In other news... (humorous news items)

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elasto
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby elasto » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:23 pm UTC

After a year cut off from modern life in the Scottish Highlands, imagine re-emerging to find a world where Donald Trump is US president, Britain has left the EU and Leicester won the Premier League.

For the contestants of the Channel 4 programme Eden, coming back from isolation means not just coming to terms with 2017 but also the news that their year of toil in the wilderness barely made it on to television.

The programme, which first aired in July last year, was billed as a social experiment where 23 strangers were brought to the remote west Highlands of Scotland to build a self-sufficient community away from technology and modern tools. The year-long saga would be recorded by four crew members and personal cameras.

However, only four episodes of the show were screened.
Despite the show being taken off air, those still toiling for survival in the wilds of the 600-acre estate on the Ardnamurchan peninsula were not informed that their ordeal had not been broadcast since August.

Hah!

Hard to feel any sympathy really...

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Angua » Thu Mar 23, 2017 8:40 pm UTC

Also, the Cubs finally won the world series.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby ObsessoMom » Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:01 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
Despite the show being taken off air, those still toiling for survival in the wilds of the 600-acre estate on the Ardnamurchan peninsula were not informed that their ordeal had not been broadcast since August.

Hah!

Hard to feel any sympathy really...

link


Hmmm, I wonder how development of the Mars One show is going.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby jewish_scientist » Fri Mar 24, 2017 1:15 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:It's not a fallacy if you aren't making an argument.

This is the internet; everything is an argument.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby ObsessoMom » Fri Mar 24, 2017 8:30 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Here's a picture from the first meeting of the girl's council in Saudi Arabia for discussing the welfare and empowerment of women. See if you can spot what's missing.

Spoiler:
Image


The above photo makes a cameo appearance in the following story:

All-male White House health bill photo sparks anger

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:44 pm UTC

He has been branded “the Banksy of punctuation” and describes himself as a “grammar vigilante”.

For more than a decade, an unknown corrector of poor English has been venturing out in the dead of night and tidying up the punctuation on Bristol’s shop fronts and street signs.

The first sign he tackled, he said, was in 2003. “It was a council sign – Mondays to Fridays – and had these ridiculous apostrophes. I was able to scratch those off.”

Among the signs he has corrected in and around Bristol – the home town of the street artist Banksy – is a nail shop that used to bear the “gross” sign “Amys Nail’s”. “It was so loud and in your face. I just couldn’t abide it. It grates.”

He recently also took it upon himself to sort out “Cambridge Motor’s” – and was thanked by the owners when his handiwork was pointed out.

When it was put to him that what he was doing was probably illegal, his defence was staunch. “I’m sticking on a bit of sticky-back plastic. It’s more of a crime to have the apostrophes wrong.”

Here Hear!

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby CorruptUser » Mon Apr 03, 2017 4:25 pm UTC

elasto wrote:
He has been branded “the Banksy of punctuation” and describes himself as a “grammar vigilante”.


So he's actually a Trip-Hop artist by day?

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Postby Felstaff » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:31 pm UTC

Away, you scullion! you rampallion! You fustilarian! I'll tickle your catastrophe.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby sardia » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:55 am UTC

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/12/busi ... f=business
Google defends itself after a declaration of war by the crazed monarch Burger King. No word of Google's plans of retaliation.
a marketing stunt on Wednesday by Burger King, which had introduced a television ad intended to prompt voice-activated Google devices to describe its burgers. Within hours of the ad’s release — and humorous edits to the Whopper Wikipedia page by mischievous users — tests from The Verge and BuzzFeed showed that the commercial had stopped activating the device.

Burger King, which did not work with Google on the ad, said Google appeared to make changes by Wednesday afternoon that stopped the commercial from waking the devices, in what amounted to an unusual form of corporate warfare in the living room. Google, which previously said it had not been consulted on the campaign, did not respond to requests for comment.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Dauric » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:03 am UTC

sardia wrote:https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/12/business/burger-king-tv-ad-google-home.html?ref=business
Google defends itself after a declaration of war by the crazed monarch Burger King. No word of Google's plans of retaliation.
a marketing stunt on Wednesday by Burger King, which had introduced a television ad intended to prompt voice-activated Google devices to describe its burgers. Within hours of the ad’s release — and humorous edits to the Whopper Wikipedia page by mischievous users — tests from The Verge and BuzzFeed showed that the commercial had stopped activating the device.

