with Spencer Greenberg
the podcast about ideas that matter

Episode 098: What we really mean when we say that something will "probably" happen (with Walt Hickey)

March 31, 2022

Graphic novels have been around for a long time, so why have graphic novel sales skyrocketed suddenly in the last year or two? Is that growth representative of a possible trend away from reading text-only books? Do animated movies and TV shows allow for greater suspension of disbelief than their live-action counterparts? Does animation make it easier for movies and TV shows to push the boundaries of what's culturally acceptable? What is "soft" power, and why is it so important? How important has America's soft power been relative to its hard power over the past century? How is America's soft power affected by Americans' own views of their country? What's lacking or misguided in the ways most people think and talk about probabilities and statistics? Is it better to report predictions with very specific probabilities (e.g., "It's 67.5% likely to rain today") or with looser, more casual probabilities (e.g., "I think it'll probably rain today")?

Walt Hickey is a data journalist who founded and writes Numlock News, a daily morning newsletter about fascinating numbers buried in the news. His primary interests are in pop culture data journalism and how journalists can better integrate stats into stories. He's currently writing a book about how pop culture impacts its consumers and is the senior editor for data at Insider. He previously worked as the chief culture writer at FiveThirtyEight and has written for You can follow him on Twitter at @WaltHickey and subscribe to his newsletter at

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Spencer Greenberg

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