1131: "Math"

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1131: "Math"

Postby Quicksilver » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:50 am UTC

Image
http://xkcd.com/1131/
Alt Text:"As of this writing, the only thing that's 'razor-thin' or 'too close to call' is the gap between the consensus poll forecast and the result."
This is the best you can come up with on election day?

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby sardia » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:51 am UTC

Oh snap, those pundits should get an icepack, cuz they just got burned!!!!

If they had a soul left after months of being on tv as a talking head.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby rhomboidal » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:55 am UTC

Pundits would probably be shocked that polls are really more about numbers than colors.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Lieutenant Geyser Shitdick » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:44 am UTC

hey doggies what's the dotted line mean?

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby poxic » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:51 am UTC

The 50% mark, I'm guessing. (Woof.)
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby <?php die(); ?> » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:00 am UTC

Why didn't you post this before the election? Wait, I know the answer to that.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby themarkdolan » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:09 am UTC

That may be, Randall, but what about the numbers in my gut?

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby da Doctah » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:12 am UTC

Non-numeric ways of telling which of two things is larger:

Put them on a balance scale.

Try to stick one of them inside the other.

Smash them into each other and see which one recoils.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby J L » Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:37 am UTC

Was really no one predicting Romney's victory? It seemed like before the election, everyone said "Oh me yarm, it's so close, we can't say who'll win", and after the election, they're all like "just what we predicted".

I'm with Randall here. I was pretty sure Obama would win all along, but the media tried to make this crazy hype about the race. No surprise there, probably.

PS nice wordfilter.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Titanium Dragon » Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:20 am UTC

All of the media networks had a great deal of incentive to misrepresent the race as being "too close to call" or a tossup because it puts butts in the seats.

I predicted last night that we would know who would be the next president of the United States at 8pm PST - and moreover, that it would be Barack Obama.

Lo and behold, when the polls closed on the west coast of the US, we knew that Barack Obama would be the next president of the United States.

I predicted that he would get between 303 and 348 electoral votes. He got 332.

How can I know this? Because I freaking read Nate Silver's blog, as well as a few other websites, and looked at the polls directly, and like magic, everyone who knew anything about the numbers knew this was exactly what was going to happen.

In fact, this exact result was the MOST LIKELY result according to Nate Silver's analysis - over 20% probability. The odds of Romney winning were pretty bad - 9% according to Nate Silver, though that was probably being a bit generous.

Really, it just goes to show that if you have a large enough sample size, you actually get good results - the compilation results were better than any individual pollster's results for the simple reason that they could use -everyone's- results.

It would seem that Nate Silver didn't overfit his model after all.

I watched the Huffington Post's broadcast, which was kind of amusing - and most amusing was the bit where they complained about calling Ohio first, a good 15 seconds before anyone else did. One of them objected that MSNBC called it first, but as someone else said, "Yeah, but they've been calling the election since like, June."

It made me laugh. I feel kind of bad about watching now though, as it really was a waste of time.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby itaibn » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:14 pm UTC

This comic isn't going to age well. Who would be able to tell what these lines mean after a few years?
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Someguy945 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:17 pm UTC

J L wrote:the media tried to make this crazy hype about the race


Media kept talking about how the popular vote was really close. This tipped me off that the actual election was not even close and that they were stretching to find something that was.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:14 pm UTC

Someguy945 wrote:
J L wrote:the media tried to make this crazy hype about the race


Media kept talking about how the popular vote was really close. This tipped me off that the actual election was not even close and that they were stretching to find something that was.

Bingo.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Velexia » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:30 pm UTC

I predicted that Obama would win more than a year ago, and when Romney was nominated, and when Paul Ryan was chosen... and tonight. I must be psychic ~_^

Actually though, my interpretation of everything that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan did while campaigning was this: They are trying to lose. They're going to see just how many people they can get to vote for them while doing the most ridiculous stunts ever (Romney changing stances daily, Paul Ryan and his creepy freakin' eyes, Romney "caught" helping deliver things the red cross doesn't need, that was bought with his own money, Paul Ryan "caught" breaking into a soup kitchen (or whatever it was) and washing already clean dishes... etc). Those are not things that any intelligent person would do when trying to win an Election... I am pretty sure Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are smarter than that.

Reminds me of McCain... "Drill Baby Drill, 100 More Years of War, Sarah Palin."

Seems more like they took a fall to me.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby SerialTroll » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:48 pm UTC

Velexia wrote:I predicted that Obama would win more than a year ago, and when Romney was nominated, and when Paul Ryan was chosen... and tonight. I must be psychic ~_^

.


