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Trying to shoot the messenger

Filed under: — gavin @ 7 November 2012

Does this sound familiar? A quantitative prediction is inconvenient for some heavily invested folks. Legitimate questions about methodology morph quickly into accusations that the researchers have put their thumb on the scale and that they are simply making their awkward predictions to feather their own nest. Others loudly proclaim that the methodology could never work and imply that anyone who knows anything knows that -it’s simply common sense! Audit sites spring up to re-process the raw data and produce predictions more to the liking of their audience. People who have actually championed the methods being used, and so really should know better, indulge in some obvious wish-casting (i.e. forecasting what you would like to be true, despite the absence of any evidence to support it).

Contrarian attacks on climate science, right?

Actually no. This was assorted conservative punditry attacking Nate Silver (of the 538 blog) because his (Bayesian) projections for Tuesday’s election didn’t accord with what they wanted to hear. The leap from asking questions to cherry-picking, accusations of malfeasance and greed, audits, denial, and wish-casting was quite rapid, but it followed a very familiar pattern. People who value their personal attachments above objective knowledge seem to spend an inordinate amount of time finding reasons to dismiss the messenger when they don’t like the message.

Fortunately for Nate, all it took was one day, and reality came crashing down on his critics entire imaginary world.

For climate science, it will probably take a little longer…


105 Responses to “Trying to shoot the messenger”

  1. 51
    Hank Roberts says:

    > ECMWF

    Used because it reliably, consistently gives better medium-range weather predictions than the US models, that’s why it’s used.

    More poor sources don’t outweigh one known good source, if you’re being careful.

    http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2012/03/us-fallen-behind-in-numerical-weather.html

    “carefule” indeed.

  2. 52
    Jaime Frontero says:

    Nate Silver is not the ‘new kid’ people appear to believe. Politically, he’s been making predictions – correctly – for four US election cycles: he first appeared on Daily Kos in early November of 2006. I have personally been following him since then.

    But his model development began long before that, in sports. He has said that sports became too easy for him, and politics was much more of a challenge.

    [Response:A rather arrogant thing to say if he in fact said it. Baseball for example provides plenty of challenges in prediction, and he pretty clearly does not understand the difference between prediction and cause and effect explanation in statistical analysis, based on his book chapter on prediction in climate change--Jim]

    I will also point out that he is a [avoiding spam word here] cardsharp of some repute.

    On a more entertaining note, I posit (as an unfalsifiable musing) that our Mr. Silver is one small step in the direction of an eventual Hari Seldon.

  3. 53
    Richard Goodale says:

    Thanks for the reply to my comment #46. The reference to Pinatubo surprises me as I thought that the after effects were short term (2-3 years) and not anything of long term effect. Did/do the state of the art climate models predict that? Would today’s climate be any different if Pinatubo had not erupted in 1991?

    [Response: The predictability of the response to Pinatubo is well outside the realm of weather forecasting, and given the very large (though transient) signal, the response is a good test for climate models. It involves fast feedbacks like water vapour feedbacks, radiation perturbations, ocean heat uptake (or loss in this case) etc. It is also undoubtedly true that the effect on total ocean heat content numbers have a lasting impact, so yes, the climate is a little bit different, though that wasn't the point I was making. The impacts were predicted ahead of time, and so this was a true 'out-of-sample' validation, and provides a great counter-example to arguments about climate being unpredictable because weather forecasts break down after a week or so. - gavin]

  4. 54
    t_p_hamilton says:

    Dan H suggests we look at the difference in long-range Sandy forecasts between the European model and the US.

    Dan Vergano at USA Today, an excellent science reporter by the way, had an article on this:

    “”It’s embarrassing, we should have the best forecasts on the planet. And it has an economic cost,” says meteorologist Cliff Mass of the University of Washington in Seattle. Hurricane Sandy’s losses are now estimated at $10 billion by catastrophe-estimating firm EQECAT, in Oakland, with more than 7 million people without power in mid-Atlantic states in the storm’s aftermath.

