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Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Relaunches As Data Journalism Website

Unknown Lamer posted about 7 months ago | from the everyone-likes-data dept.

Stats 60

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "After a parting of ways with the New York Times after calling 50 out of 50 states right in the 2012 elections, Nate Silver has relaunched FiveThirtyEight as a website dedicated to data journalism under the auspices of ESPN. Silver has expanded his staff from two full-time journalists to 20 and instead of focusing on politics exclusively FiveThirtyEight's coverage will span five major subject areas — politics, economics, science, life and sports. According to Silver, his team has a broad set of skills and experience in methods that fall under the rubric of data journalism including statistical analysis, data visualization, computer programming and data-literate reporting. 'One of our roles will be to critique incautious uses of statistics when they arise elsewhere in news coverage. At other times, we'll explore ways that consumers can use data to their advantage and level the playing field against corporations and governments.' The site has launched with a variety of stories including 'Many Signs Pointed to Crimea Independence Vote — But Polls Didn't,' 'Building a Bracket Is Hard This Year, But We'll Help You Play the Odds,' 'Toilet Seat Covers: To Use or Not to Use,' and 'Three Rules to Make Sure Economic Data Aren't Bunk.'

The story that caught my eye was 'This Winter Wasn't the Coldest, But It Was One of the Most Miserable' with some good data visualization that showed that although average temperature may not have set records in the Northeast Corridor this winter, the intensity of the cold when it did hit was impressive. According to Matt Lanza although most statistics cite the winter of 1978-79 as the coldest in U.S. history, the winter of 2013-14 brought a rare combination of miseries that many of us hadn't seen in years, and some had never seen. It was colder than usual, it was extremely cold more often than usual, and it snowed more than usual in more places than usual. Traditionally, big snow winters occur in a couple regions. The East Coast might have great snows, while the Midwest is quiet. Snowfall this winter didn't discriminate; it blanketed just about everybody (outside the dry West and icier Mid-South). Look how many cities had not just a little more, but way more, than their normal snowfall."

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Buzzfeed titles! (3, Insightful)

N1AK (864906) | about 7 months ago | (#46514339)

Oh, for fucks sake now even statistical analysis articles have to come with these retarded click grabber buzzfeed style headlines. Next election we'll have a series of "You won't believe... what a Republican said", "Amazing facts that'll blow your mind about... the democratic party", "4 secrets that... Libertarians don't want you to know" :(

Re:15 SLASHDOT POSTS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514409)

I didn't use my mod points on..

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514413)

Hey.
Those links aren't clickable. Could you fix them?

Thanks.

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 7 months ago | (#46514565)

I know, it's a huge problem. But, I found this one weird trick that can fix it for you, permanently, and it's completely risk-free.

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

boarder8925 (714555) | about 7 months ago | (#46514737)

You Won't Believe the Way EmagGeek Avoids Seeing Shameless Clickbait Headlines!

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 months ago | (#46515069)

I guess I should post a suitable comment underneath so here goes:

Cynthia is right. I made 10k a week from working at home using his method http://weird.url/something_som... [weird.url]

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

xevioso (598654) | about 7 months ago | (#46518283)

I actually clicked that. You don't want to go there. Seriously.

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

QilessQi (2044624) | about 7 months ago | (#46515691)

Was it invented by a mom?

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514581)

Yeah, and the site design is almost as bad as /. beta.

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

phrostie (121428) | about 7 months ago | (#46515249)

lies, damn lies and statistics

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 7 months ago | (#46516387)

lies, damn lies and statistics

I came here to say this. A "data journalism" website sounds like nothing more than a new way to spin stories to some ideological bent while using "statistics" to seem more credible.

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 7 months ago | (#46518607)

If it came from nowhere, that would seem a reasonable suspicion. But Nate Silver's reputation for accurately predicting elections and being the "moneyball" guy backs up the claim to be non-partisan and statistics based.

