Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Nate Silver problem

Right-wing pundits toe the line far better than left-wing pundits. The wingers know that their job is to provide plausible bullshit for their audiences so that wingnut victories become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Left-wing pundits foolishly think their job is a combination of analysis and opinion, tethered to facts. They fail to realize they're in the propaganda business.

Nate Silver kills them both. He looks at reality with some statistical sophistication, and he and his model learn to reduce new sources of uncertainty. Why no one ever aggregated polls and then simulated outcomes based on their remaining uncertainties is a mystery.

The wingnut pundits whined about Silver's predictions, as they did about all polls. Add one more item to the (overlapping) list of liberally biased areas:

  • media
  • facts
  • reality
  • science
  • now pollsters
You didn't think Fox would stop trying to bullshit you, did you?

Of course they'll keep trying. It's just harder now that Silver has once against proven his sagacity. But Dick Morris on his streak of oh-for-forever, will keep right on adding more thumb-sucks to his well established record of toe-sucking. Newt Gingrich will continue to have outlets for his wild opinions about the future, so he may well need to confess his errors again in the future.

And Neil Cavuto will continue to defend the "totality" of Fox's pundit eclipse:

The Atlantic's pundit scorecard is a wee bit harsh - no reason to flunk the racetrack touts who got it mostly right. Still, we'd be better off if we expected pundits to present arguments, instead of spewing the unreliable contents of their notoriously inaccurate guts. But that would be harder to do, and if there's anything TV pundits hate, it's the slightest whiff of effort.

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