Note how many of the folks who believe, or claim to believe, that global warming is a hoax because climate scientists are liberals and the climate is too hard to model  believed, or claimed to believe, last week that Obama wasn’t really winning because Nate Silver is a liberal and voter behavior is too hard to model.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact:

17 thoughts on “Consistency”

  1. Well, they didn’t know anyone who was voting for Obama, and they estimated from that sample of voters that Romney would win in a landslide. They don’t know anyone who thinks that climate change is real, so how can it be real?
    Pauline Kael was astonished at McGovern’s loss in 1972 because she did not know anyone who was voting for Nixon.
    Small biased samples take effort to recognize, especially when they tell us what we want to hear.
    Speaking of effort, it is easier for a news anchor to say, “This race is a dead heat” than to evaluate statistical methodologies.
    If I am not greatly misinformed, Gallup’s data was of good quality, but their “likely voter” results gave incorrect weights to the various age and ethnic subgroups, based on some dated assumptions about actual voter turnout. For any age/race stratum, their polling data was good; they simply came up with an incorrect weighted average because they imputed wrong weights to the strata. Nate Silver seems to have had a better method of weighting the strata.
    Silver’s calculated probabilities owe a great deal to the quality of state-of-the-art polling methods. If he had put garbage in, he would have had garbage out. He was not working with garbage. A tip of the hat to modern polling methods.

    1. and he was able to recognize high quality, or lesser quality, when he saw it and adjust accordingly. He also builds some ‘real-world’ factors into his results, like the job figures.

      The science of climate change is very different from the science of statistics, and there’s probably more judgment in it. The evidence is still overwhelming, though.

  2. There are actually over a half-dozen or so models like Silver’s, lite Votamatic or Princeton Election Consortium.

    Votamatic actually got the Electoral Vote prediction precisely (assumng Florida is Obama’s).

    Silver was attacked mainly become his column is prominent in the New York Times.

  3. This doesn’t seem any different from “The facts have a well-known liberal bias.”

    The difference between your examples is that climate change is more gradual than regime change (or re-swearing in, in this case). I haven’t seen much Obama denialism in the last day.

  4. “Is this math just something you do to make yourself feel better as a Republican, or is it real?” — Megyn Kelly to Karl Rove, when he was disputing Fox News’ call of Ohio for President Obama by blathering on about non-existent uncounted Republican votes in supposed Republican areas.

    1. Jon Stewart made a lot of excellent hay with this line – he showed the clip – on his show yesterday (Nov 7), and showed Ms Kelly’s trek to the room with the number crunchers, who said they were 99.5% certain of their prediction about Ohio. He said that though he would die some day, and every member of his audience would die, this clip would live on the Internet forever… a thought that pleased him, though it probably does not please Mr Rove.

      1. Oh, that wasn’t a decision on her part – that was a deliberate and public slap at Rove. I think that he won’t have a place ar Fox anymore.

  5. Worth noting that when Nate Silver tried to apply his undoubted social science modelling skills to the different field of climate modelling, he ran into severe criticism from insider Michael Mann. There’s no such thing as generic expertise.

    1. Thanks for posting the link. I had no idea. Really interesting in view of Mark’s comment. I watch nearly zero political video but the small bits I’ve seen of Silver he seems overly protective of his nonpartisan cred. Put another way, he projects himself as an unbiased observer of populations, whatever the underlying claims of the populations. This approach apparently does not map well onto populations of professional scientists vs. industry funded science deniers.

      1. Nate was probably totally unused to the intensity of deliberate junk science put out by climate deniers.

    2. Worth noting that when Nate Silver tried to apply his undoubted social science modelling skills to the different field of climate modelling

      Nate writes so well, a smart evolution for him would be to attempt to explain climate modeling to readers.

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