John Burn-Murdoch

John Burn-Murdoch


Stories, stats & scatterplots for @FinancialTimes | Currently working on bias in AI | john.burn-murdoch@ft.com | #dataviz

361248 followers  •  4470 follow  •    •   https://t.co/VZF28wenJw

In the first round, 17 of 36 finalists fumbled the vault One landed on her back. Clear gold-medal favourite, Russia’s Svetlana Khorkina (comfortably won qualifying) landed on her knees. Total chaos, and nobody knew why. Athletes second-guessing themselves.

So she does the vault, which is set too low, and she lands on her knees. In qualifying she scored 9.713. After landing on her knees in the final she gets 9.343, an enormous drop that would have ranked 25th in qualifying. That just ... doesn’t happen for an athlete at that level

And remember, she doesn’t know the vault was at the wrong height. She just knows she’s done what she always does, but it’s gone completely wrong. Confidence totally shattered. She’s the best. She doesn’t make mistakes, she wins.

Next is the uneven bars, her best event, where 3 skills are named after her, and she won gold four years earlier. She won it comfortably in qualifying. But now everything she knew about her ability has gone out the window. She’s gone from knowing she will win, to maybe no medal.

She falls off the bars, landing on her knees again. She goes from a 9.850 in qualifying (would have easily won the final) to a 9.012 (tied for 31st). At this point it’s game over.

She soldiers on and eventually finishes 10th overall, but she came for gold.

To me this shows how critical confidence is at that level. You know you’re the best. The knowledge that you’re the best is part of what makes you the best. If that’s shaken, whether by a wrongly set vault, by harsh judging, by anything, you’ve lost part of what gives you an edge

A knock to athletic confidence can be as damaging as a torn muscle. You go out there and do what you’ve done a million times before, but you’re not the athlete you were 10 minutes earlier, and you can no longer do what you could. The damage is not visible, but it’s no less real.

NEW: lots of attention on ONS Infection Survey today, but some confusion over how it should (and should not) be used to asses whether England’s fall in cases is "real" Quick thread: Most attention has gone on ONS “% of people testing positive” metric showing a continued rise

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NEW: a common response to reports of hospitals struggling this winter is "it’s no different to a bad flu season!" I’ve tracked down historical data on flu ICU admissions, including winter 2017-18, a record high. Here’s how England’s Covid winter compares to a bad flu season 📹

NEW with @AndyBounds , @SarahNev  & @Laura_K_Hughes : The UK government’s published numbers of new cases at local authority level only include pillar 1 and *not* pillar 2 cases, meaning as many as 90% of new cases are missing from the data Thread:

NEW: people worry when they hear "40% of hospitalisations are fully vaxxed", but this chart shows that's actually good news. The more people you vaccinate, the higher their share of hospitalisations, but the *total* number in hospital is a fraction of what it would otherwise be

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NEW: a deep-dive into the situation in India, where a devastating second wave is overwhelming hospitals and crematoriums, eclipsing global records as it goes 250,000 new cases every day, and test positivity is soaring suggesting many are still missed

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New project: A “Bar Chart Race” animation showing the changing ranks of the 10 biggest cities in the world since 1500. Fascinating to watch giant cities vanish after falling in conquests, and amazing that three UK cities were in the top 8 in the late 1800s.

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