I've won a fair amount of money gambling based on Nate's political stats. Whilst I'm very politically biased, basing decisions based on the stats meant I was able to avoid my own biases. Sadly Nate's rise to fame means that there won't be much value to be had this way in future.

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46576755)

If you don't know who Nate Silver is and his reputation then STFU

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46518925)

i don't know what a 538 is... but these morons have been spamming every "news" site for a weeks now.

they are completely pathetic. the product is crap and the people are crap. professional liars and salesmen (oxymoron)

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46529343)

538 - number of electoral votes

Nate Silver - dead on balls accurate polling statistics

You - moron

Re:Buzzfeed titles! (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 7 months ago | (#46518969)

UX Webdesign hipster-trons have laid waste to yet another well known IP. When will it end? When the internet implodes into a black hole of dyslex-o-vision whitespace sites, and buzzfeed headlines, NSA surveillance crawlers. The few of us left will have to take refuge on resurrected BBS boards.

colloidal silver making comeback as home remedy (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514433)

as we are still under the 'weather' http://www.globalresearch.ca/weather-warfare-beware-the-us-military-s-experiments-with-climatic-warfare/7561

Slashdot only allows anonymous users to post 1 times per day deepending on you

Hari Seldon (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514455)

Nate Silver aims to become Hari Seldon.

Re:Hari Seldon (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 7 months ago | (#46514585)

"Nate Silver aims to become Hari Seldon."

Psst! We are not allowed to know that, or it won't work.

The Second Foundation

Re:Hari Seldon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514605)

Nate Silver aims to become Hari Seldon.

Hari Seldon ran a Buzzfeed-clone?

Hari Seldon ... with a whole second foundation alo (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46515109)

This. He's not the only one though.. People like V. S. Subrahmanian [umd.edu] looking at Computational Analysis of Terrorist Groups [umd.edu] are only going to go deeper into this field, and it's only a matter of time before they apply this work to us. We're well on our way to a whole second foundation of them. (I leave it to the reader to draw parallels between various world governments and the old galactic empire, because it'll be different governments depending on your viewpoint.)

Aggregating the aggregators (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 7 months ago | (#46514545)

I guess no one's ever heard of auto correlation. If enough people say something is what everyone else believes then it becomes the truth.

Re:Aggregating the aggregators (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46514587)

I guess no one's ever heard of auto correlation. If enough people say something is what everyone else believes then it becomes the truth.

There is this curious phenomenon, known as 'reality', that is known to exhibit behavior wholly uncorrelated with human belief states. Often painful; but occasionally hilarious.

Re:Aggregating the aggregators (1)

blue trane (110704) | about 7 months ago | (#46514993)

I guess you don't believe you've fallen into the trap of "naive reality"?

Re:Aggregating the aggregators (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46516179)

I guess you don't believe you've fallen into the trap of "naive reality"?

No, not really. My assertion is merely that at least some aspects of 'reality' are not correlated with belief state. Not necessarily that they are 'knowable' in some terribly useful way, or otherwise epidemiologically tractable.

Well that was quick (2)

gnalre (323830) | about 7 months ago | (#46514555)

Errr, it's just disappeared. What's the statistical chances of that happening after being highligted on /.?

Re:Well that was quick (4, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 7 months ago | (#46514593)

Errr, it's just disappeared. What's the statistical chances of that happening after being highligted on /.?

Lower after beta than before beta, unfortunately.

Re:Well that was quick (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 7 months ago | (#46518563)

Doesn't matter. It's a blatant attempt to commercialize on the success of using this method in a very narrow field.

I read the article on minimum wages, and they left out some glaringly obvious factors, like how many on minimum wage are collecting government assistance of some kind. I mean, let's get real here. It's not realistic to discuss the economics of the one without taking the other into account.

Also, it's pretty hard for me to take seriously a website that requires you to log in via Facebook in order to leave a comment.

Translation of Summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514559)

He's becoming a bookie..

