Exclusive - Nate Silver Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  03/27/14
  •  | Views: 26,789

FiveThirtyEight.com founder talks about becoming the protective manager of a team of statistical analysis reporters. (5:48)

[ APPLAUSE ]>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

MY GUEST TONIGHT IS THE FOUNDERAND EDITOR IN CHIEF OF

FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM.

PLEASE WELCOME BACK TO THEPROGRAM NATE SILVER.

[CHEERS AND APPLAUSE]HOW ARE YOU, SIR?

>> PRETTY GOOD, JON.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

>> Jon: I'M VERY WELL.

CONGRATULATIONS ON THE LAUNCHOF NEW FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.

>> WE LAUNCHED THIS WEB SITE AWEEK AND A HALF AGO.

IT'S 20 OF US A VERY YOUNG TEAM.IT WAS A GREAT MOMENT TO

LAUNCH AND THEN WE REALIZEDOH, SHIT WE HAVE TO PUBLISH IT

EVERY DAY.

SO IT'S A LOT OF WORK. WE'REGETTING BETTER.

>> Jon: SO WHAT YOU ARE SAYINGIT'S BEEN UP LIVE FOR A WEEK AND

A HALF AND IT'SSTILL NOT PERFECT.

>> IT'S NOT PERFECT YET.

IT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO PERFECT IDON'T THINK.

>> Jon: WELL, WELL LOOKS LIKETHE SHINE IS OFF THE APPLE ISN'T

IT SILVER.

>> HERE IS THE THING.

MAYBE DUE TO PROGRAMS LIKE THISTHERE WAS A LOT OF HYPE ABOUT ME

AND FIVETHIRTYEIGHT. AND THETHING IS --

>> Jon: I CALLED YOU THE LORDOF THE ALGORITHM.

>> YEAH THAT WAS USEFUL FOR BOOKSALES AT THE TIME BUT RIGHT

NOW IT KINDA SETS A VERY HIGHBAR.

>> Jon: I UNDERSTAND. YOU ARETAKING A RASH OF SHIT IN A WEEK

AND A HALF LIKE NOBODY I'VESEEN IN A LONG TIME.

YOUR STATISTICAL ANALYSISOF THE 2012 ELECTION WAS QUITE

ACCURATE AND THEN YOUHAVE PREDICTED IN THIS RECENTMID TERM THAT THERE'S

A 60% CHANCE THAT THE DEMOCRATSWILL LOSE CONTROL OF THE SENATE

AND THE DEMOCRATS WERE LIKETHOSE LITTLE BALLOONS OUTSIDE OF

CAR DEALERSHIPS THEY ARE JUSTBLARRRRGH.

>> THEY ARE SENDING MEMOS OUT TOTHE PRESS ON THE ONE HAND BUT

THEN THEY'RE ALSO SENDINGFUND-RAISING E-MAILS

LIKE PROVE NATE SILVER WRONG. ALOT OF PEOPLE

ESPECIALLY IN POLITICS THEY LIKETHE MATH PART OF THINGS WHEN IT

TELLS THEM WHAT THEY ALREADYBELIEVE. IT'S HARD. IT'S A

COMPLICATED WORLD TO FIGURE OUTSOMETIMES.

AND I'M NOT SAYINGTHAT WE HAVE ALL THE

ANSWERS BY ANY MEANS AT ALL.OBJECTIVITY.

>> Jon: I AM SAYING THAT THOUGH.

>> I KNOW. WELL WE WILL PROVEYOU WRONG.

WE'LL PROVE OURSELVES WRONG ANDPROVE YOU WRONG IN THE PROCESS.

>> Jon: BUT HERE'S WHAT ILIKE ABOUT WHAT YOU JUST -- YOU

HAVE THIS ONE GUY ON. HE IS APOLITICAL SCIENTIST.

HE WRITE AS AN ARTICLE.

AT STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OFCLIMATE SCIENCE.

AND IT CREATES A HUGE HULABALOOBECAUSE HE'S SAYING THE DAMAGE

CAUSED BY THESE STORMS IS NOTINCREASING IT'S JUSTTHAT WE ARE WEALTHY.

>> WELL THAT'S A PIECE WHERE WEHAD A LOT OF CONCERN FROM

OUR READERS. SO WE DON'T PAYATTENTION TO A LOT OF

WHAT MEDIA CRITICS SAY, BUT THATWAS A PIECE WHERE

WE HAD 80% OF COMMENTATORSWEIGHED IN NEGATIVELY.

SO WE'RE COMMISSIONING AREBUTTAL TO THAT PIECE.

WE LISTEN TO FEEDBACK FROM THEPEOPLE THAT ACTUALLY GIVE US OUR

LEGS AND THAT WE HAVE -->> Jon: SO YOU ARE RESPONDING TO

CRITICISM AND ATTEMPTING TOIMPROVE WHAT YOU ARE DOING.

I DON'T THINK YOU UNDERSTAND THEMEDIA WORLD, MY FRIEND.

[LAUGHTER]>> LOOK WE RUB SOME ELBOWS TOO.

>> STICK TO WHAT YOU SAY.

