Adam Smith Blog

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases are rising in America

SEXUALLY transmitted infections (STIs) are at best unpleasant and at worst life-threatening. They can also be hard to spot. The majority of people with chlamydia, the most common bacterial STI, display no symptoms at all. Most women with gonorrhoea will show no signs of the disease, which can cause infertility if left untreated. Syphilis often goes undetected as well, because its symptoms are similar to those of many other diseases. Early signs include sores and cuts. At later stages, victims can suffer from numbness, blindness and, in rare cases, death. Moreover, having gonorrhoea or syphilis also makes a person more susceptible to contracting HIV. All bacterial STIs are curable with a course of antibiotics if detected at an early stage.

Rates of these three diseases rose in the United States in 2015, according to America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Gonorrhoea and syphilis had plunged to record lows, thanks to antibiotic treatment and the increasing use of condoms in the late 1970s. Chlamydia, for which complete national data are only available since 2000, also plateaued recently. But worryingly,…Continue reading

The value of gun-toting film stars

OLD habits may well die hard. In 2000 Bruce Willis—true to his characters perhaps—argued that restricting firearms would leave “bad guys” as the only people with guns. Mr Willis puts his acting where his mouth is. Since then the American actor has appeared in 53 films, handling guns on-screen in 28 of them.

But gun-toting may bring actors more than just moral satisfaction. The number of different guns an actor has handled in films is strongly correlated with Ulmer scores, which measure an actor’s bankability—or ability to draw financing—on a scale from 0 to 300. This trend holds even when controlling for the total number of acting credits. Denzel Washington seems to hold a different gun in each movie in which he stars.

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The sweatshop dilemma

Undercover Economist
Every now and then, we remember that there are poor people in the world, and sweatshops become news. Jonah Peretti — the click-accumulating mastermind behind The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed — got his start in viral journalism 15 years ago by baiting Nike with a chain of witty emails requesting that his personalisable Nike trainers […]

Electoral-college calculator

THE president and vice-president are the only Americans to be elected by the entire country, rather than the residents of a state or district. But unlike national offices in many other countries, the presidency is not determined by the national popular vote. Instead, each state holds seats within an electoral college, apportioned only roughly according to its population. For most states, the winning candidate collects all of that state’s electoral votes. This tally can differ from the popular vote, as it did in 2000, when George W. Bush won the presidency despite receiving fewer votes than his nearest rival, the hapless Al Gore.

A handful of states are finely balanced between the two major parties, and it is in these states, such as Ohio, Florida, or Colorado, that presidential contests are usually won or lost. The other states are “safe”—they are nearly certain to vote for Hillary Clinton,…Continue reading

Donald Trump’s slimming odds of victory

A NEW axis of evil—comprising an unholy alliance of the mainstream media, pollsters and traitors within the Republican party—threatens Donald Trump’s electoral chances. So says the beleaguered candidate, who today vented on Twitter that “we are winning and the press is refusing to report it”. He also contributed a free tip to journalists, saying the “major story” of the election was Democrats rigging polls against him.

Mr Trump may simply be hedging his bets. Assuming no cabal of conspiring pollsters is uncovered, the outlook for his presidential hopes appears grim. An average of professional polls with statistically sound methodologies—the kind the Republican nominee scorns—puts him roughly six percentage points behind his opponent, Hillary Clinton. This close to the election, presidential polls have historically missed the final tally by only 1.8 points, dispiriting news for still-hopeful Trumpistas.

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