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View Diary: By hiring a climate disinformer, Nate Silver undermines his entire premise of data-driven journalism (204 comments)

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  •  Nate Silver sees himself as a contrarian (16+ / 0-)

    For all his emphasis on data, he believes himself to be operating outside the preconceptions and narratives that the rest of us allegedly hold so dear.  If anything, that's what motivates his "data-driven" approach: the belief in and the quest for knowledge and a decision matrix free of any ideological or emotional bias.

    Logically he'd thus be drawn to other contrarians, seeing them as like himself in that their positions, predictions, etc. are allegedly not influenced by "conventional wisdom", "interests", "emotional investment", simple inertia, and all the usual boogeymen.

    Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

    by Visceral on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 12:20:11 PM PDT

    •  and in this case (14+ / 0-)

      not influenced by the science.

      The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

      by Laurence Lewis on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 12:29:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Indeed, Pielke is not a climate scientist... (15+ / 0-)

        at all. He's commenting about something outside his area of expertise, which is political "science".

        As a scientist myself (PhD in physics) I have to say that, beyond the raw data, you have to the theoretical background to understand what the data is telling you. Pielke is totally unqualified in that regard. Being a contrarian is his only apparent "qualification".

        Perhaps  I should apply to Silver to get a gig blogging about bankers. I hate the fuckers, but don't have any background in the area. That should make me the perfect hire for 538, apparently.

        The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. -- John Kenneth Galbraith

        by richardak on Sun Mar 23, 2014 at 01:05:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I think Krugman had it essentially right (10+ / 0-)

      Silver entered the realms of sports and politics as data first began to enter popular media analysis of those fields (and Silver helped that in some ways), though plenty of people in these fields were already using complex models, just not publicizing them. So he stood out for that reason, and because being contrarian with analysts that know nothing at all (and are mostly being paid to try to drive the polls rather than analyze them) was helpful for accuracy.

      But he won't have the same ability to stand out when entering fields that already are heavily data driven like the academic fields of economics and climate science. I think you're right that he's letting his contrarian/libertarian tendencies get the best of him to hire someone like Pielke with all of his past problems with data analysis so well-known. But even if he just tried to run data analysis without a climate denialist cherry picking numbers, these ventures wouldn't do much to change the information already out there, only repeat what's already been done (if he's not making serious errors).

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