FiveThirtyEight

His willingness to try a new form of journalism is something that all journalists should support.

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The Emptiness of Data Journalism

Nate Silver could learn a lot from those op-ed columnists he maligns

Nate Silver could learn a lot from those op-ed columnists he maligns

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Nate Silver compares himself to the fox, knowing many little things, rather than the hedgehog, knowing one big thing. But his philosophy has characteristics of the latter.

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It’s been a marvel these past few days, watching Washington players who mocked or dismissed prognosticator extraordinaire Nate Silver rushing to get on his right side, even as some act as if they never questioned him to begin with. Case in point: Huffington Post's Howard Fineman:October 25, 2012:

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A couple hours ago, The Onion filed a gem: “Nate Silver Warns Against Overestimating His Value to ESPN.” The (fake) Silver of this article said, “The approximations of my future drawing power in fact resemble more of a random walk—in layman’s terms, a random model that cannot accurately predict future outcomes.”

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IN THE HISTORY OF election forecasting, 2012 was 1936 all over again, with the roles updated. In 1936, a trio of new forecasters—Elmo Roper, Archibald Crossley, and George Gallup—used statistical sampling methods and predicted that Franklin D. Roosevelt would win re-election, contrary to the best-known “straw poll” of the time, conducted by The Literary Digest. The Digest mailed ballots to millions of automobile owners and telephone subscribers, groups that in the midst of the Depression drastically over-represented Republicans.

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