Nate Silver on the Pitfalls of Prediction

Friday, October 05, 2012



Nate Silver is something of an authority on political forecasting. In 2008, his blog FiveThirtyEight correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential race in 49 out of 50 states. (In that same election, he was also right about all 35 senate races.) Bob sits down with Silver to talk about the 2012 election as well as his new book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don't

Prefuse 73 - Pagina Cinco


Nate Silver

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [4]

Calton from Tokyo

"I mean, everything from the financial crisis to the earthquake in Japan were not predicted or, in the case of Japan, were predicted not to happen. The seismologists there thought you couldn’t have an earthquake that large."

I live in Japan, and this statement sounds, as the the "Car Talk" guys would put it, BOOOOOOOGUS. I'd love to know Silver's source for the factoid about Japanese earthquake predictions and what game of Telephone mangled it into the shape it was when Silver uttered it.

No actual seismologists predict earthquakes in any meaningful way, as Silver should really know, but the silliest part is the claim that Japanese seismologists thought "you couldn't have an earthquake that large." Japan has had LONG history of experiencing earthquakes and tsunamis -- including the one in 1923 which esssentially flattened Tokyo and Yokohama and killed 142,000 people -- so yeah, I doubt they think about earthquakes being "too large".

Oct. 10 2012 09:13 AM
Andrew M from Santa Rosa, CA

Good story, and very good show on all of your segments overall today. Very informative. Glad that you interviewed a real expert worth listening to, Nate Silver, on polling and predictions.

Oct. 08 2012 02:51 AM
Phillip C. from D.C.


Dan Gardner wrote a great book about this subject a few years ago:

"Future Babble: Why Expert Predictions Are Next to Worthless, and You Can Do Better"

Oct. 07 2012 12:52 PM

Song at the end of the segment is "Pagina Cinco" by Prefuse 73. One of my favs!

(Nate is also a great guest / interview)

Oct. 05 2012 11:56 PM

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