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Dude: Nate Silver

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Dude: Nate Silver

Person who renders all pundits, talking heads, and self-proclaimed experts useless
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NEEEEEEEEEEERDD!!!!
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Total votes : 45

Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Andrew. on Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:50 pm

andteater wrote:The way that Bernie twitter reacts to any commentary on him blows me away. The worst Napoleon Complex defensive weirdos crying about everything. If you're all so secure that Bernie is, in fact, the front runner, the most popular candidate, etc. then why the fuck do you care about what Nate Silver says?

pathetic.


Haha. How's your Wednesday going my dude? Get any funny texts from friends or loved ones? I just got in from a run and texted my girlfriend a pic of three deer (mother and two fawns) I saw down by the river. For part of my run along the Assiniboine I listened to Vish Khanna's previously unreleased 2008 interview with David Berman. It's really great.

This is the Nate Silver thread where people post opinions about Nate Silver. I've made a couple posts here critical of Silver going back to 2016 (w no mention of Bernie). I just posted a link to a Warren supporter saying that even they are annoyed by Silver's hate-on for Bernie.

I hope you're less of an angry, reactive crank in real life than you are on this old internet forum.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Andrew. on Wed Aug 14, 2019 1:35 pm

Several people point out that Silver owns himself by referencing "Bernie's Chomskyian attempts at diagnosing the sociology of the media" without understanding that Chomsky's critique of media refers precisely to people like him. Lol.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby askii on Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:17 pm

Andrew. wrote:Several people point out that Silver owns himself by referencing "Bernie's Chomskyian attempts at diagnosing the sociology of the media" without understanding that Chomsky's critique of media refers precisely to people like him. Lol.

Bingo. Kate Aronoff recently made pretty much this point, not about Silver specifically but polling and horse-race commentary in general.

On the whole, Nate Silver is NC, but the further he strays from modeling and into what you could only call punditry (notwithstanding his supposed contempt for the form), the more his biases show. I read The Signal and the Noise when it came out, in a reading group with a bunch of quantitative ecologists. We generally agreed it offered some useful insights about how different fields approach forecasting; I even picked up a technical idea or two.

But there were a few chapters that irritated the fuck out of me, and they were all of a piece. At the time, the worst offender was the climate change one (which prompted a now-classic rebuttal from Michael Mann titled FiveThirtyEight: The Number of Things Nate Silver Gets Wrong About Climate Change). More recently, though, I revisited parts of the book and was irritated afresh by the stuff on the 2008 financial collapse. That eventually led me to an excellent post by Cathy O'Neil that gets right to the heart of the problem:

Silver ignores politics and loves experts

Silver chooses to focus on individuals working in a tight competition and their motives and individual biases, which he understands and explains well. For him, modeling is a man versus wild type thing, working with your wits in a finite universe to win the chess game.

He spends very little time on the question of how people act inside larger systems, where a given modeler might be more interested in keeping their job or getting a big bonus than in making their model as accurate as possible.

In other words, Silver crafts an argument which ignores politics. This is Silver’s blind spot: in the real world politics often trump accuracy, and accurate mathematical models don’t matter as much as he hopes they would.

[. . .]

To be fair, there have been moments in his past when Silver delves into politics directly, like this post from the beginning of Obama’s first administration, where he starts with this (emphasis mine):

"To suggest that Obama or Geithner are tools of Wall Street and are looking out for something other than the country’s best interest is freaking asinine."

and he ends with:

"This is neither the time nor the place for mass movements — this is the time for expert opinion. Once the experts (and I’m not one of them) have reached some kind of a consensus about what the best course of action is (and they haven’t yet), then figure out who is impeding that action for political or other disingenuous reasons and tackle them — do whatever you can to remove them from the playing field. But we’re not at that stage yet."

My conclusion: Nate Silver is a man who deeply believes in experts, even when the evidence is not good that they have aligned incentives with the public.

Distrust the experts

Call me “asinine”, but I have less faith in the experts than Nate Silver: I don’t want to trust the very people who got us into this mess, while benefiting from it, to also be in charge of cleaning it up. And, being part of the Occupy movement, I obviously think that this is the time for mass movements.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Get dog costumes on Wed Aug 14, 2019 4:37 pm

Andrew. wrote:Haha. How's your Wednesday going my dude? Get any funny texts from friends or loved ones? I just got in from a run and texted my girlfriend a pic of three deer (mother and two fawns) I saw down by the river. For part of my run along the Assiniboine I listened to Vish Khanna's previously unreleased 2008 interview with David Berman. It's really great.

This is the Nate Silver thread where people post opinions about Nate Silver. I've made a couple posts here critical of Silver going back to 2016 (w no mention of Bernie). I just posted a link to a Warren supporter saying that even they are annoyed by Silver's hate-on for Bernie.

I hope you're less of an angry, reactive crank in real life than you are on this old internet forum.

