May 13, 2013

Jason Richwine and Nate Silver

A friend writes:
It occurred to me that we haven't heard from the greatest statistician who ever lived -- Nate Silver -- on the Richwine affair.  
It seems like it was only a few months ago that the right was the party that was totally ignorant of stats -- and it was the left that owned the future because they knew how to use math.  
Strange turn.

23 comments:

GOP goes the weasel said...

Heritage Foundation is a story of the cowardice of conservatives.

Jim Bowery said...

All facts are facts but some facts are more hateful than others. That's why hypocrisy is a moral virtue.

GOP goes the weasel said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsFFiEXaNIk

Anonymous said...

No doubt Nate Silver is desperately trying to produce stats that will prove Richwine incorrect. I doubt he will be able to though.

Anonymous said...

By the way, I am a pro football fan.

Lat yaear Nate Silver's playoff NFL predictions based on his statistical analysis were very poor. If you listened to him you would have lost your shirt.

Admittingly, pro football is difficult to predict and handicap espescially when teams are roughly evenly matched as they are in the playoffs.

Election results where minorities vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates are easier to predict.

rightsaidfred said...

'Cause it's not about the facts, or the stats: it's all about the psychological control.

The three girls in Cleveland aren't the only ones chained to a wall.

x said...

is nate silver even that good/brilliant? i know he's predicted a few elections but every liberal swpl friend i know is hailing him as the greatest genius of our time.

don't komment kontrol me again steve :-) !!

NOTA said...

Statistics are irrelevant. Nobody wanted Richwine canned because they thought his research didn't use statistics carefully enough. Nor would such a flaw have any chance at all to make for a big public incident either. You can keep your job despite any number of annoyed posts on Andrew Gellman's blog or snarky takedowns on Good Math, Bad Math.

The immediate cause of his firing, and the justification that keeps many people from objecting to it, was the topic he researched and his conclusions. I assume the deeper cause of his firing was that the recent anti-amnesty report pissed off important donors and powerful people within the conservative movement, and thus made it rewarding to get rid of him.

The claim that nobody at Heritage bothered to read his dissertation title before hiring him sounds so bad, it might almost be true. Who would tell that lie on themselves? It's like a doctor defending himself in a malpractice trial by explaining that he really never went to medical school, he just forged his diploma, and that's why it's not reasonable to have expected him to catch that appendectomy case in time.

Anonymous said...

And Andrew Gelman?

Here's his only post on Richwine. It's from 2009, about Richwine on intelligence of conservatives vs. liberals (with you as a commenter and Gelman interacting with you):

I do, however, agree with Richwine’s general conclusion, which is that you’re probably not going to learn much by comparing average IQ’s of different groups. As Richwine writes, “The bottom line is that a political debate will never be resolved by measuring the IQs of groups on each side of the issue.” African-Americans have low IQ’s, on average, Jews have high IQ’s on average, and both groups vote for the Democrats. Latinos have many socially conservative views but generally don’t let those views get in the way of voting for Democrats.

http://andrewgelman.com/2009/12/04/are_liberals_sm/

FirkinRidiculous said...

Steve, whatever happened to Jason Malloy after he posted that impressive rebuttal to the critics of James Watson?

It's not clear if Richwine jumped or was pushed from Heritage, but I suspect they gave him a decent payoff, and he'll get back into mainstream employment once things blow over.

Anonymous said...

A talk with Jason Richwine: 'I do not apologize for any of my work'

vandelay said...

GOP goes the weasel, you mean, "Heritage Foundation is a story of the COWARDICE of conservatives."

Roger said...

From IQ and the Nativist Movement:
It beyond belief that, in the year 2013, there are still some that want to posit that there is a genetic basis for race. Even more surprisingly, these arguments come endorsed with a seal of approval by some of the nation’s top universities, like Harvard in this case. As an alumnus of the Kennedy School and a scholar of race and Hispanic identity, I feel obliged to provide a response. ...

Yes, we should take the genomics revolution as a challenge to simple social-constructivist views of race, but we cannot make the error of thinking that it validates a reification of the complex sociopolitical categories that we call ‘races.’ ...

Ethically, it is unacceptable for a modern liberal-democratic state to promote high-IQ selectivity in immigration, for this policy advocates unequal treatment rather than uniform standards for all ...

“Race” is a concept that involves normative, political, historical, cultural, economic, and social forces in a complex interplay. It cannot be bandied about willy-nilly with no sensitivity to them. ...

It is time for antediluvian academics to step aside and give more space to the new generations of scholars that are able to engage in a critique of the all-too-dominant idea that race is merely a social construct but without falling into an antiquated racial essentialism.

Drunk Idiot said...

Anonymous (5/13/13, 11:27 AM) wrote:

"[Last] yaear Nate Silver's playoff NFL predictions based on his statistical analysis were very poor. If you listened to him you would have lost your shirt.

Admittingly, pro football is difficult to predict and handicap espescially when teams are roughly evenly matched as they are in the playoffs.

Election results where minorities vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates are easier to predict.
"

Yeah, Silver's widely-hailed NY Times statistical analysis of college football fan bases was embarrassingly bad. One of its glaring flaws was that it proclaimed Georgia Tech to be one of the most popular college football programs in the country (GT has lukewarm fan support), and estimated Tech's fan base to far exceed the infinitely more popular Georgia Bulldogs' fan base.

His reasoning was that Georgia Tech is in Atlanta, and since Atlanta has the largest TV market in Georgia, Georgia Tech is, thus, the most popular college football team in Georgia.

But anybody who follows college football should have known that Silver's ridiculous assumption got things completely wrong.

