Indecision 2012

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The Cid
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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by The Cid » Thu Nov 15, 2012 4:00 pm

When Newton was around Back When, did people argue about gravity like this? I mean, this is math. And it checked out.
collegestudent22 wrote:I could give you a methodology for "2+2 = fish", and that wouldn't make it a sensible statement.
Choose your own salty language:
[Expletive] it's like we're back in the [expletive] dark ages with [expletive] conversations like these. Seriously, what the [expletive] are we talking about now? "2+2 = fish"? [EXPLETIVE}! Are you [expletive] me?! Your entire response to the methodology of these numbers--which are not coming out of someone's ass, very clearly--is "I could give you a methodology for "2+2 = fish", and that wouldn't make it a sensible statement." Suddenly I understand how the scientists going to [expletive] prison in Italy could have happened. We're [expletive] people. We'll argue about [expletive] math for [expletive] sake. [String of expletives.]
collegestudent22 wrote:In short, you cannot treat human beings, along with their choices and actions, as probabilistic machines. Not even in large numbers.
collegestudent22 wrote:I'm saying that such a forecast is just an educated guess, and putting numbers on it (like "90% chance") other the forecast that a numerical quantity will be a certain amount is merely confusing metaphor at best.
I'm just going to take a moment to appreciate that I get to have what is basically a sabermetric argument outside of the world of baseball. ...Ahh. This is so cool. That word's finally living up to how awesome it sounds. It was kind of wasted on baseball stats.

Okay. Now that we're here. You say these things, but the fact is that math is working on that problem, and clearly math is getting way better at doing what you say cannot be done. Fivethirtyeight has been doing this since 2008, which means two sets of primaries, two presidential elections, and a midterm election. That's starting to become a trend. If you're going to call math guesswork, maybe the guy really is a witch. Otherwise, maybe it's a little pinpoint than an educated guess. It's math. Math that checks out. There's only so much you can argue with math that checks out.
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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by ampersand » Thu Nov 15, 2012 7:31 pm

I think Cid just wizzed. I'm 90% certain within one standard deviation with a 95% confidence interval.

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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by collegestudent22 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 1:58 am

bagheadinc wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:Yesterday's poll means nothing today. Opinions have changed, people have different information, and so forth. You could feasibly have a poll today that says Obama will get 80% of the vote, and another one tomorrow that says he will get 20%. Hell, if you aren't absolutely careful, you could get both on the same day in the same area.
Apparently they do.
Some of the assumptions hold for the majority of people. That doesn't mean much - especially when the polls are so close, and any alternatives are ignored.
That is the classical definition of probability, not the only definition.
No other definition makes sense numerically.
collegestudent22 wrote:Not of unique, once-in-all-history events. Obama did not have a "90% chance of winning". Such a statement can only be metaphor for "I think it pretty certain Obama will win."
Once again, it's not that he has a 90% chance of winning, but there is a 90% chance voters will choose him like they did in the various polls.
No, it was quite clear that it was that he had a 90% chance of winning the whole thing. That was the sentence the number was embedded in. You are changing what he was saying.
collegestudent22 wrote:In short, you cannot treat human beings, along with their choices and actions, as probabilistic machines. Not even in large numbers. The very system of polls has its own issues as a result of this methodological treatment.
Yes, you can apply probability to humans.
What was the chance that I, a McCain voter in 2008, would not vote at all in 2012 (or 2008)? Human beings make choices. They do not follow a probability distribution, or any such nonsense. If Romney had won, it would not have shown Silver to be wrong. He's not "a witch" - just a lucky guesser, who always leaves just a little chance in his predictions of unique events (by using nonsensical numbers) that he could be wrong without actually being wrong.
And I'm going to say this again, because you seem to keep skipping over it, NOT the past performance of either Obama and Romeny winning a presidential election, but of how people will vote.
People are not voting for some abstract unchanging thing. They are voting for Obama or Romney.
You say these things, but the fact is that math is working on that problem
It's not a problem math can "work on". Just like you cannot have a mathematical formula to tell someone whether the color on a TV screen looks "off". These things are subjective and controllable by the individuals involved. The "problem" you are "solving" is akin to selling insurance for burning your own house down.
If you're going to call math guesswork, maybe the guy really is a witch.
He's tracking polls and assuming certain things about how they trend. Math is not really necessary for that, although I will admit it gives it a more scientific veneer. His assumptions check out. Most of the time, they do even without the math. But they are just that - assumptions. And assumptions that have no definable chance to be correct.
I mean, this is math.
Yes, and as math, it cannot be applied to the actions and choices of human beings. Just as mathematics in economics stems from all sorts of errors in reasoning, this mathematical reasoning is erroneous, even if the assumptions regarding poll extrapolation and trending are often correct.
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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by bagheadinc » Fri Nov 16, 2012 5:17 am

