Cicchetti’s Random Shit

Readers will be aware that Trump and his MAGA goons have been pretending that Joe Biden stole the US election. They’ve been counting on the corruptness of sufficient judges and election officials for their fantasy grievances to gain traction. So far, however, and this was no gimme, the authorities have, in the main, been unwilling to deny reality.

The latest denial of the denial of reality came yesterday, with the Supreme Court telling Texas’s scumbag attorney general, and 17 other scumbag attorneys general, and 126 scumbag congressmen, to go fuck themselves. AG Paxton’s lawsuit, arguing to invalidate the election results in four states, was garbage in every conceivable way, and in a few inconceivable ways. One of those inconceivable ways was mathematical, which is why we are here.

As David Post wrote about here and then here, Paxton’s original motion claimed powerful statistical evidence, giving “substantial reason to doubt the voting results in the Defendant States” (paragraphs 9 – 12). In particular, Paxton claimed that Trump’s early lead in the voting was statistically insurmountable (par 10):

“The probability of former Vice President Biden winning the popular vote in the four Defendant States—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—independently given President Trump’s early lead in those States as of 3 a.m. on November 4, 2020, is less than one in a quadrillion, or 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000.”

Similarly, Paxton looked to Trump’s defeat of Clinton in 2016 to argue the unlikelihood of Biden’s win in these states (par 11):

“The same less than one in a quadrillion statistical improbability … exists when Mr. Biden’s performance in each of those Defendant States is compared to former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s performance in the 2016 general election and President Trump’s performance in the 2016 and 2020 general elections.”

On the face of it, these claims are, well, insane. So, what evidence did Paxton produce? It appeared in Paxton’s subsequent motion for expedited consideration, in the form of a Declaration to the Court by “Charles J. Cicchetti, PhD” (pages 20-29). Cicchetti’s Declaration has to be read to be believed.

Cicchetti‘s PhD is in economics, and he is a managing director of a corporate consulting group called Berkeley Research Group. BRG appears to have no role in Paxton’s suit, and Cicchetti doesn’t say how he got involved; he simply writes that he was “asked to analyze some of the validity and credibility of the 2020 presidential election in key battleground states”. Presumably, Paxton was just after the best.

It is excruciating to read Cicchetti’s entire Declaration, but there is also no need. Amongst all the Z-scores and whatnot, Cicchetti’s argument is trivial. Here is the essence of Cicchetti’s support for Paxton’s statements above.

In regard to Trump’s early lead, Cicchetti discusses Georgia, comparing the early vote and late vote distributions (par 15):

“I use a Z-score to test if the votes from the two samples are statistically similar … There is a one in many more than quadrillions of chances that these two tabulation periods are randomly drawn from the same population. 

Similarly, in regard to Biden outperforming Clinton in the four states, Cicchetti writes

 “I tested the hypothesis that the performance of the two Democrat candidates were statistically similar by comparing Clinton to Biden … [Cicchetti sprinkles some Z-score fairy dust] … I can reject the hypothesis many times more than one in a quadrillion times that the two outcomes were similar.”

And, as David Post has noted, that’s all there is. Cicchetti has demonstrated that the late Georgia votes skewed strongly to Biden, and that Biden outperformed Clinton. Both of which everybody knew was gonna happen and everybody knows did happen.

None of this, of course, supports Paxton’s claims in the slightest. So, was Cicchetti really so stupid as to think he was proving anything? No, Cicchetti may be stupid but he’s not that stupid; Cicchetti briefly addresses the fact that his argument contains no argument. In regard to the late swing in Georgia, Cicchetti writes (par 16)

“I am aware of some anecdotal statements from election night that some Democratic strongholds were yet to be tabulated … [This] could cause the later ballots to be non-randomly different … but I am not aware of any actual [supporting] data …”

Yep, it’s up to others to demonstrate that the late votes went to Biden. Which, you know they kind of did, when they counted the fucking votes. As for Biden outperforming Clinton, Cicchetti writes (par 13),

“There are many possible reasons why people vote for different candidates. However, I find the increase of Biden over Clinto is statistically incredible if the outcomes were based on similar populations of voters …”

Yep, Cicchetti finds it “incredible” that four years of that motherfucker Trump had such an effect on how people voted.

What an asshole.