Following Siver's logic, the TCU Horned Frogs or the SMU Mustangs should be more popular than the Texas Longhorns, since SMU and TCU are in Dallas and Ft. Worth, respectively, and since the DFW Metroplex is the largest TV market in Texas (even though Houston is the most populous city in Texas).

That alone should have caused there to be at least some level of skepticism about Silver's supposed infallibility ... or at least with regard to his analysis of non-political subjects, but nobody seemed to notice.

In fact, Silver's piece is still widely cited as gospel by swaths of college football writers and fans (who should know better).

x wrote...

"is nate silver even that good/brilliant? i know he's predicted a few elections but every liberal swpl friend i know is hailing him as the greatest genius of our time."

Exactly. Nothing to add.

rob said...

FirkinRidiculous said...
Steve, whatever happened to Jason Malloy after he posted that impressive rebuttal to the critics of James Watson?

It's not clear if Richwine jumped or was pushed from Heritage, but I suspect they gave him a decent payoff, and he'll get back into mainstream employment once things blow over.


I wouldn't be too sure of that. People can get really angry at someone who gave them good advice. Richwine's situation will be analogous to Howard Dean's. Dean isn't very prominent in the party because he was right. His very existence reminds people that they were wrong. Richwine will catch tons of blame. 'We always new hispanics wouldn't work out very well, but we had to support moar Mexicans because Jason Richwine thought it was a bad idea, and we didn't want that racist to win.' Sort of like how some people don't realize that Enoch Powell's infamous speech was a warning about how bad immigration would be; they think it was a magic spell that made immigration turn into a bad idea.

A stereotype threat of one: If Jason Richwine recants, and hispanics don't smarter, then it's pretty obvious Richwine's contrition isn't sincere.

Drunk Idiot said...

Election results where minorities vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates are easier to predict.

Actually, come to think of it, most mainstream conservative prognosticators thought that minorities would not, in fact, turn out to vote in large numbers in 2012.

Supposed conservative sages -- including election gurus like Michael Barone -- thought that minorities would stay home because of a host of factors like:

- the stagnating economy

- black unemployment rates that were higher under Obama in 2012 than under Bush

- supposed disillusionment over Obama's broken promises and over minorities' worsening economic prospects

- Obama's supposedly desperate descent into almost absurdly negative and mendacious campaigning and advertising

- supposedly non-replicable "novelty factor": voting for the First Black President may have energized minorities and young people in 2008, so said the conservative pundits, but the novelty factor would be gone in 2012, so Obama's coalition would stay home and smoke weed, or something, instead

Anonymous said...

"Sort of like how some people don't realize that Enoch Powell's infamous speech was a warning about how bad immigration would be; they think it was a magic spell that made immigration turn into a bad idea."

This is definitely the mainstream neoconservative consensus. "Hispanics don't vote for us because of all those mean neanderhals who say Hispanics don't vote for us!"

FWG said...

Drunk Idiot, as a huge GT supporter originally from GA, I can assert we are nowhere near as numerous as UGA fans. It may have been a lot closer circa 1950, but not anymore. 75-25 UGA is a decent guess as to how it breaks down. Did Silver really posit this?

Anonymous said...

"From IQ and the Nativist Movement:"

Roger, I assume you are posting this link for the amusement of iSteve readers. The piece is monumentally lame - a parody of its type.

But there is a sound thwacking across the side of the head from commenter Lenny that is worth reading.

Gilbert P.

roundeye said...

For all the love that Silver gets, one must point out that he had a decent burrito blog.

http://burritobracket.blogspot.com/

THat said, he gets all sorts of weird things inside his burrito. Creama for example should never be allowed in a burrito. It's gross.

Hal Vendor said...

"is nate silver even that good/brilliant? i know he's predicted a few elections but every liberal swpl friend i know is hailing him as the greatest genius of our time."

I have neither the training nor the time to evaluate Silver's work on my own, beyond the "duh" observation that his predictions of the 2008 and 2012 electoral vote by state certainly were impressive and seem to have bested other models. That said, in my field, the arts, panting SWPL acclaim of someone's alleged genius is a fairly reliable contraindicator of same, so...

Drunk Idiot said...

FWG wrote,

"Drunk Idiot, as a huge GT supporter originally from GA, I can assert we are nowhere near as numerous as UGA fans. It may have been a lot closer circa 1950, but not anymore. 75-25 UGA is a decent guess as to how it breaks down. Did Silver really posit this?"

Yes, it was in Silver's big NY Times article from 2011 that analyzed college football viewership as it related to the push for conference expansion.

There were a lot of people who were critical of Silver's assumptions in that article when it came out, and the Georgia Tech goof was a point of contention for many in the sports blogosphere. But none of that has stopped people (usually SWPL college sports fans) from citing the article as gospel.

BTW, I planned to link the Silver article in question, but when I pulled it up and skimmed through it, both the chart that had shown GT as one of the most popular football programs in the country, and most of the text that explained why Tech warranted such a lofty ranking were nowhere to be found.

Apparently, somebody at the Times (maybe even Silver himself) figured out that Silver isn't infallible ... and got rid of the evidence.

Drunk Idiot said...

@roundeye wrote,

"For all the love that Silver gets, one must point out that he had a decent burrito blog.

http://burritobracket.blogspot.com/

That said, he gets all sorts of weird things inside his burrito. Creama for example should never be allowed in a burrito. It's gross.
"

Oh, there's no doubt that Mr. Silver probably gets all sorts of weird things in his burrito ... not the least of which is, uh, cream(y).

Not that there's anything wrong with that.