It shouldn’t be a surprise that Nate Silver (statistics whizkid behind FiveThirtyEight.com which did an outstanding job of predicting the results of the 2008 election) is turning his attention to matters other than politics. After all, before he became a political pundit his forte was baseball statistics.
If you want to read the published predictions head over to the New York Magazine’s movie section. Some are calling them spoilers – I guess that’s showing total faith in Mr. Silver’s forecasting ability. The article includes some close calls (including a 51% prediction for supporting actress). The only prophecy I’ll share here (partly because I have to admit that its the only one of this year’s Oscar nominated movies I’ve seen so far – shame on me) is that Nate is convinced that Slumdog Millionaire will win Best Picture and Best Director).
Read the comments on the New York Magazine article for a little discussion about prediction methodology versus quality perceptions (or wishful thinking if you prefer). I hope to see some more comments before the Academy Awards, that will perhaps shed some light on general understanding of forecasting. Or not…
Nate Silver is absolutely fascinating to me. He has done (and continues to do) a great deal of work for Baseball Prospectus looking at oft-ignored or underutilized statistics. It was great to see him take that same approach with the 2008 election, and it’s fun that he did the same for the Oscars. Did anyone analyze his results afterward? It’s always amusing to me that nobody ever really analyzes analysts’ analyses. 🙂
Mike Pritchard (That Research Guy) says
Funny you should mention the post event analysis. I tweeted
but I didn’t update the blog post. If I remember correctly, he was wrong on the only prediction that was not obvious. C’est la vie.
At the WTIA predictions dinner in Seattle, there is usually some continuity in the panel, and so they have to ‘fess up on how well they did from the previous year.
A while back, I used to attend the PriceWaterhouse technology predictions events (can’t remember the title). These were based on work done internally by some of the senior analysts – largely interview based I think. The presenter was asked what was his biggest failure, to which he responded ‘the Blackberry’. He was bemused by its rapid takeoff, and the fact that many of his colleagues were suffering from ‘carpal thumb syndrome’.