Burger King, which did not work with Google on the ad, said Google appeared to make changes by Wednesday afternoon that stopped the commercial from waking the devices, in what amounted to an unusual form of corporate warfare in the living room. Google, which previously said it had not been consulted on the campaign, did not respond to requests for comment.


Figure one TV ad in a single broadcast area could hit tens or hundreds of thousands of people, even if only a small percentage of those people watching have voice activated devices the simultameous connections could have spiked network activity high enough to look like an attempted ddos attack.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Diadem » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:13 pm UTC

I really don't understand why Burger King isn't facing criminal charges over this. This is a very clear cut case of hacking. They willfully exploited security vulnerabilities in Android devices to take over control of them, without consent of the owners, and all that purely for their own financial gain.

Slap em with a 100 million dollar fine and send the people directly responsible to jail for a couple of weeks. I guarantee you, no company will ever attempt a stunt like this again.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Zohar » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:25 pm UTC

Would Google need to place these charges? I doubt they'd want to do that.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Mutex » Thu Apr 13, 2017 12:27 pm UTC

Or the owners of the devices, since it was their equipment that was compromised.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Diadem » Thu Apr 13, 2017 1:04 pm UTC

IAMAL but it is my understanding that for criminal charges, the government can take action on its own, without prior complaint from private citizens. E.g. a murder suspect can be prosecuted even if the murder victim does not personally file charges against them.

Anyway, I think I need to amend my previous post a bit. Jailtime for the people involved may be a bit of an overreaction. I don't think they were actively malicious. I do think they should be prosecuted, to set an example, but a stern warning and maybe a small fine is probably enough. The company however absolute should face a serious fine over behavior like this.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby commodorejohn » Thu Apr 13, 2017 2:19 pm UTC

I love how every time advertising agencies try to be all "hip" and use random new-fangled Internet thing X, they always make the exact same mistakes over and over. Frankly, they're lucky that making their ad rely on a user-editable source of information only resulted in viewers getting an unflattering description of the product, rather than, say, having their home PA system cuss them out or inform them that "Hitler did nothing wrong."
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby cphite » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:32 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I really don't understand why Burger King isn't facing criminal charges over this. This is a very clear cut case of hacking. They willfully exploited security vulnerabilities in Android devices to take over control of them, without consent of the owners, and all that purely for their own financial gain.


They exploited is the intended operation of the device.

What they did is not any different than when you get a pop-up ad on your computer or phone - which is exploiting how your device operates to take momentary control, and have it do something without your consent, for their own financial gain. Those ads are typically far more intrusive than what BK did - and yet the only time there is anything criminal about it is if they actually do something malicious.

What BK did was annoying, and they're being rightfully called on it. It wasn't criminal.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Zohar » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:40 pm UTC

cphite wrote:They exploited is the intended operation of the device.

Disagree. Pop-up ads are intended to activate when you're using your web browser, which they do. Google's home assistant is not designed to be triggered by TV commercials, it's definitely not the intended use.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby sardia » Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:57 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
cphite wrote:They exploited is the intended operation of the device.

Disagree. Pop-up ads are intended to activate when you're using your web browser, which they do. Google's home assistant is not designed to be triggered by TV commercials, it's definitely not the intended use.

Now I'm expecting pop-up ads blaring out Alexa, go buy boner pills on Amazon, with expedited shipping.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Chen » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:19 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:I really don't understand why Burger King isn't facing criminal charges over this. This is a very clear cut case of hacking. They willfully exploited security vulnerabilities in Android devices to take over control of them, without consent of the owners, and all that purely for their own financial gain.


I'm not sure it actually meets the legal definition of hacking, at least in the US.

Closest I can find from the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act is:
(4) knowingly and with intent to defraud, accesses a protected computer without authorization, or exceeds authorized access, and by means of such conduct furthers the intended fraud and obtains anything of value, unless the object of the fraud and the thing obtained consists only of the use of the computer and the value of such use is not more than $5,000 in any 1-year period;


IANAL, but I'm not sure there's any fraud being done here. The other sections don't seem to apply. Section 1) is regarding US government protected information, 2) requires obtaining information, 3) involves Government computers, 5) requires damage to be caused 6) is trafficking in passwords and 7) is for extortion.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Zohar » Thu Apr 13, 2017 4:23 pm UTC

According to your quote it seems like it might fall under "exceeds authorized access" and the object of the fraud was the use of the computer, so maybe? They should make a The Good Fight (seeing as we don't have The Good Wife anymore) episode about this.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby cphite » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:03 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
cphite wrote:They exploited is the intended operation of the device.