Canada's got talent.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Andrew. on Wed Aug 14, 2019 5:00 pm

askii wrote: gets right to the heart of the problem:

Silver ignores politics and loves experts
[...]
To be fair, there have been moments in his past when Silver delves into politics directly, like this post from the beginning of Obama’s first administration, where he starts with this (emphasis mine):

"To suggest that Obama or Geithner are tools of Wall Street and are looking out for something other than the country’s best interest is freaking asinine."

and he ends with:

"This is neither the time nor the place for mass movements — this is the time for expert opinion. Once the experts (and I’m not one of them) have reached some kind of a consensus about what the best course of action is (and they haven’t yet), then figure out who is impeding that action for political or other disingenuous reasons and tackle them — do whatever you can to remove them from the playing field. But we’re not at that stage yet."


Jesus Christ, these quotes are so damning they seem made up. The guy is a caricature of an elitist, status-quo technocrat.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby warmowski on Thu Aug 15, 2019 9:55 am

It will be impossible to do the customary thing and ignore or triangulate to admit commercial media bias this time around; there is an actually viable candidate that is running on a platform that openly, directly attacks the business interests of the commercial media's advertisers and in the case of the WaPo, attacks ownership itself. You'd have to be thick to not expect these platforms to have their knives out for Bernie, and this bad-at-politics abacus named Nate and his 3.2M followers are no fucking exception. That's fine, and well-expected by adults, but fuck pretending it isn't happening. Fire back, absolutely, always and forever no matter how much it blows Andy's mind.

I mean, here's seven months out from the caucus, from ol' Nate's former employers:

Image

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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby askii on Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:11 pm

Andrew. wrote:Jesus Christ, these quotes are so damning they seem made up. The guy is a caricature of an elitist, status-quo technocrat.

And this was years before the FiveThirtyEight relaunch and the Freakonomics-style clickbait cycle that accompanied it. Cathy "mathbabe" O'Neil's post is worth reading in full; she offers a more nuanced critique of the substance of the book, from the POV of an actual ex-Wall Street analyst.

Again, I think Silver is a good modeler, and a good pop-translator of modeling, in the domains he knows something about. And if we're going to do electoral forecasting, I would much rather it be based on rigorous, transparent* methodology than finger-in-the-wind bloviating.

Even beyond neoliberal ideology, though, the dude is prone to a kind of one-size-fits-all methodologism that leads him to speak with unearned authority about the analytical shortcomings of fields where he genuinely seems not to understand the content (the aforementioned climate change debacle) or the institutional context (O'Neil's finance and pharma examples). It's a strange sort of meritocratic hubris that dismisses or ignores the perspectives of people with actual, demonstrable expertise. It also seems more Hedgehog than Fox, by Silver's own corny taxonomy. I don't think this attitude is typical of folks with Silver's academic background, either. While some methodological issues really are universal (P-hacking, I'm looking at you), most applied statisticians recognize that domain knowledge is kind of a big deal.

*Well, kind of transparent. AFAIK Silver has never published his secret-sauce algorithm or his code, which is a significant caveat to my generally sympathetic assessment of him as an analyst.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby askii on Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:38 pm

warmowski wrote:I mean, here's seven months out from the caucus, from ol' Nate's former employers:

I imagine most FMs in this thread have probably seen this analysis of Sydney Ember's reporting on Sanders. After reading it, that incredible video clip of the interview for the "Bernie Brought the Cold War to Burlington" piece -- the one where he asks Ember point-blank whether she is aware of the history of Reagan-era US policy in Nicaragua (etc.), and she refuses to answer and responds, "What's your point?" -- made a lot more sense.

OK, back to The Fox and the Dunning-Kruger effect.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Andrew. on Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:41 pm

Thanks for these really informative posts and links, askii. Great stuff.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby tmidgett on Sat Aug 17, 2019 6:31 pm

warmowski wrote:It will be impossible to do the customary thing and ignore or triangulate to admit commercial media bias this time around; there is an actually viable candidate that is running on a platform that openly, directly attacks the business interests of the commercial media's advertisers and in the case of the WaPo, attacks ownership itself. You'd have to be thick to not expect these platforms to have their knives out for Bernie, and this bad-at-politics abacus named Nate and his 3.2M followers are no fucking exception.


100% true.

Punditry is one of the safest and laziest of professions. For that reason, I can't blame anyone too much for lapsing into it, particularly because people do it when they are told they are good at it and rewarded for doing it.

I'm aware enough of my own faults to know that I might well do the same thing.

But that doesn't mean it's not a lapse and indicative of a fault.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby askii on Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:37 pm

tmidgett wrote:I'm aware enough of my own faults to know that I might well do the same thing.

But that doesn't mean it's not a lapse and indicative of a fault.

You're also not drawing a salary for it, though, or being presented to the public as an authority (notwithstanding those of us who find your posts far more authoritative than any mainstream punditry!). If the Sydney Embers of the world want to limit themselves to expressing their bullshit opinions on aluminum-beard-rock message boards, I have zero problem with that.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby warmowski on Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:38 pm

Andrew. wrote:Thanks for these really informative posts and links, askii. Great stuff.


