HuffPo Doesn’t Understand Maths, Math People Retaliate With Facts

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

Image courtesy of Stockvault.

I found out about a Twitter rant by Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight and decided to check what it was all about. It turns out that the Huffington Post disagreed with his models. Not only that, they accused him of “unskewing” polls to improperly favor Donald Trump’s election chances. Later on, Silver posted this article which more clearly went into why the models he uses are developed the way they are.

I’m amazed, but not surprised, HuffPo went with the story.
Essentially they appear to be griping at a pollster for not massaging his numbers to fit an acceptable narrative. How dare he actually provide all the information he has, the assumptions he makes, the numbers which result, and previous data which back up the assumptions! Apparently he should have taken a good look at the evidence, decided it didn’t conform with what HuffPo wants to see, and changed his models accordingly. Someone get Mr. Silver an audience with Rudy Giuliani or Ken Ham to help him out.

Wait, did I just compare HuffPo to Fox News?
It’s hard to tell the difference these days, especially when an article bitches about bias but then brags about how its modeling actively prevents big changes when new information develops. Someone over at that site needs to hire Sean Hannity to show them how it’s really done. This kind of sophomoric tripe shouldn’t have been printed in a high school rag much less a company billing itself as a news outlet.

Of course, it might be easy to ignore this kind of stuff when you agree with it. But it’s exactly this kind of “journalism” that is causing so many problems nationally. Rather than actually get information to people that need it so they can make their own decisions, we have outlets complaining about how not everyone’s on the same page. All it accomplishes is deluding people into thinking that their beliefs just magically are right no matter what.

Full disclosure: I use FiveThirtyEight to fact check polls.
Nate Silver and everyone else there have a good track record of not only admitting how they arrive at their conclusions, but also when they were wrong. Even Mr. Silver admitted that he didn’t want to believe the polls indicating Trump would be the GOP nominee. Despite that, he didn’t change information on his site to hide that the polls didn’t agree with his personal view. Instead, he opened up many conversations about why people perceive polls one way while wishing they were different.

Personally, HuffPo could stand to do more reading of Mr. Silver’s site. They might actually learn something.

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9 thoughts on “HuffPo Doesn’t Understand Maths, Math People Retaliate With Facts

  1. While I have not read the articles you mention, I did hear of this on several MSNBC shows. According to them the problem was the way he was “unskewing” the polling. It seems according to what those shows said the method relied too much on feeling and too little on data. Anyway. It soon will be a moot point until two years from now in the mid term elections. Hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • HuffPo mentioned the same thing. The problem with HuffPo’s and MSNBC’s position is that Mr. Silver actually presents the numbers on why he rates polls the way they get rated. Thus, it’s not based on feeling, but on actual data.

      That’s what’s frustrating me here. I’ve actually read the information for myself, so I know that what HuffPo and MSNBC says is wrong. And the biggest kicker of all of this is that pretending that Ms. Clinton has great chances of winning hurts turnout for her than Mr. Silver’s models do. People who think that Ms. Clinton will win won’t turn out to vote, but people who think Trump might win will make sure they cast a ballot.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yeah, I’ve never been a fan of The Huffington Post, and, while I confess to watching and enjoying Maddow and O’Donnell, I’ve always been aware that MSNBC is a sort of anti-Fox News (and CNN is largely just useless noise).

    I do like FiveThirtyEight, although they sure blew it in predicting the Indians to win the World Series. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, FiveThirtyEight also predicted the Packers to beat the Colts, which didn’t happen either. I wish their sports predictions were as good as their political models.

      Still, I found out last night that the models are moving back in Clinton’s direction. It turns out that they move only when new data comes in. I won’t hold my breath for an apology from MSNBC or HuffPo.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well, it won’t be long now that election results start pouring in, and we’ll see how close the polls were!

        (The irony with the baseball prediction is that Nate Silver started off as a Sabermetrician and became famous because of his baseball predictions. 😄 )

        Like

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