Number cruncher Nate Silver says his approach is not tricky

  • Article by: Steve Alexander , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 15, 2013 - 8:59 PM

Stat wizard Nate Silver is looking to broaden the data analysis business to sports and economics – and more.

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nordicnine9Oct. 16, 13 2:57 AM

Math and facts might cause conservatives to question him, but seriously, he's rarely wrong. Facts are facts!

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dagMNOct. 16, 13 6:01 AM

Unlike the pablum the fox network put out during the last election, Nate Silver nailed the results.

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jcw1370Oct. 16, 13 8:25 AM

Just imagine, the journalists who pick the insteresting story rarely pick the story that is relevant. Shocking. It would be nice if journalism actually required training in the areas that journalists report on that was not only gained on-the-job as particularly knowledge of math/science/statistics is not going to be meaningfully gained on-the-job unlike perhaps politics. Nor is it going to be good to hire someone straight out of college with math/science/statistics study but no experience.

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paul44Oct. 16, 13 9:25 AM

I followed Silver during last yrs election and his analysis was consistent throughout the final eight weeks of the election. It was pretty clear Obama was going to win. Cable network news really looked liked a "corded phone" to Silvers "smart phone" approach. Fox News made total fools of themselves on election night and I haven't watched that channel since.

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florideadOct. 16, 1310:11 AM

A few basic statistics courses, availability to some good data sources, put a little Engish on it and you too can predict the trends fairly accuratley.

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StarquestOct. 16, 1310:46 AM

When you call him a "wizard," you immediately indicate that you don't understand what he does. He's not a wizard, and he'd probably be the first person to tell you that. People think it's magic to aggregate polling numbers and then report a prediction. Nate Silver is indeed intelligent, objective, and a good writer. But it's basic math, not magic. Republicans hated him for many reasons, but most of all, because he's usually right. Pundits hate him because he makes all of them look foolish with their uninformed, hyperventilating projections. Read his book to understand where he's coming from.

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newpaperOct. 16, 1311:46 AM

Starquest, some good points, but you're a bit too literal with "wizard". Unless The Who thought that the Pinball Wizard had magical powers, there's been a secondary definition for a long time. Even Webster's give us a definition as "someone who's very good at something".

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garagewineOct. 16, 13 2:44 PM

He's right, it isn't tricky. Pretty pedestrian, in fact. The fact that most people can't grasp how this is done and refer to him as a "wizard" is a sad commentary on the mathematical and statistical illiteracy that pervades our society.

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gunclingerOct. 16, 13 3:20 PM

Right you are, garagewine. I read Mr. Silver's book "The Signal and the Noise." Most of it anyway. It got to be a bit repetitive and I felt he was really abusing what's known as Baye's theorem. There is a mathematician that wrote a book some years back called "Innumeracy" which explored the problem you allude to. Shocking! My favorite was when he asked his students to compute how fast hair grows in miles per hour. After struggling with it for some time one flummoxed student blurted out that "hair just doesn't grow in miles per hour."

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