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Megan Price Elected Board Member of Tor Project

Today The Tor Project announced that it has elected a new Board of Directors, and among them is HRDAG executive director Megan Price. The Tor Project is a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes online privacy and provides software that helps users opt out of online tracking. Megan and Patrick have long maintained that encryption and privacy are essential for enabling human rights work. Patrick's ideas are described in Monday's FedScoop story about encryption, human rights, and the U.S. State Department. “Human rights groups depend on strong cryptography in order to hold governments accountable," says Patrick. "HRDAG depends on local human ...

Data Mining on the Side of the Angels

“Data, by itself, isn’t truth.” How HRDAG uses data analysis and statistical methods to shed light on mass human rights abuses. Executive director Patrick Ball is quoted from his speech at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany.

Condenan a responsables de desaparición de García

Changes at HRDAG

A special announcement from the HRDAG Advisory Board: Beginning officially on December 1, HRDAG is changing leadership. After nearly three years as Executive Director, Patrick Ball will become the new Director of Research. Megan Price will be the new Executive Director. Patrick has spent more than 25 years working at the intersection of human rights and statistical science. Over that time, he has finely honed statistical methodology for quantifying mass killings. Now he is excited about the chance to go deeper into research for HRDAG and develop additional approaches for new problems. In his new role, Patrick will focus more on technical coding ...

Data Mining on the Side of the Angels

"Data, by itself, isn’t truth." How HRDAG uses data analysis and statistical methods to shed light on mass human rights abuses. Executive director Patrick Ball is quoted from his speech at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany. WIRED | THREAT LEVEL John Borland December 29, 2013 Link to story in WIRED


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In Syria, Uncovering the Truth Behind a Number

Huffington Post Politics writer Matt Easton interviews Patrick Ball, executive director of HRDAG, about the latest enumeration of killings in Syria. As selection bias is increasing, it becomes harder to see it: we have the "appearance of perfect knowledge, when in fact the shape of that knowledge has not changed that much," says Patrick. "Technology is not a substitute for science." Huffington Post Politics Matt Easton September 6, 2014 Link to story on HuffPostPol Related blogpost (Updated Casualty Count for Syria) Back to Press Room

Timor-Leste Op-Ed

Defending Human Rights Data And The Possibility of Justice In East Timor By Patrick Ball and Romesh Silva On June 5th, armed gangs broke into the offices of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR) in Dili, East Timor and stole their motorbikes. Many human rights workers wondered whether the mobs would soon return to loot the irreplaceable paper records used by the CAVR to compile a definitive report on human rights abuses during the Indonesian occupation of East Timor from 1975-1999. The release of this report was preempted by the recent violence in Dili. But in the midst of the chaos, Australian military forces stepped in to ...

HRDAG at Strata Conference 2014

Last Thursday, HRDAG co-founder and director of research Megan Price presented at Strata, the conference for data scientists and people who work with "big data." In her talk, she addressed the question of how we can know the actual number of conflict casualties in Syrian. Her short answer was, "We don't know." The longer answer was that we have a very good idea of how many conflict casualties have been reported, by several documentation groups, and that we're working on analyzing (more…)

Using Data and Statistics to Bring Down Dictators

In this story, Guerrini discusses the impact of HRDAG's work in Guatemala, especially the trials of General José Efraín Ríos Montt and Colonel Héctor Bol de la Cruz, as well as work in El Salvador, Syria, Kosovo, and Timor-Leste. Multiple systems estimation and the perils of using raw data to draw conclusions are also addressed. Megan Price and Patrick Ball are quoted, especially in regard to how to use raw data. “From our perspective,” Price says, “the solution to that is both to stay very close to the data, to be very conservative in your interpretation of it and to be very clear about where the data came from, how it was collected, what ...

Multiple Systems Estimation: Collection, Cleaning and Canonicalization of Data

<< Previous post: MSE: The Basics Q3. What are the steps in an MSE analysis? Q4. What does data collection look like in the human rights context? What kind of data do you collect? Q5. [In depth] Do you include unnamed or anonymous victims in the matching process? Q6. What do you mean by "cleaning" and "canonicalization?" Q7. [In depth] What are some of the challenges of canonicalization? (more…)

Big Data and Death at UW-Madison

On November 7, 2014, the Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and  the University of Wisconsin Law School, hosted a mini-conference with speakers Jennifer Alix-Garcia, Patrick Ball, Chad Hazlett, Volker Radeloff, and Philip Schrodt to speak about "Big Data and Death." The conference was organized by John Ahlquist and Jon Pevehouse. Big Data and Death Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin–Madison November 7, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin


In 1995, the Haitian National Commission for Truth and Justice (CNVJ) requested the advice of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Dr. Patrick Ball on how to develop a large-scale project to take the testimonies of several thousand witnesses of human rights abuses in Haiti. The team conducted work incorporating over 5,000 interviews covering over 8,500 victims to produce detailed regional analyses, using quantitative material from the interviews, historical, economic and demographic analysis.


Bangladesh India Sri Lanka Timor-Leste

Improving the estimate of U.S. police killings

Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing writes about HRDAG executive director Patrick Ball and his contribution to Carl Bialik's article about the recently released Bureau of Justice Statistics report on the number of annual police killings, both reported and unreported, in 538 Politics. Doctorow writes: Patrick Ball and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group applied the same statistical rigor that he uses in estimating the scale of atrocities and genocides for Truth and Reconciliation panels in countries like Syria and Guatemala to the problem of estimating killing by US cops, and came up with horrific conclusions. Ball was responding to a set of new estima...

Claudia Carolina López Taks

Field Consultant Carolina Lopéz has worked with the Archivo Histórico de la Policía Nacional (AHPN) in Guatemala for eight years, and is currently a member of the Archive  Technical Coordination team. A professional working within the social sciences, she prefers using alternative research on past practices to develop an understanding of the present. Her work consists primarily of monitoring and creating strategies to systematize, track and create process controls. She also has thorough knowledge of management of historical archive documents. Since 2006, Carolina has worked in quantitative research at the AHPN with HRDAG team members Patrick ...

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.