July 23, 2019

A "master class in biased reporting"? Seems like pretty normal biased reporting to me.


One reason I rarely do Twitter is that it doesn't look right to me to make comments on things you don't link to or even cite. You just assume people know what you're talking about. It seems a tad mental. If you did this in real-life conversations, it would be weird.

Embedding these 2 tweets on my blog, I now feel that I should explain the context and link to the Jane Mayer article about Al Franken (yes, it's Al Franken, not some other Franken). Of course, if I were writing a mainstream news article, I'd have to say Al Franken, the former Senator from Minnesota who was... oh, it's too tedious to spell out.... I enjoy the freedom of not having to do that, but I resist the freedom of Twitter, to just blurt out my latest thought with no preface, no context.

Anyway, we talked about the Al Franken article yesterday, here. The idea that it wouldn't be biased never crossed my mind, so it's hard for me to see anything as subtle. The interesting question is therefore why Nate Silver chose this occasion to call out a journalist for using skill to manipulate readers. And Silver's tweet is just as much of a "master class" in bias, just as "subtle" in its effort to bias readers.

Silver sees the use of quotation marks around "zero tolerance" as a nudge to think of Kirsten Gillibrand as "sloganeering" or hypocritical, but did he even check to see whether The New Yorker is simply following its own convention of copy editing? I searched The New Yorker archive for "zero tolerance" and "#MeToo" and found:

"The Transformation of Sexual-Harassment Law Will Be Double-Faced," by Jeannie Suk Gersen (December 2017): "And, echoing their successful student counterparts over the past several years, the men will claim in court that the pressure to implement a 'zero tolerance' policy against harassment led employers to act without sufficient investigation or proper process, motivated by the employees’ male gender."

"Can Hollywood Change Its Ways?/In the wake of scandal, the movie industry reckons with its past and its future" by Dana Goodyear (January 2018): "In the past, men who got caught used a magic spell: 'I am an alcoholic/sex addict and am seeking treatment.'... [T]he magic spell no longer works. In its place is the righteous meme of 'zero tolerance.'"

Now, it might be that The New Yorker generally disapproves of a "zero tolerance" approach, but would that cause it to adopt quotation marks? The New Yorker has a special reputation for copy editing. I've read the copy editor's book, "Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen." Excerpt:
Lu taught me to do without hyphens when a word is in quotation marks, unless the word is always hyphenated; the quotation marks alone hold the words together, and it would be overkill to link them with a hyphen as well. (Capital letters and italics work the same way.) Eleanor once mystified me by putting a hyphen in “blue stained glass” to make it “blue-stained glass.”
That may explain why New Yorker articles about Trump's "zero tolerance" immigration policy leave off the quotation marks:

"What the Bible Really Says About Trump’s Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy" by James Carroll (June 2018): "Attorney General Jeff Sessions invokes the Bible to justify the heinous zero-tolerance immigration policy, which incarcerates children."

"Will Anyone in the Trump Administration Ever Be Held Accountable for the Zero-Tolerance Policy?" by Jonathan Blitzer (August 2018): "The failure of the zero-tolerance policy has done little, if anything, to diminish the group’s standing; on the contrary, Miller has only seemed to gain allies in the government."

I strongly doubt that The New Yorker disapproves of Gillibrand's staunch feminism more than Trump's approach to illegal immigration.

But there is a fine point of punctuation here. When you write "zero-tolerance policy," you're using the phrase "zero tolerance" as an adjective, and — as the indented passage above explains — you need to "hold the words together." You could use either quote marks or a hyphen, and I think the idea is that the hyphen looks less fussy. But in the quote about Gillibrand — "a feminist champion of 'zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety" — "zero tolerance" isn't used as an adjective, so a hyphen isn't an option — unless you reword it as "a feminist champion of a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual impropriety."

Since rewording is an option, it was possible to avoid the "air quotes" effect of making it seem as though Gillibrand is some sort of demagogue. But to switch to a hyphen would be to treat #MeToo non-tolerance the same as Trump's immigration non-tolerance. Would that improve the treatment of Gillibrand? Maybe these are 2 different ways of subtly attacking someone, and there's some sexism in the choice. Gillibrand is disparaged as ditzy — using a dumb slogan. Trump is disparaged as a cruel oppressor.

Enough of that. Here's something subtle that I think neither Silver nor Mayer considered. To champion "'Zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety" is NOT zero tolerance! The word "impropriety" drains the absolutism from "zero." What are we going to call "improper"? It's subjective, and the answer can be: Whatever we won't tolerate at all. Flexible.

And since we've come this far, we might as well see the subjectivity and flexibility in "sexual" and "tolerance." Is intensely sniffy neck-nuzzling "sexual"? Analysis of Joe Biden's behavior toward young girls has generally led to the answer no. And "tolerance" can mean doing nothing at all. Suppose we eradicate "tolerance" — and I do take "zero" seriously. That could mean only that we stop doing nothing at all. We could end the state of tolerance by simply expressing disapproval, something as mild as: I see what you're doing and I find it unacceptable.

140 comments:

Dave Begley said...

Nate Silver calling out someone for bias? What a joke! His polling and stats about how Hillary was a sure-fire winner was incredibly biased and wrong. He put the veneer of science on his predictions and he was wildly wrong.

I suppose us conservatives should thank Nate as that probably lead to some apathy that lead some Dem voters not to get out to vote for the Queen.

How do we know his polls and predictions are accurate? Couldn't he just make stuff up?

I predict he will slant his stuff into 2020 in order to spur Dems to get out and vote for the Dem nominee.

The MSM is the Fake News now. I don't believe hardly a word from those coastal elites.

Kevin said...

Perhaps today’s opposite of “zero tolerance” is “master class”?

That would certainly complete the circle.

whitney said...

Anyone still supporting the entertainment industry, movies or TV, is supporting a bunch of degenerate perverts. It is the price of admission in that world and they are all guilty.

Bob Boyd said...

Its not the stiffness of Joe's neck that's concerning.

Ann Althouse said...

"His polling and stats about how Hillary was a sure-fire winner was incredibly biased and wrong."

