✎✎✎ Nate Silvers Case Study
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Does racism affect how you vote? - Nate Silver
Both involve a competition, essentially between two teams. Both involve reams of statistical data available for devotees to sort through—or, more commonly, for intermediary experts to sort through, analyze, and then interpret for you. In baseball, these stats track player performance—how many hits a player gets, and when, and against what kind of pitchers—while in politics, the data tracks voter preferences. Who do you like and why? What kind of choice are you likely to make on Election Day? These stats, on their face, seem pretty straightforward. If a hitter hits. Obama, for all his charisma, has struggled to connect with white working-class voters. The Mets are a bunch of chokers. As a result, in baseball and, now, politics, there exists a small subculture of counterexperts: People who argue against these conventional story lines using new interpretations of the raw data to make their case.
In baseball, this counterculture has been growing for roughly 30 years and can be traced, improbably, to one man: Bill James, a cranky Midwesterner who started writing articles about baseball while working the night shift as a security guard at a pork-and-beans factory in Lawrence, Kansas. In , he published a photocopied newsletter called Baseball Abstract, which found a cult following that later blossomed into a national audience. Once considered a Unabomber-style outcast, James now consults for the Red Sox.
And in the nineties, the study of sabermetrics exploded. And the advent of the Internet allowed fans unprecedented access to stats, both raw and packaged by various experts. In the midst of all this, in , Baseball Prospectus was born. Founded by five baseball fans who met each other online, the BP crew are like the bratty children of Bill James, adding a new level of analytical sophistication to his contrarian philosophy. We can do things with one-tenth the effort and a hundred times the available data.
As a result, BP has built a small but successful empire of smarty-pants, with a Website, syndicated columns, and most prominently, a preseason annual full of player projections. It arrives each season huge, heavy, and intimidatingly dense. Seuss—or both, at the same time. Last year, at the start of an unusually unpredictable election season, Nate Silver began to wonder the same thing.
As stats are to baseball, polls are to politics; i. And when you take many snapshots in a row, you get motion pictures. But unlike baseball stats, polls are a notoriously imprecise measurement. In baseball, at least, a hit is a hit. They all asked the question in slightly different ways and the results were essentially useless: One poll had people in favor of the bailout 57 to 30 percent, one had them against it 55 to 31, and one was basically split down the middle. In other words, polls are, at best, educated guesses. Before the Iowa caucuses on January 3, one poll had Clinton winning by nine, one had Clinton by two, and one had Obama by one. Obama won by seven. In the New Hampshire primary, five days later, one poll had Obama by thirteen and most others had him winning by eight or nine.
Clinton won by three. Primaries are notoriously difficult to poll, because unlike in a general election, turnout is very unpredictable and people are much more likely to switch their choice at the last minute. Silver decided to ignore the polls. Perhaps the biggest miscalculation is the incorrect assessment that you or your partner is HIV negative. But a young guy from the Midwest who looks negative? Data be damned. Often for good reason. One survey asked young MSM who cruised for sex online to list their main worries.
The answers? Will Robinson! And in the real world, risk-takers are celebrated. We have to take risks every day. Sexual health is often framed in the idea of risk instead of rewards. This may present HIV and those living with it as the worst possible outcome imaginable, he notes, which is not only stigmatizing but often irrational and false since many people with HIV are, in fact, just fine. You have been inactive for 60 minutes and will be logged out in.
Any updates not saved will be lost. Home Basics. Playing the HIV numbers game is less—and more—risky than you think. Copy Link. Share 31 Comments Print. Click here to read a digital edition of this article. Join The Discussion. Stay Logged In? Continue Log out. Click here to log back in. The Sandman: Act II. Neil Gaiman. Mel Robbins. Next page. Board book. Novelty Book. Best sellers in Books See more Previous page.
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