Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Willful statistical illiteracy

The fine folks over at Simply Statistics have a very good educational article about the difference between the probability of winning an election and vote share. This article stems from a controversial column over at Politico criticizing Nate Silver and his election forecasts.

Twitter responses are even worse. Conservative filmmaker John Ziegler calls Nate Silver a “hyper-partisan fraud” who is “not an expert on polls.”


Glenn Thrush mentions a “conservative 538:”


And it’s not hard to find other examples.

I’ve run into this reaction a bit, especially when it comes to politics. There are a large group of people, who will dismiss any evidence going against their beliefs. I guess the punditry wasn’t so dismissive of Silver in 2010.

At any rate, I give a recommendation I rarely give: read this Politico article and the comments (ignore the “conservatives aren’t bright” nonsense, which is the same stuff coming from the left).

And let’s thank Nate Silver, RealClearPolitics, and all the honest pollsters who try to shine some data on this election.