Math, prediction and the decreasing value of old-fashioned experts

This article was published in August in Business Insider, a website which - I am sorry to disappoint the snobbish folks out there - I quite enjoy reading from time to time. Anyway, the article popped up in twitter today and I discovered a few interesting things here and there.

For instance:

So there was no small amount of irony surrounding the recent high profile negotiations between ESPN and The New York Times over the services of Nate Silver. The stakes were enormous, as Mr. Silver accounted for as much as 20% of the Grey Lady’s web traffic.

I did not know that Nate Silver's blog accounted for such a large fraction of the NYT's web traffic, quite surprising. I wonder how many blogs are cumulatively responsible for 80% of the traffic.

Persad compares her work to how algorithmic trading has replaced intuition on Wall Street  and says, “The program—not a human—does the pattern recognition, the bias and error adjustments of models, the tracking, and makes the “judgment call” based upon the most dynamically optimal combination of models.”

I certainly agree, but do not forget that who is setting up the model(s) is an expert herself, just not the hand-waving, gut-feeling, neck-scractching kind of expert. She is an expert in developing model, collecting data, asking questions, testing results, improving predictions. Now every other guy is shooting (figuratively) on the stereotypical pundit, and I agree that political and sport pundits are one boring, inaccurate, talkative group of hand wavers, but at least we can make fun of someone, right?

An interesting read overall.

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