1130: "Poll Watching"

This forum is for the individual discussion thread that goes with each new comic.

Moderators: Moderators General, Prelates, Magistrates

mcdigman
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby mcdigman » Mon Nov 05, 2012 7:38 pm UTC

radtea wrote: Certainty is for religious and ideological nutjobs who've done a poor job of becoming mature human beings.]

You are certainly incorrect: http://xkcd.com/263/. Certainty is for nutjobs and mathematicians.

User avatar
mathmannix
Posts: 1446
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:12 pm UTC
Location: Washington, DC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby mathmannix » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:00 pm UTC

mcdigman wrote:
radtea wrote: Certainty is for religious and ideological nutjobs who've done a poor job of becoming mature human beings.]

You are certainly incorrect: http://xkcd.com/263/. Certainty is for nutjobs and mathematicians.


Whew! I'm certainly glad I'm both!
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

User avatar
Jackpot777
Posts: 328
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:19 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Jackpot777 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:43 pm UTC

Image

Poe's Law, you magnificent bastard, I honestly can't tell anymore.

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby J Thomas » Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:47 pm UTC

fasces349 wrote:I'm actually rather disappointed that nobody realized that my original post was a joke. noone (hopefully) is stupid enough to vote for the underdog in an election just because he is the underdog.


On the internet, nobody can tell when you are joking.

Many times I have encountered people that I hoped were joking, who insisted that they were completely serious.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Jackpot777
Posts: 328
Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:19 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Jackpot777 » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:01 pm UTC

J Thomas wrote:
fasces349 wrote:I'm actually rather disappointed that nobody realized that my original post was a joke. noone (hopefully) is stupid enough to vote for the underdog in an election just because he is the underdog.


On the internet, nobody can tell when you are joking.

Many times I have encountered people that I hoped were joking, who insisted that they were completely serious.


Just in case...

Image

Zweiblumen
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 8:51 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Zweiblumen » Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:02 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:Then based on your statement, statistics are never wrong, but they're also essentially pointless, since we can't be certain which portion of the percentage the outcome will actually fall within (the 86.3% or the 13.6%). If it can fall in either place, it's essentially 50/50, since any given instance it could go either way. :P


...oh dear. As a maths teacher, this makes me sad.

No, the fact that something is not certain does NOT make it 50/50. Any lottery ticket CAN win, but has a very low chance of doing it (hence being able to buy one for $1 when the jackpot is $10,000,000 - if it were 50/50 each ticket would be worth half the value of the jackpot, so if you honestly believe that having a chance is the same as having a 50% chance, I have some lottery tickets to sell you.)

Statistics are indeed pointless for individuals, if you want to use them as prophesy devices. You can use them to guess what will happen, but not to KNOW. 86.3% chance means you should be surprised if Romney wins, but not shocked - he has a roughly 1 in 7 chance of winning, which is low but not unheard of. Should happen once every 7 tries, if statistics are good.

What stats are good for, then, is measuring trends. Showing what happens when you have many trials. Doesn't show which try falls which way, just what the pattern looks like after all is done.

(P.S. Your post reminded me of a fellow who got on the news a few years back for saying that since the LHC has a *chance* of destroying the universe, it must be 50/50 - it will happen or it won't. I use that example when beginning probability units, because my students never believe anyone could possibly be so stupid...)

User avatar
dudiobugtron
Posts: 1098
Joined: Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:14 am UTC
Location: The Outlier

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby dudiobugtron » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:30 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:
radtea wrote:
fasces349 wrote:Nate Silver is the number 1 reason why I am voting Romney. I'm secretly hoping for a Romney win so the nate has to write a series of articles explaining why his 86.3% chance was wrong.


A couple of other people have answered this already but I'm seeing this idiocy all of the Web right now so I'll pile on a bit.

[...]

How exactly would Romney winning "prove" Silver's 86.3% chance of Obama winning "wrong"?

If the underdog didn't win sometimes (about 13.6% of the time, in the present case) then Silver would be wrong.

