Data Is Plural

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

2019.04.03 edition

Yemen air strikes, teacher supply, moralizing gods, mid-Atlantic shorelines, and the Index Thomisticus.

Yemen air strikes. To mark the four-year anniversary of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen, the Yemen Data Project last week released civilian casualty estimates for the entire air war. The project’s researchers collect and cross-reference data from a range of sources, including news reports, social media, video footage, local authorities, and NGOs; their published data contains dates, locations, and casualty estimates for more than 19,000 air raids. As seen in:Saudi Strikes, American Bombs, Yemeni Suffering: How Saudi Arabia’s war tactics have fueled Yemen’s humanitarian crisis” (New York Times, December 2018). [h/t Andrea Carboni]

Teacher supply. The UNESCO Institute of Statistics collects country-level data on the number of teachers, teacher-to-student ratios, and related figures. You can download the data or explore it in UNESCO’s eAtlas of Teachers or their interactive visualization of teacher supply in Asia.

Moralizing gods. To test the “moralizing gods” hypothesis (which posits that “belief in morally concerned supernatural agents culturally evolved to facilitate cooperation among strangers in large-scale societies”), the authors of a recent paper in Nature “coded records from 414 societies that span the past 10,000 years from 30 regions around the world, using 51 measures of social complexity and 4 measures of supernatural enforcement of morality.” The dataset is available to download. Findings: “Our analyses not only confirm the association between moralizing gods and social complexity, but also reveal that moralizing gods follow — rather than precede — large increases in social complexity.” [h/t Juan Moreno-Cruz + Peter Irvine]

Mid-Atlantic shorelines. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science at The College of William & Mary maintains shoreline inventories for Virginia, Maryland, and parts of Delaware and North Carolina. The datasets include geospatial information about land use, vegetation, different types of structures (e.g., jetties, bulkheads, docks, boathouses), and more. [h/t Susie Cambria]

The Index Thomisticus. “In 1949, an Italian Jesuit priest named Roberto Busa presented a pitch to Thomas J. Watson, of I.B.M.,” according to a New Yorker article principally about the Enron email archive. “Busa was trained in philosophy, and had just published his thesis on St. Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic theologian with a famously unmanageable œuvre.” Watson agreed to help, “and, for the next thirty years, Busa encoded sixty-five thousand pages of Thomist text so that it could be word-searched, cross-referenced, and what we now call hyperlinked.” The Index Thomisticus became “the first corpus to be primed for digital scholarship,” and is available online to search and download.