What is sad, Velexia, is that you don't get you are doing the exact thing that Randall is poking fun at. Instead of looking at the scientific polling data, you are relying on your "predictions". Add yourself to the list of pundits that I don't listen to.

I have relied on electoral-vote.com and electionprojection. One is run by a liberal, the other a conservative. Each uses a conglomeration of polling data and have very open methodologies. Both predicted a 303 count for Obama's electoral count. Both will likely be dead on with the possible exception of Florida which is still too close to call.

Much like global warming or many other subjects, you can either look at facts or you can go with your gut. I trust facts over my "gut" and far over anyone else's "gut".

On a side note: I am so glad the election didn't come down to Florida this year.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby J Thomas » Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:52 pm UTC

Velexia wrote:Reminds me of McCain... "Drill Baby Drill, 100 More Years of War, Sarah Palin."

Seems more like they took a fall to me.


Looking back, I'm kind of sad McCain lost. He probably wouldn't have been able to do much, he'd have started out with the House and Senate against him, and even if he didn't alienate enough people to keep the House lost in 2010 he'd still have the Senate blocking him. He couldn't have done a lot more than Obama most ways.

But I believe he'd have done something about Gitmo, and civil liberties, and who could stop him? We'd have one solid thing to show for it.

But on the other hand we might have been fighting in Iran for two or three years now, if he'd won.

Or maybe not. McCain would likely understand about people who think we can win a war with a few quick airstrikes.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Widmerpool » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:23 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:Non-numeric ways of telling which of two things is larger:

[...]

Smash them into each other and see which one recoils.

There's a name for the process of smashing one group of voters into the opposing group, to see which recoils; it's a method that was last tried (in the US, at least) a hundred and sixty years ago. It's in use at the moment in Syria.

Numbers continue to be the best system.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby philsov » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:27 pm UTC

Widmerpool wrote:There's a name for the process of smashing one group of voters into the opposing group, to see which recoils; it's a method that was last tried (in the US, at least) a hundred and sixty years ago. It's in use at the moment in Syria.

Numbers continue to be the best system.


Also sticking people inside of each other is a messy form of destructive testing.

Perhaps a mesh/sieve analysis would be a superior non-numeric method?
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby webgiant » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:36 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Someguy945 wrote:
J L wrote:the media tried to make this crazy hype about the race


Media kept talking about how the popular vote was really close. This tipped me off that the actual election was not even close and that they were stretching to find something that was.

Bingo.

Horse races are NEWS. Horse races in which one of the horses is winning and the rest of the horses are tripping over their own forelegs aren't NEWS.

NEWS sells ad space and gets viewers making that ad space worth something.

So they were stuck making a foregone conclusion sound like it was neck and neck, even though this meant putting a camera on the drunken horse and a camera on the favorite and pretending that they were the same camera view.

J Thomas wrote:
Velexia wrote:Reminds me of McCain... "Drill Baby Drill, 100 More Years of War, Sarah Palin."

Seems more like they took a fall to me.

Looking back, I'm kind of sad McCain lost. He probably wouldn't have been able to do much, he'd have started out with the House and Senate against him, and even if he didn't alienate enough people to keep the House lost in 2010 he'd still have the Senate blocking him. He couldn't have done a lot more than Obama most ways.

But I believe he'd have done something about Gitmo

President Obama tried to close Gitmo. Mitch "Scorched Earth! Hahahahahahahahaha!" McConnell wouldn't FUND the closing of Gitmo. Unless you thought President Obama should should make Gitmo prisoners pay for their own plane tickets, or just push the prisoners into the sea, this is not something you can lay at President Obama's doorstep.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby cellocgw » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:49 pm UTC

philsov wrote:
Widmerpool wrote:There's a name for the process of smashing one group of voters into the opposing group, to see which recoils; it's a method that was last tried (in the US, at least) a hundred and sixty years ago. It's in use at the moment in Syria.

Numbers continue to be the best system.


Also sticking people inside of each other is a messy form of destructive testing.


Kinda depends on exactly how you're doing the "sticking" :oops:
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Diadem » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:51 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:Non-numeric ways of telling which of two things is larger:
(...)
Try to stick one of them inside the other.

I don't know.

My jacket fits in my backpack, and I fit in my jacket, but I never seem to fit in my backpack. So which one of us three is larger?
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby jay35 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:07 pm UTC

Hahah, well played!

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby baardvark » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:14 pm UTC

Gee, thanks for the spoiler alert.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby richP » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:22 pm UTC

J L wrote:Was really no one predicting Romney's victory? It seemed like before the election, everyone said "Gee Willikers, it's so close, we can't say who'll win", and after the election, they're all like "just what we predicted".

I'm with Randall here. I was pretty sure Obama would win all along, but the media tried to make this crazy hype about the race. No surprise there, probably.

