I am Professor of Sociology at Duke University. (→ More about me.)

Some of my Work

  • Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction. Princeton University Press. / Overview /  Buy on Amazon 
  • “Fuck Nuance.” Sociological Theory 35:118-127. / PDF
  • “Seeing Like a Market.” Socio-Economic Review, 15:9-29. / PDF
  • “The Performativity of Networks.” European Journal of Sociology, 56:175–205. / PDF
  • Last Best Gifts. University of Chicago Press. / Overview /  Buy on Amazon 


Recent Writing

Excess Deaths Overview

10 October 2020 Update Jurisdiction figures updated on October 25th with data up to week 37 (ending September 12th). Recent posts on the CDC data have been getting a fair amount of traffic. This page is an overview of the things I’ve been doing with the data. Summarizing excess mortality in the United States this year so far An overview of mortality in the US in 2020 This figure has four sections.

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Excess Deaths by Jurisdiction

8 October 2020 Although yesterday’s excess deaths plots by cause graph was for the whole of the United States only, the table we made did the same calculations on the whole CDC dataset, so the resulting df_excess table has numbers for all U.S. states and several other jurisdictions, such as New York City. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 > df_excess ## # A tibble: 4,428 x 9 ## # Groups: jurisdiction, cause [810] ## jurisdiction cause year deaths baseline baseline_sd excess pct_excess pct_sd ## <chr> <chr> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> <dbl> ## 1 Alabama All Cause 2015 24261 25278 750.

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Excess Deaths by Cause

6 October 2020 As I was saying the other day, calculating excess deaths can be a tricky business, especially if your focus is on understanding counterfactuals like how many people died of some cause who would not have died due to some other competing risk over the period of interest. Moreover, even setting the counterfactuals aside, the whole business of accurately counting and classifying deaths on the scale of a country as large and variegated as the United States is an enormous challenge in itself.

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Walk the Walk

1 October 2020 The other day I was looking to make a bunch of graphs showing some recent data from the CDC about excess mortality due to COVID-19. The idea was to take weekly counts of deaths over the past few years, both overall and from various important causes, and then show how the weekly counts from this year compare so far. The United States has a very large population, which means that a fairly predictable number of people die each week.

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National Weekly Death Rates

26 September 2020 Following up on yesterday’s post on within-state variation in deaths in the United States, here’s a quick look at all-cause mortality rates across twenty countries, courtesy of the excellent work of the demographers who maintain the Human Mortality Database. The panels show death rates across twenty countries. Within each panel you can compare the overall death rate for the first thirty weeks of 2020 (shown in red) with the death rates for each of the previous five years (shown in gray).

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