    The European center’s prediction was made on more powerful computers, and ran on higher-resolution models of the weather that simulated the future over longer time periods, beyond eight days, than the one employed by the federal National Weather Service. The European model is widely seen as the best at predicting hurricanes, Mass and others say, as demonstrated with Hurricane Isaac in late August.”

    Lack of investment in science results inferior research – whuddathunkit?

  5. 55

    #51-#55:

    I suppose Canadian readers may be entitled to a small measure of satisfaction at being able to hang in, more or less, with the big dogs in NWP, even if at the back of the pack. But given current government support for science (especially science with connections to environmental questions) one may wonder how long that will be the case.

  6. 56
    SecularAnimist says:

    Craig Nazor wrote: “By the time the effects of AGCC are so obvious that they visibly support its already undeniably high degree of scientific certainty, it will be too late to do much to stop AGCC’s worst effects.”

    The effects are already that obvious. So I can only hope you are wrong in saying that means it is too late to stop the worst.

  7. 57
    Frank Grober says:

    The situations are very different. My impression is that people who conduct political polls are having to modify how they do them to deal with difficulties in getting a representative sample from causes like the growing numbers of voters who have cell phones, but no land lines. It looks like they did a pretty good job in getting that representative sample, but it is clearly still a work in progress. I wanted Obama to win, but I was not sure he was likely to win as I followed the accounts of polling and campaign organization. The issues pundits had with the polls and models were also issues they typically worked on whereas many critics of climate change models seem to have no plausible credentials in climate matters.I could easily forgive someone who was emotionally invested in a Romney win for thinking their candidate was ahead. In terms of rejecting predictions made by a large majority of serious climate researchers that have been endorsed by dozens of national science academies and major league scientific societies that’s very different. The predictions have stayed fundamentally the same for many years and any significant questions about the science behind them could be discussed at great length. I think the quibbles on polls and models are easier to understand than continued mindless denials on climate change.

  8. 58
    SecularAnimist says:

    Frank Grober wrote: “I think the quibbles on polls and models are easier to understand than continued mindless denials on climate change.”

    There is nothing hard to understand about the continued denial of climate change.

    It originates from the fossil fuel corporations, who want to perpetuate business-as-usual consumption of their products for as long as possible, because they stand to rake in trillions of dollars from doing so.

    They pay the organized pseudo-skeptics, pseudo-ideologues and pseudo-scientists to churn out the denialist propaganda, which is embraced by a mass audience that has been relentlessly programmed for a generation to unquestioningly believe whatever the “right wing” media tells them and to reject all other sources of information.

    Recent opinion polls suggest that they are beginning to lose the propaganda battle, as increasing numbers of Americans recognize the reality of global warming and climate change, and view it as a serious problem — in large part because the public is seeing the connection between global warming and the onslaught of “weather of mass destruction”.

    But if you look at any general interest blog, or any Facebook post where global warming is discussed, you will see that there is still a significant hard core of deniers spouting all the tired old talking points. (I imagine this site gets a lot of that too, but the moderators spare us from seeing it all.)

  9. 59
    Dan H. says:

    Frank,
    I am not sure that the process is all that different. Read the following on climate models:

    http://www.agu.org/journals/ms/ms1208/2012MS000154/2012MS000154.pdf

    Are not the polls tuned in a similar fashion? As more information is obtained (cell phones vs. land lines for example), the results are tuned to attempt to match reality. A similar process occurs in climate modelling. Those that fail to adjust their models (polls) based on new data, will find themselves falling behind those that do. In the last few days of polling data, most polls predicted the outcome within their margin of error. Even the much-maligned Gallup poll, which had Romney leading 50-49 with a 2 percentage point margin of error, found the final vote tally falling within their uncertainty range.

    [Response: This is nothing like how climate models are tuned. Please read the paper you cite. - gavin]

  10. 60
    Patrick 027 says:

    Fox News anchor/host (which one?) stumbles onto Grand Unified Field Theory of what’s being going on in the Right-Wing:

    http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/wed-november-7-2012-nate-silver
    Megyn Kelly to Karl Rove (emphasis mine):
    “Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better or is this real?”

  11. 61
    Patrick 027 says:

    ~ was approx 5:30 in the video.

