Predicting the president: Two ways election forecasts are misunderstood

Everyone wants to predict who will win the 2020 presidential election. Here are 2 misconceptions to bust so people don't proclaim the death of data like they did in 2016.

  • There are two common misconceptions that muddy people's understanding of election forecasting, says Eric Siegel: Blaming the prognosticator and predicting candidates versus predicting voters.
  • In 2016, Nate Silver's forecast put about 70% odds on Clinton winning. Despite people's shock at the election results, that forecast was not wrong.
  • As predictions for the 2020 presidential election ramp up, it's important to understand what election forecasting means and to bust the misconceptions that warp our expectations.
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Mathematical model shows how the Nazis could have won WWII's Battle of Britain

With just a few strategical tweaks, the Nazis could have won one of World War II's most decisive battles.

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  • The Battle of Britain is widely recognized as one of the most significant battles that occurred during World War II. It marked the first major victory of the Allied forces and shifted the tide of the war.
  • Historians, however, have long debated the deciding factor in the British victory and German defeat.
  • A new mathematical model took into account numerous alternative tactics that the German's could have made and found that just two tweaks stood between them and victory over Britain.
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How are implicit biases holding us back?

Overcoming assumptions when it comes to gender and capabilities is the key to a successful society.

  • It's important to realize the implicit biases we carry regarding gender.
  • In school settings, women are less likely to be encouraged to pursue careers in STEM fields because it's assumed that men have greater math skills. This simply isn't true.
  • In the interest of a successful society, everyone should be allowed to pursue work based on their interests and skills.
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Can 'math trauma' hurt people's finances?

Math trauma can follow people beyond grade school to harm their prospects well into adulthood.

Photo credit: RJ Sangosti / The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • As much as 17 percent of the American population may suffer from math trauma.
  • Math trauma prevents people from engaging in financial activities and may harm their career prospects.
  • Experts agree that developing growth mindsets in students is critical to prevent further harm.
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Does science suffer from a lack of imagination?

Eric Weinstein says that we need to rethink the current scientific model to allow for more dreaming.

Photo credit: Josh Hild on Unsplash
  • On his new podcast, The Portal, Eric Weinstein argues the scientific method strangles ingenuity by fostering groupthink over imagination.
  • He quotes Jim Watson: "In order to make great advances, we need to be irresponsible."
  • Working out errors in public will prove more valuable than defaulting to consensus.
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