Data Is Plural

... is a weekly newsletter of useful/curious datasets.

2016.01.27 edition

Airplane safety, cancer rates, movie ratings, federal employees’ feelings, and Scots accused of witchcraft.

Airplane confidential. NASA collects aviation safety reports from pilots, technicians, flight attendants, and other personnel. The (anonymized) published data contains text narratives, as well as details about flight conditions and other safety factors. (“Ok, I did it; the dumbest thing I have ever done in my entire life,” one confessional begins.) You can search the database but can only download so many records at a time. And you can request the full database from NASA, but you’ll have to wait. An alternative option: There’s a copy from November on the Internet Archive. [h/t Dave Riordan + Julian Simioni]

Cancer statistics. Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society launched a new data dashboard. Metrics include estimated new cases, historical survival rates, and more. To download the corresponding spreadsheets, use the “tools” button on each page. [h/t Virginia Hughes]

Tens of millions of movie ratings. is a free, noncommercial movie recommender — sort of like Netflix, minus the ability to watch movies. The service is run by a research lab at the University of Minnesota. The lab publishes several datasets of user ratings and movie info. The largest contains 22 million ratings. Among movies with at least 1,000 ratings, The Shawshank Redemption has received the highest average score (4.44 of 5), while 2007’s Epic Movie has netted the lowest (1.48 of 5).

Federal employees’ feelings. Last year, more than 400,000 federal employees took the Office of Personnel Management’s annual survey, which includes questions about satisfaction, leadership, and work schedules. You can download aggregate and raw results. Important note: The survey is voluntary and non-random.

The Survey of Scottish Witchcraft. The University of Edinburgh hosts an incredibly detailed, and deeply documented database of more than 3,000 accused witches in Scotland. The mania reached its quantitative peak in 1662, when, according to the database, 402 people were accused of witchcraft. [h/t Felix Haass]