Data Lovers Unite!

When a wild dog is threatened, its pack members fiercely rally behind it and rip the enemy to shreds.

So what happens in the case of a data nerd? Do his or her fellow number-crunchers take out their slide rules, circle around the challenger and assume the attack position?

One of our own is being challenged. As the U.S. Presidential election heats up, so has the heat increased on Nate Silver, author of The Signal and the Noise and the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog, which in my opinion is one of the two best sources of election polling analysis along with HuffPost Pollster.

Many of the political pundits in Washington, DC frankly feel threatened by Silver’s data driven approach to election forecasting. He has a model which factors in multiple variables and includes adjusted data from every major poll released. This approach gives Silver an overall probability of the outcome of the election for President as well as down-ballot races.

Not so fast, say the pundits. You can’t replace gut feeling and experience with data.

Wait a minute say some conservatives, who are convinced Silver must be biased because he gives President Obama a probability of re-election north of 75%.

It got to the point where Silver and morning host / pundit Joe Scarborough publicly bet money on the election’s outcome.

These criticisms are, of course, silly. They are all to reminiscent of the corporate executive who would rather go on intuition than use market research.

As data lovers, we should rally behind Silver and anyone else who defends the intelligent use of data.

About Dana Stanley

Dana is the Editor-in-Chief of Research Access.

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