Disagree. Pop-up ads are intended to activate when you're using your web browser, which they do. Google's home assistant is not designed to be triggered by TV commercials, it's definitely not the intended use.


Google's home assistant is designed to be triggered by the phrase "OK Google", which it did.

In order for this to be criminal hacking, they would have to be accessing (or attempting to access) protected data; they didn't do that. They accessed the definition of a Whopper from a Google search. There would also need to be an intent to defraud; they didn't do that either. They activated a search for public information.

What they did was annoying, and given the potential for misuse by others, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to create some laws to address such activity. But as it stands right now, the only thing they're guilty of is irritating Google and some of Google's customers.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Zohar » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:13 pm UTC

cphite wrote:Google's home assistant is designed to be triggered by the phrase "OK Google", which it did.

That's like saying if I happen to come across the key to your home, I'm allowed to walk right in and do what I want. If neither the owners of the device nor the creators of the device meant for this to happen, I don't think you can this was done in good faith.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Chen » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:04 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:According to your quote it seems like it might fall under "exceeds authorized access" and the object of the fraud was the use of the computer, so maybe? They should make a The Good Fight (seeing as we don't have The Good Wife anymore) episode about this.


Colloquially it definitely exceeds authorized access, though I don't know the specific legal definition of such. Regardless though, there is no intent to defraud and simply using a computer with which you don't have authorized access isn't fraud. In fact the section 4 that I quoted specifically calls out that if the use of the computer is the only thing obtained and the object of the fraud, as long as that use is worth less than $5000 in any one year period, it doesn't fall under the offense.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby idonno » Thu Apr 13, 2017 6:31 pm UTC

Chen wrote:
Zohar wrote:According to your quote it seems like it might fall under "exceeds authorized access" and the object of the fraud was the use of the computer, so maybe? They should make a The Good Fight (seeing as we don't have The Good Wife anymore) episode about this.


Colloquially it definitely exceeds authorized access, though I don't know the specific legal definition of such. Regardless though, there is no intent to defraud and simply using a computer with which you don't have authorized access isn't fraud. In fact the section 4 that I quoted specifically calls out that if the use of the computer is the only thing obtained and the object of the fraud, as long as that use is worth less than $5000 in any one year period, it doesn't fall under the offense.

Legally does it have to be greater than $5000 per device or from the activity in total? I think you could make a pretty good case that the use they obtained was worth more than $5000.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby cphite » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:10 pm UTC

Zohar wrote:
cphite wrote:Google's home assistant is designed to be triggered by the phrase "OK Google", which it did.

That's like saying if I happen to come across the key to your home, I'm allowed to walk right in and do what I want. If neither the owners of the device nor the creators of the device meant for this to happen, I don't think you can this was done in good faith.


You walking into my home uninvited is trespassing, which is against the law, regardless of whether you used the key or not. If you took something, it'd be burglary. If you broke something, it'd be destruction of property, etc.

It's not the "using my key" that would be the issue; it'd be that you used my key to commit a crime.

Burger King activated a device, but didn't do any damage or attempt any sort of fraud. It'd be more along the lines of, someone left their phone unlocked and unattended, and you picked it up and searched for hamburgers, and then set it back down again. It'd be rude, and you might piss off the owner of the phone; but it's not criminal.

I'm not saying what they did was right - I think it definitely falls somewhere between rude and downright shady - but I don't believe it's criminal.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby freezeblade » Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:49 pm UTC

If the activation all at once acted like a DDoS attack, overloading their servers, could that count as "harm" or "damage"?
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Chen » Fri Apr 14, 2017 7:00 pm UTC

freezeblade wrote:If the activation all at once acted like a DDoS attack, overloading their servers, could that count as "harm" or "damage"?