collegestudent22 wrote:Some of the assumptions hold for the majority of people.
Exactly. That's pretty much the point.
collegestudent22 wrote:No other definition makes sense numerically.
They do.
collegestudent22 wrote:No, it was quite clear that it was that he had a 90% chance of winning the whole thing. That was the sentence the number was embedded in. You are changing what he was saying.
That is the result, but not what he was measuring.
collegestudent22 wrote:People are not voting for some abstract unchanging thing. They are voting for Obama or Romney.
So?
collegestudent22 wrote:Yes, and as math, it cannot be applied to the actions and choices of human beings.
I guess game theory is a bunch of nonsense and mathematicians like John Nash had no clue what they were talking about.
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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by collegestudent22 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 6:25 am

bagheadinc wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:Some of the assumptions hold for the majority of people.
Exactly. That's pretty much the point.
It cannot be known for how many they will hold, though. You can only assume they will. And as a result the polls - to say nothing of any analysis based on them - are often wrong.
collegestudent22 wrote:No other definition makes sense numerically.
They do.
Such as?
collegestudent22 wrote:No, it was quite clear that it was that he had a 90% chance of winning the whole thing. That was the sentence the number was embedded in. You are changing what he was saying.
That is the result, but not what he was measuring.
If what you are measuring is analyzed in a way as to come up with a result that literally is insensible, you are doing something wrong.
collegestudent22 wrote:People are not voting for some abstract unchanging thing. They are voting for Obama or Romney.
So?
This is a relevant point, and directly contradicts the claim it was in response to.
collegestudent22 wrote:Yes, and as math, it cannot be applied to the actions and choices of human beings.
I guess game theory is a bunch of nonsense and mathematicians like John Nash had no clue what they were talking about.
Mathematical game theory is mostly nonsense (the part of it that is correct can be explained without math), and I have no idea what Nash has said, but if it is something like "math lets us predict human action" it would be nonsense too.
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by bagheadinc » Fri Nov 16, 2012 7:12 am

collegestudent22 wrote:It cannot be known for how many they will hold, though. You can only assume they will. And as a result the polls - to say nothing of any analysis based on them - are often wrong.
This is why they evaluate many polls over time, and see the variations and changes. Once again, this leads us back to evaluating past data to predict future results.
collegestudent22 wrote:Such as?
I'm not going to answer here, because your response to my point about game theory tells me you fail to see that math can be applied to uncertain things.
collegestudent22 wrote:If what you are measuring is analyzed in a way as to come up with a result that literally is insensible, you are doing something wrong.
His data pointed to people favoring Obama. They measured public opinion in a variety of polls and the results lead to the conclusion of Obama winning, makes sense to me.
collegestudent22 wrote:This is a relevant point, and directly contradicts the claim it was in response to.
But it doesn't. Just because something changes, doesn't mean the past data is now invalid. It just means you have more data to evaluate.
collegestudent22 wrote:Mathematical game theory is mostly nonsense (the part of it that is correct can be explained without math), and I have no idea what Nash has said, but if it is something like "math lets us predict human action" it would be nonsense too.
Yes, an entire field of mathematics is nonsense because you fail to understand it.

At this point, you're ignoring entire fields of mathematics because it doesn't fit your strict definition. Until you're willing to look outside of this very slim portion of mathematics and probabilities, there is no point in continuing, so I'm done.
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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by Arres » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:19 pm

CS22 wrote:He says things like "For instance, a candidate with a 7-point lead, in a race where the standard error on the forecast estimate is 5 points, will win her race 92 percent of the time." This is utter nonsense. She would either win, or not. There is no "92 percent of the time". Each election is different. Each election that meets those criteria differs in various causal aspects that prevent such a probabilistic element.

In short, you cannot treat human beings, along with their choices and actions, as probabilistic machines. Not even in large numbers. The very system of polls has its own issues as a result of this methodological treatment.
Right here is where you argued yourself into a corner. This is EXACTLY what statistics is. Yes, ever race is different. Yes the pieces that make up the whole are different. What is being said here is this:

"Regardless of the various inconsistencies in HOW we measure (polling), we find that when the RESULT of our measurement is 7, with a margin of error of 5, in 92 measurements out of 100, the candidate wins."