Re:Translation of Summary... (5, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46514751)

He's becoming a bookie..

From the New Devil's Dictionary:

bookie (noun), a statistician who has decided to make some real money.

Not exactly 50/50 (3, Insightful)

guises (2423402) | about 7 months ago | (#46514563)

After a parting of ways with the New York Times after calling 50 out of 50 states right in the 2012 elections

I don't think it's nitpicking to point out that he actually called 49/49 states right. He had Florida as a toss-up, with a statistically insignificant lean towards Obama. This is an important distinction as it's one that constantly burns statisticians - that element of randomness is always there and eventually he's going to be wrong about something important, especially when people read a minuscule lean in one direction as a prediction. People are going to use that as a opportunity to dismiss him, since there's a political motivation there to do so, just as they dismissed him prior to the last election.

He had on interview on Colbert just before the Superbowl and I thought it was interesting to see just how careful was being not to make even the suggestion of a call about how the game was going to go.

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (3, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46514681)

He knew the game was rigged. How else could the @#$%! Seahawks win? He also knew that if he said anything he'd find himself at the bottom of Puget Sound. Paul Allen is way more vicious than any mafioso.

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46515337)

That's right. The mob will just whack you. Paul Allen will make you use Windows 8.

I'd rather take my chances with the mob.

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (1)

T.E.D. (34228) | about 7 months ago | (#46515415)

He knew the game was rigged. How else could the @#$%! Seahawks win?

They had a much better defense. If you know nothing else about two teams in the superbowl, root for the one with the better defense.

In fact, Nate actually did predict this [nytimes.com] , with a 70% certainty the previous year. I guess he forgot. :-)

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46515605)

He knew the game was rigged. How else could the @#$%! Seahawks win?

I'm from Denver. You can ALWAYS give the Broncos a 50% chance of losing any game, under any conditions, against any opponent.

It's just that 90% of the time, the 50% doesn't happen. :-)

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46529989)

Defense >>>>>>>Offense

That is accurate 97% of the time.

No conspiracy needed.

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514841)

I don't think it's nitpicking to point out that he actually called 49/49 states right. He had Florida as a toss-up, with a statistically insignificant lean towards Obama. This is an important distinction as it's one that constantly burns statisticians - that element of randomness is always there and eventually he's going to be wrong about something important, especially when people read a minuscule lean in one direction as a prediction. People are going to use that as a opportunity to dismiss him, since there's a political motivation there to do so, just as they dismissed him prior to the last election.

The cool thing about statistics is that they actually tell you the strength of your prediction, and my impression has been that 538 is very careful to include "we really can't tell, but maybe there's a little lean to the right." If some journalist translates that as "It's going right," and makes a big fuss over the actual result being left, then it will be the journalist who looks like a moronic wacko, not 538.

That said, there do seem to be a lot of journalists who make a career of looking like moronic wackos, so maybe that's one of those win-win situations.

Re:Not exactly 50/50 (1)

vilanye (1906708) | about 7 months ago | (#46529375)

He had Florida as a toss-up, with a statistically insignificant lean towards Obama.

And that is exactly how Florida ended up.

Re the winter 'misery' (4, Interesting)

argStyopa (232550) | about 7 months ago | (#46514731)

Regarding the winter-misery point: the data may certainly show how unusual or extreme the winter was (as a 40-something in MN, it really wasn't that big a deal), but isn't it particularly sad how hard we're working to prove that we're miserable?

Of course, like everything in 2014, there's a political context (because at least in the West, we have pretty much eliminated every other serious danger that humans have faced, so we obsess over minutiae that would have been lost in the static to any other generation) in proving how severe the weather has been, right?

Yep, it was a long winter. For the bulk of human history, that's pretty much all anyone would have said, and moved on.

Not in 2014. In March 2014, as the days start to get longer, warmer, and sunnier...we're busy analyzing (proving, justifying) just HOW UNHAPPY we were?