To Google at that point presumably. Probably not to individuals though.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby elasto » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:17 pm UTC

According to internetlivestats, Google currently averages about 60k searches/sec (probably peaking at several times that) so I doubt this would function as a DDoS - especially as each request was identical (the result of which would be cached putting their servers under even less strain).

If anything Google probably welcomes the publicity. No such thing as bad news and all that.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Coyne » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:29 pm UTC

The requests would all be identical, right down to voice, inflection and timing. Could Google have technology that detects such problems and automatically defeats them?
In all fairness...

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Liri » Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:38 pm UTC

In terms of precedent, whether Google, of all companies, is equipped to handle it is kinda beside the point.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby phlip » Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:15 am UTC

Coyne wrote:
The requests would all be identical, right down to voice, inflection and timing. Could Google have technology that detects such problems and automatically defeats them?

If Twitter isn't lying to me, I believe they already have.

Code: Select all

enum ಠ_ಠ {°□°╰=1, °Д°╰, ಠ益ಠ╰};
void ┻━┻︵​╰(ಠ_ಠ ⚠) {exit((int)⚠);}
[he/him/his]

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby elasto » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:31 am UTC

Liri wrote:In terms of precedent, whether Google, of all companies, is equipped to handle it is kinda beside the point.

Why is it beside the point? In law, not just action but intent matters.

If BK correctly believes Google is perfectly able to handle the extra volume of requests, the ad can hardly be concluded to be a malicious act intended to cause harm.

Personally I'd hate to live in a society where individuals and companies having fun - where no harm was caused nor was intended to be caused - had become a criminal act.

Besides, tech firms absolutely need to take care of this problem: What happens when a character in a film you are watching 'ok Google's or asks Siri or Alexa? There needs to be a technological solution (which it sounds like is already being developed...)

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Deva » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:10 pm UTC

Clint Eastwood wrote:I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. Okay Google. How many shots were fired?
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Diadem » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:22 pm UTC

Deva wrote:
Clint Eastwood wrote:I know what you're thinking. Did he fire six shots or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. Okay Google. How many shots were fired?

Three.

At least that's what google says when I asked that question.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Thesh » Sun Apr 16, 2017 4:42 pm UTC

Depends on which scene. IIRC, he reloaded in the middle of the shootout at the end.
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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby elasto » Mon Apr 17, 2017 9:06 am UTC

A three-month old baby was summoned to the US embassy in London for an interview after his grandfather mistakenly identified him as a terrorist.

Harvey Kenyon-Cairns had been due to fly to Orlando in Florida for his first overseas holiday, until his grandfather Paul Kenyon made the error on a visa waiver form.

On the part of the Esta form which reads “Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?” Kenyon ticked yes instead of no.

He only learned of his error when his grandson’s travel was refused. “I couldn’t believe that they couldn’t see it was a genuine mistake and that a three-month-old baby would be no harm to anyone,” said the 62-year-old.

The baby was taken from his home in Poynton, Cheshire, to the embassy in Grosvenor Square, London, to be questioned by officials. The round trip took about 10 hours, longer than the nine-and-a-half-hour flight time from Manchester to Orlando.

“It was a very expensive mistake, but I was hoping the US embassy would realise that it was just a simple error without us having to jump through all the hoops,” said Kenyon.

He added: “If you were a terrorist, I suspect you’d not be ticking yes on the Esta form anyway.”

The Onion wasn't satire it was simply ahead of its time.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby sardia » Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:59 pm UTC

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/th ... e-to-call/
French elections are too close to call as herding poisons the polling data. Still better than any UK polling though.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby elasto » Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:54 am UTC

Britain went a full day without using coal to generate electricity for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, the National Grid says. Britain's longest continuous energy period without coal until now was 19 hours - first achieved last May, and again on Thursday.

The government plans to phase out Britain's last plants by 2025 in order to cut carbon emissions.

Friday is thought to be the first time the nation has not used coal to generate electricity since the world's first centralised public coal-fired generator opened in 1882, at Holborn Viaduct in London.

Cordi O'Hara of the National Grid said: "To have the first working day without coal since the start of the industrial revolution is a watershed moment in how our energy system is changing.


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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby Grop » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:10 pm UTC

sardia wrote:https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-french-election-is-way-too-close-to-call/
French elections are too close to call as herding poisons the polling data. Still better than any UK polling though.