Then based on your statement, statistics are never wrong, but they're also essentially pointless, since we can't be certain which portion of the percentage the outcome will actually fall within (the 86.3% or the 13.6%). If it can fall in either place, it's essentially 50/50, since any given instance it could go either way. :P

Even after seeing the 'troll thread' image, and even with the :p smiley at the end, I still can't help but be outraged at this post. Well trolled.
Image

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5447
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

armandoalvarez wrote:I was responding to Mattcoz's claim that we're not a democracy merely because we're a republic, as though the two terms were mutually exclusive. They were in ancient Rome, because "democracy" meant "direct democracy." You can't be both a direct democracy and a republic. But today we have the term "direct democracy" to distinguish between direct democracy and representative democracy. Both are considered forms of democracy today.

Erm, it sounds like you think "republic" means "representative democracy", and is therefore contrary to "direct democracy".

A republic has never been contrary to democracy, be it direct or indirect. A republic is any state whose power is exercised in the name of "the people", rather than "the crown" or the like; where the people are (theoretically, and collectively) sovereign, rather than a monarch or the like. It literally means "people's thing". How that power gets exercised and who gets to exercise it are separate issues. The people can exercise it directly (a direct democracy) or indirectly (an indirect democracy) or someone else can exercise it on their behalf (ala soviet socialist republics or pretty much any ironically-named "Democratic People's Republic" -- which is also the most redundant form-of-government name in history, meaning roughly "people-ruled people's thing of the people", and brought to you by the extra-redundant department of redundancy department).
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

VanI
Posts: 61
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:54 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby VanI » Mon Nov 05, 2012 11:56 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:Then based on your statement, statistics are never wrong, but they're also essentially pointless, since we can't be certain which portion of the percentage the outcome will actually fall within (the 86.3% or the 13.6%). If it can fall in either place, it's essentially 50/50, since any given instance it could go either way. :P


I can't figure out whether this is genius or idiocy. And no, I don't give it a 50/50 chance.
I swear, a fireball lied to me just the other day...

armandoalvarez
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 1:39 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby armandoalvarez » Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:11 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
armandoalvarez wrote:I was responding to Mattcoz's claim that we're not a democracy merely because we're a republic, as though the two terms were mutually exclusive. They were in ancient Rome, because "democracy" meant "direct democracy." You can't be both a direct democracy and a republic. But today we have the term "direct democracy" to distinguish between direct democracy and representative democracy. Both are considered forms of democracy today.

Erm, it sounds like you think "republic" means "representative democracy", and is therefore contrary to "direct democracy".

A republic has never been contrary to democracy, be it direct or indirect. A republic is any state whose power is exercised in the name of "the people", rather than "the crown" or the like; where the people are (theoretically, and collectively) sovereign, rather than a monarch or the like. It literally means "people's thing". How that power gets exercised and who gets to exercise it are separate issues. The people can exercise it directly (a direct democracy) or indirectly (an indirect democracy) or someone else can exercise it on their behalf (ala soviet socialist republics or pretty much any ironically-named "Democratic People's Republic" -- which is also the most redundant form-of-government name in history, meaning roughly "people-ruled people's thing of the people", and brought to you by the extra-redundant department of redundancy department).

I don't think I've ever seen anyone use the term "republic" to describe states that are run exclusively by direct democracy, and I thought the Romans (who invented the term "republic") thought their system was superior to Athenian democracy because it had a bigger role for leaders. But I will concede the point if you know better than I do. My main point wasn't the historical use of the term. My point was that he was wrong to think that because we're a republic, we're not a democracy.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5447
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:18 am UTC

My point was that he was wrong to think that because we're a republic, we're not a democracy.

Yeah, I got that and was very happy to see it because I too am very annoyed at people going "America is a republic not a democracy!111!1eleven!"

