Serena Williams' Husband Snaps at New York Times Over 'Misleading' Article

Serena Williams' U.S. Open brouhaha continues, with her husband calling out the NY Times for some short-sighted statistical analysis about penalties given to men and women at the U.S. Open over the last 20 years.

Serena Williams argues Carlos Ramos

Image via Getty/Tim Clayton/Corbis

Serena Williams argues Carlos Ramos

The Women's 2018 U.S. Open final continues to act as a metaphor for all sorts of political and cultural debates going on in America. The latest involves Serena Williams' husband, Reddit founder,and guy who makes other husbands look bad in comparison, Alex Ohanian. He put out a Twitter thread mocking a recent New York Times article about how often men and women have been penalized at the U.S. Open over the last 20 years:

Statistics help for @NYTimes @christopherclarey please:

The argument is that women are punished more often *per incident* than men are.

These data only show there are more penalties for men *total.*

— Alexis Ohanian 🧠 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2018

As any college statistics student or NBA Twitter fanatic will tell you, totals are pretty useless in comparison to averages. Ohanian, who knows a thing or two about data, gives a nice example why:

E.g. If men were punished 344 times out of 3440 audible obscenities (10% enforcement), but women were punished 140 times out of 700 audible obscenities (20% enforcement) -- that would mean women are penalized 2x more often than men for the same violation.

— Alexis Ohanian 🧠 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2018

The co-founder of Reddit knows how to troll, too: 

Cc @ christophclarey - happy to help fund an independent research team to run the actual analysis! Statistics can be illuminating when you know what you're looking for.

— Alexis Ohanian 🧠 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2018

Live footage of @christophclarey when he realizes he wasted all that ink on a misleading headline with a body of "research" that means literally nothing. How will @nytimes respond?

— Alexis Ohanian 🧠 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2018

Instead of just whining about it, Ohanian put his money where his mockery was:

And so that some good comes out of this, I've donated $10 for every word (714) in that misleading article to @DonorsChoose classroom projects to make sure the next generation gets access to learn basic statistics. Thank you, @christophclarey.

— Alexis Ohanian 🧠 (@alexisohanian) September 16, 2018

After The Intercept's resident Russia apologist Glenn Greenwald extolled the article, statistical svengali (something he used to do for the New York Times) Nate Silver, confirmed what Alex was pointing out about how useless the numbers cited in the article were for in supporting the thesis:

The study doesn't show that. It shows that male players are fined more, but that could be because they misbehave more. (Indeed, from watching a fair bit of tennis, the men do misbehave more). This data doesn't tell us anything about whether they're punished at greater rates.

— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) September 15, 2018

We'll probably be using this final as a stand-in for other cultural disagreements long after Serena has played her last U.S. Open.

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