  12. 62
    Patrick 027 says:

    … on a related point, remember that bumper sticker

    ‘I believe Rush Limbaugh
    2+2=5′

    - Isn’t that giving him too much credit? Only an error of 25 %.
    Maybe it should be

    2+2=-5*i

    Or

    2 + apples = intergalactic starfish hunter

    Okay, I’m done.

  13. 63
    Tom Scharf says:

    Curiously from the chapter in his book “The Signal and the Noise”, he is not a great fan of climate science predictions. Strange that he would be used as a bludgeon against “deniers” here. Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.

    [Response: There are a few errors in his climate science chapter - both in describing what the models do and in assessing what I said to him. Once the election furor dies down it might be worth getting into the details of this. But I imagine that he's a little preoccupied right now. - gavin]

  14. 64
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Frank Grober,
    if you do not understand the science behind climate change, or if you do not understand the methodology of the polls, then denial of either becomes easy.

    And even if you do understand the underlying method/rationale/science, you can convince yourself that your “enemies” have applied it improperly either innocently or for more nefarious purposes.

    Humans are not rational animals but rather rationalizeing ones. That is why scientific methodology is so important. It yields reliable understanding in most cases.

  15. 65
    dhogaza says:

    There are a few errors in his climate science chapter – both in describing what the models do and in assessing what I said to him. Once the election furor dies down it might be worth getting into the details of this.

    Michael Mann put up a critique on his facebook page. It might be worthwhile to write a more in-depth critique for Real Climate. I think it’s a given that Silver’s climate science chapter is going to gain a lot of prominence given his steady rise in public stature, and I’m almost surprised that Watts’ isn’t jumping up and down in public blogosphere glee over the fact.

    [Response:See here for Mike's: commentary on Nate's book --eric]

  16. 66
    Craig Nazor says:

    SecularAnimist – To be more clear, I should have written: “By the time the effects of AGCC are so obvious to the majority of the voting American public that they visibly support AGCC’s already undeniably high degree of scientific certainty, it will be too late to do much to stop AGCC’s worst effects.” The effects are indeed getting more obvious, but we still have not yet reached critical mass for decisive action. Critical mass will have been reached when the majority of Americans support some form of financial device to include the full cost of carbon pollution in the cost of the dirty energy produced by carbon-based fuels. And, yes, it may indeed be too late to stop the worst effects of AGCC. But since we cannot yet know if we are too late or not with any reasonable degree of certainty, the only intelligent choice is to continue to demand stronger action, and fast.

  17. 67
    Hank Roberts says:

    > it will be too late to do much to stop AGCC’s worst effects

    No.

    You didn’t notice? Where were you when the worst were stopped?
    That would be CFCs. If that weren’t stopped we’d be toast.

    There’s much more for us, and others, to do

    It’s not too late to do _any_ of it.

    > it will be too late to do much

    No. Bloomberg pointed it out bluntly:

    “It’s global warming, stupid.”

  18. 68
    BillS says:

    Re: #12 Carl & Gavin

    Carl, if you don’t like statistical projections you can always “put your money where your mouth is” and place a bet at http://www.intrade.com

    For instance, here’s a climate “prediction” for 2013: http://www.intrade.com/v4/markets/contract/?contractId=706206

  19. 69
    Len Conly says:

    How long before the RNC files a FOIA request for Nate Silver’s emails?

  20. 70
    Hank Roberts says:

    JOURNAL OF ADVANCES IN MODELING EARTH SYSTEMS, VOL. 4, M00A01. doi:10.1029/2012MS000154, 2012
    is the Mauritsen paper Dan H. mis-describes above at 9 Nov 2012 at 2:10 PM
    It’s attracting attention from blogscientists currently at one of the usual places; you know how to find that stuff.

    The paper has also been cited by scientists

  21. 71
    Hank Roberts says:

    > one of the usual places
    Well, make that four of the usual blogscience sites excited about it.

    A PhD student in climate science also wrote a commentary, worth a look, that turned up in that same search result: Angus Ferraro at the U. of Reading.