And I also agree that the Romans had disdain for Athenian democracy, but I don't believe they meant to use the term "republic" in a sense exclusive of democracy. They said in essence "Yes our state exercises power on behalf of and for the benefit of the people (a republic), but it's not run directly by them (a democracy)!"; but that's not to say that a state run directly by the people (a democracy) wouldn't exercise it's power on their behalf and for their benefit (a republic). To say "We are republic, but not democracy" is not to say "Republics and democracies are mutually exclusive", and while I agree that Romans definitely said the first, I'm not aware of them (or anyone, besides the morons we're both correcting here) ever saying the latter.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

armandoalvarez
Posts: 126
Joined: Thu May 03, 2012 1:39 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby armandoalvarez » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:41 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
My point was that he was wrong to think that because we're a republic, we're not a democracy.

Yeah, I got that and was very happy to see it because I too am very annoyed at people going "America is a republic not a democracy!111!1eleven!"

And I also agree that the Romans had disdain for Athenian democracy, but I don't believe they meant to use the term "republic" in a sense exclusive of democracy. They said in essence "Yes our state exercises power on behalf of and for the benefit of the people (a republic), but it's not run directly by them (a democracy)!"; but that's not to say that a state run directly by the people (a democracy) wouldn't exercise it's power on their behalf and for their benefit (a republic). To say "We are republic, but not democracy" is not to say "Republics and democracies are mutually exclusive", and while I agree that Romans definitely said the first, I'm not aware of them (or anyone, besides the morons we're both correcting here) ever saying the latter.

Well, one problem is, after Athenian democracy, how many governments have been run exclusively by direct democracy? Swiss local government and New England town halls, but they've all been part of larger nations. While Massachusetts and Iowa have republican forms of government, you don't usually apply the term "republic" to subdivisions, except in (off the top of my head) Russia. So no one was debating what to call a country run by direct democracy because there haven't been that many of them.
I guess if a country amended its constitution to create a system of pure direct democracy, they could call themselves a "republic," but my understanding was that besides having sovereignty theoretically derived from the people, a republic by definition must have elected representatives.
EDIT:
Dictionary.com agrees with me: "Republic: a state in which the supreme power rests in the body of citizens entitled to vote and is exercised by representatives chosen directly or indirectly by them." (Emphasis added).
EDIT2:
I can't believe I wrote that whole thing, then edited it, and still misread you. My first paragraph is all based on me reading "later" instead of "latter." Oops.
But the rest of my point is still my position. I don't hold democracy and republic to be mutually exclusive, but I would say that a purely direct democracy is not a republic. And a democratic republic is not a redundancy, but one of two kinds of representative democracy, the other being a [democratic] constitutional monarchy. (I added "democratic" in brackets because a constitutional monarchy could be just as much of a fake democracy as the German Democratic Republic.) The term "democratic republic' if used truthfully, distinguishes those republics that are democracies from those republics that are not (like the USSR). But granted, we normally think of it as being a lie, as in the DDR.

User avatar
W3ird_N3rd
Posts: 69
Joined: Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:43 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby W3ird_N3rd » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:40 am UTC

This does remind me of something 4 years ago - yeah, I was stupid, but I think you might find it funny. :)

I wasn't really paying attention to the elections and just occasionally heard about the battle between "Obama", "Hillary" and "McCain" on the news and the news would show some of the things they said.

Obama and Hillary both seemed like a good choice. So I was actually disappointed Hillary dropped out. Why didn't McCain drop out? He was obviously the worst choice and if he would drop out, people would no longer have to worry about the elections!

I know better now. ;) (at least I would hope so)

mcdigman
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby mcdigman » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:35 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
My point was that he was wrong to think that because we're a republic, we're not a democracy.

Yeah, I got that and was very happy to see it because I too am very annoyed at people going "America is a republic not a democracy!111!1eleven!"

And I also agree that the Romans had disdain for Athenian democracy, but I don't believe they meant to use the term "republic" in a sense exclusive of democracy. They said in essence "Yes our state exercises power on behalf of and for the benefit of the people (a republic), but it's not run directly by them (a democracy)!"; but that's not to say that a state run directly by the people (a democracy) wouldn't exercise it's power on their behalf and for their benefit (a republic). To say "We are republic, but not democracy" is not to say "Republics and democracies are mutually exclusive", and while I agree that Romans definitely said the first, I'm not aware of them (or anyone, besides the morons we're both correcting here) ever saying the latter.


