Triumph of the nerds, and a gay one at that -- the spotlight's on Nate Silver
"[R]ight now I bet that you could get anyone to go out with you just by saying something like 'I predicted Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois, and now I'm predicting that you'll have dinner with me.'"
"If you grow up gay, or in a household that's agnostic, when most people are religious, then from the get-go, you are saying that there are things that the majority of society believes that I don't believe."
Just to be clear, this is more than an excuse to search for nekkid pitchers of Matt Bomer (as if an excuse were required for that!). It's a way of introducing my hands-down favorite comment about the punditocracy, the Infotainment Noozemedia, and especially the "mind" set at the moment of our mainstreamed Far, Far Right.
It comes from the above-mentioned 11-year-old Emma Gertlowitz, who reveals in a "Dear Nate Silver" letter contributed to The New Yorker recently by that witty scribe Paul Rudnick (see "A Date With Nate") that "for a million years I liked Justin Bieber because he was so cute but now I like you."
Eventually Emma is led to fantasize -- don't ask how; you'll just have to read the piece yourself -- to imagine Nate's mom giving him grief about how he needs "something heart-healthy to start your day," even if he is "a fancy statistician with a Times blog and Seattle green-architect eyeglass frames," and she imagines him answering, "Mom, if you keep nagging me I will never let you meet my new boyfriend, Matt Bomer."
This prompts Emily to explain:
In the really nice profile from which I extracted the quote from NateSilver at the top of this post, "Nate Silver: It's the numbers, stupid" (which you can find on Raw Story, without a link to the original), The Observer's Carole Cadwalladr describes her subject as "new kind of political superstar. One who actually knows what he’s talking about."
For Nate it's all about a rigorous use of numbers, which he's been doing since he was six, applying numbers to Detroit Tigers baseball. Applied to politics, he hopes his numbers can give him just a bit of an advantage in analyzing whatever he's analyzing. Carole Cadwalladr writes:
"Numbers aren't perfect, but for me, it's numbers with all their imperfections versus bullshit. You had people saying, ‘You can't quantify people's feelings through numbers!' But what's the alternative? Me sitting at my Georgetown cocktail party saying that I know how people in Toledo, Ohio, are going to vote better than the actual people of Toledo, Ohio, who answered a survey? It's incredibly presumptuous. And truth is an absolute defence. So if they got it right it would be one thing, but they didn't. They're consistently quite wrong."
Silver doesn't work the Georgetown party scene. He doesn't meet the lobbyists, spin doctors, campaign managers and press officers. He doesn't, in short, play the system, because political reporting, both in the US and the UK, is a system, a system that can at times resemble a cartel. In Britain, the you-scratch-my-back-and-I'll-scratch-yours atmosphere of the lobby came under scrutiny during the expenses scandal, a scandal it took a journalist outside politics to bust apart. In the US, Silver describes it as "transactional".
It might be a bit late for that, however. The day after the election, he went on The Daily Show and Jon Stewart saluted him as "Nate Silver! The lord and god of the algorithm."
In other circumstances, if Silver had been a different sort of personality, a more egotistical one, this all could be a bit much. But this is also a story about the underdog coming out on top. In the weeks before the election, Silver's critics (largely on the right, angry that he was predicting an Obama win) attacked not just his methodology, but also him.
Dean Chambers of UnSkewedPolls.com railed against his "voodoo statistics", claimed he'd been "smoking the wacky weed" and finally pronounced him a "thin and effeminate" man "of small stature" with a "soft-sounding voice".
What made you more of a misfit, I ask, being gay or a geek? “Probably the numbers stuff since I had that from when I was six.”
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