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Dude: Nate Silver

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Dude: Nate Silver

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Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Wood Goblin on Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:13 pm

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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby dabrasha on Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:34 pm

75.01% of me likes him. He's the anti-Malcolm Gladwell, refuses to make iffy correlations.

24.99% of me hopes he is wrong about everything this election, and he has to go to work for a living.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Dave//Eksvplot on Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:43 pm

dabrasha wrote:He's the anti-Malcolm Gladwell


Well then, this guy must be your personal saviour!!

I've never encountered anyone who dislikes Malcolm Gladwell quite as much as you do, dabrasha.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby steve on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:06 am

Really like his grinder/do-the-math mentality. Carping about his nerdy methods is a mirror of what baseball (all of team sports really) went through in the last 20 years. It's precisely what separated the blood-and-guts baseball fans from the sabermetric fans.

It helps that he's dead-on correct with the predictions his methodology generates, but that's a side-effect of being rigorous and doing the hard part, being thorough.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby P.J. Craven on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:27 am

On the other hand, there is an emphasis on the things he thinks are important. Slams the book-cooking Scott Rasmussen only to later use all his work anyway, got the British elections from a couple years ago completely wrong.

Still, he has his methodology and is transparent about it, and the state-by-state reports that his hired hands do (especially in 2008) make for illuminating reporting that you can't get anywhere else.

He's slightly overrated, but the results you get from him (at least in the United States) are going to be more accurate than anyone else's. I think there's a bit of voodoo to his approach (and is GOTV at all incorporated into his model?), but he appears to be fairly on the money. Still, Colorado and Virginia are close enough that he could brush off a result that goes either way (quick aside, in CO, Obama is currently favored by the Silver model even though Romney is supposedly up in the early voting). And if Romney were to lose Florida, that would render him little better than John Zogby.

"The model" could be, and likely will become, more thorough. Like in baseball, there are facets of this election that are being over and undervalued, even by a guy as meticulous as Silver.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby AdamN on Tue Oct 30, 2012 2:06 am

Dave//Eksvplot wrote:
dabrasha wrote:He's the anti-Malcolm Gladwell


Well then, this guy must be your personal saviour!!

I've never encountered anyone who dislikes Malcolm Gladwell quite as much as you do, dabrasha.


Dabrasha has nothing on the Exile folks:

http://exiledonline.com/shame-report-malcolm-gladwell-contacts-shame-asks-yasha-levine-to-recognize-delicious-irony-of-his-pro-tobacco-propaganda/

I can't be arsed to find more links so here are some that may be relevant.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Wood Goblin on Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:31 am

P.J. Craven wrote:On the other hand, there is an emphasis on the things he thinks are important. Slams the book-cooking Scott Rasmussen only to later use all his work anyway, got the British elections from a couple years ago completely wrong.

Still, he has his methodology and is transparent about it, and the state-by-state reports that his hired hands do (especially in 2008) make for illuminating reporting that you can't get anywhere else.

He's slightly overrated, but the results you get from him (at least in the United States) are going to be more accurate than anyone else's. I think there's a bit of voodoo to his approach (and is GOTV at all incorporated into his model?), but he appears to be fairly on the money. Still, Colorado and Virginia are close enough that he could brush off a result that goes either way (quick aside, in CO, Obama is currently favored by the Silver model even though Romney is supposedly up in the early voting). And if Romney were to lose Florida, that would render him little better than John Zogby.

"The model" could be, and likely will become, more thorough. Like in baseball, there are facets of this election that are being over and undervalued, even by a guy as meticulous as Silver.


I don't agree with much of the criticisms here. What makes Silver so valuable is that his models don't factor in what he thinks is important. In other words, there's no subjective component at all. The analyses he's done of economic factors, for example, are limited by the small data set but otherwise far more objective than any other analyses I've seen of economic data; he's not just relying on common assumptions, like "no President since XXXX has won re-election when the unemployment rate was above X%."

Sure, the models can't capture every factor (not sure how he could incorporate GOTV, although maybe the model includes a proxy?), but they're not voodoo by any stretch of the imagination.

He's not crap in the slightest.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby tbone on Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:12 am

NOT CRAP. I'm not a huge fan of obsessive statistical analysis OR political polls, but somehow, I thoroughly enjoy his blog. I admire his tenacity in trying to find actual truth in these matters.

Also, PROTIP: if you hit the NYT firewall and it says you have to start paying, you can get around that by clicking a link to their site through twitter. Here's the 538 twitter feed.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Tom on Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:25 am

Not Crap. This notion that he's in the tank for Obama and therefore is skewing his results is hilarious.

