News of the Tautological

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on May 2, 2014

The following is an excerpt from’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.

tautology1News of the Tautological
“Missouri Inmate Dies While Serving Life Sentence”–headline, Associated Press, April 30

The Power of Data
Illinois is in the Midwest. So say DATA. As’s Walt Hickey explains:

We asked SurveyMonkey Audience to ask self-identified Midwesterners which states make the cut. We ran a national survey that targeted the Midwest from March 12 to March 17, with 2,778 respondents. Of those, 1,357 respondents identified “a lot” or “some” as a Midwesterner. We then asked this group to identify the states they consider part of the Midwest.

There are a lot of things here worth looking into. First, many people aren’t too sure about where the core of the Midwest is. Everybody selected at least one state for the question. But even Illinois–home of the preeminent Midwestern city, Chicago–was identified as Midwestern by just about 80 percent of respondents.

New York was cited as Midwestern by no one at all. We guess they’ve never been to Buffalo. The success of this project led to another, to find out “Which States Are in the South?” Georgia, among others.

Very impressive. We’ll never make fun of “data-driven journalism” again. And we’re looking forward to the next FiveThirtyEight study, “Which Provinces Are in Canada?”

For more “Best of the Web” click here and look for the “Best of the Web Today” link in the middle column below “Today’s Columnists.”