Thursday, November 8, 2012

By the numbers

The recent flap over Nate Silver and his election model that dared to predict Obama the winner got me thinking about the right-wing aversion to math and science. Via Ezra Klein, I liked this synopsis best:
To the surprise of pundits, numbers continue to be the best system for determining which of two things is larger.
In this particular case, the right-wing aversion to Silver's election model just makes them look stupid. No real harm done. However, that's not always the case. Paul Krugman's economic model predicted the housing bubble and the expected slow recovery. Keynesian economic models showed the necessity of a lot more stimulus than we got.  These models were rejected, not because the right-wing had a contrary model, but a contrary mindset. They just do not accept math and science that challenges their beliefs. The result has been a prolonged recession -- real pain for real people. Even worse is the right-wing dismissal of scientific models predicting global warming and climate change. We already see more intense storms and erratic weather, but it's only going to get worse. This is fate of the world stuff. How many times do they have to be wrong before the default approach is to ignore them and to listen to the numbers guys?

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