  22. 72
    Susan Anderson says:

    Given that it’s a matter of some urgency that the public become better informed about climate change as the effort to improve our prospects requires massive and coordinated effort (as well as individual initiative) it is unfortunate that Nate Silver’s excellent statistical work does not address the objective part of the science.

    When Dr. Mann’s response came out, I found it fair-minded almost to a fault, as you all usually are (unlike advocates for anti-science). I’ve been a Nate Silver fan since 2007, and I can understand a bit, but it demonstrates that political science is not quite the same thing as climate science. Political science still fails to address the real facts staring us all in the face and studied by objective analytical standards.

    I don’t think the FOIAs will flow to that quarter as the conclusions do not undermine the moneyed interests bent on delaying true perception of reality.

  23. 73

    #71: “The impacts of parameter tuning on climate sensitivity was less than anticipated.”

    Awwww…. why do I suspect this will be the least-quoted sentence of the entire paper?

  24. 74
    Russell says:

    The geeks in Ohio should have warned the Republican party about David Frum two decades ago .

    Perhaps the latest electoral crack up will jog the elephant’s memory as to the last policy disaster he crafted.

  25. 75
    John E. Pearson says:

    The funniest moment in the election was when Karl Rove waddled down the hallway sputtering and fuming to where the Fox News stats guys who called Ohio for Fox News were. BUt that isn’t why I’m posting today. I’m posting because I stumbled across this which I thought was good news.

    68% of Americans see climate change as a “serious problem,” according to a poll released on Friday.

    The poll was conducted by Rasmussen on Monday, the day before the U.S. presidential election.

    Of the 1,000 likely voters surveyed, 68% said they thought climate change is a somewhat serious or very serious problem. 30% of respondents said it was not a serious problem.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/global-warming-poll-climate-change_n_2105600.html

  26. 76
    Hank Roberts says:

    > #71: “The impacts of parameter tuning on climate
    > sensitivity was less than anticipated.”

    Bayesian?

  27. 77
  28. 78
    Russell says:

    Homage seulment a Gericault, s’il vous plait.

  29. 79
    Vendicar Decaruan says:

    Rush Limbaugh’s comments on Nate Silver.

    Truly worth listening to the mind of the typical Republican.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6VMUrqUqdCM&feature=related

  30. 80
    Mark E says:

    @Gavins response to #12 (laughing)… well of course 538 was the only one you (and I) were listening to! There was no incentive to look for evidence of things we did NOT want to hear!

    [Response: you confuse an objective assessment of the evidence leading to a particular conclusion with subjective searches for evidence to justify a prior conclusion. All the data was available at 538 and each step was discussed and justified - caveats included. Something demonstrably not true at 'unskewedpolls' and similarly partisan sites and columns. - gavin]

  31. 81
    DGH says:

    @ Tom Scharf

    Nate Silver is no more an expert in election science than he is in climate science. He an economist and statistician whose lone peer reviewed paper on the topic of elections was published by an economics journal. He’s not a messenger in that he has no authority to deliver the message.

    I should think he’s an auditor who leveraged other people’s data to elevate himself to the level of a cult leader. Fans of Nate are generally unqualified to critique his methodology. They simply accept his “message” because they prefer the election outcome that he forecast and thereby allow him authority that he hasn’t earned or demonstrated.

    [Response: It might be more helpful not to get too carried away here. Silver is not a cult leader, nor is he infallible, but rather he applied some objectivity to a field in dire need of it. That makes him impressive, not super-human. - gavin]

    [Response:Along the lines of Gavin's point, with which I agree, I hereby retract my previous statement about Nate Silver, especially since I did not even read his book chapter on climate change, upon which I based my statements above-- that's a big no no on my part.--Jim]

  32. 82
    Susan Anderson says:

    Gericault c’est merveilleux!

    Nonetheless, the raft is a great image for the temps perdu we refuse to face.

  33. 83
    Susan Anderson says:

    Just reread Mike Mann’s response to the climate change chapter in Nate Silver’s book three times. It is well written, thorough and clear. I cannot hope that Silver’s increased popularity will not reify his failures of proportion and true skepticism in that arena but hope all will work to minimize the damage done here. I speak as a Nate Silver fan, but also someone furious about the traduction of science at the hands of people who think they know more than they do, and won’t admit their bias is not a factchecker.