PS nice wordfilter.


Yea, Karl Rove was predicting Romney's victory even after the networks (Fox News included) called the election for Obama. Surreal moment if you were channel-hopping, one of the CNN analysts was stuck in an infinite loop re-arguing that there were simply too many votes out in Democratic-leaning counties in Florida (compared to the relatively few votes left in the unreported Republican-leaning counties) for the state to go red. He seemed to be arguing with no one in particular. Meanwhile, Rove was arguing with his fellow panelists on Fox.

(side note: classy speech by Romney at the end. I hope both sides of the spectrum can find inspiration to work for the common good instead of obsessing over winning at any cost.)

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby viperfish » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:31 pm UTC

Romney still had an 8% chance of winning. While the odds were for Obama, that still seemed very close to me.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Yoduh » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:53 pm UTC

last 7 of 9 comics have been 1 panel, usually pretty small, with most looking like they took at most 2 minutes to make. either Randall is getting worn out or really getting into some kind of postmodern minimalism art style that I just don't get.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby J Thomas » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:04 pm UTC

webgiant wrote:
J Thomas wrote:Looking back, I'm kind of sad McCain lost. He probably wouldn't have been able to do much, he'd have started out with the House and Senate against him, and even if he didn't alienate enough people to keep the House lost in 2010 he'd still have the Senate blocking him. He couldn't have done a lot more than Obama most ways.

But I believe he'd have done something about Gitmo

President Obama tried to close Gitmo. Mitch "Scorched Earth! Hahahahahahahahaha!" McConnell wouldn't FUND the closing of Gitmo. Unless you thought President Obama should should make Gitmo prisoners pay for their own plane tickets, or just push the prisoners into the sea, this is not something you can lay at President Obama's doorstep.


I'm not blaming Obama for failing at that. If he'd let too much actual information out, we'd be open to war crimes trials. We don't recognize the international court, and we'd have lots of trouble about american soldiers who clearly did war crimes under orders, and how far up the line we should take that, it would be like Calley again but about a thousand times worse. We'd have lots of Republicans arguing that it's wrong to punish soldiers who were just following orders, and anyway these were war crimes we needed to be doing and if anything we should withdraw from the Geneva Conventions and do things the way we have to. We'd have Democrats crying about what have we become, a nation of barbarians, and around and around.

If McCain had done it, I think it would have gotten done. McCain has real expertise about torture. I don't think McConnell could tell McCain he wasn't going to fund it.

But that's all water over the bridge now.
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Confidence interval in forecast?

Postby jpgoldberg » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:16 pm UTC

In the comic, what is the confidence interval for the shown forecast?

Note that immediately prior to polls closing 538 predicted a 91% chance of an Obama win in the electoral college and almost certainly something less than that for the popular vote (I can't seem to find it now.)

So if the comic is based off of 538 and if the comic is using the conventional 95% confidence interval, then the forecast should include a sliver of a Romney win.

Cheers,

-j

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Cousj001 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:42 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote: McCain has real expertise about torture.


I am now very glad McCain was never elected.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby JustDoug » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

da Doctah wrote:Non-numeric ways of telling which of two things is larger:
Put them on a balance scale.

Hard to do with stellar objects. Or planetary bodies. Or Blue Whales. Or the population of Norway vs. Sweden's.
da Doctah wrote:Try to stick one of them inside the other.

"Alligator. You. Let's find out which is larger!"
da Doctah wrote:Smash them into each other and see which one recoils.

Kinda touchy, this one. It's more likely bystanders will be doing the recoiling if you've measuring the difference in size of somewhat squishy biological things at a sufficiently high velocity, or baseballs and golfballs at relativistic speed.

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Re: Confidence interval in forecast?

Postby HorseIsAHorse » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:04 pm UTC

jpgoldberg wrote:So if the comic is based off of 538 and if the comic is using the conventional 95% confidence interval, then the forecast should include a sliver of a Romney win.


Both Sam Wang at the Princeton Election Consortium and Drew Linzer at Votamatic had the probability of a Romney victory outside of the 95% confidence interval. And Randall did text Dr. Sam a preview of the comic, so...

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Nylonathatep » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:31 pm UTC

Semi Related:

The vindication of Nate Silver

In the weeks leading up to the election, prized New York Times poll guru Nate Silver and his FiveThirtyEight blog incurred the wrath of pundits and voters alike for suggesting the presidential race was perhaps not the horse-race many in the media and the Twittersphere were making it out to be. Silver, his critics charged, was confused and naive at best and a shill for the Obama campaign at worst.