To be clear, "not mutually exclusive" is not the same as "mutually inclusive." There is nothing wrong about people who think that America should be a republic, not a democracy. For this reasons, it is not redundant to say "democratic republic:" you also have people's republics and soviet socialist republics, and probably others. The big contrast should be between republics (things of the people) and dictatorships/oligarchies. The other possibility is direct democracies, which work fine in small communities like New England town halls but not so well on countries with hundreds of millions of people.

User avatar
cjmcjmcjmcjm
Posts: 1158
Joined: Tue Jan 05, 2010 5:15 am UTC
Location: Anywhere the internet is strong

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby cjmcjmcjmcjm » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:50 am UTC

Worst part about being an out-of-state college student: missing the absentee ballot deadline. Not just a problem for me, but for several fellow students as well. I should have went with my gut feelings and voted early over Fall Break.

Even if the Libertarian Party doesn't win, I hope they get at least 5% of the popular vote to guarantee federal funding for the 2016 elections. I'd be a bit more supportive of the Green Party, but Jill Stein doesn't like nuclear power.
frezik wrote:Anti-photons move at the speed of dark

DemonDeluxe wrote:Paying to have laws written that allow you to do what you want, is a lot cheaper than paying off the judge every time you want to get away with something shady.

Harry Voyager
Posts: 52
Joined: Thu Nov 04, 2010 7:55 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Harry Voyager » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:24 am UTC

cjmcjmcjmcjm wrote:[...]
Even if the Libertarian Party doesn't win, I hope they get at least 5% of the popular vote to guarantee federal funding for the 2016 elections. [...]


Doesn't accepting federal funding defeat the entire premise of being a libertarian? I kind of thought the whole point of Libertarianism was to apply the absolute minimum amount of government needed to stave off natural law, and no more.

I'm not seeing how dumping more money into politics, be it federal or any other source, prevents the onslaught of barbarism. Heck, given this last campaign, I think one could make a convincing argument for the converse.

User avatar
San Fran Sam
Posts: 228
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 5:54 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby San Fran Sam » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:00 am UTC

fasces349 wrote:
I'm actually rather disappointed that nobody realized that my original post was a joke. noone (hopefully) is stupid enough to vote for the underdog in an election just because he is the underdog.


Actually, i am voting for the Peace and Freedom Party because i live in eff-ing California. A state so blue that my vote doesn't matter.

Once the electoral compact is in force, then my vote will matter. and if Romney wins the popular vote and loses the electoral college all those whiny red states will sign on so fast that it will be in place by 2016.

VanI
Posts: 61
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:54 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby VanI » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:23 am UTC

San Fran Sam wrote:Once the electoral compact is in force, then my vote will matter. and if Romney wins the popular vote and loses the electoral college all those whiny red states will sign on so fast that it will be in place by 2016.


The irony is that a lot of voters are like you, and a popular vote/electoral vote split is just as likely to be the result of people in solid blue and red states not voting as it is the people's choice being thwarted. That having been said, I still support the interstate popular vote compact, even though it's irrelevant - my state has already signed on and represents 9% of the current EV total.
I swear, a fireball lied to me just the other day...

Carlomagno
Posts: 75
Joined: Fri May 20, 2011 6:23 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Carlomagno » Tue Nov 06, 2012 7:51 am UTC

You'd think this community could do better than this thread has been. Usually, the worst here is an overreaction to some "kick" the author has or has not been on. Then you throw politics into the mix and people just get silly. I think the point here is that getting too far into polls is just as ridiculous as what the guy does in 386. The message, then, is probably, "Chill out and let the election actually happen." Please, people. Nobody goes to an internet forum to figure out who to vote for.

User avatar
Adacore
Posts: 2755
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:35 pm UTC
Location: 한국 창원

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Adacore » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:07 am UTC

fasces349 wrote:I'm actually rather disappointed that nobody realized that my original post was a joke. noone (hopefully) is stupid enough to vote for the underdog in an election just because he is the underdog.