    It is impossible to briefly excerpt it, but I hope even people like Tom Sharf will read it carefully before embracing opinion over reality.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-e-mann/nate-silver-climate-change_b_1909482.html

    ps. DGH, we owe it to ourselves to accept what Nate Silver does well despite his failure to be properly skeptical about climate denial and particularly Armstrong with his Heartland connections (remember the Unabomber?). Despite it’s apparent weakness, truth is our strongest shield.

  34. 84
    T Marvell says:

    It’s tricky to say who is correct when polling data are concerned, and the accuracy of a poll (comparing it to the final result) is largely a matter of luck and timing. I wouldn’t want to use this situation as an analogy to the climate change debate.

    The polls are all over the place -
    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/10/which-polls-fared-best-and-worst-in-the-2012-presidential-race/?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20121111

    And there are large short-term swings –
    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2012/president/us/general_election_romney_vs_obama-1171.html#poll
    Obama apparently went from well ahead in the popular vote before the first debate to a couple of points behind afterwards. Then he seems to have gotten a big boost in the final days, which would only show up in the last polls if at all. A poll showing that Obama was behind on, say, Nov. 3, might have been correct at the time.

  35. 85
    dhogaza says:

    I should think he’s an auditor who leveraged other people’s data

    Duh. That’s what he says he does. Depends on other people’s polls and some other data he’s not entirely clear about (the so-called “secret sauce”). But fundamentally, he is a poll aggregator and claims to be nothing other than that.

    to elevate himself to the level of a cult leader. Fans of Nate are generally unqualified to critique his methodology. They simply accept his “message” because they prefer the election outcome that he forecast and thereby allow him authority that he hasn’t earned or demonstrated.

    Well, if two presidential elections in a row aren’t good enough for you, you can always go visit Sam Wang’s site. He’s called three in a row. He gave obama a >99% chance of winning this year.

    And there are others taking a statistical approach that have done well, too.

    There is such thing as “election science”. On the other hand, it’s no surprise that given sufficient polling data that one can predict the electoral college vote with a great deal of certainty. The mainstream media types were focused mainly on the popular vote, which is *meaningless* in our system. Post-election analysis says that Romney would’ve had to have won the popular vote by about 2% to have a chance of winning the electoral vote, and of course that was the republican pundit argument – polls were skewed towards obama.

    Well, they weren’t skewed. They were accurate. Deal.

    Actually I hope the GOP leadership believes the kind of stuff DGH is spewing. They’ll lose again four years from now if they don’t learn anything from the last two elections …

  36. 86
    Russell says:

    The title of the post-election Bloomberg Businessweek parody has been changed in homage to Hizzoners copyright lawyers

  37. 87
    john byatt says:

    The Australian take on the US election

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4359732.html

    .

  38. 88
    Leonard Evens says:

    The Australian take on the US election

    http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4359732.html

    I certainly hope this isn’t a typical Australian take on our election. It is so absolutely wrong in so many ways, it is hard to see how someone could be so far off and still be taken seriously. He seems to buy into every bit of nonsense that our lunatic fringe claims to be true.

    I hope some Australian will tell us this guy is considered a nut in Australia.

    [Response: He is comedian, and that is satire. - gavin]

  39. 89
    CRV9 says:

    @#75, “Of the 1,000 likely voters surveyed, 68% said they thought climate change is a somewhat serious or very serious problem. 30% of respondents said it was not a serious problem.”

    No, no, no. Now is the time to tighten the grip. Now, the populace are willing to listen to what you have to say. Now is the time to explain the basics of global warming/climate change, the big picture of it.
    Now is the time to create your surrogags among the masses who understand the big picture, not mere talikng points.

    Otherwise, 6 months later, they will come back with their old arguments and you’d have to start all over again.

  40. 90
    Charlie H says:

    If the President is able to start any initiatives, any thoughts on what he should do?