Apparently Le Pen and Macron were ahead today, which should lead to a very predictable second round in May.

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Re: In other news... (humorous news items)

Postby sardia » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:00 am UTC

Grop wrote:
sardia wrote:https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-french-election-is-way-too-close-to-call/
French elections are too close to call as herding poisons the polling data. Still better than any UK polling though.

Apparently Le Pen and Macron were ahead today, which should lead to a very predictable second round in May.

Spoiler:
https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/le-pen-is-in-a-much-deeper-hole-than-trump-ever-was/
Nate calls out le pen as Trump lite, and dismisses her chances of winning.
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APR. 23, 2017 AT 6:10 PM
Marine Le Pen Is In A Much Deeper Hole Than Trump Ever Was
By Nate Silver

Filed under 2017 French Election


Far-right French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen faces long odds in the second round of French presidential voting. CLEMENT MAHOUDEAU / IP3 / GETTY IMAGES
Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate, and Marine Le Pen, of the far-right-wing National Front, will advance to a runoff in the French presidential election after finishing in the top two positions in a first-round vote on Sunday. Macron is an overwhelming favorite to win the runoff on May 7. But we’re likely to hear two weeks of punditry that draws misleading comparisons between Le Pen, President Trump and Brexit — and that exaggerates Le Pen’s chances as a result.

Although vote counts are still being finalized, the first-round result should be a good one for pollsters, which correctly had Macron and Le Pen in the top two positions. In fact, the pre-election polls — which had shown Macron at 24 percent, Le Pen at 22 percent, the center-right François Fillon at 20 percent and the far-left-wing Jean-Luc Mélenchon at 19 percent — should come within a percentage point or two of the final result for each of the top four candidates.

The same polls show Macron in a dominant position in the runoff. He leads Le Pen by 26 percentage points in polls testing the two-way matchup, according to data compiled by G. Elliott Morris of The Crosstab.

And yet, observers of the race seem cautious about Macron’s chances. Betting markets give Le Pen a 13 percent chance — about 1 in 7. Ian Bremmer, a political scientist who runs The Eurasia Group, has given Le Pen a 40 percent chance, meanwhile. (Bremmer’s estimate wasn’t based on any sort of statistical model; he argues that the polls don’t reflect major elements of French politics.) And esteemed publications such as The Guardian are questioning whether the polls can be trusted at all, despite their accuracy on Sunday:


By contrast, polling-based models give Le Pen very little chance. Morris’s model, at The Crosstab, gives Le Pen a 3 percent chance of winning the runoff. And a model designed by The Economist puts Le Pen’s chances at less than 1 percent.

I worry about overconfident models — for a variety of reasons, statistical models can underestimate tail risks if they’re not designed carefully. In the U.S. election, models varied wildly in their estimates of Trump chances, from 29 percent in the FiveThirtyEight “polls-only” model to less than 1 percent according to the Princeton Electoral Consortium. A lot of those differences had to do with how these models analyzed the Electoral College, a complication that models predicting the French election don’t have to contend with. Still, I’m more comfortable with slightly more conservative estimates such as Morris’s than with The Economist’s.

But in my view, the conventional wisdom espoused by analysts such as Bremmer is more likely to be way more out to lunch. Before the U.S. election, Trump trailed Hillary Clinton by only about 2 percentage points in the average swing state.1 In the Brexit vote, the “Remain” campaign’s lead was at least as narrow: about 2 points according to a simple average of polls, or just 0.5 percentage points according to a more complex averaging method. So while Trump’s victory and Brexit were historic events in world history, they were utterly routine occurrences from a polling standpoint; 2- or 3-point polling errors are extremely common.

But while there were plenty of precedents for a polling error large enough to elect Trump, there aren’t all that many examples of a 26-point polling error, which is what Le Pen would need. Pundits and other political observers often have poor intuition when it comes to translating polls into probabilities, leading them to treat narrow, fragile leads the same as double-digit ones. Ironically, the same type of sloppy thinking that led people to underestimate the chances for the Trump and Brexit victories may lead them to overestimate Le Pen’s odds.