I didn't think it was a joke, but I did assume your reasons were more nuanced than most people who responded did. I figured you must want Nate Silver to have to write those blog posts because it'd help explain some fundamental statistics to a lot of people who might not understand it, and educating the populace (especially in statistics) is arguably more important than electing anyone as president.

Kit.
Posts: 1117
Joined: Thu Jun 16, 2011 5:14 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Kit. » Tue Nov 06, 2012 8:32 am UTC

Harry Voyager wrote:Doesn't accepting federal funding defeat the entire premise of being a libertarian?

Only if it increases the total federal budget.

Besides, there is a difference between "being a libertarian" and "voting for libertarians".

Harry Voyager wrote:I kind of thought the whole point of Libertarianism was to apply the absolute minimum amount of government needed to stave off natural law

Huh?

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5447
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:44 am UTC

Harry Voyager wrote:I kind of thought the whole point of Libertarianism was to apply the absolute minimum amount of government needed to stave off natural law

Everything about this sentence is wrong.

Natural law is not something anybody wants to stave off. Natural law is the set of rights and duties which obtain regardless of any decrees or agreements people have made amongst themselves -- which may be the null set, if there is no natural law, but that's what it's defined as.

Libertarianism in the Lockean tradition says that the rightful purpose of government is to enforce the natural law (generally construed as rights to life, liberty, and property), and the agreements between people (contracts) which form the proper basis of manmade law.

You might be thinking of "state of nature", rather than "natural law". Hobbes famously characterized the state of nature as a war of all against all, where life was nasty, brutish, and short. I suppose it would be right to interpret the enforcement of Lockean natural law as staving off the "state of nature" in that sense, inasmuch as enforcing rights to life, liberty, and property means forcing everybody to mind their own business and stop making war against each other.

However, Hobbes was an absolute monarchist, as in he was a proponent of something as far from libertarianism as you could imagine. He thought that that kind of state of nature was damn good reason why any rational people should surrender all their power to an absolute monarch who would preserve order and peace. Hide in the lion's den to escape the wolves or something along those lines.

Locke, on the other hand, had a completely different concept of the "state of nature". He thought the state of nature was one wherein the natural law, people's rights to their lives, liberty, and property, were respected. When men made war against each other and violated those rights, the state of nature was lost. Of course men have a propensity to do that, which makes the state of nature a fragile, unstable thing.

Thus, he argued, it is in men's interested to form institutes by mutual agreement (social contracts) to protect those rights granted by natural law and preserve the peace of the state of nature. Of course in doing so we leave the state of nature ourselves, but it is a minor necessary evil committed only as minimally as possible and only to the ends of staving off a greater evil still.

Thus we get the libertarian concept of minimalist government strictly for the purpose of protecting life, liberty, and property, and enforcing contracts between men which they have seen fit to agree upon.
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

JetstreamGW
Posts: 40
Joined: Fri Dec 16, 2011 5:22 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby JetstreamGW » Tue Nov 06, 2012 1:47 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:If your claim was merely that "one of the dice will be higher than 2", then no, you wouldn't be wrong. However if your claim selected one of the two dice in particular as the one that would be higher, and it turns out the other one was higher instead, you'd be quite plainly incorrect.


83% chance to win still means 17% chance to LOSE, is the point he's making.

User avatar
peewee_RotA
Posts: 504
Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2011 1:19 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby peewee_RotA » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:26 pm UTC

I'm definitely suggesting voting naked. Brings a whole new meaning to "pole watching".
"Vowels have trouble getting married in Canada. They can’t pronounce their O’s."

http://timelesstherpg.wordpress.com/about/

User avatar
mathmannix
Posts: 1446
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 2:12 pm UTC
Location: Washington, DC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby mathmannix » Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:51 pm UTC

jay35 wrote:Then based on your statement, statistics are never wrong, but they're also essentially pointless, since we can't be certain which portion of the percentage the outcome will actually fall within (the 86.3% or the 13.6%). If it can fall in either place, it's essentially 50/50, since any given instance it could go either way. :P


