Wednesday 7 November 2012

Consequence-free Prognostication

Quite a day at Cassini HQ, with Crystal Palace not only comfortably defeating Ipswich Town 5-0 at a price I am still in some shock over, but also moving up to top spot in the Championship in the process. Heady days at the Palace and hard to believe that a year from now, we could well be propping up the Premier League!

Perhaps the result is also more support for the argument that it is easier to identify value in the lesser studied leagues than the big leagues. The five Palace goals also ensured the Overs came in quite easily, although I was expecting more a 3-1 score than all five from the hosts.

The results from the US Presidential Election also went as expected and as hoped. As I write this, it seems that Romney has not yet conceded, but then rich people don't like it when they want something and don't get it. Especially things they have paid big money for. 

I would like to thank Al for trading opinions with me on this election, but while the overall count looks close, the secret to profiting from this market was always in looking at the polls that mattered. I hope Al trimmed his losses, and perhaps will see that his, and the Republicans, rather cruel "it's all about me" attitude is on the way out. 

Also encouraging is the results on marriage equality that look like passing in perhaps four states. There is hope for the world, and after four more years of Obama, I am hoping Hillary will run in 2016. The Republicans are becoming more and more marginalised, and their message is not popular. Old white men are declining in importance, religion is declining and the future for their selfish policies is bleak. 

Opposition to same-sex marriage is an old person thing, and old people are dying. The planet is getting warmer - that's a fact - and the demographic sands are shifting, but the future for the Democrats and decency looks bright. Thank god. (That's the one true god of course. Apparently he's not Mormon).

Romney has called Obama to concede, and the concession speech is coming up I see.

Regular readers will know of my admiration for Nate Silver and his analysis, and there was an article on the Yahoo Finance page about him and this election. The article in full is below, but one piece I wanted to draw attention to was the comment that "there is way, way too much consequence-free prognostication these days". Having established himself four years ago, Silver does indeed have a lot to lose should he be proved wrong, more than anyone in the media in fact, but I much prefer the "ballsy" approach to the "clueless mealy-mouthed wimps" approach any day. To quote the wonderful Blackadder, one might say "I've got to admire your balls".
As of this morning, New York Times poll guru Nate Silver is giving President Obama an 92% chance of winning re-election--an overwhelming advantage.
For the last couple of years, Silver has never shown Obama as having a less-than-even chance of winning, despite some polls that gave Romney an edge.
Unlike almost everyone else who prognosticates about the election, Silver has a highly detailed data-based methodology that averages hundreds of state polls and takes into account factors like economic data.
But we're in "silly season" now, so every time Silver opens his mouth, the folks who are rooting for Romney accuse him of being an idiot, being "in the tank" for Obama, or both.
This criticism itself is silly. Silver is transparent about the way his model works. The model could be wrong, but Silver has always been clear about the methodology. Those who slam
Silver mostly don't like what his data is showing--that Romney is likely to lose.
The Silver critics are right about one thing, though:
If Romney does win, Silver's reputation will take a severe hit.
Unlike the vast majority of prognosticators and pundits, Silver has the balls to back up his model with his wallet and mouth. For the past couple of weeks, Silver has been extremely outspoken in defending himself, even going so far as to challenge pundit Joe Scarborough to a bet. This vocal defense has garnered huge publicity: Searches for Silver's name on Google have soared.
What that means is that Silver has, effectively, bet the farm.
If Obama wins, as Silver's model is now predicting, Silver's reputation will become gold-plated, and the traditional pundits who are calling the election a "toss-up" will look like clueless mealy-mouthed wimps.
If Romney wins, however, Silver's reputation will go "poof."
And that's the way it should be.
There is way, way too much consequence-free prognostication these days. Analysts like Silver deserve credit for laying it all on the line.
(For what it's worth, having listened to the logic of Silver and the Silver critics, I'm betting on Silver. He has calmly, patiently, and persuasively nuked every counter-argument that has been thrown at him. And his critics, meanwhile, are now just resorting to logic-free assertions and insults.)

1 comment:

AL said...

Congrats to Cassini and Obama.

Looking forward to more hope I can believe in.