+1

Concerning Cathy "Mathbabe" O'Neil: everybody read her book ASAP. It delivers a practical, plain-english understanding of how the disciplines of data science and data journalism have so often been degraded, through utterly political misapplication and malpractice, into nothing but a toxic professional fad. We'll be paying to clean up the pollution from this forever.

-r
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby askii on Sat Aug 17, 2019 10:38 pm

Thanks, and thanks for highlighting O'Neil's book. I actually was not aware of her until recently, when an Andrew Gelman blog post led me to her review of Silver's book. Her post on the Vioxx shitshow is riveting too, especially because so much of Merck's research fraud consisted of statistical malpractice so artless a first-year biostat student could easily spot it. If it weren't so depressing, it would be hilarious that their (well-paid) biometricians didn't bother covering their tracks better.

Weapons of Math Destruction is on my list, for sure.

I'm all too aware that "in the real world politics often trump accuracy, and accurate mathematical models don’t matter as much as he hopes they would" applies to my own work a lot of the time, so it's not like I can't sympathize with that part of Silver's blind spot, at least. We don't have the luxury of denial, though.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby tmidgett on Sun Aug 18, 2019 8:50 am

askii wrote:
tmidgett wrote:I'm aware enough of my own faults to know that I might well do the same thing.

But that doesn't mean it's not a lapse and indicative of a fault.

You're also not drawing a salary for it, though, or being presented to the public as an authority (notwithstanding those of us who find your posts far more authoritative than any mainstream punditry!). If the Sydney Embers of the world want to limit themselves to expressing their bullshit opinions on aluminum-beard-rock message boards, I have zero problem with that.


Haha! That's funny.

I feel ok about offering people whatever i might think i know on the internet.

And thanks for the kind words.

I meant if someone wanted to pay me by the minute to blab on cable tv, likely I would be tempted to do it. I think it has about as rigorous a qualification process as music journalism, similar lack of real downside from being wrong, and it pays a lot better. Seems like a pretty good gig.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Boombats on Sun Aug 18, 2019 9:06 am

warmowski wrote:Fire back, absolutely, always and forever no matter how much it blows Andy's mind.
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warmowski wrote:Fire back, absolutely, always and forever no matter how much it blows Andy's mind.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby askii on Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:52 pm

tmidgett wrote:I meant if someone wanted to pay me by the minute to blab on cable tv, likely I would be tempted to do it. I think it has about as rigorous a qualification process as music journalism, similar lack of real downside from being wrong, and it pays a lot better. Seems like a pretty good gig.

Fair enough. AOC has a funny line about how she's been a bartender and a talking head on cable news, and bartending is way more challenging.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby tmidgett on Sun Aug 18, 2019 2:22 pm

askii wrote:AOC has a funny line about how she's been a bartender and a talking head on cable news, and bartending is way more challenging.


Didn't know about that! Exactly what I was getting at!

You get on there, say almost anything, and if you're wrong, there's essentially no accountability.

If you fuck up too many drinks, you're going to have to find a new job.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Andrew. on Wed Sep 18, 2019 12:16 pm

New episode of the Citations Needed podcast devoted to Silver.

On Twitter and his in columns, high-status pundit Nate Silver has made a career reporting on the polls and insisting he’s just a dispassionate, non-ideological conduit of Cold Hard Facts, just channeling the holy word of data. Empirical journalism, he calls it. But this schtick is very ideological - a reactionary worldview that prioritizes describing the world, rather than changing it. For Silver - and data-fetishists like him - politics is a sport to be gamed, rather than a mechanism for improving people’s lives.


https://soundcloud.com/citationsneeded/ ... ndit-brain
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby placeholder on Wed Sep 18, 2019 5:47 pm

This was great, and I have to listen to more of this show now. Thank you for the recommendation!

Andrew. wrote:New episode of the Citations Needed podcast devoted to Silver.

On Twitter and his in columns, high-status pundit Nate Silver has made a career reporting on the polls and insisting he’s just a dispassionate, non-ideological conduit of Cold Hard Facts, just channeling the holy word of data. Empirical journalism, he calls it. But this schtick is very ideological - a reactionary worldview that prioritizes describing the world, rather than changing it. For Silver - and data-fetishists like him - politics is a sport to be gamed, rather than a mechanism for improving people’s lives.


https://soundcloud.com/citationsneeded/ ... ndit-brain
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Andrew. on Thu Sep 19, 2019 9:58 am

placeholder wrote:This was great, and I have to listen to more of this show now. Thank you for the recommendation!


Co-host Adam Johnson (a staff writer at FAIR, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting) is great on Twitter https://twitter.com/adamjohnsonNYC

He once defined libertarianism as a brain disease that prevents people from being able to understand social power relations. Perfect.
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