He did not say Hillary was a sure-fire winner. He put her chance of winning at a level of something like 70%, which meant that Trump had a 30% chance. Things that have only a 30% chance of winning often happen... they happen about 30% of the time. More often than losing at Russian roulette. Especially if there are Russians.

policraticus said...

This is neatly summed up by that last chilling quote from Gillabrand,

“But the women who came forward felt it was sexual harassment,” she said. “So it was.”...

How did Humpty Dumpty put it? “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

Then Alice asks, “The question is, whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

Now the heart of it. “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that's all.”

Power. That is the heart of it all. Who has the power makes the rules and the rules mean exactly what they want them to mean. Nothing more. Nothing less.

rehajm said...

He put her chance of winning at a level of something like 70%, which meant that Trump had a 30% chance. Things that have only a 30% chance of winning often happen... they happen about 30% of the time

Probabilistic prediction models mean never having to say you were wrong. A better gig than the weatherman...

Howard said...

"Zero tolerance" sounds Catholic, Soviet, Maoist, Hitlarian, Islamic, Nancy Reaganistic, etc. As soon as anybody with a minimum ability to think for oneself reads "zero tolerance" the sayer of such a catchphrase is immediately ignored as an ideological tool whom takes civility bullshit to the singularity extreme.

Ann Althouse said...

"Its not the stiffness of Joe's neck that's concerning."

I said "sniffy," not "stiffy."

That's the first time I've ever written "stiffy." Bob Boyd, I blame you.

EDH said...

Now, I'm noticing something subtle that I think neither Silver nor Mayer considered. To champion "'Zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety" is NOT zero tolerance! The word "impropriety" drains the absolutism from "zero." What are we going to call "improper"? It's subjective, and the answer can be: Whatever we won't tolerate at all. Flexible.

The "absolutism" of the "zero tolerance" policy they are trying to articulate is more akin to a "zero blind-eye" policy (a hyphen with quotes!).

In other words, the historical problem has been when claims were largely ignored by averting one's eyes at the threshold when the accused was "powerful" (i.e., a Democrat).

Somehow that was conflated in preference for the zero-tolerance formulation, which sounds more decisive to the more militant feminist constituency, but implies punishing the claim ab initio.

Hence, the overreach on Franken.

Howard said...

Blogger whitney said... Anyone still supporting the entertainment industry, movies or TV, is supporting a bunch of degenerate perverts. It is the price of admission in that world and they are all guilty.

zero tolerance, zero thought, zero fun, what a zero

Ann Althouse said...

""Zero tolerance" sounds Catholic, Soviet, Maoist, Hitlarian, Islamic, Nancy Reaganistic, etc. As soon as anybody with a minimum ability to think for oneself reads "zero tolerance" the sayer of such a catchphrase is immediately ignored as an ideological tool whom takes civility bullshit to the singularity extreme."

I think the first time I heard it was in the context of public schools and drugs/weapons. Some girl would be suspended for having Midol for her menstrual cramps.

buwaya said...

Technically, Russian roulette with a Russian revolver only carries a 14.3% chance of losing, as the usual ones have seven chambers, not the expected six. One would need to load two chambers to approach 30%. Granted, as you said, if you were playing this game with actual Russians you cannot expect good sportsmanship.

Just to be picky.

Howard said...

It's like Silver is gently delivering an anthropology report on his own tribe to ensure a safe landing.

rehajm said...

@NateSilver538
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Nate Silver Retweeted Kevin Drum
Sure it is, especially given that it's sandwiched in between 3 opening paragraphs that are extremely sympathetic to Franken, and then long series of paragraphs about how other non-Gillibrand senators regret their stance on Franken.

This is the type of bias that's Nate's stock and trade, made all the more evil by mixing in some cherry picked quantitative data to 'prove' whatever point he wishes to make. He's also good at spinning and/or ignoring unsympathetic quantitative data as it rolls in, or headlining the outlier when it's sympathetic.

Master class, alright...

buwaya said...

The traditional view of "entertainers" of all sorts is that they were all of the demimonde and not respectable. This goes back to Roman law, where they, along with prostitutes and gladiators, had the status of infames.

One could however patronize infames without acquiring infamy, as much later one could dip into the demimonde likewise. But this sort of thing is and always has been risky.

rhhardin said...

Zero tolerance #MeToo itself stereotypes women as acting like women. That's all the fun.

Hagar said...

"Zero tolerance" means that someone, usually a school district, is about to do something really, really stupid.

rhhardin said...

We need a stamping of tiny foot emoji.

James K said...

One reason I rarely do Twitter is that it doesn't look right to me to make comments on things you don't link to or even cite. You just assume people know what you're talking about. It seems a tad mental. If you did this in real-life conversations,

There's nothing preventing people on Twitter from linking or citing, especially since they increased the character limit. But I agree that most people don't bother, so that's become the norm, and it's annoying. If more people would only follow those who link and cite, and ignore those who don't, it might help. But that's a pipe dream.

MikeR said...

"His polling and stats about how Hillary was a sure-fire winner was incredibly biased and wrong. He put the veneer of science on his predictions and he was wildly wrong." Unbelievable. Do you have the wrong guy, or do you just not care? Nate Silver was almost _unique_ among pundits in insisting that Trump had a fairly decent chance (around one in four by the time of the election). He went on national media to argue against the pundits who claimed that Clinton was a sure-fire winner.

ndspinelli said...

I ran out of bread crumbs.

Howard said...

I can't not think of the Deer Hunter when Russian Roulette is mentioned.

mccullough said...

Nate Silver,

The guy who knows less about baseball than George Will.

His models suck.

A master class in math as bullshit

Dave Begley said...

MikeR:

The way I recall it, Silver had Hillary with an 85% of chance of winning even on Election Day. He was constantly cited by the Fake News as the guru of stats and how Hillary was going to win. He is the Billy Beane of politics. Moneyball comes to politics. Never wrong. Science! Moneyball resulted in both the Red Sox and the Cubs winning the World Series. Stats!

MikeR said...

"Probabilistic prediction models mean never having to say you were wrong." Maybe you're not a math guy, but probabilistic prediction models are easy to check. If he gives a 30% chance of winning, he expects them to win 30% of the time. Since he does more than one prediction, you can go over all his predictions and see if that happened. Silver's group has done remarkably well.
Not surprising, because he built the sabermetric model that revolutionized baseball recruiting.

