Bringing Sexy Back to Data

Nate Silver has certainly given the mundane topic of data a spanking new makeover with his book, The Signal and The Noise. Silver, who correctly predicted the winner in 49 out of 50 states during the 2008 presidential elections, said he was able to make a dent in political forecasts only because other political pundits were so bad at it.  Then he pointed to other industries such as finance and weather forecasting where predictions fail. It’s not all hopeless, however.

Silver has made data fun and buzz-worthy. He has recently infused data into such topics as finding the best burrito in America. The process to determine the 64 burrito-selling establishments nationwide that would be in the bracket involved something called a VORB, or Value Over Replacement Burrito, score, according to his blog. The judging system was based on 20 possible points in five categories: tortilla, main protein, other ingredients, presentation and overall flavor profile. The results led to a flurry of reactions (not all positive) on social media.
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Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems

Is more data always better? Do we have a natural tendency to make up patterns and trends where there aren’t any? Are computers never wrong?

These are some of the questions posed by data nerd Nate Silver, author of our latest book club entry, The Signal and The Noise.

In his book, Silver uses examples in failed predictions ranging from the 2008 financial crisis to the Fukushima earthquake in Japan to illustrate the following three points: his humble roots as an accountant, poker player and then baseball stats number cruncher, Silver hit the big time in 2008 by correctly predicting the winner in 49 out of 50 states during the presidential elections. His blog featuring stories using data and statistics,, was first bought by the New York Times and more recently, ESPN. Let’s just say he brought sexy back to data. Continue reading “Mo’ Data, Mo’ Problems”