13 Replies to “Cicchetti’s Random Shit”

    1. Thanks, Stephen. I’m not sure what you mean. In this case, the certainty comes from (deliberately) asking the wrong and trivial questions.

      1. I’m just *attempting* humour. 🙂

        The conclusions are just such an insane leap from the actual discovery that “some thing is different from some other thing”. It’s kinda scary that they thought a judge would accept the argument that we need to invoke mass conspiracy to explain these totally expected observations.

        On a more serious note. This example is super visible and getting tons of scrutiny as a result (gratefully). But this kind of bamboozlement could easily pass muster in more inconspicuous climes.

        1. OK, thanks, Stephen. Actually, the Supreme Court had nothing to say about Cicchetti’s bullshit, because the suit didn’t even get that far: Texas had no standing to sue, and so the (de)merit of their arguments was irrelevant and not considered.

          But, the “scariness” is not that these assholes believed their bullshit would pass muster; the scariness is that there are enough assholes on the Supreme Court that we can’t ever be sure when such bullshit will prevail. Kavanaugh and Gorsuch and Alito and Thomas aren’t exactly intellectually or morally bankrupt, but they’re not swimming in wealth either.

    1. So, the Republicans’ evidence for dodginess is the Republicans’ claims of dodginess? I guess that counts as evidence for some.

    2. I’ve not had time until now to go back and look at this report by mathematician, Stephen Miller (*not* the psychopathic advisor to Trump). I suspected it was simply “garbage in, garbage out”, and it turns out that it was. In brief, either by being a “conservative libertarian” or just an everyday arrogant academic, Miller got cocky, got used and made a fool of himself. A decent story of the incident is here, which includes Miller’s tepid apology:

      One of the lessons I try to teach my students, and I think many have learned it better than I, is to critically examine the data before doing any analysis. I did not do that when asked to make mathematical calculations based on data related to perhaps the most contentious election of our lifetime. Nor did I fully consider how my calculations, made in isolation based on numbers provided to me, would be used. Several of my colleagues have pointed out concerns both in the data and how it was used. They were right—I made a mistake by not discussing these issues. I hope others will learn from my error and learn from my example that if you make a mistake you admit it and take steps to fix it.

  1. “Again, the conclusions above
    are based on the data provided being both accurate and a representative sample.”

    This is quite an assumption to make…

  2. The inanity of Cicchetti’s ‘analysis’ is further demonstrated by realising that he could have applied his ‘method’ looking backwards in time: 2020 to 2016, and after 3.a.m. to before 3 a.m.

    In this case his “same population” estimates would be Trump’s share of the 2020 total vote, and his share of the post 3 a.m. vote. If Cicchetti ‘proves’ the ‘one-in-a-quadrillion’ chance of Biden winning now, he must draw the same conclusion about Trump winning in 2016.

    There is a real Charles J Chicchetti who has not protested that someone has fraudulently misrepresented themselves as him – in the manner of all those dead voters who allegedly cast their ballots for Biden. Was Cicchetti playing a prank on Trump? Surely a Professor of Economics couldn’t be so ignorant and stupid to expect his ludicrous declaration to be taken seriously. The one-in-a-quadrillion probability is nothing. Elsewhere in his ten pages he finds a chance of “one divided by about one with a quadrillion zeros”. That has to be a joke.

    As a mathematical proof of anything, Cicchetti goes nowhere, but for demonstrating the stupidity of Trump, his Liar-in-Chief Kayleigh McEnany and the lawyers who thought this farrago of nonsense actually meant anything and might carry weight if the Supreme Court allowed it to be considered, Cicchetti earns the gratitude of us all.

  3. Incidentally, the “quadrillion” is very peculiar and set me thinking. I tried to replicate the statistical test (using the normal approximation of the prior and also using a chi-square test) and in both cases the p-value underflowed (and so output as 0). For a 64-bit float, this means that the algorithm is shooting for a value smaller than 1e-324 (depending on the float implementation).

    So they really missed an opportunity, They could have said “a less than one in centillion chance”! Much more impressive.

    I suspect that the quadrillion comes from interpreting underflow as meaning the 64-bit float has run out of decimal digits of precision (of which it has about 15). This could potentially be valid if the algorithm was outputting (1 – p-value), which I guess is why these algorithms typically don’t do that.

  4. BTW, Marty … your post inspired me to give a presentation on this topic at work. Gave me an excuse to talk stats and their interpretation and use in decision making.

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