(Image source: Mashable)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

Joe Scarborough called him a joke, fellow columnist David Brooks said he was off in “silly land,” and Politico wondered whether he would be a “one-term celebrity.” But in the end, Nate Silver was right, and the math nerds are gloating.

Silver, The New York Times’ statistics whiz, accurately predicted the presidential election outcome in all 50 states as well as the popular vote. The success is highlighted by the fact that Silver’s model was attacked in the weeks leading up to November 6. (Via Wired, Gizmodo)

“All those people telling him, ‘It’s crazy that you’re saying it’s not going to be this close. It’s not going to be close. Everyone can see how close it’s going to be.’ And it ended up not being close.” (Video via MSNBC)

But the prediction win isn’t just a shining moment for statistics. Some say it’s the opening salvo in the war against pundits. ESPN host Scott Van Pelt put it this way:

“He’s basically saying about the TV coverage ‘Look, if you don’t use these numbers and tell people here’s what’s going to happen, then you’re all just a bunch of hacks,’ and that ‘You’re wasting everyone’s time on TV.’”

Silver even launched a few volleys on his own, like this one from his appearance on The Colbert Report Monday.

Colbert: “How do you feel about pundits?”
Silver: “If pundits were on the ballot against, like... I don’t know.”
Colbert: “Ebola.”
Silver: “Ebola? I might vote ebola. Or third party.”

Conservative pundits spent the days before the election predicting anything from a narrow Romney win to a landslide Romney win. Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, George Will and, yes, Joe Scarborough all predicted a victory for the GOP candidate while Silver had Obama at a 91% chance to win.

A writer for CNET says:

“how did he know? Not through irrational belief or blind wishes. But through a painstaking analysis of every poll ... available to him, and 100,000 simulated elections...”

So, does this mean pundits who rely on their gut are on the decline?

After all, a study from Hamilton College last year surveyed 26 media personalities who make predictions, and found most of them are no more accurate than a coin flip.

But not so fast. A writer for Forbes says while we might think we go to our favorite media voices for their keen insight, it’s more likely we just enjoy hearing a confident voice saying things we agree with.

“[W]hile some of us try to sustain ourselves on a respectable media diet full of journalistic fiber such as the Economist or PBS, only the most disciplined of us doesn’t periodically want to throw in a helping of a political Twinkie like Rush Limbaugh now and then.”

And even if numbers guys become the new face of punditry, a writer for New York Magazine says that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“the biggest complaint about campaign coverage over the last twenty years has been that it’s too focused on the horse race ... Silver and his fellow polling analysts ... have brought a welcome degree of precision, but they’ve only made the horse race more central to the political conversation.”

As for Silver, he’s become the subject of math-based Chuck Norris jokes like “Nate Silver can recite pi backwards.” But the man himself used the big night to quietly raise a few numbers himself, tweeting:

“This is probably a good time to link to my book”

Nate Silver's Prediction Spot On. Punditry on the Decline?

by Steven Sparkman
2
Transcript
Nov 7, 2012

Nate Silver's Prediction Spot On. Punditry on the Decline?

 

(Image source: Mashable)

BY STEVEN SPARKMAN

Joe Scarborough called him a joke, fellow columnist David Brooks said he was off in “silly land,” and Politico wondered whether he would be a “one-term celebrity.” But in the end, Nate Silver was right, and the math nerds are gloating.

Silver, The New York Times’ statistics whiz, accurately predicted the presidential election outcome in all 50 states as well as the popular vote. The success is highlighted by the fact that Silver’s model was attacked in the weeks leading up to November 6. (Via Wired, Gizmodo)

“All those people telling him, ‘It’s crazy that you’re saying it’s not going to be this close. It’s not going to be close. Everyone can see how close it’s going to be.’ And it ended up not being close.” (Video via MSNBC)

But the prediction win isn’t just a shining moment for statistics. Some say it’s the opening salvo in the war against pundits. ESPN host Scott Van Pelt put it this way:

“He’s basically saying about the TV coverage ‘Look, if you don’t use these numbers and tell people here’s what’s going to happen, then you’re all just a bunch of hacks,’ and that ‘You’re wasting everyone’s time on TV.’”

Silver even launched a few volleys on his own, like this one from his appearance on The Colbert Report Monday.

Colbert: “How do you feel about pundits?”
Silver: “If pundits were on the ballot against, like... I don’t know.”
Colbert: “Ebola.”
Silver: “Ebola? I might vote ebola. Or third party.”

Conservative pundits spent the days before the election predicting anything from a narrow Romney win to a landslide Romney win. Karl Rove, Peggy Noonan, George Will and, yes, Joe Scarborough all predicted a victory for the GOP candidate while Silver had Obama at a 91% chance to win.

A writer for CNET says:

“how did he know? Not through irrational belief or blind wishes. But through a painstaking analysis of every poll ... available to him, and 100,000 simulated elections...”

So, does this mean pundits who rely on their gut are on the decline?

After all, a study from Hamilton College last year surveyed 26 media personalities who make predictions, and found most of them are no more accurate than a coin flip.

But not so fast. A writer for Forbes says while we might think we go to our favorite media voices for their keen insight, it’s more likely we just enjoy hearing a confident voice saying things we agree with.

“[W]hile some of us try to sustain ourselves on a respectable media diet full of journalistic fiber such as the Economist or PBS, only the most disciplined of us doesn’t periodically want to throw in a helping of a political Twinkie like Rush Limbaugh now and then.”

And even if numbers guys become the new face of punditry, a writer for New York Magazine says that’s not necessarily a good thing.

“the biggest complaint about campaign coverage over the last twenty years has been that it’s too focused on the horse race ... Silver and his fellow polling analysts ... have brought a welcome degree of precision, but they’ve only made the horse race more central to the political conversation.”

As for Silver, he’s become the subject of math-based Chuck Norris jokes like “Nate Silver can recite pi backwards.” But the man himself used the big night to quietly raise a few numbers himself, tweeting:

“This is probably a good time to link to my book”

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