Sunday, March 23, 2014

The New FiveThirtyEight

Paul Krugman has a hypothesis for why the new FiveThirtyEight has been so roundly criticized:
But data never tell a story on their own. They need to be viewed through the lens of some kind of model, and it’s very important to do your best to get a good model. And that usually means turning to experts in whatever field you’re addressing.
Krugman thinks that Silver misunderstands why his election models were so successful:
Unfortunately, Silver seems to have taken the wrong lesson from his election-forecasting success. In that case, he pitted his statistical approach against campaign-narrative pundits, who turned out to know approximately nothing. What he seems to have concluded is that there are no experts anywhere, that a smart data analyst can and should ignore all that.
Silver's key insight, which predated him by decades, is that the best way to find out how people will vote is to ask them how they will vote. In most fields Silver's competition will be a wee bit smarter than the campaign-narrative pundits were.

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