That's...pathological.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (3, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 7 months ago | (#46514749)

Talking about the weather is something new?

Hey, remember the Great Blizzard of '88? (1888 - but that was a Northeast thing. I'm sure there are plenty of good Midwestern stories though). Now we have computers, so we can more easily analyze it in excruciating statistical detail, complete with color charts. You obviously don't appreciate all the wonderful improvements that computers have made in our lives.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 7 months ago | (#46514965)

Old men talk about the weather, old women talk about old men.

GP's assertion that we dwell on the minutiae is a luxury we are afforded by all the improvements in tech promoted by the parent. Dwelling, nay, embroiled in fascination by the minutiae is what makes us what we are: cogitative primates.

IMHO, using all that brain power to unravel the 'mysterious' advantage of home vs. away games is a waste of computational energy.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46516087)

IMHO, using all that brain power to unravel the 'mysterious' advantage of home vs. away games is a waste of computational energy.

So is writing posts on slashdot.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 7 months ago | (#46514899)

You'd rather they re-did the statistics in such a way that it gave you the answer you want?

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514971)

Works for the AGW crowd.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about 7 months ago | (#46514969)

Maybe it's an excuse for millennials to say to their parents, "We've got it just as bad as you did, so we're just as tough as you. Our cable went out TWICE in the ice storms. TWICE."

People want to prove they're strong, but in this technologically advanced, air-bagged, seat-belted, rubber-padded society in which we now live, there simply isn't the same level of adversity. These days 12 inches of snow means you fire up the snowblower a half hour before you normally go to work, and click on the 4 wheel drive before you pull out of the driveway. When my mom was a child, 12 inches of snow meant they weren't going anywhere for a week or two, and the woodshed and pantry better be full. As a child I never experienced anything nearly as bad, and these days my son only sees snow for its recreation potential.

Essentially we've tamed nature, and now it's pretty much boring. We have to tell ourselves its bad, because we don't feel it.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 7 months ago | (#46515093)

I'd take this a different way, we finally had a normal winter, the first in a decade, and everyone is shocked, just shocked, that winter is cold, wet, snowy, icy, and generally miserable. They need to be reminded that gee, yes, this is what is normal for winter. You've just been lucky the past 10-20 years.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

plover (150551) | about 7 months ago | (#46518615)

If this is a once-every-20-years winter, by definition it's no longer "normal". Normal is the other 19.

And yes, the TV meteorologists have become aware their audience isn't just 50-year-old native residents who grew up with this weather, and that it now consists of a broad array of people with differing backgrounds. They constantly remind the recent arrivals "it's not safe to let your kids outside in shorts". During the day's forecast, our local news station's weather segment features a couple of children who are dressed appropriately for the day's weather, so that even non-English speakers can at least see how they should dress their kids.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 7 months ago | (#46520943)

If this is a once-every-20-years winter, by definition it's no longer "normal". Normal is the other 19.

Except if you go back 100 years, the last 19 have been abnormally warm (guess that global warming crowd might be onto something after all) so I guess this year is "normal" by definition, the other 19 were not.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46519215)

How is something that happens once very 10-20 years *normal*?

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

dcw3 (649211) | about 7 months ago | (#46516197)

Funny. When I was a kid (60-70s), 12 inches of snow meant we better get to the bus stop for school. It occurs with regularity in Michigan, so they're prepared for it. Certainly, YMMV depending upon the part of the country you're from, but living in VA now, schools have been closed with just a threat of snow, and none falling. So, my anecdotal evidence seems contradictory to what you've observed.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46515829)

I was visiting my family in a state that traditionally gets 4-6 inches pretty much every time it snows which is about 3-4 times a year.