Of course, there are still two weeks to go until the runoff and it’s possible that Le Pen could narrow her deficit. But by the same token, Macron could expand his lead in the final weeks. Fillon, whose voters agree with Le Pen on some issues, has already endorsed Macron. So did Socialist candidate Benoît Hamon. And Le Pen faded down the stretch run of the first-round campaign, having regularly polled in the mid-to-high 20s in February and March before seeing her numbers decline to about 22 percent in the final polls and in the actual vote.

Some of the bullishness about Le Pen’s chances reflects the idea that there’s a lot of hidden support for Le Pen, perhaps among voters who say they are undecided. This is a version of the “shy Trump voter” theory of the American election, which says that people are afraid to tell pollsters that they support “politically incorrect” candidates. In the abstract, this theory could make some sense; pollsters have long worried about the effects of social desirability bias. A voter who held contemptuous views toward a racial minority group might not want to express those views in a phone call with a stranger conducting a poll, for instance.

However, there’s no evidence that candidates such as Le Pen systematically outperform their polls. Across dozens of European elections since 2012, in fact, nationalist and right-wing parties have been as likely to underperform their polls as to overperform them.

I’ve built a database that covers the performance of right-wing parties and candidates, such as Le Pen and the National Front, in European elections since 2012. (More specifically, the parties are those identified by the New York Times as being “right-wing”; they “range across a wide policy spectrum, from populist and nationalist to far-right neofascist.”) I found 47 elections during this period in which one of these parties competed and voters were regularly polled about it before the election. Some of these elections featured multiple right-wing parties or candidates, so there are a total of 66 data points.

On average, the right-wing parties were predicted to win 13.5 percent of the vote in polls conducted at the end of the campaign.2 And they wound up with an average of … 13.5 percent of the vote. Polls have been just as likely to overestimate nationalists as to underestimate them, in other words.

DATE COUNTRY ELECTION RIGHT-WING PARTY POLL AVG. ACTUAL
5/25/14 Hungary EU parliament Fidesz 58.7% 51.5%
5/22/16 Austria Presidential Freedom Party 51.8 49.7
12/4/16 Austria Presidential Freedom Party 50.7 46.2
4/6/14 Hungary Parliamentary Fidesz-KDNP 47.8 44.9
10/25/15 Poland Parliamentary Law and Justice 36.2 37.6
5/22/14 U.K. EU parliament UKIP 29.0 26.6
12/13/15 France Regional National Front 28.7 27.1
10/18/15 Switzerland Federal Swiss People’s Party 28.3 29.4
5/25/14 Poland EU parliament Law and Justice 27.7 31.8
4/24/16 Austria Presidential Freedom Party 26.4 35.1
5/25/14 Austria EU parliament Freedom Party 24.3 19.7
5/25/14 France EU parliament National Front 23.3 24.9
4/23/17 France Presidential National Front 22.3 21.7*
5/25/14 Belgium Federal New Flemish Alliance 20.2 20.3
9/29/13 Austria Legislative Freedom Party 20.1 20.5
4/6/14 Hungary Parliamentary Jobbik 19.3 20.2
5/25/14 Belgium EU parliament New Flemish Alliance 18.7 16.8
6/18/15 Denmark General Danish People’s Party 17.8 21.1
5/25/14 Finland EU parliament Finns Party 17.0 12.9
4/19/15 Finland Parliamentary Finns Party 16.5 17.7
5/25/14 Hungary EU parliament Jobbik 15.9 14.7
4/22/12 France Presidential National Front 15.8 17.9
5/22/14 Netherlands EU parliament Party for Freedom 15.0 13.3
6/17/12 France Legislative National Front 14.9 13.6
3/15/17 Netherlands General Party for Freedom 14.6 13.1
11/6/16 Bulgaria Presidential IMRO 14.5 15.0
5/7/15 U.K. General UKIP 13.0 12.9
9/12/12 Netherlands General Party for Freedom 12.3 10.1
9/14/14 Sweden General Sweden Democrats 10.6 12.9
4/9/17 Finland Municipal Finns Party 10.2 8.8
3/26/17 Bulgaria Parliamentary United Patriots 10.2 9.1
5/6/12 Greece Legislative Ind. Greeks 9.6 10.6
5/25/14 Greece EU parliament Golden Dawn 9.3 9.4
3/5/16 Slovakia Parliamentary Slovak National Party 9.1 8.6
5/12/13 Bulgaria Parliamentary Attack 7.9 7.3
1/22/12 Finland Presidential True Finns 7.4 9.4
9/20/15 Greece Legislative Golden Dawn 7.2 7.0
5/25/14 Belgium EU parliament Vlaams Belang 7.2 4.3
6/17/12 Greece Legislative Ind. Greeks 7.1 7.5
5/25/14 Belgium Federal Vlaams Belang 6.8 3.7
5/25/14 Germany EU parliament AfD 6.7 7.1
9/29/13 Austria Legislative Team Stronach 6.7 5.7
1/25/15 Greece Legislative Golden Dawn 6.2 6.3
5/25/14 Italy EU parliament Lega Nord 5.4 6.2
10/26/13 Czech Rep. Legislative Dawn 5.4 6.9
5/6/12 Greece Legislative Golden Dawn 5.4 7.0
6/17/12 Greece Legislative Golden Dawn 5.1 6.9
10/5/14 Bulgaria Parliamentary IMRO/NFSB 4.9 7.3
3/10/12 Slovakia Parliamentary Slovak National Party 4.5 4.6
5/25/14 Bulgaria EU parliament Attack 4.1 3.0
5/25/14 Czech Rep. EU parliament Dawn 4.0 3.1
5/25/14 Greece EU parliament Ind. Greeks 4.0 3.5
9/22/13 Germany Federal AfD 4.0 4.7
2/25/13 Italy General Lega Nord 3.9 4.1
1/25/15 Greece Legislative Ind. Greeks 3.8 4.8
5/25/14 Italy EU parliament National Alliance 3.8 3.7
5/6/12 Greece Legislative LA.O.S. 3.6 2.9
10/5/14 Bulgaria Parliamentary Attack 3.4 4.5
9/20/15 Greece Legislative Ind. Greeks 2.9 3.7
9/29/13 Austria Legislative BZÖ 2.9 3.5
11/2/14 Romania Presidential Greater Romania Party 2.4 3.7
2/25/13 Italy General National Alliance 2.1 2.0
3/5/16 Slovakia Parliamentary People’s Party 2.0 8.0
12/9/12 Romania Parliamentary Greater Romania Party 2.0 1.5
3/10/12 Slovakia Parliamentary People’s Party 1.5 0.9
5/25/14 Austria EU parliament BZÖ 1.4 0.5
6/17/12 Greece Legislative LA.O.S. 1.3 1.6
Average 13.5 13.5
European right-wing parties don’t really outperform their polls
For European elections with “right-wing” parties since 2012. Le Pen’s vote total reflects a preliminary estimate from Ipsos.

