Killing the Messenger

They’re saying the storm is reaching land about now. So far I’m not seeing much. It’s damp out and very windy. However, moving to a beachfront apartment is losing its appeal.

Meanwhile, the name “Nate Silver” seems to be driving the Right into a hysterical rage. The most recent rant by Dylan Byers sneers that Silver is merely using arithmetic.

Silver’s no stranger to doubt and criticism. He even doubts his own model sometimes. But he dismisses this criticism.

“We can debate how much of a favorite Obama is; Romney, clearly, could still win. But this is not wizardry or rocket science,” Silver told POLITICO. “All you have to do is take an average, and count to 270. It’s a pretty simple set of facts. I’m sorry that Joe is math-challenged.”

Of course, it hardly matters what Brooks, Scarborough or any of Silver’s critics or supporters think. What matters for Silver is that the president wins and that he ends up with a total number of electoral votes somewhere in the ballpark of whatever Silver predicts on the afternoon of Nov. 6. And even then, you won’t know if he actually had a 50.1 percent chance or a 74.6 percent chance of getting there.

In other words, Byers cannot even imagine that somebody might draw conclusions from the data and not the other way around. See also Steve M.

Professor Krugman:

Like others doing similar exercises — Drew Linzer, Sam Wang, and Pollster — Nate’s model continued to show an Obama edge even after Denver, and has shown that edge widening over the past couple of weeks.

This could be wrong, obviously. And we’ll find out on Election Day. But the methodology has been very clear, and all the election modelers have been faithful to their models, letting the numbers fall where they may.

Yet the right — and we’re not talking about the fringe here, we’re talking about mainstream commentators and publications — has been screaming “bias”! They know, just know, that Nate must be cooking the books. How do they know this? Well, his results look good for Obama, so it must be a cheat. Never mind the fact that Nate tells us all exactly how he does it, and that he hasn’t changed the formula at all.

This is, of course, reminiscent of the attack on the Bureau of Labor Statistics — not to mention the attacks on climate science and much more. On the right, apparently, there is no such thing as an objective calculation. Everything must have a political motive.

They don’t know how to be objective. They don’t know what objectivity is. It is unthinkable to them that the truth isn’t exactly what they think it is.

For an antidote to the craziness, see Nate Silver: Artist of Uncertainty.

See also “People Who Can’t Do Math Are So Mad At Nate Silver