Killing the Messenger

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Obama Administration

They’re saying the storm is reaching land about now. So far I’m not seeing much. It’s damp out and very windy. However, moving to a beachfront apartment is losing its appeal.

Meanwhile, the name “Nate Silver” seems to be driving the Right into a hysterical rage. The most recent rant by Dylan Byers sneers that Silver is merely using arithmetic.

Silver’s no stranger to doubt and criticism. He even doubts his own model sometimes. But he dismisses this criticism.

“We can debate how much of a favorite Obama is; Romney, clearly, could still win. But this is not wizardry or rocket science,” Silver told POLITICO. “All you have to do is take an average, and count to 270. It’s a pretty simple set of facts. I’m sorry that Joe is math-challenged.”

Of course, it hardly matters what Brooks, Scarborough or any of Silver’s critics or supporters think. What matters for Silver is that the president wins and that he ends up with a total number of electoral votes somewhere in the ballpark of whatever Silver predicts on the afternoon of Nov. 6. And even then, you won’t know if he actually had a 50.1 percent chance or a 74.6 percent chance of getting there.

In other words, Byers cannot even imagine that somebody might draw conclusions from the data and not the other way around. See also Steve M.

Professor Krugman:

Like others doing similar exercises — Drew Linzer, Sam Wang, and Pollster — Nate’s model continued to show an Obama edge even after Denver, and has shown that edge widening over the past couple of weeks.

This could be wrong, obviously. And we’ll find out on Election Day. But the methodology has been very clear, and all the election modelers have been faithful to their models, letting the numbers fall where they may.

Yet the right — and we’re not talking about the fringe here, we’re talking about mainstream commentators and publications — has been screaming “bias”! They know, just know, that Nate must be cooking the books. How do they know this? Well, his results look good for Obama, so it must be a cheat. Never mind the fact that Nate tells us all exactly how he does it, and that he hasn’t changed the formula at all.

This is, of course, reminiscent of the attack on the Bureau of Labor Statistics — not to mention the attacks on climate science and much more. On the right, apparently, there is no such thing as an objective calculation. Everything must have a political motive.

They don’t know how to be objective. They don’t know what objectivity is. It is unthinkable to them that the truth isn’t exactly what they think it is.

For an antidote to the craziness, see Nate Silver: Artist of Uncertainty.

Update:
See also “People Who Can’t Do Math Are So Mad At Nate Silver

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Tom B  •  Oct 29, 2012 @7:54 pm

    That’s what decades of undermining the educational system and listening to Fox News will do to you.

  2. moonbat  •  Oct 29, 2012 @9:33 pm

    What matters for Silver is that the president wins…

    They don’t know how to be objective. They don’t know what objectivity is.

    And they cannot imagine that Silver probably doesn’t care if Obama wins. Or if he does care, it’s way more important that his models are accurate.

  3. Kyle  •  Oct 29, 2012 @10:06 pm

    Maybe they’re having trouble with the concept of “draw conclusions from the data”.

    The right-wing way is to take a gut opinion that feels good, then find some “data” that fits this, usually generated by Fox or Rush, to wield as a weapon to “prove” it.

  4. paradoctor  •  Oct 30, 2012 @12:49 am

    Whether or not Obama wins, Nate Silver will review and revise his model, and thus learn something useful from the event. His critics will rage, or else cheer, and in either case learn nothing.

  5. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2012 @7:08 am

    The Conservatives prefer the data coming from Dick Morris’s method, where he mixes his boogers, belly-button lint, and fecal matter, and finger-paints his results onto parchment paper that’s been pre-consecrated, days before, by a Priest and a Rabbi, who then went into a bar with hilarious results.

  6. c u n d gulag  •  Oct 30, 2012 @7:37 am

    On a serious note, I hope this finds everyone safe and sound.
    Coastal NY , NJ, and CT, look like they’ve been devastated. I’m sure parts of PA had monumental damage, as well.
    I saw things on the news last night that I’ve never seen before – water, that someone could have white-water rafted on, pouring into the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, the streets by Stuyvesant Town, near the Lower East Side, under about 3-4 feet of water. This morning, the houses on Breezy Point, in the Rockaways, are on fire – dozens of them! And there are a lot of subway stations under water.
    This is epic devastation for this area of the country.

    Up in Dutchess County, NY, we had a lot of very high wind – but not too much rain, surprisingly.
    We never lost power. It blinked a few times, but we never lost it. With an elderly mother, that was my biggest fear.
    I looked out the window just now, and I hope I’m not speaking too soon, but I didn’t see any trees down, or even any large branches. With the number of large, old trees, around our house, if we get out of this unscathed, it’ll be a secular miracle.

    And now that the storm has done its worst, which was substatial, the clean-up and rebuilding begin.
    And this is where FEMA, and the rest of the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT comes in – as well as the individual states.
    The economies of NY, NJ, CT, and PA, and heavily intertwined, and it’ll take a COORDINATED effort to rebuild what was destroyed. If each state was left to itself, as the Conservatives want, rebuilding would be uneven, at best. And the race would be on for which state, and which areas within those states, could get the most money the fastest, before the money available would run out.
    In other words, an extended catastrophe. But then, Conservatives love entropy. There’s profit to be made from disorder, and it’s survival of the fittest.

    Stay safe, everyone.



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