I've often wondered this about the weather forecast. It seems weird to say that the chance of it raining in London right now is 100% (because it is raining, at least according to this wonderful website: http://isitraining.in/London and similarly, you could say that the chance of it raining in London yesterday was 100% (or 0%, I really don't know.) But the chance of it raining in London tomorrow is 60%? (I just made this up.) Now bear in mind, I am a statistician. But something has always bothered me about this. If we had a time machine and could look at the future (without affecting it somehow), there wouldn't be any "60% chance of rain in London tomorrow" nonsense, it would be instead "It will rain tomorrow, starting at 10:15 AM and lasting until 11:45 AM, and then it won't rain again until nightfall." Or whatever, to be accurate. I can't be bothered to find out the actual prediction, but it's not really relevant.

But we could forecast the past if we didn't know it... based on where clouds are now, we could say that there is a 40% chance it was raining in Bristol yesterday, but really it would be either a 0% chance (if it didn't rain) or a 100% chance (if it did).

[Edit: another wonderful minimal-information website: http://hasthelargehadroncolliderdestroyedtheworldyet.com/]
I hear velociraptor tastes like chicken.

fasces349
Posts: 6
Joined: Mon Nov 05, 2012 9:08 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby fasces349 » Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
fasces349 wrote:I'm actually rather disappointed that nobody realized that my original post was a joke. noone (hopefully) is stupid enough to vote for the underdog in an election just because he is the underdog.


I don't think Romney's really the underdog, because a lot of people expect him to win. I would imagine that the majority of people who will vote for him tomorrow expect him to win, or at least believe that it is possible. However, I bet nobody who will vote for the Prohibition Party candidate, Jack Fellure of West Virginia, tomorrow expect him to win. (Actually, it is technically impossible for him to win, as he only on the ballot in Louisiana, and write-in votes for him in 41 states - including California, Texas, New York, and Florida - will just be thrown out rather than counted - link.)

There are six people who are actually capable of being elected President tomorrow - in decreasing order of how their party's candidates did in 2008, they are Democrat Barack Obama, Republican Mitt Romney, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Constitution Party candidate Virgil Goode, Green Party candidate Jill Stein, and lastly Justice Party candidate Rocky Anderson, whose party was just created last year. As Rocky Anderson would have to get a majority of votes in every single state that he can legally get votes in to be elected, he is (IMO) definitely the underdog.

but still, if your voting for Rocky Anderson, your doing so because you agree with his policies, not because he is an underdog.

rmsgrey
Posts: 3632
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby rmsgrey » Tue Nov 06, 2012 5:18 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:
jay35 wrote:Then based on your statement, statistics are never wrong, but they're also essentially pointless, since we can't be certain which portion of the percentage the outcome will actually fall within (the 86.3% or the 13.6%). If it can fall in either place, it's essentially 50/50, since any given instance it could go either way. :P


I've often wondered this about the weather forecast. It seems weird to say that the chance of it raining in London right now is 100% (because it is raining, at least according to this wonderful website: http://isitraining.in/London and similarly, you could say that the chance of it raining in London yesterday was 100% (or 0%, I really don't know.) But the chance of it raining in London tomorrow is 60%? (I just made this up.) Now bear in mind, I am a statistician. But something has always bothered me about this. If we had a time machine and could look at the future (without affecting it somehow), there wouldn't be any "60% chance of rain in London tomorrow" nonsense, it would be instead "It will rain tomorrow, starting at 10:15 AM and lasting until 11:45 AM, and then it won't rain again until nightfall." Or whatever, to be accurate. I can't be bothered to find out the actual prediction, but it's not really relevant.

But we could forecast the past if we didn't know it... based on where clouds are now, we could say that there is a 40% chance it was raining in Bristol yesterday, but really it would be either a 0% chance (if it didn't rain) or a 100% chance (if it did).


