About Fancy Math: Struggles Are Not Exciting, Therefore Ignored

November 10, 2022

Ask yourself, “How many of my colleagues understand statistical procedures?” I am waiting.

Okay, enough time.

Navigate to “Pollsters Struggle to Improve Forecasts.” If you have a dead tree version of the Wall Street Journal, the story appears on page A4. If you have the online version of the paper, pay up and click this link. If you cannot locate the story, well, that’s life in the Murdoch high tech universe.

The article reports:

Overall, national polls in 2020 were the most inaccurate in 40 years, a study by the main association of survey researchers found, and state-level polls in 2016 were significantly off the mark.

So what?

Check out “Nate Silver Admits He Got Played by the GOP But Blames the Democrats for Not Using Poor Polling Practices.” The write up explains how a wizard fumbled the data ball. How many other whiz kids fumble data balls but do not come up with lame excuses and finger pointing?

Smart software relies on procedures not too distant from those used by pollsters. How accurate are the outputs from these massively hyped systems? Close enough for horseshoes? Good enough? Are you ready to let smart software determine how to treat your cancer, drive your vehicle, and grade your bright young 10-year-old?

Stephen E Arnold, November 10, 2022


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