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March 27, 2014


Krugman probably could have waited a bit before beginning his critique, but he has a point, one which Silver's snarky replies hasn't yet addressed - Silver rose to prominence by using data in a field that was not just bereft of data-driven analysis, but openly contemptuous of its utility. Now he is wading into areas where numerous experts have been poring over the data for years, if not decades. It's harder for Nate and his team to parachute into those areas, look at some data, and make the same oracle-like conclusions and predictions from it that he pulled off with relative ease in political forecasting. There will be an army of experts and academics, who have probably looked at the same data and more, ready to criticize the 538 article.

I suspect 538 will improve as it works out its kinks and refines its staff and approach. There's already some interesting stuff on there, at least in the sports section.

What was interesting to me is how many weighed in on the first article at Silver's site that was about climate change. As if it was about climate change. Which it is not. It was about the economic effects of climate change which is a subject climatologists know fuck all about. Nor does Krugman since this is not his field of study either. This did not stop many climatologists, excepting those whose work supported the article, from weighing in on a field they know little about on what appears to be the specious theory that you cannot tell truths publicly that confuse the message they would prefer be sent.

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