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OpenLearn Live: 22nd June 2016

Updated Wednesday 22nd June 2016

The greatest electoral fraud in history, and learn how to digest statistics over lunch. Then more free learning across the day.

OpenLearn Live makes links between free learning and the things that matter to you. This page will be updated across the day.

Yesterday, we discovered why we're all projecting onto the niqab-wearing Welsh speaker; explored Brits feelings for Europe; and asked why the world hums

See the complete collection of OpenLearn Live


Today's posts


What is social jetlag and is it harming your health?

We know that some of the things we might like to eat aren't entirely good for us. But could it be that our eating patterns are also contributing to the nation's health problems? Researchers at King's College London are investigating the idea that 'social jetlag' and eating when it's convenient might be hurting us:

In a review of research on the effect of meal patterns on health, the few studies available suggest that eating irregularly is linked to a higher risk of metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and obesity).  The limited evidence highlights the need for larger scale studies to better understand the impact of chrono-nutrition on public health, argue the authors of two new papers, particularly with the rise in shift workers and ‘social jetlag’ where many of us live by social clocks rather than our internal body clocks.

Our current lifestyle has become demanding and more irregular. Food consumption patterns have changed markedly over the past decades: more meals are skipped, consumed outside the family home, on-the-go, later in the day, and more irregularly. Two papers published in the Proceedings of the Nutrition Society explore the implications for health from different eating habits, reviewing the evidence from a number of dietary studies as well as global differences in eating habits.

Read the full article at Kings: Is 'when we eat' as important as 'what we eat'?

Try our free course on vitamins and minerals


BBC One, 9pm tonight: The Big C & Me

After a break for the football last week, The Big C & Me returns to BBC One tonight at 9pm (except in Scotland, where it's shown after the News At Ten). This week's episode is the last in the series, and we meet three more people finding their way through life after a cancer diagnosis.

Find out more about this week's episode


Lunchtime learning: Useful statistics

Lots of people offer you something to learn during your lunchtime. The flaw in most of these offers is that they work on an assumption about how long your lunchbreak is. We're going to try and do it right, and offer you three lengths of YouTube interestingness. Today's theme is when statistics meet the real world.

If you have an hour, here's Dr. Ana Kupresanin and Richard Newton delivering a talk at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Science on Saturday season:

Statistics is the science of data: measuring and assessing uncertainty and more generally, learning from data. Since scientific, technical, and social disciplines all need to make conclusions based on data, statistics provides them with tools essential for their advances. For example, in the 19th century, statistics was used to analyze patient mortality in military hospitals, leading to improved medical care. Today, promising new treatments are compared to current ones using experiments designed by following statistical principles.

Improvements in many industries require data analysis rather than guesswork. This extends even to sports. Once the performance of players and teams was judged mostly by eye. Nowadays more and more coaches and their staff use statistics to predict the most effective methods of game playing.

One of the many areas in which LLNL applies statistics is climate science. We use computer models based on physical laws to simulate the dynamics of the Earths atmosphere, land and oceans. The resulting data forms a basis for exploring the relationship among different components of the climate system and for making projections of future climate states. Despite their sophistication, climate models remain only approximations of a very complex system and their systematic errors together with many sources of uncertainty need to be quantified in order to estimate climate change impacts as well as to identify human effects on climate.

If you only get half an hour, here's Peter Donnelly, explaining how statistics can confuse juries - and sometimes decide the outcome of trials:

Just time to grab a sandwich? Give us five minutes, and let Leonardo Barichello use a banana to explain how probability can sometimes seem counter-intuitive:

More from OpenLearn on probability

More from OpenLearn on statistics


Between you, me and the ballot box: The biggest electoral fraud

You may not have noticed that there's a poll taking place this week in the UK. To mark this exercise in representative democracy, we're exploring somewhat footnotes on the polling sheets of the world. Yesterday, we discovered the seat that swung on the drawing of a penis. Today, we're catching up with what is probably the most fraudulent election ever held.

Charles King of Liberia Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Library of Congress Charles King, victor of the 1927 election

It's 1927, and we're in Liberia. Africa's oldest republic was in the grip of a major debate. The Firestone tyre company had signed a deal with the government the previous year, granting permission for the company to grow and harvest rubber. Just before the deal was struck, though, a clause had been injected into the agreement which forced Liberia to take a massive loan from the company. There had been a long-simmering controversey in the nation over whether it should seek foreign funding (and accept the controls that this implied) and a not-entirely-coincidental similar loan direct from the US had been rejected shortly before:

The $ 5 million Loan put Liberia virtually under control of US administrators and supervisors. An American Financial Advisor appointed by the US Government controlled the Republic’s finance and had to approve the country’s budget every year. But the most striking and important consequence of this Loan was that the Liberian Government was now forbidden to contract new loans without the written consent of the Finance Corporation of America, i.e. Firestone.

The close embrace of one corporation ran contrary to the previously sacrosanct Open Door Policy. The election became a hard-fought battle of ideology, with The People's Party candidate Thomas JR Faulkner rejecting the capitulation to Firestone, and defending President Charles B D King of the True Whig Party talking up the deal.

Faulkner won the support of 9,000 voters - and, with just 15,000 registered electors in the country, you might think he would have won the day. However, King managed to poll 24,000. In other words, he managed to beat his challenger by a majority the size of the entire electorate.

Although there have been - and remain - some rigged elections, this one was something of a high water mark for duplicity. (The Guiness Book Of Records declared it the largest fraud of its kind.)

Faulkner attacked King on the basis of the 1926 agreement rather than the poll rigging. He accused King of having allowed state-sanctioned slavery - which attracted the attentions of the League of Nations. A committee was convened to investigate, concluding that:

Slavery as defined by the Anti-Slavery Convention, in fact, does not exist in this Republic.
Shipment to Fernando Poo and Gabon is associated with slavery because the method of recruiting carries compulsion with it.
Persons holding official positions have illegally misused their office in recruiting with the aid of the Liberian Frontier Force.

Moving before he could be impeached, King resigned. He didn't, therefore, have to defend his indefensible majority.

Still confused about the issues in the EU referendum? Try our guide

Discover history at The Open University

 

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