You may remember that when Dylan Byers rushed to the defense of various hacks who were attacking Nate Silver, various oxygen-using limb-walking-on urban elitists made him look ridiculous. And a man in his position cannot be made to look ridiculous! So he now has a new excuse. See, the various hacks who were attacking Silver may have been right had Silver not foiled them:
“The polls can certainly affect elections at times,” Silver told the audience, according to a report in Student Life, an independent campus newspaper. “I hope people don’t take the forecasts too seriously. You’d rather have an experiment where you record it off from the actual voters, in a sense, but we’ll see. If it gets really weird in 2014, in 2016, then maybe I’ll stop doing it. I don’t want to influence the democratic process in a negative way.”
Silver said he wanted to make people “more informed, I don’t want to affect their motive because they trust the forecasters.”
POLITICO reached out to Silver to ask how much of an effect he believed his data and analysis had on voters in 2012, if any. Silver, who has been a critic of this blog and of POLITICO in the past, did not respond.
So, the fact that there may theoretically be a bandwagon effect means that Silver may have influenced the election results because low-information swing voters compulsively check statistical analysis at the New York Times or something. Clearly, the people who attacked Silver with no evidence whatsoever were really onto something! (Of course, we can’t independently evaluate these insinuations; all we can do is attempt to ask Silver about them.) And then attribute to him a strawman about all “punditry” having no value, as if punditry cannot consist of anything but “magic dolphins told me that Mitt Romney is almost as much of a lock as Rick Lazio.” (Granted, that does represent a huge percentage.)
But, in fairness, at least Byers is gracious:
Silver has since turned his attention back to the world of sport, where he inaccurately predicted that the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks would meet in the Super Bowl, and then inaccurately predicted that the San Francisco 49ers would beat the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. He has yet to release his predictions for this year’s Oscars.
Burn! Clearly a claim that the 49ers were more likely to win was falsified by a loss (in which they were 1st and goal down by 5 late in the game), because understanding how probability works is for NERDS.