Oso Negro said...

If the standard for a harassing environment is that "a man exists", it will be pretty difficult for women who intend to exploit men, or like real penises to find suitable partners. So there must be room for a woman's needs to be met, while suppressing the entirely normal behavior of men as much as possible. This is difficult and usually requires a Doctorate in Grievance Studies, plus at least one Vice-President of Diversity and Inclusion.

buwaya said...

Hmmm.

If Silver therefore always gave odds as 70% one way or another he would always be right. And he could do that without bothering with mathematics. This raises certain questions, among them "Why can't I get people to pay me for this too?"

MikeR said...

"The way I recall it, Silver had Hillary with an 85% of chance of winning even on Election Day." You recall wrong. And anyhow 85% chance means Trump wins one time in six. Roll the dice.
What do you want, Silver should make lying confident predictions like all the other guys in the pundit business? Maybe the right conclusion from the facts is, We can't know, but in similar circumstances this candidate wins three in four times, and that candidate one in four.
Don't like that? I don't recommend going to Vegas.

Beasts of England said...

Silver's final electoral modeling showed Clinton 302, Trump 235. Please tell me more about his predictive genius...

Sydney said...

The media and their quotation marks drive me crazy. When we had a malpractice insurance crisis in our state and OB's and neurosurgeons were leaving in droves, the newspapers called it the "so-called 'malpractice crisis'" - double damning. Recently our local newspaper had a story on the pro-life legislation in different states that referred to the "unborn child" in quotes. It left me wondering when exactly they consider an unborn child an unborn child. Surely at some point it's an accurate description.

Bob Boyd said...

Somehow I read, Is intensely stiff necked nuzzling "sexual"? Analysis of Joe Biden's behavior toward young girls has generally led to the answer no. and I thought perhaps there was some liberal Biden apologists pushing a narrative that they could tell Joe's interest in the girls was purely platonic by the degree of stiffness of his neck. And I was surprised that you seemed to be buying into such a thing.
As Miss Emily Latella used to say, nevermind.

That's the first time I've ever written "stiffy." Bob Boyd, I blame you.

Even I have never written sti...the S word. Sorry about that. Its all down hill from here.

EDH said...

Blogger buwaya said...
Technically, Russian roulette with a Russian revolver only carries a 14.3% chance of losing, as the usual ones have seven chambers, not the expected six. One would need to load two chambers to approach 30%.

"Who taught you math?!"

MikeR said...

As for Nate Silver, Ann didn't point out that this is one of a whole series of tweets by Silver on how much he didn't like the article. Maybe he got this one wrong.

Browndog said...

In other words, the historical problem has been when claims were largely ignored by averting one's eyes at the threshold when the accused was "powerful" (i.e., a Democrat).

Somehow that was conflated in preference for the zero-tolerance formulation, which sounds more decisive to the more militant feminist constituency, but implies punishing the claim ab initio.

Hence, the overreach on Franken.


It's far less complicated than that.

Franken had to be sacrificed to "get Trump."

At the time, there was a media/democrat frenzy over new (fake) allegations by women claiming sexual assault at the hand of Trump. At the time, it was the latest installment of "we got him now!".

Unfortunately for Franken This allegation against him was brought to light right in the middle of it. If it wasn't for that damn picture...

The dems were in a pickle. They couldn't pass on this opportunity to 'get Trump' and look like blatant Hippocrates with Franken.

Hence, the political calculation was made. You can throw Franken under the bus to clear the path to 'get Trump' without having to worry about his seat going red.

Gillibrand was just the messenger.

Yes, the democrats actually thought this could work.

MikeR said...

"I strongly doubt that The New Yorker disapproves of Gillibrand's staunch feminism more than Trump's approach to illegal immigration." Couldn't follow this. The scare quotes aren't to indicate disapproval. According to Silver they are to indicate that Gillibrand isn't serious about it and only used her standards when she wanted to. Trump's people, according to the New York, actually have a zero tolerance policy on immigration (presumably that's not true either).

MikeR said...

"Silver's final electoral modeling showed Clinton 302, Trump 235. Please tell me more about his predictive genius..." And a thirty percent chance of Trump winning. You are only referring to his estimate of the most likely result. He's a statistician, not a prophet.

buwaya said...

Hippocrates would have treated Franken for his illnesses without deliberately poisoning him, and would have refrained from assisting him in abortions.

Howard said...

Browndog: Someone yesterday pointed out Franken was sacrificed to help defeat Roy Moore in Alabama.

mccullough said...

Sabre metrics predates Silver.

His baseball models are terrible.

He’s an excuse maker.

mccullough said...

Silver is a bullshitter.

Howard said...

Blogger MikeR said...

"Silver's final electoral modeling showed Clinton 302, Trump 235. Please tell me more about his predictive genius..." And a thirty percent chance of Trump winning. You are only referring to his estimate of the most likely result. He's a statistician, not a prophet.


Beast is a NASA "consultant" so FUBAR is SOP

alanc709 said...

Zero tolerance is usually equivalent to zero intelligence. It's why a kid in school can be suspended for violating a school's gun policy for pointing his finger like a gun. Zero tolerance is the refuge of the intolerant.

rehajm said...

Maybe you're not a math guy, but probabilistic prediction models are easy to check. If he gives a 30% chance of winning, he expects them to win 30% of the time. Since he does more than one prediction, you can go over all his predictions and see if that happened. Silver's group has done remarkably well.

I am probably considered a 'math guy' by anyone's standard. The rest of this is gibberish- how about some 'math' to back up your claim of 'remarkably well'? Maybe you aren't a math guy? I think your explanation also proves my point. He's not 'wrong' when the 30% probability event happens but that's just it- what's the point of the model if you can't draw a qualitative conclusion? People want to know who will win. It's not helping anyone...

...and none of this addresses the big problem with Nate- he cherry picks data for his analysis to support his conclusions, headlining the good stuff and ignoring the bad stuff.

wwww said...

