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Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:19 AM

Nate Silver: 'It's numbers with their imperfections versus bullshit. MUST READ

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/17/nate-silver-interview-election-data-statistics
<snip>
For weeks and months, the election had been "too close to call". Pundit after pundit declared that the election could "go either way". That it was "neck and neck". Only it wasn't. In the end, it turned out not to be neck and neck at all. Or precisely what Nate Silver had been saying for months. On election day, he predicted Obama had a 90.9% chance of winning a majority in the electoral votes and by crunching polling data he successfully predicted the correct result in 50 out of 50 states.

"You know who won the election tonight?" asked the MSNBC TV news anchor, Rachel Maddow. "Nate Silver."

Twitter went into meltdown. The blogosphere went Nate Silvertastic. Sales of his first book, The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction leapt 800% overnight and went to number two in the bestseller charts. And whole portions of the media decided that this wasn't just a personal triumph for Nate Silver it was the triumph of the nerds. One man and his mathematical model had bested an entire political class of journalists, spin doctors, hacks and commentators.

Silver doesn't look much like America's latest and hottest new television celebrity. Or "the new boyfriend of the chattering classes", as the Washington Post called him. The 34-year-old Silver is a pretty convincing Clark Kent pre the Superman makeover. He's so unassuming, he shuffles, head bowed, into the room, looking almost embarrassed about the idea of being interviewed.

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DUer Statistical set me straight about Nate Silver back in 2010

36 replies, 4864 views

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Arrow 36 replies Author Time Post
Reply Nate Silver: 'It's numbers with their imperfections versus bullshit. MUST READ (Original post)
malaise Nov 2012 OP
RainDog Nov 2012 #1
coldbeer Nov 2012 #15
CanonRay Nov 2012 #2
We_Must_Organize Nov 2012 #3
NYtoBush-Drop Dead Nov 2012 #4
sheshe2 Nov 2012 #5
ProSense Nov 2012 #6
JDPriestly Nov 2012 #10
malaise Nov 2012 #11
mountain grammy Nov 2012 #7
malaise Nov 2012 #12
sulphurdunn Nov 2012 #8
whistler162 Nov 2012 #9
MsLeopard Nov 2012 #13
shrdlu Nov 2012 #30
blaze Nov 2012 #14
oldbanjo Nov 2012 #16
gademocrat7 Nov 2012 #17
wtmusic Nov 2012 #18
backscatter712 Nov 2012 #19
longship Nov 2012 #20
Tippy Nov 2012 #21
fiorello Nov 2012 #22
Jim Lane Nov 2012 #23
BumRushDaShow Nov 2012 #24
MrModerate Nov 2012 #33
WinkyDink Nov 2012 #25
WillyT Nov 2012 #26
malaise Nov 2012 #35
Dubster Nov 2012 #27
fascisthunter Nov 2012 #28
malaise Nov 2012 #36
YayArea Nov 2012 #29
William769 Nov 2012 #31
Overseas Nov 2012 #32
Dark n Stormy Knight Nov 2012 #34

Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:28 AM

1. k&r n/t

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Response to RainDog (Reply #1)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:29 AM

15. Rove wanted us to think it was close!

It was not. I kept wondering why Rmoney was so confident.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:05 AM

2. My motto: Read Nate, the rest is bullshit.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:08 AM

3. I remember

when i started reading Silver in May or June of '08. I thought "this guy is fucking amazing." I was always was chomping at the bit for his new senate rankings and updates on the state of the race. After he picked 49 of 50 states correctly (in 2008, only getting Indiana wrong) and every senate race I knew he was going to be a phenom. Not long after that fivethirtyeight was picked up by the Times and the rest is history. I hope Nate predicts many Democratic Administrations for years to come!

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:43 AM

4. I've been following Nate since 2008

and happy ever since...

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:47 AM

5. Clark Kent pre Superman!



Thank you Nate!

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:47 AM

6. After the first debate, the

plethora of RW polls giving Mitt a significant lead in the battleground states and the media hype made it clear what was going on. They were trying to in up Republican excitement for a bullshit candidate. Up to that point, Mitt was consistently behind, and I suspect they knew he was losing.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:08 AM

10. For me, in California, a basically Democratic state at the moment,

the outcome was obvious although it depended on the ground game being operated by well organized, intelligent people.

