There’s a 73.6 percent chance of a sea battle tomorrow

I've said it a bunch here, but I'll say it again.  The textbook examples of fallacies have nothing on the actual fallacious arguments people make.  At this link is an add put out in favor of the Republican Party.  See if you can count the fallacies. 

And here is someone (I'm not going to link directly to him) taking on political odds maker Nate Silver:

Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound. Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he’s made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats.

Apparently, Nate Silver has his own way of “skewing” the polls. He appears to look at the polls available and decide which ones to put more “weighting” on in compiling his own average, as opposed to the Real Clear Politics average, and then uses the average he calculates to determine that percentages a candidate has of winning that state. He labels some polling firms as favoring Republicans, even if they over sample Democrats in their surveys, apparently because he doesn’t agree with their results. In the end the polls are gerrymandering into averages that seem to suit his agenda to make the liberal Democrats candidates apparently strong than they are.

That's weird; if you think Nate Silver's methodology sucks, then you don't really need to comment on his stature, his voice, or whether or not he has testicles.  If you think that is bad, and I hope you do, then you'll appreciate the more serious commentary of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough (via Charles Pierce):

Nate Silver says this is a 73.6 percent chance that the president is going to win? Nobody in that campaign thinks they have a 73 percent chance — they think they have a 50.1 percent chance of winning. And you talk to the Romney people, it's the same thing," Scarborough said. "Both sides understand that it is close, and it could go either way. And anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes."

Scarborough makes too much money to confuse the principle of bivalence (i.e., every proposition is either true or false) with probability (e.g., you have a 1 percent chance of winning!).  Sadly, odds are that his salary depends on his not understanding that. 

About John Casey

Blogger
This entry was posted in General discussion and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to There’s a 73.6 percent chance of a sea battle tomorrow

  1. Reardon says:

    If anything, RCP is the outlier for calling states toss-ups when Obama has a 2+ point lead in the polls. Historically, a 2.0 – 2.5 point polling lead (like Obama's in Ohio and others) gets you about an 80% conversion rate come election day. Fittingly, Silver has Obama with an 82.7% chance of winning. By no means a lock, but a clear favorite.  I think people see that number and think "sure thing," or are otherwise taken aback by it, being that media outlets aren't keen on making this look like anything less than a dead-heat.
    If they had a non-ideological motivation for speculating on the outcome of this election, you'd think they'd be chomping at the bit to put down on Romney, who all the betting houses are are giving 3/1 – 4/1 odds… The lowest assessment of Obama's chances anyone will pay you for gives him a 67% chance of winning.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>