    Specifically, where might money be spent on climate change research? Would it be most important to get new or replacement satellites in orbit? Or is there something else that should be done if a little money is available?

  41. 91
    coolstar says:

    As others have pointed out, Silver is really just in the middle of the pack when it comes to the accuracy of poll aggregators. He missed two of the Senate races this year bc his model uses parameters with no predictive power. Personally, I much prefer Sam Wang’s work as he’s a real scientist, neuroscientist at Princeton, with an innate understanding of modeling that Silver lacks, which isn’t surprising given Silver’s undergrad degree in economics from Chicago. Dr. Wang correctly called all the Senate races this year. Silver gets so much press, good and bad, for two reasons a) personally, he’s the perfect stereotype of the type of nerd that Rethugs bullied in h.s. and b) he now works for the New York Times.

  42. 92
    David Lewis says:

    Nate is the toast of the town now, but I can’t help but remember that this is a climate blog.

    If we could understand why Nate can on the one hand do excellent work to find the “signal” in all the noise of a US election campaign and on the other, blow it so badly in the chapter on climate change in his book The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – but Some Don’t civilization would not be in the trouble it is in over climate change.

    Michael Mann summed up Silver’s ignorant blundering in his FiveThirtyEight: The Number of Things Nate Silver Gets Wrong About Climate Change

    Mann says:

    Nate parrots the flawed arguments of J. Scott Armstrong. Nate tells us that James Hansen got it wrong (“overestimated global warming”) in his 1988 Congressional testimony. Nate doesn’t understand what is in the IPCC AR4 but writes about it anyway. Eg.: he says “the IPCC settles on just one forecast that is endorsed by the entire group”. Nate claims scientists say “relatively little” is known about El Nino. “He repeatedly”, according to Mann, “falls victim to the fallacy that tracking year-to-year fluctuations in temperature (the noise) can tell us something about predictions of global warming trends (the signal)”. Nate tells us the IPCC projections have been “too aggressive”. And why not dump on Gore: Nate says Al exaggerated the science. And in case Gavin hasn’t been kicked around lately: Nate says Gavin Schmidt is “a sarcastic individual”, who is “unwilling to put his money where his mouth is”. (Nate used to make his living as a player in games of chance.). Nate implies, according to Mann, that “scientists have a motivation to overstate the science”.

    And “most disappointing” to Mann, “of all”, Nate falls for the false balance lie. Mann says there is an industry funded attack machine the scientific community is trying to fight back against. Nate Silver “characterizes this simply as a battle between consensus scientists and skeptical individuals, as if we’re talking about two worthy adversaries in a battle. Contrast this to the way Nate talked about the Republicans who were attacking him and his predictions before the election results were known.

    Mann summed up Nate’s work on climate: “Nate could have applied his considerable acumen and insight to shed light on this important topic. But the result was instead a very mixed bag of otherwise useful commentary marred by needless misconceptions and inappropriately laundered denialist memes“.

    Nate has time now that the election is over. I think he should respond to Michael Mann’s critique. As Mann says, it is an “important topic”.

  43. 93
    coolstar says:

    My prediction: Nate Silver will respond to real climate experts the same way he has responded to Sam Wang’s criticisms of his electoral models: by either ignoring them, going snarky, or muttering balderdash. He’s never been known for admitting when he’s been wrong, something most scientists learn very early in their training. His ever increasing fame seems unlikely to change this behavior. As Dr. Wang keeps reminding us, making election predictions, especially the day before, isn’t exactly rocket science.

  44. 94
    Leonard Evens says:

    “I hope some Australian will tell us this guy is considered a nut in Australia.

    [Response: He is comedian, and that is satire. - gavin]”

    I understood he is a comedian and was trying to engage in satire. What appalled me is his list of comments typical of Tea Party supporters. I assume he doesn’t believe those things, but why would he be go through them for an Australian audience? I hope they are not as familiar to Australians as they are, unfortunately, to Americans.

  45. 95
    Radge Havers says:

    Tidbit from down under:

    “Those studies have generally focused on the US population, but the public acceptance of climate change is fairly similar in Australia. There, a new study has looked at how societal tendencies can play a role in maintaining mistaken beliefs. The authors of the study have found evidence that two well-known behaviors—the “false consensus” and “pluralistic ignorance”—are helping to shape public opinion in Australia.

