Dean Chambers, the man behind Unskewed Polls, demonstrates perfectly how to execute an ad hominem attack. Contrary to popular misconception, an ad hominem is not merely an insult; it’s a logical fallacy wherein one argues against the truth of someone’s claims by referring to some irrelevant personal trait that they disapprove of. Chambers aims this ad hominem at Nate Silver:
Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound.
None of which has anything at all to do with whether Silver’s work is good or his arguments are valid. The rest of Chambers’ article is devoted to the argument ad labelum version of an ad hominem:
Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he’s made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats.Apparently, Nate Silver has his own way of “skewing” the polls. He appears to look at the polls available and decide which ones to put more “weighting” on in compiling his own average, as opposed to the Real Clear Politics average, and then uses the average he calculates to determine that percentages a candidate has of winning that state. He labels some polling firms as favoring Republicans, even if they over sample Democrats in their surveys, apparently because he doesn’t agree with their results. In the end the polls are gerrymandering into averages that seem to suit his agenda to make the liberal Democrats candidates apparently strong than they are.
All he does is label Silver “liberal” and “leftist” and accuse him of bias, without any substantive argument for why he’s wrong. It’s the perfect opportunity for a wager, which I’m guessing Silver would be happy to make. The day before the election, Silver will undoubtedly make his final predictions. Chambers should, and likely will, do so as well. Let’s see which one of them is closest. My money is on Silver.