One of the Fourth Estate’s worst kept secrets is its crippling innumeracy. Journalists are words people, not numbers people. And that’s why Nate Silver of The New York Times is so successful. The stats geek who sold a forecasting model to Baseball Prospectus before gaming out the 2008 election on his blog has created a very good system for predicting elections. By averaging together polls, and weighting for economic conditions among other factors, Silver accurately called the 2012 presidential race in all 50 states. Republicans cried liberal bias and competitors quibbled with the methodology when he predicted that Obama was a 9 to 1 favorite on the eve of the election, but Silver won almost as much vindication as Obama did on Nov. 6. He’s got a new book out too. It’s almost enough to make math cool again.
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