BREAKING NEWS: DATA IS MORE ACCURATE THAN MAKING SHIT UP

It's not pleasant to watch amateurs try their hand at your profession. If you're a doctor or nurse it must be difficult to watch "medical dramas" like E.R. because, well, you'd be distracted constantly by how ridiculous and inaccurate it is. The phrase "That's not how it really works!" would be at the tip of your tongue throughout. Ditto for lawyers watching procedural crime dramas, and so on. Sure, you can accept that fiction involves a good deal of artistic license but you also want everyone to know that, no, doctors don't really do things like House does.

The last six months have been excruciating for me at times because during elections a lot of people talk about polling. There are not many things I know well enough to approach the level of "expert", but public opinion data and its collection is one. A few people understand it vaguely and have some combination of knowledge and folk wisdom. Most people, to put it mildly, do not know the theory and methods of polling from their ass from a hole in the ground. The great thing about politics, though, is that everyone's an expert. Aided by college dropouts with AM Radio talk shows and ineptly designed websites, it turns out that people are more than willing to lecture us on how polling really works. I am so grateful to all the people who have tried to explain it to me this year.

And so we had a campaign season full of gems like "Unskewed Polls" that corrected an imaginary flaw in polling methodology, producing some outstanding predictions in the process.

People who could not explain the concepts of random sampling, weighting, or confidence intervals to save their souls were eagerly spreading the news that they had figured out how the Liberal Media was rigging the system to hide the latent popularity of one Willard Romney. They're stuffing the samples with Democrats to prop up the Usurper! Spread the news!

I certainly understood this narrative; when losing an election, campaigns must do something to keep the base fired up, to convince them that the odds of success are higher than they are. I get it. You don't want people to give up. "We think the election is closer than the polls indicate" is not an uncommon or inappropriate sentiment in elections. However, on Tuesday evening it became clear that this was something else. Rather than a white lie one tells to keep up appearances, the idea that all of the polls (except, curiously, Rasmussen's dreck showing Romney in the lead) are wrong is something these people internalized. They made the timeless error of believing their own bullshit.

Because the originators of the Skewed Theory were careful to decorate it with all the trappings of pseudoscience and half-assed logic, many Republicans appear to have believed it. It is precisely the kind of thing that stupid people think sounds really intelligent. This is why we saw so many Republicans crushed – positively despondent, even – on Tuesday evening in an election that every available data point predicted would unfold exactly as it did. To see the stunned, shocked, and horrified looks on the faces of the Fox News on-air personalities was legitimately surprising to me. Did all of these people, some of whom are quite highly educated, honestly believe this ludicrous ration of shit they were serving these viewers? Did they really not know that Romney was going to lose?

I am not using hyperbole here. Taking the median of the aggregated statewide polls correctly predicted the presidential election outcome in 50 out of 50 states. Not 45. Not 49. Fifty. It also nailed 31 of the 32 Senate races. The right's new favorite target for their adolescent bullying, Nate Silver, basically got every last goddamn thing about this election right.

Watching Karl Rove's complete meltdown on Fox, during which even the other Fox people openly told him he was insane and suggested (seriously) that he get psychological help, highlights the key to understanding all of this: the complete inability of Republicans and conservatives in general to accept reality. Namely the reality that A) lots of people like Barack Obama, B) most of us do not see the world as Republicans see it, and C) Obama could actually, legitimately be the President of the United States. It simply can't be true. There must be some explanation (Occam's Razor be damned) that explains it. And they will keep searching until they find it.

Republicans who were stunned on Tuesday were stunned for only one reason: they refused to believe the facts right in front of them and instead chose to believe a bunch of nonsense they made up to suit their ideological preferences. We are now on a string of five elections – 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2012 – that were predicted with almost pinpoint accuracy by pre-election polling. Polling is accurate. In fact it is getting almost creepily accurate. The people who conduct polls know what they're doing, and the people who interpret them do not need the insight and wisdom of Karl Rove or "QStarNews". We will go through this song and dance again in 2016, when everyone will have forgotten that the polls weren't so Skewed after all and the same nonsense will be trotted out in service of the next Republican who isn't performing as well in reality as he is in the imaginations of his supporters.

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67 Responses to “BREAKING NEWS: DATA IS MORE ACCURATE THAN MAKING SHIT UP”

  1. LanceThruster Says:

    Reports are in that Mitt is leading in the post election polls and a landslide is predicted.

    Doubleplusgood!

  2. LucyTooners Says:

    Bernard you are giving your age away with references to the 70's TV characters but rightious rants. Yes, the RW ecochamber has some deprogramming to do but I do not give them any hope as they are willfully deluded as you say. I have seen them and live among them myself.

  3. Bernard Says:

    yes i am that old, lol. but i never paid attention. i even voted for the Great Communication, St. Ronnie. which i will regret for the rest of my life. sometimes intelligence doesn't come till you Fock up, big time. lol.

    or as my father used to say. Hindsight is 20-20.

    as i also have heard ignorance is bliss and these peole have been living off of my taxes for eons now.
    the Red State people, and i live in a Red state. La., take more money from us Taxpayers than they pay in. Facts which really do have a liberal bias. that's why they invented Faith Based Christian Talibanism to subvert the American Way.

    the Blog Driftglass has a video from "All in the Family", a throw back to the "70's. the truth is there for those who choose to see.

    the danger is those of us who know the truth have to hold the liars feet to the fire of that truth.

    amazes me how for over 40 years now they have been Bullshilling the people. and been very good at it. now the chickens are coming home to the roost.

    the MIC owns us/America now adn the Right wing is the recipient of the "goodies." reading the history of the people like Newt Gingrinch, Bill Clinton, and especially the Reagan takeover is quite enlightening.

    there is so much out there that shows how smart these people are. and as they say, the bigger they are the harder it is to make them fall, lol. repeat a lie often enough and it is no longer a lie. Freud's son-in-law was a leader in the manipulation of the public for Profit.

    now we have a Fascist society where Business owns everything. and people in the Red States have successfully kept us diverted through their "God, Guns and Hate the Other" divide and conquer strategy. Read up about Argentina and that history to get a clue of what road we are taking.

    it ain't pretty. we owe our kids more than that.