>> WE RESPOND TO SERIOUSCRITICISM THE ONLY WAY WE CAN

WHICH IS TO PUT OUT A BETTERPRODUCT.

IF THERE'S CRITICISM WE THINK ISA LITTLE MORE FRIVOLOUS WE MIGHT

RESPOND WITH HUMOR ORIGNORE IT OR SNARK OR WHATEVERELSE.

>> Jon: LIKE THE WAY PAULKRUGMAN HAD BEEN A CRITIC OFWHAT YOU

ARE DOING AND YOU PUT I THOUGHTA VERY FUNNY PIECE STATISTICALLY

ANALYZING THE MENTIONS OF YOURBLOG OF MR. KRUGMAN, YOUR OLD

BLOG VERSUS THE NEW BLOG.

I THOUGHT IT WAS FUNNY.

>> THE SATIRE WAS MEANT TO BE ASTEREOTYPE OF BAD DATA ANALYSIS

BASICALLY.

WHEN WE STARTED A WEEK AND AHALF AGO.

I TOLD MY TEAM YOU ARE IN THEBIG LEAGUES NOW.

THE INTERNET IS KIND OF A CRAZYPLACE SOMETIMES.

THEY ARE ALL BRUSHINGEVERYTHING OFF THEIR SHOULDERS

REALLY WELL. MEANWHILEI'M THERE ALL OF A SUDDEN I'M

MANAGING A STAFF OF 20 PEOPLEAND IT'S LIKE SOMEONE IS KINDA

THROWING APPLES AT YOUR KIDS ORSOMETHING.

>> Jon: HEAVY IS HEAD THATWEARS THE CROWN SILVER.

>> ABSOLUTELY.

>> Jon: THAT'S WHY I WEAR THEJESTER'S CROWN IT'S MADE OF

FELT, MUCH LIGHTER.

[LAUGHTER]HERE IS WHY I THINK YOUR SITE IS

IMPORTANT.

STATISTICS AND ANALYSIS AREPUNDIT FUEL.

>> YEAH.

>> Jon: AND IF YOUR SITE, IFTHE PURPOSE OF YOUR SITE COULD

BE TO REFINE, TO HELP VET THETYPE OF STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OR

THE TYPE OF NUMBERS THAT THESEPUNDITS USE AS THEIR FUEL THAT

IS AN INCREDIBLY VALUABLERESOURCE.

BECAUSE PART OF DIFFICULTY OFANALYZING THINGS BASED ON

NUMBERS IS YOU DON'T REALLYKNOW

THE EFFICACY OF MANY OF THESESTATISTICAL

STUDIES, NO?

>> YEAH WE'RE SAYING LOOK WE'REJUST TRYING TO BE RIGHT A LITTLE

BIT MORE OFTEN, RIGHT. IT'S ACOMPLICATED PLACE. SO, FOR

EXAMPLE, WE HAVE A PIECECOMING OUT BY A WONDERFUL

YOUNG ECONOMISTNAMED EMILY OSTER.

WHO'S LOOKING AT STUDIES A STUDYTHAT CAME OUT THAT SAID

ACTUALLY OBESITY IS DECREASINGAMONG-4 YEARS OLD.

>> Jon: I HEARD THAT ON THE

RADIO, THEY SAID THAT.

>> IT GOES AGAINST THOUSANDS OFSTUDIES TO THE CONTRARY.

IF YOU ARE DRAWING A LOTTERYBALLS BY TAKING DIFFERENT

POPULATION SAMPLESYOU'RE GOING TO HAVE

SOMETHING THAT TURNSOUT DIFFERENTLY.

JUST LIKE WHEN IT COMES TO POLLANALYSIS PEOPLE TAKE THE

OUTLIER AND THINK IT REPRESENTSTHE NEW TREND. SO WE'RE TRYING

TO PROVIDE SOME SANITY ANDSOMETIMES THE STUFF WE DO IS

DRY. IT'S LIKE ACTUALLY WEDIDN'T LEARN THAT MUCH FROM THIS

POLL OR THIS STUDY. SO ABOUTSERIOUS TOPICS LIKE

CHILDHOOD OBESITY WE MIGHTHAVE A VERY SOBER OUTLOOK.

WE ALSO HAVE FUN WITH THINGSLIKE BURRITOS. WE'RE RUNNING A

PROJECT SOON TO TELL YOUWHERE TO FIND THE BEST

BURRITO IN AMERICA. YOU KNOW WEHAVE FUN WITH FUN THINGS.

>> Jon: YOU KNOW WHAT ISINTERESTING IS REALLY THE TWO OF

THOSE ARTICLES TOGETHER COULDIN SOME WAYS COUNTERACT.

YOU MAY HAVE FOUND ONE COMINGTHIS WAY, ONE COMING -- AND YOU

JUST GO INTO A VOID BECAUSE ABURRITO ARTICLE FOLLOWINGTHE

OBESITY ARTICLE.

VERY SHREWD MR. SILVER.

STICK AROUND I WANT TO ASK YOU ACOUPLE OF QUESTIONS.

>> COOL. THANK YOU.

>> Jon: AND THEY WILL BEVICIOUS.

NATE SILVER, LADIES ANDGENTLEMEN.

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