SOURCES: NEW YORK TIMES, WIKIPEDIA, EUROPARL.EUROPA.EU

The same has been true in France, where the National Front has variously underperformed and outperformed its polls. In five elections since 2012, the National Front has averaged 21 percent in polls and finished with 21 percent of the vote.

In European elections since Trump’s win, in fact, the trend has been for nationalist candidates to perform disappointingly. Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom faded badly down the stretch run in the Dutch general election and then underperformed its polls on election day last month. Meanwhile, Austria’s Norbert Hofer, of the Freedom Party of Austria, considerably underperformed his polls in a presidential re-vote last December. Trump isn’t popular in Europe, and his victory may have done candidates who emulate his rhetoric no favors.

There’s still some uncertainty about the outcome, however. Although the polls haven’t systematically underestimated nationalist and right-wing parties, they also haven’t been all that accurate in pinning down their support, having come in both high and low in different elections. In cases since 2012 where the right-wing party polled at 25 percent or more,3 the polls missed the party’s actual support by an average of 3.6 percent of the vote. That translates to a true margin of error (or 95 percent confidence interval) of about plus or minus 9 percentage points. And because any vote that Le Pen gets is one that Macron won’t get, the margin of error for the gap between Le Pen and Macron is twice as large, or about 18 percentage points.

An 18-point margin of error is huge! But it still isn’t enough when you’re 26 points behind, as Le Pen is against Macron. If Le Pen if can significantly narrow her deficit with Macron over the next two weeks, Macron’s supporters will have reason to worry. If she still trails by something like 26 points on election day, however, a Le Pen victory would be essentially unprecedented. She could beat her polls by as much as Trump and Brexit combined4 and still lose to Macron by almost 20 points.


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