures have at least 2 trees.

Conifers and deciduous trees can co-exist. Especially in a painting.

Nonapod said...

Larches are badass trees. They can survive long periods of supercold temperatures and polar night. The northernmost forest in the world is this place called Lukunsky Grove in Siberia. The only trees that make up the forest are dahurian larches.

RecChief said...

yes, you're right I did miss that.
still, what the heck is this?

Marshal said...

RecChief said...
still, what the heck is this?


It's statistical proof Nate Silver is not an editor.

Lonetown said...

He was a Master Drill Sargent. That blows my mind.
I picture Jack Webb having the recruits bury a sand flea with full honors.

I watched hoping he would make an error and explode.

Conserve Liberty said...

It is data. But is it information?

Richard Dolan said...

"to help us understand things through statistical analysis...."

To understand things, by recognizing patterns and relationships not otherwise obvious, and in the process figure out the relative magnitudes (measured on some useful scale) of those patterns and relationships. It's amusing, in its way, to see this applied to a painter's fondness for various visual elements in his work. You see the same thing in analyses of various authors -- e.g., the number of times Shakespeare uses some oddball word or phrase, the variations among the four gospel writers in their use of Greek terms or expressions, etc.

It can be quite informative, and provides endless entertainment for those inclined to such things.

Patrick O said...

And now... the larch

Jane the Actuary said...

Those were the days. . .

Bob Ross was on at 1 in the morning on Bavarian TV -- very soothing, if you can't sleep or have a baby that can't sleep, and the Obi (= Home Depot, but with a crafts/art department) carried his line of instructional books and paints.

Mountain Maven said...

That lowers my odds of reading 538 to about zero

Freeman Hunt said...

It's odd. It's as if someone counted the number of bricks and shingles on a house. Or the number of white versus brown pebbles in a creek. Almost mildly interesting but not enlightening.

John A said...

Interesting trivia - but not uch more.

Normally I would not even bother with such a reply, but a bit of similar trivia brought on the BBC 12 April 2014 Antiques Roadshow seems even more interesting, and even relevant. After appraising a painting by a well-known artist of [Scottish} Highland Cattle with a usual six-figure retail value, the expert mentioned the artist had never been to Scotland: pressed as to how he then came up with such marvelous depictions of the cattle and scenery, the artist had said that people would send him postcards...

John A said...

Interesting trivia - but not uch more.

Normally I would not even bother with such a reply, but a bit of similar trivia brought on the BBC 12 April 2014 Antiques Roadshow seems even more interesting, and even relevant. After appraising a painting by a well-known artist of [Scottish} Highland Cattle with a usual six-figure retail value, the expert mentioned the artist had never been to Scotland: pressed as to how he then came up with such marvelous depictions of the cattle and scenery, the artist had said that people would send him postcards...

Fritz said...

Meade said...
What about paintings of Larches — deciduous conifers.


Not to mention Bald Cypress and Dawn Redwood.

Abdul Abulbul Amir said...


The pond cypress (Taxodium ascends) is a deciduous coniferous tree.

If you see just one in a painting you are seeing both a deciduous and a coniferous at the same time.

Jason said...

METRO!!! Breaking news! Get me Michael Falk! NOW!!!

http://www.theonion.com/video/autistic-reporter-train-thankfully-unharmed-in-cra,20098/