A few days ago, I wrote about a case of a seemingly fascinating graph which I felt was used inappropriately. I was rightfully castigated in the comments for being too harsh but, to me, it gave the impression of a pattern when there really was none. In reply to some of the comments, I made the observation that
The only reason I wrote about it was because, I was surprised that even I as a reasonable trained statistics guy was momentarily caught off guard by it. Clearly, you meant nothing malicious by it but it’s a technique that could be used for malicious purposes so I wrote about it.
Now, in the wake of the Iranian Elections, it seems like my speculation has been somewhat vindicated. Andrew Sullivan posted what he claimed was the red flag that proved the Iranian elections were a fraud. And it seems eminently convincing. Luckily, Nate Silver produced a null hypothesis graph based on the US elections and demonstrated that the “red flag” was just a case of the exact same statistically fallacy I wrote about a week earlier.