"As for Nate Silver, Ann didn't point out that this is one of a whole series of tweets by Silver on how much he didn't like the article. Maybe he got this one wrong."

I read the tweet in context w/ a bunch of other tweets w/ other people. Josh Barro, others.

Fernandistein said...

"zero-tolerance policy" vs "zero tolerance-policy"

The name of our "Noxious Weed[-]Department" makes me laugh.

What the Bible Really Says About Trump’s Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy"

It can't say much because God didn't know about Mexico and stuff back then, maybe not even China.

Beasts of England said...

Silver had Clinton winning Pennsyvannia and Michigan; 77% and 79% respectively. At no point during his year-long modeling did Trump reach fifty percent in either analysis. Again, tell me more about his predictive genius...

Dave Begley said...

MikeR:

I'm not a math guy like you are. I'd say 95% of America isn't either. When Silver goes out into the public with his opinions, people believe him. Appeal to authority. Science!

Why do you think so many people are believers in CAGW. The science is settled. I believe in the science. But it's not science at all. It is a prediction about events in the distant future based on corrupt data and flawed models but try to telling that to the NYT, Al Gore, AOC and the Dem party.

EDH said...

Browndog said...
It's far less complicated than that.

Franken had to be sacrificed to "get Trump."


Howard said...
Browndog: Someone yesterday pointed out Franken was sacrificed to help defeat Roy Moore in Alabama.

Yep. Yep. My mistake was ascribing purer motives to this crowd in this abject case of them eating one of their own.

mccullough said...

Garbage in, Garbage out

The Godfather said...

If you’re going to have a zero tolerance policy, it’s pretty important to define what it is that you won’ t tolerate, as Althouse ‘s Midol anecdote illustrates. There really is a difference between a violent sexual assault and polite hair sniffing, even though both are wrong.

rehajm said...

Garbage in, Garbage out

Exactly. This has been the big problem with polling- with 2016, with the British elections, with Brexit. They're starting with a subjective assumption. Hillary's turnout will be just like Obama's. It makes no sense...

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

biased reporting from the hack-D press? no way.

Browndog said...

I think this attempt to rehabilitate Franken has to do with internal polling in Minnesota, probably due to Omar.

I suspect Franken still has high favorability polling in Minnesota, and may be needed to keep the seat red down the line.

Darrell said...

Joe Biden should tell us how many times he ejaculated while touching children.

Mr. Forward said...

“Stiffy” was the 8th brother. Not a Dwarf.

Browndog said...

Blogger Howard said...

Browndog: Someone yesterday pointed out Franken was sacrificed to help defeat Roy Moore in Alabama.


Yes, but Moore was one step in the process. The mark was Trump. The mark is always Trump.

narciso said...

Rutnik who vouched for mattress girl dalton '09n what color is the moon over there nate?

Darrell said...

In a New York Magazine article published in 1995, Franken spoke unashamedly about his fantasy rape of a 60 Minutes reporter.

“And, ‘I give the pills to Lesley Stahl. Then, when Lesley’s passed out, I take her to the closet and rape her,’” Franken said. “Or, ‘that’s why you never see Lesley until February.’ Or, ‘when she passes out, I put her in various positions and take pictures of her.’”

We should ask Lesley Stahl whether she finds that funny.

Shouting Thomas said...

I hope I'm alive long enough to see this sex panic fade away and people getting it on again without filing a lawsuit or criminal charges.

I'll recommend again the Amazon series "Fleabag." The only work of any kind I've seen that tackles the issues of moral confusion and loss of any sense of purpose brought on by the nihilistic religion of Marxist feminism.

How long have we been going through this panicked reaction against the libertinism of the 60s?

The era of revenge seems to have gone on forever.

wwww said...

"He's not 'wrong' when the 30% probability event happens but that's just it- what's the point of the model if you can't draw a qualitative conclusion? People want to know who will win. It's not helping anyone..."

It's a model that analyses politics through the lens of probabilities. 30% is not 5%. 30% is not 1%. 30% is not .05%. If there is a 30% chance your house will burn down, are you comfortable and relaxed? If there is a 30% chance you will die on your commute in a car accident, do you get in the car that day? Do you buy a lottery ticket if you've got a 30% chance of winning? Do you bake a cake if there's a 30% chance the cake will get smashed by your toddler? (maybe.)

Silver can so a better job of trying to explain probabilities to people but it's not his fault if others think he's a psychic.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

"Let me be direct and clear: This article is a master class in biased reporting and editing. There are so many subtle ways that it seeks to manipulate the reader into taking the Democratic side."


fixed. Apply to nearly all reporting from the hack-D press.

stlcdr said...

Sometimes it's hard work going through meandering Althouse wordsmithing equivalent of the Kevin Bacon game. But you'll learn something if you are paying attention.

Darrell said...

The era of revenge seems to have gone on forever.

#metoo could be pronounced pound me too.

Asking for it, obviously. Right, ST?

Dave Begley said...

Nate Silver is the equivalent of the Wizard of Oz. All powerful and all knowing. He has the computers and knows how to run them!

We need a Dorthey to call him out.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Clearly Nate is an effete little Becky.

rehajm said...

The fault, Silver claimed, was with the polling: "It’s becoming increasingly clear that pre-election polls underestimated how well Conservatives would do and overestimated Labour’s result," the statistician guru wrote in the wee hours of the morning. (He also overestimated the Liberal Democrats' result by roughly 20 seats).

But the problem went beyond the UK. "The World May Have A Polling Problem," Silver asserted. "In fact, it’s become harder to find an election in which the polls did all that well." Silver went on to cite four examples where the polls had failed to provide an accurate forecast of the election outcome: the Scottish independence referendum, the 2014 U.S. midterms, the Israeli legislative elections, and even the 2012 U.S. presidential election, where "Obama beat the final polling averages by about 3 points nationwide."

"[T]here are lots of reasons to worry about the state of the polling industry," Silver concluded, citing a range of factors. "There may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry."

This is quite a notable statement. The former New York Times statistician gained national fame for correctly anticipating the outcome of the 2008, 2010 and 2012 U.S. elections. He did this largely by understanding how to read the polls, and by knowing which polls were worth reading. (Never mind that he wasn't the only one. In fact, in 2012, the Daily Kos blogger Markos Moulitsas was more accurate than Silver in predicting the outcome of the 2012 electoral college. Needless to say, Moulitsas was not offered a high-paying job at ESPN.)

