The Limits Of Nate Silver's Predictions


Silver, you might recall, was feted for his 2008 and 2012 election predictions. Meanwhile, skeptics of his 2012 analysis were deemed “poll truthers. ” So it seems only fair that we not immediately let him off the hook for blowing what might turn out to be the primary election of the century.

Track record

Keep in mind, it’s not just the Trump nomination that he botched. In recent years, he has gotten Super Bowls wrong, the Oscars wrong, the 2014 Scottish independence referendum wrong and the 2015 U.K. elections wrong.

We all make mistakes, of course. The difference is that Silver’s entire raison d’etre — and he has been wildly celebrated for this — rests on his ability to make picks. But really, his track record for the last, I don’t know, four years, is spotty on some pretty big things. Now, if Silver were known for his flowery prose or for cultivating terrific sources on the House Budget Committee, we might forgive him for botching a big prediction. But this is his bread and butter. This is what he does. To paraphrase “Thank You For Smoking,” Michael Jordan plays ball, Charles Manson kills people and Nate Silver gets predictions right. (Except, of course, Manson didn’t technically murder anyone — and Silver doesn’t always make good picks. Perception is reality).

Read the rest here.

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