And, now, some #natesilverfacts

And, now, some #natesilverfacts November 7, 2012
Why is there not (to my knowledge) a Hey Girl Nate Silver tumblr yet?

A Dennett post later today, I promise, but I’m terribly amused by the #natesilverfacts meme on twitter.  Here are my favorites:

@mdlevinson: Nate Silver’s great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson’s name is going to be Hari Seldon. #natesilverfacts

@temiri: Nate Silver once walked over each of the bridges in Konigsberg exactly once. #natesilverfacts

@dilefante: Nate Silver’s samples have only a median and a mode. Because no number would be mean to Nate Silver. #natesilverfacts

@edwardbenson: Nate Silver escaped from a Prisoner of War camp by shrugging and making an independence assumption #natesilverfacts

@edwardbenson: Nate Silver doesn’t keep a calendar. He keeps a giant conditional probability table filled with time-series data. #natesilverfacts

@Smedette: Nate Silver can recite Pi. Backwards. #NateSilverFacts

@clarklab: Statistical margin of error will now be referred to as “Distance from Nate” #natesilverfacts

@perko: When rappers tell the crowd to “make some noise,” all Nate Silver hears is the signal. #natesilverfacts

Silver’s fivethirtyeight blog was visited by ten to twenty percent of NYT website users who looked at anything in the politics section, according to The New Republic.  And in the last week, that figure went to 71%.  Slate has a reasonable debunking of the question on everyone’s lips: Is Nate Silver a Witch?  Silver does the numbers well, but he soars above the political commentariat because the polls are a better prediction of the results than the narratives and gut instincts and goodness-clear-outcomes-are-boring approach of the pundits.

And for the other fun Silver links and tweets:

@KenJennings: Romney could still win this if too many Dems accidentally write-in “Nate Silver” with little hearts around it.


@fivethirtynate: Molten variables hiss and roar. On my mind-forge, I hammer them into the greatsword Epistemology. Many are my foes this night.

That last one’s the parody account, don’t forget.  I’ll admit, I’m pretty tempted to put it on a sampler.

Oh, and I can’t leave out xkcd (if you’re not a regular reader, remember to mouse over for the alt-text).


UPDATE: there’s a profile up of the guy behind @fivethirtynate.

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  • “Nate Silver” is an anagram of “is relevant”. This is surely no coincidence.

  • deiseach

    I realise I may sound as if I am asking “Who is John Galt?” but, um, who is Nate Silver (and why am I seeing his name all over the place)?

    • butterfly5906

      Nate Silver writes the 538 blog on the NYtimes ( ). He created a model based on polling data and a bunch of other factors to predict the outcome of the presidential and congressional elections. He’s been saying for months that the presidential race wasn’t nearly as close as all of the pundits were saying it was, and that polling data is more useful than anecdotes and gut feeling, and that angered some of the pundits on both sides who like the drama of a close election. He went on the Daily Show and the Colbert Report to defend himself and got some popularity. Then last night most of his predictions were shockingly accurate. Statistics nerds (especially myself) rejoiced!

      • To be more clear, Nate Silver is a career statistician who even before FiveThirtyEight specialized in projecting future performance by developing models based on past performance of known variables. (He’s a baseball nerd who developed PECOTA and sold to Baseball Prospectus.) He launched and developed FiveThirtyEight on his own, and then licensed it to the Times. It’s his blog that the NYT happens to publish, not the NYT’s blog that he happens to write for.

    • ACN

      He’s a statistician who blogs at the NYT Blog fivethirtyeight,

      He started out doing stats to predict the careers of baseball players, but he’s moved onto aggregating and synthesizing polls into predictions for political races.

      In particular, he was one of the handful of statisticians who were proclaiming very high probabilities of Obama victory despite the maisntream media’s incessant refrain of “coin-flip”, “too close to call!”, etc.

    • You’re Irish, so Nate Silver has approximately zero relevance in your neck of the woods. Until he turns his all-seeing eye of statistics on Irish elections, he is basically relevant to Americans and Americans only. Heck, he’s not even an opinion-maker. He just analyzes existing poll data, does some science to it, and gives pretty accurate predictions on the outcomes of national elections. He’s not even a pundit who tells us how to vote, what to think, perform fact checks or anything. He just does maths.

      • Alan

        What’s relevant to American’s is relevant to the world – or so I’ve been told.

      • deiseach

        I’d love to see some statistical analysis of Irish election results; we get a lot of punditry, but no real number-crunching.

        Thanks to everyone for their informative comments!

      • The only non-Irish running for President was Romney.

        • deiseach

          Oh, believe me, if Romney had won, we’d have dug up some ancestor somewhere!

          (I say this with love and pride, since my brother-in-law was tangentially involved in the Great Barack Obama Roots Chase – Moneygall may be the ancestral village, but Shinrone is where the baptismal records were kept).



    (The link at the bottom on “epistemology” is worth a read.)

  • Darren

    Now we need to revive Celebrity Deathmatch: Nate Silver .vs. Karl Rove .vs. Newt Gingrich!

  • yeldan

    I want to share this:

    Death is either eternal annihilation, a gallows on which will be hanged both man and all his friends and relations; or it comprises the release papers to depart for another, eternal, realm, and to enter, with the document of belief, the palace of bliss. The grave is either a bottomless pit and dark place of solitary confinement, or it is a door opening from the prison of this world onto an eternal, light-filled garden and place of feasting.

    From Staff of Moses, Risalei Nur collection by Said Nursi.

    • B-Lar

      Death wears a top hat to parties, and rides a horse called Despair. DEATH ALWAYS TALKS IN CAPSLOCK. Death and Destiny will be the only siblings left at the end of time. Once every age, Death walks the earth for a day as a human to know the bittersweet nature of mortality… Death fears magic bags.

      Dude. Deja-vu.

  • Niemand

    First off, thank you for this post. Love the tweets. Second, Nate Silver isn’t a democratic pollster. He’s a statistician. When the data showed Romney’s position improving, he posted improvements in Romney’s position. When the data showed the opposite, he showed the opposite. He’s predicting the results, as far as data is available to do so, not trying to invent it. This makes him different from either campaign’s or party’s pollsters.

  • Thanks for the tweets — hilarious! He’s like a geek version of Charles Bronson LOL!

  • Oops, of course I meant Chuck Norris 😛 Also funny are the (fictitious, one hopes) #drunknatesilver tweets (“Last night, I walked onto a maternity ward and pointed out the 53rd President of the United States. #DrunkNateSilver”).