If Silver is declaring that the world has a polling problem, and that there may be more difficult times ahead for the polling industry, what is Silver's added value in an election cycle? His ability to forecast elections is largely dependent on the accuracy of polling. Without that, what is his raison d'etre -- other than to point out how bad polling caused him to make inaccurate forecasts?


-source

Shouting Thomas said...

Asking for it, obviously. Right, ST?

I've worked in the arts my entire life.

Yes, my first reaction is that women involved in the arts are simultaneously selling their bodies as energetically as possible, including enthusiastically screwing for occupational gain.

That's what I've seen.

Everything is individual, but I think most of this is bullshit.

rehajm said...

If Nate seem a problem with it, so do I.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just to be picky."

Inappropriate pickiness though, because I said, "Things that have only a 30% chance of winning often happen... they happen about 30% of the time. More often than losing at Russian roulette." Key words: "MORE often."

I'm being picky, but, to be picky, my pickiness is appropriate.

Beasts of England said...

'Silver can so a better job of trying to explain probabilities to people but it's not his fault if others think he's a psychic.'

Oh yeah, maybe ol' Nate can learn me up real good on stochastic modeling. 😂

Ann Althouse said...

"There's nothing preventing people on Twitter from linking or citing, especially since they increased the character limit. But I agree that most people don't bother, so that's become the norm, and it's annoying. If more people would only follow those who link and cite, and ignore those who don't, it might help. But that's a pipe dream."

I know that's what I've done when I've tweeted, but it's a little more trouble, so you don't get in the full swing of Twitterdom. I'd be trying to compress blogging INTO tweeting. I can see that's doing it wrong and puts me at a disadvantage in what is a big, fast-moving competition. I've chosen not to play. I'm happier here. I'm a blogger... with a mood and a style. It's not a good move for me to change that.

traditionalguy said...

The Dems stole the election for Frankenstein and they felt they had every right to defrock him. All he did was act like a leering lecher pretending he was having his way with a powerless young woman. But that is what the Me Too ladies are really all about punishing.

The revenge of the ridiculed women. That makes Franken-Stein the actual enemy. Gentleman, these proceedings are closed.

Sebastian said...

"What are we going to call "improper"? It's subjective, and the answer can be: Whatever we won't tolerate at all. Flexible."

Progs only have zero tolerance for things that undermine the cause. So zero tolerance can quickly become "zero tolerance."

Flexible indeed. As predicted by the Universal Theory of Progressive Instrumentalism.

cubanbob said...

I have zero tolerance for assholes who espouse zero tolerance. The ridiculousness of these Democrat Senators expressing faux remorse over Franken is like sharks in a feeding frenzy being remorseful after eating one of their own. As for polls, it's hard to believe any of them. Who answers them? More and more, the polls are push-polls, designed to sway instead of elucidating. I'm not a math guy nor do I pretend to be one but unless we ran 100 2016 elections like a groundhog day movie there is no way to know that Silver is in the least bit right.

tim maguire said...

Dave Begley said...How do we know his polls and predictions are accurate? Couldn't he just make stuff up?

That question has been addressed by weathermen--where there are tons of historical data to test accuracy of predictions.

There's an old joke about weather forecasters that if they just say there's a 50% chance of rain, they'll never be wrong. And sure, taken singly, that's true--they can never really be wrong because they don't guarantee anything. But if you slice it differently--if you look at all the days they predicted a 50% chance of rain, you will find that it rained about 50% of the time. Look at all the days they predicted a 70% chance and you will see it rained about 70% of the time.

Politically, Silver is a left-wing hack. A boring unimaginative partisan. But on statistics, he is very good at what he does. Ignore him at your peril.

Shouting Thomas said...

The zero-tolerance policy in respect of drinking killed the live music biz.

My band did a gig a couple of years ago at a big combo sports bar/casino type venue.

We packed up and drove away at 2 a.m. Each of the guys in the band was stopped by a different state cop within a 1/2 mile for a sobriety check. Four cars!

We are all old pros and we don't drink during gigs.

But, the hassle has driven away the audience.

One of the reasons you don't hear much good new music is that the development venues are dead, courtesy of zero tolerance.

Be careful what you wish for.

Shouting Thomas said...

I loathed Franken's politics.

He was driven out of office over a dumb joke photo.

Bad judgment on his part.

He probably should have gutted it out.

Kevin said...

The zero-tolerance policy in respect of drinking killed the live music biz.

The lack of a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving killed a lot of live people.

Darrell said...

Nate Silver is a wishcaster by trade. But only Democratic wishes. Stop believing and you take away his power.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Frankenstein was the sacrificial meetoo# lamb used by the manipulative D's to try to take out Roy Moore and Trump.

It worked in the case of Roy Moore.

Caligula said...

"Zero tolerance" was last year. Now we have "negative tolerance."

What's that? It means, we punish you before you can offend (again). Because, even if you didn't do it we just know you're going to.


(And, yes, Free Will is an illusion.)

The Cracker Emcee Refulgent said...

Gillibrand — "a feminist champion of 'zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety"

You can usually find at least one such champion in every lynch mob. Gillibrand just may be the biggest piece of shit in American politics ‘cause she doesn’t have the excuses that the hanky-head gals and the used and abused Hillary have.

Ambrose said...

Has Jane Mayer ever written anything that was not biased?

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Think the collective left give a crap about sexual abuse? Really?
lol - See Bill Clinton. No. They do not.
No they do not. They care about using a situation to manipulate for more power.

Also - George Clintonopolis is certain Romney is going to ban your tampons.

Shouting Thomas said...

The lack of a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving killed a lot of live people.

That's a trade-off we make in every area of our lives.

Go ahead and hide under your bed.

Ken B said...

I think Ann misses one point about “zero tolerance”. It is a shibboleth. When you use it you are brandishing it as a weapon, to emphasize how much you care — “care” actually— about the alleged harm. It implies people who disagree with you are brutes, complicit in shame.

Roy Jacobsen said...

