Posted by: ARNoack | May 30, 2013

Nate Silver: More Data, More Problems

I recently learned something about big data: more data doesn’t always lead to more reliable results. Just ask Nate Silver. As we all know, Nate Silver is the number-crunching guru who most recently predicted the outcome of the 2012 presidential election for all 50 states without error. He told Fast Company that, “‘the flood of data means more noise (i.e. useless information) but not necessarily more signal (i.e. truth).‘” According to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, every day we create more information than all of history created before 2003. Silver’s point is that all that data is useless unless you know what to do with it. You have to ask the right questions, write the correct algorithms, and utilize the best statistical methods. Computers are powerful, logical tools, but, without human creativity, they cannot make sense of the complex, illogical world we live in. This creativity, “finding ways to approach and solve problems,” as he explains it, is what makes Nate Silver so good at what he does. And it’s also what makes his blog (FiveThirtyEight.com), and everything else he does, so interesting. By creatively intertwining math, prose, and infographics, he makes boring masses of data fascinating to the masses.

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