Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Political Pundits, The Sirens Of The Airwaves

First of all, you'll run into the Sirens,

who seduce all men who come across them.
Whoever unwittingly encounters them
and hears the Sirens' call
never gets back.
The Odyssey, Book 12

Why do we listen to the grand predictions made by political pundits? Their predictions aren't nearly as accurate as a coin toss.
Pundit Prediction Scorecard from
Tech Crunch reports on the most successful predictor of yesterday's election, Nate Silver of Silver successfully predicted the election outcome for every single state in the nation.

Silver’s analysis, and statistical models generally, factor in more data points than even the most knowledgeable political insider could possibly juggle in their working memory. His modelincorporates the size, quality, and recency of all polls, and weights them based on the polling firm’s past predictive success (among other more advanced statistical procedures).
The answer may be that Americans rather enjoy the talking heads, regardless of the veracity of what they are saying. Television networks would have a hard time selling ads if they couldn't spend endless hours debating competing predictions all day long, all the while generating the perception of uncertainty which they can then relieve with their "news." These sirens of the airwaves render (nearly) all who listen incapable of rational thought. Nate Silver is a rare example of a person who takes an empirical approach to answering the question, "Who will win the election?" His is an example I try to emulate. Until then,

Tie Me To A Mast And Fill Your Ears With Wax!

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