What the Bible Really Says About Trump’s Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy"

An aside: So we're good with mixing religion and politics now?

Shouting Thomas said...

What uptight, cowardly assholes we old Boomers have become!

NCMoss said...

In the movie Snow Day, principal Weaver initiates a policy of "sub-zero" tolerance against a group of students trying to get an extra day off. In the context of the movie it was a clever line.

robother said...

Absolute zero tolerance is unachievable in engineering, but approached with each advance in micro technology. I await further advancements in that line before playing the world's tiniest violin in sympathy for Stuart Smalley's sorrows.

Leland said...

HA, so right. This is just average bias. No need to give more bias credit when none is due.

Ken B said...

Silver did more than say 70%. He kept saying such stuff when it was obviously wrong throughout election night. Early returns showed that his model was wrong. Rather than admit it he kept posting new estimates, to two decimal places!, every few minutes.
I have a model for flooding on the Colorado River, based on the patterns of the last few years. But if I see the Hoover dam crumble I should abandon it, not use it for minute by minute updates.

Kevin said...

What Gillibrand really was saying was there wasn't going to be a sliding scale of standards depending on who the man was, who the woman was, what their race was, their party affiliation, or the political implications of holding them accountable.

The same people here decrying zero-tolerance would be commenting in synchronized approval that no one should be above the law and people should be treated equally.

We still have to do the hard work, however, of making the law clear and the treatment for breaking it just.

When we don't the issue isn't zero tolerance.

Infinite Monkeys said...

yes, it's Al Franken, not some other Franken

I would just shorten it to AF, as in, "he's skeevy AF". Perfect for social media.

Kevin said...

That's a trade-off we make in every area of our lives.

Go ahead and hide under your bed.


I don't see letting a five-time felon drive yet again at three-times over the limit as a "trade-off".

But I guess as long as he was imbibing at your show, it doesn't matter how many little girls on their way to see Toy Story 4 he kills on his way home.

After all, we just can't have a live music scene without irresponsible drinking...

Francisco D said...

It's like Silver is gently delivering an anthropology report on his own tribe to ensure a safe landing.

Well done, Howard.

Char Char Binks said...

"Al Franken, the former Senator from Minnesota who was..."

NPR would also clarify that Minnesotata is part of the United States of America, a North American nation founded in 1776, with a troubling history of sexual misconduct.

tim maguire said...

Kevin said...
"The zero-tolerance policy in respect of drinking killed the live music biz."

The lack of a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving killed a lot of live people.


We lose sight of the fact that the worst thing to happen to a vast majority of drunk drivers is they wake up the next day with a hang over. Meanwhile, "zero tolerance" has destroyed lives over a levels of impairment so low that you need advanced technology to even measure it (while far greater dangers go ignored because they don't have totalitarian activist groups gunning for them).

Shouting Thomas said...

But I guess as long as he was imbibing at your show, it doesn't matter how many little girls on their way to see Toy Story 4 he kills on his way home.

Jesus Christ, little girls!

You definitely need a few drinks.

This is an incredibly tedious era of sanctimonious bullshit flinging.

I hope that pissant rant made you feel better about yourself. You seem to really need that shit.

Ann Althouse said...

"“Stiffy” was the 8th brother. Not a Dwarf."

I thought it sounded like an additional dwarf too. I was thinking additional dwarfs is an old comic meme, and looking that up, I encountered the news that Disney originally had 16 OTHER dwarfs that were proposed for "Snow White"

"The 16 would-be dwarfs had monikers that most often made reference to appearances or disabilities rather than personality or attitude. Some of the most egregious examples include Tubby, Baldy, Deafy, and Shorty. The other 12 who didn't survive the chopping block are: Wheezy, Lazy, Jumpy, Dizzey, Hickey, Gabby, Nifty, Sniffy, Swift, Puffy, Stuffy, and Burpy. (Certainly not appropriate cohorts for "the fairest of them all.") These names surfaced nearly 80 years after the film's release thanks to Bonham's in New York, which recently brought to auction 32 pieces of original artwork from Disney's 1937 production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs—check out some of the sketches below."

Bob Smith said...

Once upon a time a niece had her first job in fast food. One of her shift managers liked to give “back rubs” while the girls were occupied at their work stations. When he tried out his Franken style on her she was at the French fryer. She told him if he ever did it again he’d get a basket of hot fries on his head.

frenchy said...

Silver would've rightfully earned the sobriquet "genius" if his probability numbers had been exactly opposite of what they were, i.e., if they had been 70-30 Trump over Hillary.

Not only would that have been presciently accurate, it would've set Silver distinctively apart amongst his pollster cohort. As it was, he was just another Hillary band-jumper who threw in the 30% Trump chance thingie for plausible deniability in the event the unthinkable happened.

Kevin said...

We lose sight of the fact that the worst thing to happen to a vast majority of drunk drivers is they wake up the next day with a hang over.

The vast majority of people who shoot guns at houses don't hit anyone inside. I don't see how that makes it acceptable behavior.

We live in the age of Uber, where a five year-old can summon someone to take you home, and none of your friends have to forego drinking to be the designated driver.

If Shouting Thomas' fans don't think his music is worth the price of an Uber fare, I really don't think the solution is more people driving drunk.

Infinite Monkeys said...

Is intensely sniffy neck-nuzzling "sexual"? Analysis of Joe Biden's behavior toward young girls has generally led to the answer no.

Does he do it to men? If he is heterosexual and only does this to females, it would seem to me to be at least somewhat sexual.

This follows the same rule that labels someone racist if they don't have a lot of friends of many ethnicities or transphobic if they don't want to date someone who was born with the appearance of one gender but who now identifies as another. (The rule is, your thoughts and your perception of your behavior is irrelevant. It's how others interpret your behavior that matters.)

bagoh20 said...

On Tucker Carlson last night he expressed deep dislike for Franken who he knows personally, but he still powerfully defended Franken's rights and attacked those who ignored them for political expediency, especially Gillibrand, who acted reprehensible and still is today. Hannity said similar things. That kind of principle before party would never be seen on CNN or MSNBC where principle changes with every election.