    “False consensus is the tendency of people to think that everyone else shares their opinions. This can arise from the fact that we tend to socialize with people who share our opinions, but the authors note that the effect is even stronger “when we hold opinions or beliefs that are unpopular, unpalatable, or that we are uncertain about.” In other words, our social habits tend to reinforce the belief that we’re part of a majority, and we have a tendency to cling to the sense that we’re not alone in our beliefs.

    “Pluralistic ignorance is similar, but it’s not focused on our own beliefs. Instead, sometimes the majority of people come to believe that most people think a certain way, even though the majority opinion actually resides elsewhere.”
    “Everyone agrees with us on climate change—especially when we’re wrong

  46. 96
    MarkB says:

    Nate Silver is top-notch with statistical analysis of polls and election forecasts. I’ve been following his blog on and off since 2008.

    The first hint I got that his grasp of climate science (or meteorology I suppose) might be a little shaky was this proposed bet to skeptics.

    http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/07/challenge-to-climate-change-skeptics.html

    Those familiar with U.S. monthly outlooks can easily spot the folly to this bet. There are often regions within the U.S. that are projected to be below normal, and the starting month was no exception. Those who’s “hometown” is in one of those regions will be at an advantage in taking such a bet. This isn’t all that difficult a concept, but Nate was sloppy there. I’m not ready to say Nate should stick to statistics and stay out of climate science, but from this, and what I’ve read about his book chapter, he needs to make a much better effort in understanding the science.

  47. 97
    john byatt says:

    #95

    ” I hope they are not as familiar to Australians as they are, unfortunately, to Americans.”

    They certainly are Leonard, we keep files on you,
    The satire worked because Australians are very familiar with US politics, we even have those calling themselves The Billy Tea party”

    Billy tea was an old Australian bushman’s cup of tea brewed up in a billy can over a campfire.

  48. 98
    Hank Roberts says:

    > False consensus … can arise from the fact that
    > we tend to socialize with people who share our opinions

    Remember too that If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer.

    You see advertisements — and search results — and online news stories — biased to suit the online marketers your online services sell you to. If you defined by your search history, browser, computer, installed applications and who knows what else.

    Try Panopticlick

    Try creating several different user accounts, on different IP addresses — and compare the results you get.

  49. 99
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    Several comments seem to be based on not knowing that the President was ahead all along. This link
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/05/1156318/-ELECTORAL-COLLEGE-and-BATTLEGROUNDS-SUMMARY-November-5-2012-FINAL-Edition-BARACK

    although missing a helpful graphic that was originally there, shows a graph of the Electoral College vote (EV) projections (only from October 21, but a graph starting earlier would have the same general pattern).

    The graph is based on averaging (I think) ten or so public EV projectors. The 10 projections at the time of the post were shown individually in the now missing graphic IIRC. Similar posts had been made earlier. It was free public knowledge, not based on Nate alone but all the “Nates”, that the president was ahead all along.

  50. 100
    Pete Dunkelberg says:

    But I still have a question. Were all the R’s totally oblivious and shocked up until the losing moment and even beyond? All of them, even the highest? By now most people know of Rove’s apparent meltdown:

    http://www.juancole.com/2012/11/karl-roves-math-that-mades-republicans-feel-better-until-reality-set-in-daily-show-video.html

    Rove has reason for concern. He personally encouraged wealthy individuals to contribute large sums with an implied promise of a return on their investment. And by the way it seems that any unspent money could go away somewhere without a trace.
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/DC-Decoder/Decoder-Wire/2012/1114/Stephen-Colbert-shuts-super-PAC.-Where-did-the-money-go

    Finally, I really want to know what you think of this:

    http://maineprogressiveswarehouse.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/why-foxnews-faux-news-planned-staged-scripted-outrage-breaking-news-during-election-night-coverage/

    Could Megyn’s excursion, with full audio and video coverage have happened without advance planning? If not, how much of the whole thing was real?


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