Nate Silver: People Like Math That Supports What They Believe

Image: Nate Silver: People Like Math That Supports What They Believe

Friday, 28 Mar 2014 06:54 AM

By Greg Richter

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Statistician Nate Silver, who has taken flak from Democrats for predicting they are likely to lose the Senate in November, said people tend to like math when it supports what they already believe.

Silver was the guest Thursday on "The Daily Show," where host Jon Stewart said that Democrats are flailing about "like those little balloons outside a car dealership."

Democrats are telling the press that Silver has been wrong before, such as when he in 2010 predicted a bigger Republican midterm win. But, Silver said, they are at the same time sending out fundraising emails trying to scare donors into giving because of his prediction.

Silver correctly predicted President Barack Obama's re-election in 2012.

Silver said his website, FiveThirtyEight, which just re-launched this month with a staff that publishes daily, doesn't have all the answers. He said he is commissioning a rebuttal piece after 80 percent of readers objected to a post that said climate change isn't making storms stronger, they're just costing more in damage because people are richer, making for more things to be damaged today.

The website also did a satirical statistical analysis of New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's positive and negative mentions before, during and after it was associated with the Times.


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