You ABSOLUTELY can make that statement. It is clear, logical, and makes sense.
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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by collegestudent22 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 4:30 am

bagheadinc wrote:
collegestudent22 wrote:If what you are measuring is analyzed in a way as to come up with a result that literally is insensible, you are doing something wrong.
His data pointed to people favoring Obama. They measured public opinion in a variety of polls and the results lead to the conclusion of Obama winning, makes sense to me.
Only 90% of the time, though. 10% of the time, Romney wins, right?
collegestudent22 wrote:This is a relevant point, and directly contradicts the claim it was in response to.
But it doesn't. Just because something changes, doesn't mean the past data is now invalid. It just means you have more data to evaluate.
It's not a matter of data changing. It is a matter of what is going on - abstracting from the candidates to try to claim your classifications work for prediction is no more sensible than abstracting away facts that are known about an individual with cancer to merely assign him the same chance of survival as everyone else with cancer.
Yes, an entire field of mathematics is nonsense because you fail to understand it.
This is part of your problem. It isn't that I "don't understand" the mathematics, nor the attempt to apply it. It is that is not a logically sensible statement. It is on par with "2 + 2 = fish" - it really is. There are two kinds of probabilities and uncertainties. The frequency kind - "1 time out of 6 the dice will roll a 4", for instance, or "10% of salmon are 7 inches long". The other kind is that of complete uncertainty, dealing with individual cases. Here, a numerical statement can only be metaphor for a subjective degree of certainty.

The mathematics of game theory tend to be either obfuscating (the analysis would be more sensible and obviously true without the mathematics, as in the prisoner's dilemma type analysis), or just - like mathematical economics - bordering on the absurd, and full of error legitimized as "scientific" by the mathematics. Especially the formulations that simply assume human beings to either a) know about the absolute unknown - what the other individuals want and in what order or b) treat them as computer programs following inherent rules no matter how irrational or self-defeating. Nearly all forms of game theory analysis neglect the fact that human beings can learn, and adjust their behavior accordingly.
Arres wrote:Yes, ever race is different. Yes the pieces that make up the whole are different. What is being said here is this:

"Regardless of the various inconsistencies in HOW we measure (polling), we find that when the RESULT of our measurement is 7, with a margin of error of 5, in 92 measurements out of 100, the candidate wins."

You ABSOLUTELY can make that statement. It is clear, logical, and makes sense.
It ignores various issues that are known causal factors, preventing such a classification of races as a whole from being sensible. Historical trends matter, known information matters, as-yet-unknown information that will come to light matters, the actions of individuals running, the decisions of individuals who vote, and so forth. All of these things need to be factored in (as a matter of fact, Silver even does factor much of this in as part of his analysis), but a significant amount of it is either completely unknown or subjectively determined to be more or less important. Thus, any number, such as "92% certain this candidate will win" is merely metaphor for a subjective degree of certainty with an educated guess and estimation.

The fact that the "numbers hold up" is irrelevant. He's making a really decent guess, based on a lot of relevant information, and he's pretty good at determining just how relevant it all is. Frankly, I'd expect the numerical predictions of electoral votes, and the prediction of the winner to be correct more often then not. But it is not "90% certain" or any such thing. Such a statement, taken at its face value, is meaningless.

Of course, I don't expect any of you to actually listen to what I am saying to you. Clearly, it doesn't fit with your preconceptions of probability, and the inane idea that it can be applied to human decisions as if these are deterministic and statistical in nature. In fact, I think there is an 87.3% chance you just assume I'm wrong. (That being metaphor once again.)
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

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Indecision 2012

Post by Deacon » Sun Nov 18, 2012 5:08 am

Just as long as we're arguing about misapplications of logic and not the things that actually affect our lives.
The follies which a man regrets the most in his life are those which he didn't commit when he had the opportunity. - Helen Rowland, A Guide to Men, 1922

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Re: Indecision 2012

Post by collegestudent22 » Sun Nov 18, 2012 7:40 am

I'll have you know that (im)proper application of logic has quite a significant effect on people's understanding of the world around them, and thus the way they live their lives.

Now, the election - yeah, that has no real bearing on anyone's life.
Frédéric Bastiat wrote:And now that the legislators and do-gooders have so futilely inflicted so many systems upon society, may they finally end where they should have begun: May they reject all systems, and try liberty; for liberty is an acknowledgment of faith in God and His works.
Count Axel Oxenstierna wrote:Dost thou not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?

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