He is saying it's a tight race, with Obama as a favorite. 72% chance of winning is not a lock. It's a reasonable chance. ~1 in 4. Roll a 4 sided die a few times, see what the results are.

I don't know shit about statistics and even I know the difference between the likelihood of an event happening and the margin by which it will happen.

On a side note. He was the opinion editor of my high school newspaper. Complete Raging Asshole.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Tom on Tue Oct 30, 2012 9:26 am

tbone wrote:Also, PROTIP: if you hit the NYT firewall and it says you have to start paying, you can get around that by clicking a link to their site through twitter. Here's the 538 twitter feed.


You can also cancel the page load after the page is loaded, but before the paywall screen comes up.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby cmay on Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:00 am

Tom wrote:
tbone wrote:Also, PROTIP: if you hit the NYT firewall and it says you have to start paying, you can get around that by clicking a link to their site through twitter. Here's the 538 twitter feed.


You can also cancel the page load after the page is loaded, but before the paywall screen comes up.


You can also delete anything in the address line after .html and see the full page.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby MWilke on Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:08 am

Wood Goblin wrote:
P.J. Craven wrote:On the other hand, there is an emphasis on the things he thinks are important. Slams the book-cooking Scott Rasmussen only to later use all his work anyway, got the British elections from a couple years ago completely wrong.

Still, he has his methodology and is transparent about it, and the state-by-state reports that his hired hands do (especially in 2008) make for illuminating reporting that you can't get anywhere else.

He's slightly overrated, but the results you get from him (at least in the United States) are going to be more accurate than anyone else's. I think there's a bit of voodoo to his approach (and is GOTV at all incorporated into his model?), but he appears to be fairly on the money. Still, Colorado and Virginia are close enough that he could brush off a result that goes either way (quick aside, in CO, Obama is currently favored by the Silver model even though Romney is supposedly up in the early voting). And if Romney were to lose Florida, that would render him little better than John Zogby.

"The model" could be, and likely will become, more thorough. Like in baseball, there are facets of this election that are being over and undervalued, even by a guy as meticulous as Silver.


I don't agree with much of the criticisms here. What makes Silver so valuable is that his models don't factor in what he thinks is important. In other words, there's no subjective component at all. The analyses he's done of economic factors, for example, are limited by the small data set but otherwise far more objective than any other analyses I've seen of economic data; he's not just relying on common assumptions, like "no President since XXXX has won re-election when the unemployment rate was above X%."

Sure, the models can't capture every factor (not sure how he could incorporate GOTV, although maybe the model includes a proxy?), but they're not voodoo by any stretch of the imagination.

He's not crap in the slightest.


Other than the criticism on Rasmussen, which is over-simplified, most of the criticism is outcome oriented. As far as process goes, he's the best going right now. His methods are more rigorous than anything else I know of right now and they are constantly a work in progress as far as weighting and sifting out noise. He gives people the most accurate possibility of seeing an uncertain future outcome that is heavily dependent on aggregate human psychology. But the key is that it's still forecasting. So to have the expectation that he has to be correct 100% of the time is a poor expectation.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby Auntie Ovipositor on Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:14 am

I can only pick one option, but both are somewhat true. I actually agree with the second one more, but I'm thinking that's supposed to be crap in this instance?
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby P.J. Craven on Tue Oct 30, 2012 11:44 am

If Obama's field offices outnumber Romney's something like three or four to one, there's not a way to give that key information some added weight? Silver himself has cited how Obama outperformed his poll numbers due to this advantage the last time around, and yet I see this nowhere in the methodology. But economic factors are given weight on a sliding scale of his choosing based on what exactly? The economy will mean that much less along some perfect curve as we approach election day? What determines the true efficacy of his approach when there can be no assessment until the end of the line?

Is he the best in the business? Probably, even almost certainly (we're talking about a low bar, here). But is his more "complicated" algorithm that much better than the more simple averaging methods applied by Electoral-Vote.com? Reading the tea leaves was not that difficult before Silver--but his method in a given election is consistent, well-researched, responsible. However, it's one more tea leaf to read with a certain level of subjectivity involved. I take him seriously, but he's developed an undeserved air of infallibility when he's already botched an election he covered with something like 40+ entries.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby MWilke on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:14 pm

P.J. Craven wrote:If Obama's field offices outnumber Romney's something like three or four to one, there's not a way to give that key information some added weight? Silver himself has cited how Obama outperformed his poll numbers due to this advantage the last time around, and yet I see this nowhere in the methodology. But economic factors are given weight on a sliding scale of his choosing based on what exactly? The economy will mean that much less along some perfect curve as we approach election day? What determines the true efficacy of his approach when there can be no assessment until the end of the line?