  4. bb in GA Says:

    Winning with class and wasting good meat :-)

    "MANHATTAN BEACH (CBSLA.com) — A dead pig wrapped in a Mitt Romney t-shirt was found dumped at the South Bay Republican Party campaign office Thursday.

    The carcass was found Thursday morning in the 3900 block of Highland Avenue, the Los Angeles Times reported.

    The pig reportedly also had barbed wire wrapped around its head"

    Or maybe he was an R pollster :-)

    //bb

  5. Bernard Says:

    how much you want to bet this was done by a Party faithful to cast blame on the crazy left. Odds?

    after all, all liberals are mean hatefilled and take glee in the fall of the "other".

    oh no, you mean there are really bad liberal guys out there?

    and of course,he has to be a Liberal. after all we liberal/left of center people were just waiting for the chance to show how "nuts" we are.

    all liberals, now i can rest my weary head, "both sides do" bs issue has been raised and fulfilled. i can't imagine that there are loony tunes out there from the right, Right? but just because it looks like a "Lefty" did it, "I told you the Left" was batshit, out to get the Right.

    just waiting for the collapse. and thus it begins one batshit crazy loon at a time.

    thanks for Sharing BB

  6. Major Kong Says:

    Waste of a perfectly good pig. I'd bbq that sucker.

  7. Alan C Says:

    If there's a place for pundits in political debate (and I think that in itself is debatable), it's in making a case for their side of an issue or for whoever they think should be elected. As the last week showed, there is no value in pundits making predictions about who will be elected based on data they just pulled out of their asses. Leave that to people who are good at objectively analyzing real data!

  8. Linda Says:

    Two thoughts: We really dodged the bullet when Romney and Co did not get elected. We toss around phrases like "detached from reality" so easily that it's shocking when they are literally true. This time, there was nowhere for them to hide, because the results actually happend to them–as opposed, say, to the people of Iraq.

    Have any conservatives had the thought, "Gee, if Fox et al were wrong about this, what ELSE are they wrong about?" I don't know.

  9. Bernard Says:

    we DODGED no bullet at all. Obama is going to do what Rmoney wanted to do, but at a much more Genteel manner. with lube or not. the South's ways of getting over are SO SO good. lol. that damn chivalrous behavior. makes getting screwed seems soo nice.

    when Obama takes Social Security and Medicare OFF the table of the Catfood Commission/the Fiscal Cliff, or whatever the Hostage Takers demand, then and only then are we "Better off."

    Rmoney was just too crass and direct in his manner.

    that's the main reason Rmoney and his "side" lost the election. do you really think Blacks, Women, Latinos , Gays, etc. are welcome to the Owners. Rmoney, and Akin and Murdoch spoke too FACTUALLY about what is going down.

    the Game is the Same, the Scam continues, but under "better PR methods". without someone as "good" as ST. Reagan, the Owners have to use the "Obama" brand to get Social Security/Medicare money the Government is spending.

    After all, the Republicans/Owners "Built it" and they want it all back, NOW. or as that commercial for selling cereal always said: Silly Rabbit, Trix is for kids. You thought you paid for it with taxes? lol. good one. lol.

    Do you really think a little PR/Camouflage, using a Black Man instead of a white Businessman, to steal the Social Security/Medicare MONEY, means we are any "safer" when it comes to the "Government is the Problem" mantra of the last 40 years.

    by any means necessary, which is probably why they hated Malcolm X so much. he "copied" their slogan and said it right out loud. lol.

    Medicare, Food Stamps, Business Tax Deductions, those are entitlements. Social Security is not an "etitlement" program, though that's all you ever heard it called, probably. and we Americans, via TV, are such easily led, well, really Fox viewers are the easiest led. use the fear of the Black man, the Other. lol

    divide and conquer, works so well. coming to a TV station/Newspaper/MSM component near you.

  10. acer Says:

    @bb:
    Clearly another one of those rampant left-wing hate crimes.

  11. sjelly Says:

    Liberal and progressive people (both pro- and anti-President Obama) keep saying he's going to do what the conmen want. Please call your congresspeople and demand that they don't do what the conmen want, that they insist that President Obama does what the people voted him in to do. Sign every frigging petition, write to your local rag's editor, call the blasted White House, harass asshole congresspeople as much as you can. Fight. Don't just resign yourselves to his failure. FIGHT FOR FUCK'S SAKE. Then if he does go for the "grand bargain" shit, you can be content and self-righteous knowing that you did your best to stop him. Fight first, though.

  12. mel in oregon Says:

    maybe give the bastards a hand if they want to leave the states. costa rica? good, go there libatarians & tea baggers. just don't come crying to uncle when they kidnap a family member for ransom. israel? how could any decent person want to go to a country that treats the palestinians like shit. in other words fuck conservative loud mouthed assholes.

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