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Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Relaunches As Data Journalism Website 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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Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight Relaunches As Data Journalism Website

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  • Buzzfeed titles! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by N1AK ( 864906 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @05:19AM (#46514339) Homepage
    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" :(
  • Not exactly 50/50 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by guises ( 2423402 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @06:49AM (#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.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @07:00AM (#46514587) Journal

    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.

  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Tuesday March 18, 2014 @08:53AM (#46514969) Homepage Journal

    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.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen