What’s Twitter’s Opinion of North Carolina Politics?

As a psychologist scientist, data enthusiast, and novice programmer, one of the things I’ve been really interested in lately is applying text-mining tools to social media to learn more about public opinion on important news stories and current events.

I know it’s cliche to say it, but social media is an incredibly powerful tool. Not only does it obviously allow friends, family, and colleagues to easily communicate and share information with one another in near real-time, but it also provides a rich storehouse of communications for researchers and data geeks, such as myself, to comb thorough and mine for interesting patterns in human behavior and human thought.

For instance, I’ve previously written about research demonstrating how Twitter can be used to predict the risk of dying from a heart attack in particular regions of the country. And more recently, I’ve done a bit of text-mining in Twitter to try to learn more about our President’s tweeting habit, such as the time of day he generally prefers to tweet (usually around 8:00 am EST), the most frequent words he uses when he tweets (“thank,” “great,” and “Hillary”),* and whether his tweets include mostly positive or mostly negative words (on average it’s split pretty evenly, actually).

So, with my political and scientific interests being what they are, I figured I would turn to Twitter to try to learn a little more about how people have perceived and reacted to the continuous flood of news stories that has been coming out of North Carolina recently. Read more “What’s Twitter’s Opinion of North Carolina Politics?”

Political News Analysis: A New Project Exploring the Sentiment Behind Mainstream Media News Coverage

Two weeks ago, I started a new project intended to estimate how negative – or positive – political news reporting is from major media outlets. To accomplish this, I’m performing a daily sentiment analysis on news articles scraped from, at the moment, two sources: CNN’s politics RSS feed and Fox News’ politics RSS feed.

You can check out the results as the come in each day by clicking on the “Political News Analysis” tab at the top of the blog or by clicking on the link in the sidebar.

So far, as of March 19, 2017, my analysis suggests that both CNN and Fox News generally use more negative words than positive words in their political news coverage. Positive words include, for example, terms like “support,” “good,” and “well,” and negative words include, for example, terms like “allegations,” “concerns,” and “fears.” Read more “Political News Analysis: A New Project Exploring the Sentiment Behind Mainstream Media News Coverage”

Scientists are Organizing to March in Washington

Scientists at the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York. Credit: Joe Brusky/flickr

Following the success of the Women’s March on DC and the Trump administration’s recent move to censor scientists at various federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, a group of researchers and science advocates have begun organizing their own political rally. Read more “Scientists are Organizing to March in Washington”

The Week in Politics, According to Twitter

Well, this past week was an eventful one in U.S. politics.

Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, delved into yet another Twitter-related controversy on Saturday after tweeting an image of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, standing near a giant pile of cash and a word bubble conspicuously shaped like the Star of David. Critics immediately pounced on the imagery and accused Trump of anti-Semitism.

The Trump campaign quickly responded by deleting the tweet and replacing it with an altered version, which featured a circle rather than a star. But then, in a surprising display of apparent self-sabotage, Trump went on to defend the use of the six-pointed star, claiming in an angry speech that his campaign staffers “shouldn’t have taken it down” and that it’s “just a star.” Unfortunately for Trump, the Anti-Defamation League and 27 other Jewish organizations disagree. Read more “The Week in Politics, According to Twitter”

Improving Memory through Real-Time Electrophysiological Monitoring: A Glimpse into the Future?

The year is 2115, and you are an undergraduate student hurrying across campus to make it on time to your next class. The class is Elementary Temporal Mechanics, your favorite, so you certainly don’t want to be late.

As you pass through the main quad, you glance at a young woman sitting in the grass and think for a moment she might be someone you know. Quickly, however, you realize her face is unfamiliar. But having already made eye contact, you say hello regardless.

Shortly afterwards, as you proceed on your way up the steps of Zuckerberg Hall, you receive a notification on your new iPhone 107 15GS Plus Jumbo Mini TM. The notification reads, “Female Face Not Fully Encoded into Memory. Probability of Recognition after 24 Hours 32%. Suggest Encoding Further.”

The notification is from Google Lid TM, the inconspicuous knit hat you wear nearly everywhere you go. You’re suddenly reminded of how comfortable the hat is, despite the fact that it contains 256 electrodes for continuous monitoring and recording of your ongoing brain activity.

As you take your seat in the lecture hall, you decide you’ll probably never see the woman again. So you’re not bothered by the fact that you didn’t fully commit her face to memory. With this thought in mind, you casually swipe your phone’s display to dismiss the notification and prepare for another rousing lecture on predestination paradoxes.

Read more “Improving Memory through Real-Time Electrophysiological Monitoring: A Glimpse into the Future?”

Using Twitter to Predict Heart Attack Deaths

Here’s a question for anyone who is active on Twitter, the popular microblogging website that allows users to share brief messages (called Tweets) with friends and followers: How would you characterize the tone of others in your social network, particularly those who live in your surrounding area?

Based on the Tweets you see in your feed, would you say people in your community are generally happy, depressed, anxious, angry, optimistic?

I ask because, as it turns out, Twitter reveals important information about a community’s psychological and physical health.

Read more “Using Twitter to Predict Heart Attack Deaths”

7 ± 2: Facebook, Depression, and Obama’s Call to End “Conversion Therapies”

This is 7 ± 2, my weekly roundup of psychological science in the news. Below are some of the most popular stories featuring psychological research from the past 7 ± 2 days.

Read more “7 ± 2: Facebook, Depression, and Obama’s Call to End “Conversion Therapies””

7 ± 2: Psychological Testing for Pilots, the Efficacy of Anxiety Meds, and How Google Distorts Perceptions of Intelligence

This is 7 ± 2, my weekly psychological science roundup. Below are 7 ± 2 stories from the past 7 ± 2 days featuring the latest in psychological science.

Read more “7 ± 2: Psychological Testing for Pilots, the Efficacy of Anxiety Meds, and How Google Distorts Perceptions of Intelligence”