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Quotes of the day: Nate Silver
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Published Tuesday, January 12, 2016 @ 10:01 PM EST
Jan 12 2016

Nathaniel Read "Nate" Silver (born January 13, 1978) is an American statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections. He is currently the editor-in-chief of ESPN's FiveThirtyEight blog and a Special Correspondent for ABC News. Silver first gained public recognition for developing PECOTA, a system for forecasting the performance and career development of Major League Baseball players, which he sold to and then managed for Baseball Prospectus from 2003 to 2009.

In the 2012 United States presidential election between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Silver correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)

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A lot of journalism wants to have what they call objectivity without them having a commitment to pursuing the truth, but that doesn't work. Objectivity requires belief in and a commitment toward pursuing the truth- having an object outside of our personal point of view.

A lot of news is just entertainment masquerading as news.

Actually, one of the better indicators historically of how well the stock market will do is just a Gallup poll, when you ask Americans if you think it's a good time to invest in stocks, except it goes the opposite direction of what you would expect. When the markets going up, it in fact makes it more prone toward decline.

Almost everyone's instinct is to be overconfident and read way too much into a hot or cold streak.

Caesar recognized the omens, but he didn't believe they applied to him.

Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge.

Every day, three times per second, we produce the equivalent of the amount of data that the Library of Congress has in its entire print collection, right? But most of it is like cat videos on YouTube or 13- year-olds exchanging text messages about the next Twilight movie.

Every four years in the presidential election, some new precedent is broken.

I don't play fantasy baseball anymore now because it's too much work, and I feel like I have to hold myself up to such a high standard. I'm pretty serious about my fantasy football, though.

I don't think that somebody who is observing or predicting behavior should also be participating in the 'experiment.'

I prefer more to kind of show people different things than tell them 'oh, here's what you should believe' and, over time, you can build up a rapport with your audience.

I think it's odd that people who cover politics wouldn't have any political views.

If you have reason to think that yesterday's forecast went wrong, there is no glory in sticking to it.

If you're keeping yourself in the bubble and only looking at your own data or only watching the TV that fits your agenda then it gets boring.

In politics people build whole reputations off of getting one thing right.

On average, people should be more skeptical when they see numbers. They should be more willing to play around with the data themselves.

People attach too much importance to intangibles like heart, desire and clutch hitting.

People don't have a good intuitive sense of how to weigh new information in light of what they already know. They tend to overrate it.

People gravitate toward information that implies a happier outlook for them.

People still don't appreciate how ephemeral success is.

Success makes you less intimidated by things.

The key to making a good forecast is not in limiting yourself to quantitative information.

The problem is that when polls are wrong, they tend to be wrong in the same direction. If they miss in New Hampshire, for instance, they all miss on the same mistake.

The public is even more pessimistic about the economy than even the most bearish economists are.

The thing that people associate with expertise, authoritativeness, kind of with a capital 'A,' doesn't correlate very well with who's actually good at making predictions.

The way we perceive accuracy and what accuracy is statistically are really two different things.

There's always the risk that there are unknown unknowns.

We must become more comfortable with probability and uncertainty.

We want to get 80%-85% of predictions right, not 100%. Or else we calibrated our estimates in the wrong way.

We're living in a world where Google beats Gallup.

We're not that much smarter than we used to be, even though we have much more information - and that means the real skill now is learning how to pick out the useful information from all this noise.

You don't want to influence the same system you are trying to forecast.

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(January 13 is also the birthday of Ernie Kovacs.)


Categories: Nate Silver, Quotes of the day


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