The Signal and the Noise: When Media Obsess Over Polls and Models, We All Lose
Over at the Breakthrough, my latest Public Square column takes a look at the good and the bad of Nate Silver's cultural celebrity and oracle status. Here's how the column starts out:
If you are a Democrat, you were likely feeling good on Election Day about President Obama’s chances. Many pollsters and forecasters predicted an Obama victory, with The New York Times’ Nate Silver pegging his chances at 90.9%. Not surprisingly, conservatives voiced skepticism about Silver’s prediction, making the science and art of modeling the subject of considerable attention at cable news and blogs.
Silver provides a useful and powerful new resource for understanding the cascade of polls that have come to dominate discussion of elections. Yet it’s the news media’s very obsession with polls and models that hinders are ability to talk about substantive issues. When advocates, for example, deservedly complained that we had gone months without talking about climate change only to be woken from our slumber by a tragic storm, we can thank in part the media’s infatuation with polls and modeling.
“The problem with the current fashion for polls and statistics is that it changes what it purports to study,” wrote Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson on election day. “Instead of making political analysis more ‘objective,’ it has driven the entire political class …toward an obsessive emphasis on data and technique.”
Our obsession with polling and modeling results in miniaturization, argued Gerson. “At the election’s close, we talk of Silver’s statistical model and the likely turnout…and relatively little about poverty, social mobility or unsustainable debt."
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Beyond Beef sizzles and marbleizes just like real beef, Beyond Meat says.
- Shares of Beyond Meat opened at around $200 on Tuesday morning, falling to nearly $170 by the afternoon.
- Wall Street analysts remain wary of the stock, which has been on a massive hot streak since its IPO in May.
- Beyond Meat faces competition from Impossible Foods and, as of this week, Tyson.
Average waiting time for hitchhikers in Ireland: Less than 30 minutes. In southern Spain: More than 90 minutes.
- A popular means of transportation from the 1920s to the 1980s, hitchhiking has since fallen in disrepute.
- However, as this map shows, thumbing a ride still occupies a thriving niche – if at great geographic variance.
- In some countries and areas, you'll be off the street in no time. In other places, it's much harder to thumb your way from A to B.
A recent study used data from the Big Five personality to estimate psychopathy prevalence in the 48 contiguous states and Washington, D.C.
- The study estimated psychopathy prevalence by looking at the prevalence of certain traits in the Big Five model of personality.
- The District of Columbia had the highest prevalence of psychopathy, compared to other areas.
- The authors cautioned that their measurements were indirect, and that psychopathy in general is difficult to define precisely.
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