By MACKENZIE WEINGER |
New York Times statistician Nate Silver participated in a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” chat today, telling users he finds analyzing politics frustrating because “between the pundits and the partisans, you're dealing with a lot of very delusional people.”
Silver answered a number of questions during Tuesday’s online chat, discussing everything from the future of his FiveThirtyEight blog to the strangest thing that’s happened to him since he shot to fame.
As for whether he finds sports or politics more frustrating to analyze, Silver said politics —“I don’t think it’s close.”
“Between the pundits and the partisans, you're dealing with a lot of very delusional people. And sports provides for much more frequent reality checks,” he wrote.“If you were touting how awesome Notre Dame was, for example, you got very much slapped back into reality last night. In politics, you can go on being delusional for years at a time.”
And regarding what's next for the 538 blog, Silver said he’s still trying to figure out what topics to cover in the wake of the 2012 election.
“After the 2008 election, it became sort of a quantitatively-flavored politics blog, and I think that was something of a mistake. Some things, like cabinet nominations, really do [require] careful reporting, and statistical analysis will provide a dollop of color commentary at best,” he wrote.“On other days, the lead political story is just gossipy and stupid and isn't really newsworthy at all. So on a day like today, when the Chuck Hagel nomination is the major political story and that doesn't really play into our strengths, I'd rather write about something like baseball instead.”
“We're definitely overdue to do a couple of posts on same-sex marriage, however,” Silver added.
One issue Silver said he likely wouldn’t devote a blog post to is gun control.“Can you prove whether gun control would make America safer?” a redditor asked.
“It's a tricky problem, statistically,” Silver replied.“The issue is that while gun ownership rates could plausibly be a cause of fatal crimes and accidents, it can also be a reaction to it, i.e. people purchase guns because they feel unsafe. I'm not saying that the issue is intrinsically inscrutable. But it's something that more requires a PhD-thesis-level treatment than a blog post to really add much insight, I think.”
Silver, when asked if he planned to release more information about his methodology or possibly make it open source, noted that he sometimes gets too wrapped up in punditry, something he has vocally criticized.
Read more at http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2013/01/n...