MSNBC host Joe Scarborough was among his most vocals opponents, saying last week of Silver’s then-projection of a 73.6% chance of victory for Obama that “anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup now is such an ideologue [that] they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next ten days, because they’re jokes.” Silver was confident enough in his methodology that he challenged Scarborough to a $2,000 bet that Obama would win.

Meanwhile, at Politico, media reporter Dylan Byers wondered aloud how thoroughly a Romney victory would discredit Silver, suggesting such a scenario would cast him in history as a “one-term celebrity” after he initially rose to fame due to a reliably accurate reading of the 2008 presidential race.

As it turns out, the FiveThirtyEight projections for the 2012 election were almost dead on, leaving Business Insider editor-in-chief Henry Blodget with a pair of questions for those who came out in such strong opposition to Silver’s math: “Did you actually believe that Romney was going to win, or … were you just rooting and hoping for Romney despite the bad poll news?”

Read Blodget’s full post at Business Insider

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/11/06 ... e-updates/

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:51 pm UTC

Yoduh wrote:last 7 of 9 comics have been 1 panel, usually pretty small, with most looking like they took at most 2 minutes to make. either Randall is getting worn out or really getting into some kind of postmodern minimalism art style that I just don't get.
Far more likely explanation: the amount of work required for the "Congress" comic meant less to put into some of the comics on either side of it.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Fire Brns » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:51 pm UTC

JustDoug wrote:
da Doctah wrote:Non-numeric ways of telling which of two things is larger:
Put them on a balance scale.

Hard to do with stellar objects. Or planetary bodies. Or Blue Whales. Or the population of Norway vs. Sweden's.
Or ducks and witches.
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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Cervisiae Amatorem » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:33 pm UTC

Don't forget it is also very much in the interest of the forecasted winner to downplay that lead. It would only take a few thousand voters in a few swing states to stay home and we have a very different result.

Take a look here:
http://www.politico.com/2012-election/swing-state/

Each of the swing states that went blue only did so by around 2%. That's close in my book. If Obama came out Monday and said "Boom! We got this in the bag BEEYOTCH!", we might have seen a few Dem voters say "Oh good, doesn't need my vote, I'll skip it".

Also, after the election it makes the job easier to have the most people possible saying "That's my guy!" instead of "Don't look at me, I didn't vote for him!"

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby San Fran Sam » Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:37 pm UTC

well, now that the lines are gone, I'll guess I'll go and vote.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby darkwombat » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:35 pm UTC

Cousj001 wrote:
J Thomas wrote: McCain has real expertise about torture.


I am now very glad McCain was never elected.


What a puzzling response. Um . . . you do understand that McCain was on the RECEIVING end of the torture, correct? In Vietnam? Serving his country and trying to survive as a POW? Being regularly beaten despite having a crushed shoulder, broken leg, and bayonet wounds?

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby DiegoSpinola » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:59 pm UTC

Immediately after seeing today's comic I came across some math challenged graphing at FoxNews, had to correct it :

http://hackeneering.com/images/bsmontain015.jpg

A close call... but not as close as fox news wants it to be...

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby Soteria » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:13 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
Velexia wrote:Reminds me of McCain... "Drill Baby Drill, 100 More Years of War, Sarah Palin."

Seems more like they took a fall to me.


Looking back, I'm kind of sad McCain lost. He probably wouldn't have been able to do much, he'd have started out with the House and Senate against him, and even if he didn't alienate enough people to keep the House lost in 2010 he'd still have the Senate blocking him. He couldn't have done a lot more than Obama most ways.

But I believe he'd have done something about Gitmo, and civil liberties, and who could stop him? We'd have one solid thing to show for it.

But on the other hand we might have been fighting in Iran for two or three years now, if he'd won.

Or maybe not. McCain would likely understand about people who think we can win a war with a few quick airstrikes.


Well, we wouldn't have The Affordable Care Act. I think McCain's mistake was in not making it clear he was different from Bush. Well, and choosing Sarah Palin, and subsequently not coaching her well enough.

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Re: 1131: "Math"

Postby dudiobugtron » Wed Nov 07, 2012 8:42 pm UTC

This thread (and the comic that inspired it) kind of weird me out a little.
Everyone seems excited that they now have 'proof' that polls and statistical analysis are accurate, and are trying to wave it in the face of people who didn't trust statistics before. However, this isn't 'proof' at all, just one more data point for future statistical analysis.
Who are you trying to prove it to, anyway? Just because those people aren't won over by your rational arguments, doesn't mean they'll therefore be won over by your irrational ones.

Statistical analysis has not been validated by this case, just like it would not have been invalidated if Obama had lost.
If you think otherwise, then you are likely part of the reason statistics isn't/aren't well understood by the population in the first place.
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