I would go to a random park in a low-income, presumably low-information area and talk to adults, young and old. Most everyone not only said they would vote for Obama but could tell you precisely why. "Obama got handed a bad deal. Things were already in bad shape when Obama took over, and Republicans are trying to shift the blame." People who said that were making a moral judgment about the honesty and irresponsibility of the entire Republican establishment -- and in my opinion, they were right.

Another one, which I heard from young people in particular, was that Obama had ended the war in Iraq and promised to end the war in Afghanistan. These young people could tell me about friends of theirs in the armed forces. Obama's re-election was life or death to them. They voted for Obama.

Those who did not support Obama were upset by the economy. Joblessness was the problem. But then if you pointed out that the Republicans had ruined the economy by failing to regulate wrongdoing, they became silent, pensive.

Then there are those (and they are growing in number) who supported neither Romney nor Obama because they want fundamental changes such as an end to wars of greed and the Federal Reserve system and hegemony of the banks. (I repeat that they are growing in number.) I suspect, however, that, once in the polling booth, many of them voted for Obama. Because hope reigns eternal . . . And we all still hope that Obama will strive toward the fundamental changes that we need. He is the only candidate, the only politician who has the name recognition, who cares and who can achieve real change.

In my experience, voters were, for the most part, much better informed or at least much more willing to state the bases for their choices than in 2004 or 2008. Maybe it was just the way I approached the voters, maybe I was different this time, but I found people to be more articulate about their reasons for supporting Obama this year than they were about him or other candidates in the past.

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Response to ProSense (Reply #6)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:08 AM

11. Ding ding we have a winner

I kept asking hubby how the hell one debate of lies could change the fact that WilLIARd was the sleaziest of the scumbag ReTHUG candidates in living memory. All of M$Greedia including more than a few liberals bought form rather than LYING content in fifteen minutes.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:47 AM

7. Like the Who's of Whoville, WE ARE HERE!

And we vote! and Nate Silver counts us! The corporate news and pundits are just here to scare us and sell us shit! Well, we're not afraid and we're not buying! But we ARE voting! The next two years will be a turnaround in America, topped off by people power in the 2014 elections electing good Dems to a super majority. We will not go down the dark road of facism. At least I hope not! I'm getting up there and want to leave my country better than it was.

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Response to mountain grammy (Reply #7)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:09 AM

12. The corporate media are in it for two things

money from ads and ratings.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:51 AM

8. Advertising

makes it happen. I think the PR flacks and their sugar daddies were justifiable in believing that enough money spent on mass marketing will convince people to buy any old shit, and they were confident that enough money could sell Mitt Shit to suckers even though the numbers said otherwise.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:52 AM

9. Nate Silver must be Anonymous

after all he perdicted the Electoral College count! <doffs tin foil cap to Nate "the Anomynous" Silver>

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:11 AM

13. Excellent article on Nate



Revenge of the Nerds!! K&R

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Response to MsLeopard (Reply #13)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:28 PM

30. Man of the Year!

n/t

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:27 AM

14. Great article!

Thanks for the link!

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:06 AM

16. It had to be called close

to milk more money from the rich then they started believing their own lie.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:06 AM

17. K&R

Nate is the best.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:07 AM

18. If you haven't already, read the book

I didn't believe someone could make a book about statistics interesting.

I was wrong.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:16 AM

19. All praise to Natestradamus! n/t

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:30 AM

20. Just click through and read the whole thing.

This is a very good article. Nate Silver is now internationally famous... For what? for being a nerdy smart person.

That's cool. That's awesome. I wish more nerdy guys and gals would achieve this.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 10:34 AM

21. Nervier really had any trust in polls

and I didn't jump on the Nate bandwagon in the beginning ....butI should have

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 01:53 PM

22. Totally nails the bullying, science-hating Republican mindset!

Check out this paragraph:

----
There was more than a touch of homophobia to the criticism (Silver is gay), not to mention an aversion to scientific rationalism that has come to characterise certain segments of the conservative right. (Gawker compared the attack to "something like a jock slapping a math book out of a kid's hands and saying, 'NICE NUMBERS, FAG.'"
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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:34 PM

23. Nothing against Nate Silver, but I've never understood why he gets all the attention.

There were multiple sites that did what he did -- go beyond the latest poll of the national popular vote and instead make Electoral College predictions based on state-by-state analysis of the state polls. I myself was following electoral-vote.com, chiefly because I happened to have gotten into that habit and couldn't take the time to follow Silver and all the other sites as well. AFAIK, every single one of those poll aggregation sites predicted an Obama victory.

