Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Against infotainment   posted by Razib @ 11/18/2009 07:06:00 PM

Steve has an interesting column up this week:
Who will win the Super Bowl? Well, two minutes on Google leads me to a betting site that says the New Orleans Saints are +360, while the Indianapolis Colts are +385. (I don't even know what those numbers are supposed to mean.) Here's another site that has the Colts at 3:1 and the Saints at 4:1, which at least I understand.
So, there you have my fearless forecast: the Saints will meet the Colts in the 2010 Super Bowl, and one of them will win.
You heard it here first.

If you want political predictions, I can check the Intrade market to see that … hey, what do you know? Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Tim Pawlenty are neck and neck for the 2012 GOP nomination.

So, that's my 2012 conjecture: taking a page from the late Roman Republic, the GOP will nominate Palin, Romney, and Pawlenty to run against Obama as a triumvirate.
Do you have a better guess?

I suppose I could obsessively study the political tealeaves to learn the minutia of upcoming elections (such as who this Pawlenty person might be). But how much would I be adding to the sum total of human wisdom?

Not much, I suspect. One thing the press does well is cover political horse races....

In terms of politics and sports, I think there is some juice which sites like FiveThirtyEight, The Audacious Epigone and Applied Statistics can squeeze out through quantitative analysis. Additionally, more qualitative analysis like Kevin Phillips (though Phillips does do a lot of exploration of voting records, the output tends to be verbal and not in percentages) have interesting things to say. Unfortunately, over the past year of reading American history it has become clear to me that it's really hard to evaluate the qual analysts who add genuine value because very few people operate with the appropriate data base to comprehend allusions and implicit pointers they are making.* To be marketable you really have to just reflect conventional wisdom, and play on its margins.

* More specifically, without the historical data base it's hard to detect the more subtle bullshit artists.