While I was visiting they had not had those 6 inch bits for about 5 years. Because of the drought that is going on. Suddenly they got 7-8 inches. It was armageddon. I was sitting there thinking you are all a bunch of pansies. I moved further south to get away from this sort of crap and could not figure out what they were yelling about. We would bitch about it. But then clean it up. They were acting like southerners who saw 1/2 inch of snow. They had the equipment and the salt and the gravel. It simply was not that big of a deal. Hell my dad even has a snowblower and he was worried about the snow. Snow is not something to worry about it is something you spend a few hours scooping up so you can goto work... They even went to the store and bought bread and milk. WTF... That is what southerners do.

I think it is what they are used to and part something else. Suddenly the weather is going back to 'norms' because of the giant typhoon we had last summer in the pacific. Yet the news is giving it names like snowagedon, perfect snow storm, etc.

It keeps going back to the point I make over and over to people. The news is not news anymore. They cant even stop with saying it will snow 2-3 inches. They show how everyone is doomed. They goto the local interstate and find 2 cars in the ditch and show how 'everyone is sliding around'.

We are being sold outrage in the form of news.

I turned the TV off in 2009, kicking a 35 year habit. I was the kind of person that could tell you what was on all 500 channels too. It is strange to see the TV now and what it is evolving into. Its not pretty. Even when watching TV now I still can not look away. People can say things to me and I 100% can not hear what they said. Whoever called it the idiot box named it perfectly, it really does turn people into idiots.

Mod parent up. (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 7 months ago | (#46516199)

Especially for the TV comment.

Re:Re the winter 'misery' (1)

Bo'Bob'O (95398) | about 7 months ago | (#46518075)

Yes, because clearly the only reason we are concerned about the climate is how much we are complaining and not little things like agriculture and fresh water supply.

Those 'minutiae' that would have been lost in the static to other generations sometimes became trends that became drought and famine.

These kinds of things can and do still happen in many parts in the world, and the first-world may not be immune to major shifts

this FP foR GNAA (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46514741)

FrreBSD at about 80

Inferior Footnotes (1)

me01chanl (553161) | about 7 months ago | (#46515055)

I much prefer the XKCD "What If" variety of footnotes to the ones that scroll you down the page to the end like they're currently using at this new 538. I hope they make the switch, checking sources in data driven analysis shouldn't be time consuming and tedious.

Kitschy (2)

Clent (717085) | about 7 months ago | (#46515385)

Looking at the articles its just another news site. The headlines are emotional which suppose a bias. To me, data journalism means provide statistical analyze without the bullshit of human opinion, emotion. Data is a measure of reality, which is good. Always, good to know whats real. But since every single human has a different opinion and emotional perspective, as soon as human emotion and opinion are added to data, it's no longer reality. It's delude, cloaked sources opinionated emotional interpretation. And worse, this new data, that is only weakly tied to reality, is strongly revelant to those who respond to the article's opinion and emotion, positive or negative. And many will take a positions based on this non-reality. This is how anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers are born and ignorance is spread under the guise of having been informed.

Quote at the bottom of the article (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46515835)

"It’s time for us to start making the news a little nerdier."

Woo ha!

Remember what Manbearpig said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46516525)

The scientifc moron Algore who loudly declared 'the debate is over' and showed he knows ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about Science or the way REAL SCIENCE works.

SO I guess the Warmists these days are still going with ' It has to get Colder to show that its getting Warmer' ???
That Algore-like logic some have spouted?

Some of the brighter ahderants suddenly mutated the name of their belief to 'Climate Change' which unfortunately on one side of the coin all their carbon-whatzits control and poisonous CO2 stuff is the opposite of what you want to do (lets make sure THEY get only to use solar and windmills while we are burning coal to stay warm in that next potential iceage.)

Not to worry, they (as thgey always do) will think of some other hoax to perpetrate and avoid the truth before their eyes.

Helpful articles. (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 7 months ago | (#46517417)

Like the one entitled, How to Eat at McDonald’s When You’re Monumentally Broke [fivethirtyeight.com] . Of course, this requires that you have an Internet connection and browser-capable system to read it, while being "monumentally broke"...

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