Franken is truly a despicable person and the last person I want in government, and I believe he stole an election, but he was also railroaded by hysteria. So a bad thing was done to a bad person. It may be fair, but fair isn't always right. Of course if he didn't steal the election this never would have happened to him. It's freakin' karma, man!

Known Unknown said...

"Not surprising, because he built the sabermetric model that revolutionized baseball recruiting."

Or Bill James did that.

Known Unknown said...

"Once upon a time a niece had her first job in fast food. One of her shift managers liked to give “back rubs” while the girls were occupied at their work stations. When he tried out his Franken style on her she was at the French fryer. She told him if he ever did it again he’d get a basket of hot fries on his head."

How to efficiently deal with jerks. Nice.

Known Unknown said...

"Frankenstein was the sacrificial meetoo# lamb used by the manipulative D's to try to take out Roy Moore and Trump.

It worked in the case of Roy Moore."

This.

Bill Peschel said...

The problem with Nate Silver applying Bill James' sabermetrics to politics is its utter uselessness.

Sabermetrics charts not one at-bat or a player's performance in one game, but a player's performance over a 162-game season.

We don't hold 162 elections, unless you're the EU avoiding a Leave victory. We hold one.

So a 70 percent prediction is useless. And as others pointed out, his prediction of how many Electoral College votes was way off the mark.

Mark Jones said...

"Zero Tolerance" rules exist for one reason, and one reason only. To protect bureaucrats and administrators from having to exercise their own judgment. After all, if you have to exercise judgment, you might demonstrate poor judgement. If you have to make a decision, you might decide wrongly. Or you might be accused of poor judgment and bad decision-making. Your sinecure, your livelihood might be put at risk. Intolerable!

"Zero Tolerance" policies mean that you can simply follow the rule, no matter how stupid it is, no matter how unjust, secure in the knowledge that you haven't had to risk exposing your own shortcomings. You can fall back on the bureaucrat's favored excuse: I was just following the rules.

Lucien said...

Tolerance as a value has been rather hard done by lately. Those who deplore it pretend that it is condescending — that people who tolerate things they disapprove of do so only out of a sense of superiority. But real tolerance is grounded in knowledge of one’s own fallibility, and a belief that reasonable minds may differ.

Departments of “diversity, tolerance, equity and inclusion”, though, are exercises in Newspeak.

Yancey Ward said...

Silver pulled the "70% Clinton wins" out of his ass- that much was always clear.

Think about the problem this way- what would Silver had to have predicted for Clinton's odds before you to judge him "wrong"? 99%, 90%, 75%, 70%, 66%, 50%? Or is the judgment a relative matter?

You want to know how Silver arrived at 70% Clinton victory? He got there by picking a number lower than any one else on the Left was predicting. That number was chosen so that Silver "wins" no matter what happened. Had even one known left-leaning polling organization/person had chosen a lower odds for Clinton's victory, we would be talking about how that/those guy/s did the best and how Silver had lost his mojo.

rehajm said...

Frankenstein was the sacrificial meetoo# lamb used by the manipulative D's to try to take out Roy Moore and Trump

Kavanaugh. Don’t forget Kavanaugh. Whatever other male what would have been nominated, too.

They were working up religion for the lady.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Exactly, Bagoh.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...Here's something subtle that I think neither Silver nor Mayer considered. To champion "'Zero tolerance' toward sexual impropriety" is NOT zero tolerance! The word "impropriety" drains the absolutism from "zero."

I'm not sure I understand your point here, Professor. For what linguistic construct is it not true that an absolute is not, or might not be, subject to interpretation leading to a non-absolute application?

Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, right? "No law abridging" seems pretty absolute and yet we have plenty of laws that restrict or curtail speech in plenty of ways and almost no one objects; certainly the Court doesn't. One simple method is to change the definition of the domain of the absolute--so broadcasting hardcore pornography over public airwaves doesn't really count as "speech" and thus laws preventing that are no problem--but there are any number of other ways in which that dynamic works, so it seems like you're expressing something close to a tautology. I assume I'm missing your point.

Mark O said...

Somewhere, in one of her yearbooks, a classmate has written, "Ann is a tad mental."

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

All republicans are racist rapist Russian spies who run rape rooms. I saw last night on MSNBC.

James K said...

Where Silver lost me was not the 70% thing—he was closer than most. It was when he whined after the election that it was Comey’s fault for reopening the email case at the end of October. Not only was that pulled out of his ass, it was also something he could have factored into his prediction but didn’t. So it’s a lame excuse.

More generally, he relied on polls, and treated them as unbiased, when there were a lot of reasons to think they were missing Trump support. Blaming Comey was just circular logic—the polls had to be right, so Comey has to be the culprit.

Automatic_Wing said...

So a 70 percent prediction is useless. And as others pointed out, his prediction of how many Electoral College votes was way off the mark

Exactly right. Silver has built an elaborate model that tells you "The leader in the polls will probably win. But maybe not."

The 70% number is just fake mathematical precision.

Biotrekker said...

There's a subtle but importnat difference between ( " ) quotation marks and ( ' ) marks. The former suggests a direct quote, the latter suggests the encompassed words have been given a special meaning.

Ralph L said...

I suspect Franken knew there were many more things he did which might come out, such as that bit about Lesley Stahl.

wwww said...

"More generally, he relied on polls, and treated them as unbiased, when there were a lot of reasons to think they were missing Trump support"

But he's using a probabilistic model. Political Scientists design models that are not based on probabilities, but that's not what he does. Many of these probabilistic models plug in all of the polls, regardless of poll quality.

It's fine to not look at probabilistic models. This far in advance of an election I look at a model that does not rely on probabilities.

Yancey Ward said...

The situations, Trump wins or Clintons wins, are not symmetrical, and Silver played his hand based on this insight. Had Clinton won an election where pretty much all the polling predicted she would win, then Silver predicting 70% odds and the NYTimes predicting 91% odds wouldn't have been treated differently- both would have been granted as being correct in predicting Clinton winning- the pre-election odds given would have been ignored altogether in that event. However, in the case of Trump winning, Silver waited until everyone else put out a prediction, and then took the lowest odds out there for Clinton's victory. Silver is obviously familiar with the pricing game to get on stage in "The Price is Right".