This wasn't Nate Silver versus the world. The real division was into these two camps:

1) People with an agenda, such as MSM calling the race close so as to hype viewer/reader interest, and Dick Morris predicting a Romney landslide so as to inspire the troops.

2) Objective, number-driven analysts who wanted to get it right.

I read an interview with Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium, which also did poll aggregation and which also got it right. He expressed respect for Silver but stated a disagreement with him on some minor statistical issue that went over my head. I strongly doubt that the people focusing on Silver -- whether to praise or disparage him -- could give any coherent reason for believing that Silver's statistical approach was better or worse than Wang's.

It seems that "Nate Silver" is partly the name of a real person and partly a shorthand way of referring to all the number-crunchers.

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #23)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:52 PM

24. Probably because 538 was absorbed by the NYT after the 2008 election

where Sam and PEC are still associated with the school....

So M$M focuses on M$M....

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Response to Jim Lane (Reply #23)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 12:18 AM

33. Well, yes, they've picked Nate as poster boy for the nerds . . .

And not given the Princeton guys (and others, as you point out) the same celebrity treatment.

However, Nate had a heckuva platform to speak from in fivethirtyeight, is fluent in Nongeek, creates cool, accessible charts, and has a very engaging prose style. On one level, he's a columnist as much as a numbers guy.

And hence more easy to present (market?) as a star.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:54 PM

25. I e-mailed friends to disregard that "neck and neck" comment; that it wasn't going to be CLOSE.



I also said to bet on Obama's getting 300+ EV's.

I believed in Nate Silver.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 07:54 PM

26. THIS !!!

Silver doesn't work the Georgetown party scene. He doesn't meet the lobbyists, spin doctors, campaign managers and press officers. He doesn't, in short, play the system, because political reporting, both in the US and the UK, is a system, a system that can at times resemble a cartel. In Britain, the you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours atmosphere of the lobby came under scrutiny during the expenses scandal, a scandal it took a journalist outside politics to bust apart. In the US, Silver describes it as "transactional".

"Once in a while, you'll get the occasional scoop, if you're well-behaved and play the game. But it's all just a game with a lot of vested interests at work. I try not to talk to the campaigns because it's mostly noise."

What's interesting is that the campaigns, most especially Obama's, understand the importance of data. They hired a "chief scientist" and according to the campaign manager, Jim Messina, set out to "measure everything". Numbers told them who to target and how to target them.

In this context, Silver's skills seem not just relevant but vital. The liberal media don't care, perhaps, when it's their side winning; they may next time around. Because this is military-grade spin, targeted like a drone strike at the level of the individual. The political class has responded by waving the equivalent of a crucifix at it.


Same as OP.


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Response to WillyT (Reply #26)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:15 AM

35. Nate has destroyed their meme for the second time in Presidential elections

Let's see how they spin their shit next time. I expect no changes. Indeed they will try to destroy him. The sad truth is that Princeton and others also got it right using real numbers and not the opinions and talking points of hacks.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:01 PM

27. Spam deleted by gkhouston (MIR Team)

 

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:02 PM

28. You mean right wing propaganda inflating the possibility so election theft was more believable

yes, that is what was going on.

Hello US, you may be making a pay check from corporate america, but you are also giving away your democracy by giving them so much power and freedom.

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Response to fascisthunter (Reply #28)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:16 AM

36. 100% correct

It backfired this time - go Nate!

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 08:22 PM

29. Nate Silver is going to need some Secret Service protection.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 09:30 PM

31. Recommended.

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 11:02 PM

32. K&R. Great profile!

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Response to malaise (Original post)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 04:41 AM

34. Excellent article. The Guardian is usually pretty good. Thanks for posting.

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