Ground game is a different topic. He's trying to predict vote counts. I guess I just don't follow why that should have 'added weight.' Factors like the economic conditions and field offices show up in the numbers one way or another. The key is to sift through the noise and maximize what is significant.

Also, he correctly predicted every single state in the Electoral College in 2008, even Indiana and North Carolina. He was the one saying that the national polling data is irrelevant because of the Electoral College. Am I reading that you're implying that he got underestimated Obama's advantage in 08?

P.J. Craven wrote:Is he the best in the business? Probably, even almost certainly (we're talking about a low bar, here). But is his more "complicated" algorithm that much better than the more simple averaging methods applied by Electoral-Vote.com?


If you're asking this question, you're indicting yourself as having a very poor understanding of what he's doing.

http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/methodology/
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby P.J. Craven on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:27 pm

He got Indiana wrong, look it up. Why did he get it wrong? Ground game.

And if electoral-vote.com's methods generally get pretty close to the end result, how is Silver dramatically better?
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby MWilke on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:39 pm

P.J. Craven wrote:He got Indiana wrong, look it up. Why did he get it wrong? Ground game.

And if electoral-vote.com's methods generally get pretty close to the end result, how is Silver dramatically better?


He had Indiana at about a toss-up leaning towards McCain, but he was really iffy on the probabilities. Everyone else had it as a non-contest.

And again, if you looked at that methodology, you'd see that EV.com's rigorousness ends about 3 sentences into step 1.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby P.J. Craven on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:45 pm

MWilke wrote:
P.J. Craven wrote:He got Indiana wrong, look it up. Why did he get it wrong? Ground game.

And if electoral-vote.com's methods generally get pretty close to the end result, how is Silver dramatically better?


He had Indiana at about a toss-up leaning towards McCain, but he was really iffy on the probabilities. Everyone else had it as a non-contest.

And again, if you looked at that methodology, you'd see that EV.com's rigorousness ends about 3 sentences into step 1.


You are full of it. If "everyone else" had Indiana as a "non-contest", where was the guy getting his information from? He's not running his own polls.

You said he had Indiana right. He didn't. If it doesn't matter when you miss by a little bit, then E-V.com is practically just as accurate in your estimation.

And if it doesn't matter to you that Silver was dramatically off the mark in the UK in '10 when the more "ordinary" pundits/bone rollers had it correct, then I don't know what to tell ya.
Last edited by P.J. Craven on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby MWilke on Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:53 pm

He's working with polling data. He's making his best forecast based on the available data. He did have a very low confidence interval. You can go to the site see how confident he is in every prediction. You can see how low/high his confidence is for every state. Indiana was really low. You don't seem to understand that. Go to the site, drag the mouse on a state. You can see that every state isn't a blanket call. It's a matter of probable outcomes. The probability of Indiana going red was very slim majority.

You're right. I mis-remembered that he had Indiana slightly pink. And it doesn't change the truth of the matter.

As for the UK, again the process is something that needs to be re-tooled and re-evaluated. He's not always going to be correct. All he can do is forecast to the best of his ability. His ability to forecast is more rigorous than everyone else. I prefer to listen to the guy who has done more mathematical homework.
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Re: Dude: Nate Silver

Postby P.J. Craven on Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:05 pm

I understand the framework, fella.

When he gets something dramatically wrong, it doesn't matter to you that Nate Silver was wrong? And yet John Zogby was hung up to dry after 2004? And he was considered the golden boy after 2000, the life raft that every Kerry supporter clung to.

One guy's methodology is somehow more "rigorous" than the other. Does it really matter when they've both had it very wrong in equal measures? It really appears that you're just overlooking a pretty big screw-up on Silver's part because you buy into his infallible methodology.

I like Silver's site. But he's making predictions--even if they're more "rigorous", sometimes the more simplistic method better reflects reality. And the methods of individual pollsters are hardly simple, either (but are often completely misguided!).

He's got Romney winning FL by about 65%-35% from a probabilistic perspective. I will be interested to see if that prediction proves correct. Also interesting is that early voting counts in North Carolina currently have Obama up by 281,000 votes or so. And Silver has Romney as an 85% (approximately) favorite there. Not saying he's going to be wrong, I am just interested.
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