Yesterday, Deadspin ran an article surrounding baseball sabremetrician-turned political poll aggregator Nate Silver and the vitriol thrown his way by those in both traditional sports and political reporting. It's a very poignant article, the basic premise of which has been debated time and again on this very blog and many like it. The article is a must read, but here are some of the prime excerpts:
...scouts have always relied on player archetypes, and front offices have always understood that production tends to fall within an expected range rather than on a straight line. All Silver was doing was taking that analysis out of the realm of the gut.
Statistics can’t replace good writing, but it can expose the bad, and sabermetrics represented a direct threat to the bad writers who had gotten away with being bad for far too long. These were the writers who used the same old false narratives to reach the same old misguided conclusions.
a lot of ... pundits made their money on that margin of uncertainty in sports, yammering about heart and grit and all that ineffable crap that was never so ineffable that a hack couldn't write 500 words about it for the early edition. And so they remained in the dark, stubbornly entrenched, missing out on a new way to analyze the game they were paid to follow.
Just like their colleagues in the sports section, the political pundits see the wrong kind of uncertainty in Nate Silver. They associate statistics with mathematical proof, as if a confidence interval were the same thing as the Pythagorean Theorem. Silver isn’t more sure of himself than his detractors, but he’s more rigorous about demonstrating his uncertainty. He’s bad news for the worst members of the punditry, who obscure the truth so their own ignorance looks better by comparison and who make their money on the margin of uncertainty, too.
The hardest thing Silver works at is eliminating bias, so when baseball fans accuse him of being biased against their team or political lackeys accuse him of being biased against their candidate, it’s the accusers themselves who are revealing their own insurmountable bias.
Any of this sound familiar? It should. Time and again these very things are being debated on this very blog with similar results. Seriously, read the entire article. You'll be better for it.
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