Left Bank of the Charles said...

The butterfly effect of Al Franken's 312 vote recount victory in July 2009 decimated the Democratic Party at the Congressional level. The Senate supermajority which that created only lasted 7 months, but put fire to the sizzling grease of the nascent Tea Party. It enabled Harry Reid to lock Olympia Snowe and her moderate Republicans out of the Obamacare negotiations.

Even my liberal state of Massachusetts rebelled, ending the supermajority with the special election of Scott Brown in January 2010. Ten months later the Democrats lost the House. I would imagine that Ann Althouse's disillusionment with Barack Obama can also be traced back to the flapping wings of Al Franken.

The interesting thing is that there was a third candidate in that 2008 Minnesota U.S. Senate election, Dean Barkley, who had previously been appointed to the U.S. Senate by Reform Party Governor Jesse Ventura, who in turn was inspired by the original Reform Party candidate, Ross Perot, who caused the election of Bill Clinton, which led to the Democrats historic 1994 loss of Congress. Donald Trump also dallied in Reform Party politics, before embarking on his trumpover of the Republican Party.

So the butterfly effect that has put the Democrats out of power in Congress and Donald Trump in the White House goes all the way back to 1992. If it's 40 years in the wilderness for Democrats, this would continue until 2032.

PM said...

I'm sure it's been said but
1. Franken is another vote for impeachment so let it slide and come home.
2. The New Yorker has lost any perspective. Even articles about food will have "in the Age of Trump..." in it.

steve uhr said...

I don’t understand the attack on silver. If you think his polls are worthless because he doesn’t know what he’s doing or is biased, there are plenty of other polls. Find one you like and be happy. Such as the Fox News poll, which also picked Hillary btw.

Silver is a rational capitalist. What would he intentionally sabotage his own business by knowingly publishing bad data?

stevew said...

Fwiw, reading the original article my impression was that they were attempting to generate sympathy for Franken and his plight, AND to show that Gillibrand is a tough, principled politician.

As I may have said yesterday, failed on both counts.

Howard said...

Blogger steve uhr said...Silver is a rational capitalist.

IOW, an elite liberal with elite liberal bias.

Making predictions is hard, especially about the future. He can hide a bunch of bias in a plethora of uncertainty. I don't think he does this consciously, although this event seems pretty self-conscious.

Howard said...

Blogger stevew said...

Fwiw, reading the original article my impression was that they were attempting to generate sympathy for Franken and his plight, AND to show that Gillibrand is a tough, principled politician.

As I may have said yesterday, failed on both counts.


You mean putting lipstick on assholes doesn't work??

James K said...

What would he intentionally sabotage his own business by knowingly publishing bad data?

Why would the NYT publish crap on a daily basis? Their audience eats it up.

In any case, he may be doing his best, but that doesn't mean he's good. He put misplaced confidence in the accuracy of polls, and then, as I said above, he tried to blame his failure on Comey.

Bruce Hayden said...

I don’t agree with everyone that Silver was a hack. My understanding is that he was looking at 50 state polls, or at least for the states that could be in play. Three states flipped the election. And they were close. I think too close to really call with polls. Silver was depending on everyone else’s polls, that consistently underestimated the Trump vote, very likely at least partially due to the number of “shy” Trump voters. How do the people doing state level detect and measure those shy Trump voters, because they are, essentially lying to the pollsters? Maybe if they had been seriously looking for it. This was a fairly new phenomenon. Maybe next time.

Drago said...

Howard: "You mean putting lipstick on assholes doesn't work??"

Whoa there. In my defense it wasnt really a good color for me and it was a Monty Python drag sketch!!

Achilles said...

steve uhr said...

Silver is a rational capitalist. What would he intentionally sabotage his own business by knowingly publishing bad data?

He sold his business.

Disney owns him now and he predicts what they want him to predict.

AAT said...

"What would he intentionally sabotage his own business by knowingly publishing bad data?"

Somehow I think that Silver was far more dispassionate in his analysis of baseball than he is in the analysis of politics. Math is not always as straightforward as 1+1=2, as soon as you get to any level of complexity, you start making assumptions, explicitly and acknowledged, and quite often, implicitly. Implicit assumptions are often masked from the doer of the math by motivated reasoning, rooting interest.

Think of your subconscious mind as having a certain veto power over what you can think about, a veto power that it takes great effort to overcome, and acknowledge that your subconscious mind is the root of your political leanings, and it becomes pretty clear that if you are going to do accurate polling and analysis, you better have a guy from the other side, I mean, *really* from the other side, not like those bozos at the NYT and WaPo who pretend to be conservative.

AAT said...

Trump’s chance of winning was far higher than 1 in 4, it was only 1 in 4 given a partisan analysis applied to the carefully curated universe of facts available to the analyst.

It’s like the concept of “random noise.” Noise isn’t really random, it all is caused by actual and valid physics, we are just ignorant of the goings on where it comes from, so we call it random.

Matt Sablan said...

Do you think Franken is going to go to the same people as Epstein to rehabilitate his image? Seems a shame, since what Franken did is nowhere near as bad as Epstein, yet the left sacrificed Franken without a thought, while Epstein fought on for years successfully.

Fen said...

Think of your subconscious mind as having a certain veto power over what you can think about, a veto power that it takes great effort to overcome, and acknowledge that your subconscious mind is the root of your political leanings, and it becomes pretty clear that if you are going to do accurate polling and analysis, you better have a guy from the other side, I mean, *really* from the other side, not like those bozos at the NYT and WaPo who pretend to be conservative.

Not only that, but Silver became a victim of his own success, like the CEO from Billions who blew up with his rocket because none of his staff wanted to tell him no.

Who in Silver's circle would tell him his methodology was off?

DKWalser said...

Althouse -- I really enjoy your posts that touch on usage. Early in my college career, I was an English major and was somewhat of a grammar nerd. I gave all that up so I could study something that would allow me to support a family. I doubt many would consider it much of a sacrifice. But, I did enjoy learning about and playing with the structure of the English language. For a similar reason, I enjoy it when you dissect and examine what someone else has said or written.

Nichevo said...

Fen, Damian Lewis got the Axe?