November 03, 2012

In Defense of Nate Silver

Wired: "David Brooks is mistaken and Joe Scarborough is wrong. Because while pollsters can't project, statistical models can, and do ... and they do some predictions very well. We rely on statistical models for many decisions every single day, including, crucially: weather, medicine, and pretty much any complex system in which there's an element of uncertainty to the outcome. In fact, these are the same methods by which scientists could tell Hurricane Sandy was about to hit the United States many days in advance. Dismissing predictive methods is not only incorrect; in the case of electoral politics, it's politically harmful."

"So if Brooks wants to move away from checking polls all the time, he should support more statistical models. And we should hope for more people like Nate Silver and Sam Wang to produce models that can be tested and improved over time. We should defend statistical models because confusing uncertainty and variance with "oh, we don't know anything, it could go any which way" does disservice to important discussions we should be having on many topics -- not just politics."

Daily Beast: Nate Silver as resentment figure.


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