When the forecast says "there is a 60% chance it will rain in London tomorrow", what's actually meant is more like: "if you take every situation where we get the same information as we have now, in 60% of them, it rains in London the following day" - or, nowadays: "having run thousands of computer simulations based on the current readings, with small variations to account for the chaotic effects of the limited precision of our data, in 60% of the simulations, it rains in London tomorrow".

In the classical model, it either will definitely rain in London tomorrow or it will definitely not rain in London tomorrow (or it'll definitely do something that's just on the borderline of counting as rain without ever crossing into definitive rain), and the percentages are just an expression of the uncertainty arising from the limits of our measurements. Laplace famously speculated about a hypothetical demon capable of knowing the exact state of everything in the universe at some given moment, who would then be able to deduce with absolute certainty the entire history of the universe from the dawn of time until whatever end there may be.

In the quantum model, okay, tomorrow's weather is still pretty-much classical, but the weather a year from today is not only unknown because of limits on the information we have, but unknowable because even some entity that knew all there was to know about the universe would be unable to deduce what will happen - the weather itself doesn't decide until it's required to - at the quantum level, particles left to get on with their lives don't have well-defined properties - they only have definite values when someone is looking, and the rest of the time they're a sort of cloud of probabilities that exists in all possibilities and none (with biases toward certain possibilities). Since the weather is chaotic (that is, two starting states that are almost identical will (typically) become wildly different after a while) the ambiguity at the quantum level leads to uncertainty at the everyday level - until we get close enough to the event for the quantum randomness to no longer be able to affect the outcome, the best we can possibly do is figure out the probabilities of them resolving in favour of rain or not.


Or at least that's what people who study quantum effects say the experimental results suggest - the details may be wrong, and some other picture may be found to explain things better, but what's clear is that something very alien happens on very small scales, which, through some deep magic converts at human scales to rain/not rather than allowing 60% rain. Schroedinger's Cat was pointing out how weird quantum theory is - that we don't see cats in a superposition of alive/dead in the everyday world, but that's exactly what theory and observation insist is happening at atomic scales. In the Cthulhu Mythos, discovering the secrets that lie behind the universe is enough to drive men mad - trying to develop an intuitive understanding of quantum theory can have much the same effect...

User avatar
eran_rathan
Mostly Wrong
Posts: 1842
Joined: Fri Apr 09, 2010 2:36 pm UTC
Location: in your ceiling, judging you

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby eran_rathan » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:42 pm UTC

Jackpot777 wrote:Image

Poe's Law, you magnificent bastard, I honestly can't tell anymore.


Dammit, where were you with this GIF when we needed in in Pressures? Where were you? oh god the humanity...
"Does this smell like chloroform to you?"
"Google tells me you are not unique. You are, however, wrong."
nɒʜƚɒɿ_nɒɿɘ

User avatar
neremanth
Posts: 157
Joined: Wed Jul 25, 2012 4:24 pm UTC
Location: UK

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby neremanth » Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:50 pm UTC

mathmannix wrote:I've often wondered this about the weather forecast. It seems weird to say that the chance of it raining in London right now is 100% (because it is raining, at least according to this wonderful website: http://isitraining.in/London and similarly, you could say that the chance of it raining in London yesterday was 100% (or 0%, I really don't know.) But the chance of it raining in London tomorrow is 60%? (I just made this up.) Now bear in mind, I am a statistician. But something has always bothered me about this. If we had a time machine and could look at the future (without affecting it somehow), there wouldn't be any "60% chance of rain in London tomorrow" nonsense, it would be instead "It will rain tomorrow, starting at 10:15 AM and lasting until 11:45 AM, and then it won't rain again until nightfall." Or whatever, to be accurate. I can't be bothered to find out the actual prediction, but it's not really relevant.

But we could forecast the past if we didn't know it... based on where clouds are now, we could say that there is a 40% chance it was raining in Bristol yesterday, but really it would be either a 0% chance (if it didn't rain) or a 100% chance (if it did).


(Also a statistician...) Isn't it a frequentist vs. Bayesian thing? My understanding is that the frequentists say that an event in the present or past has a 0 or 100% chance of occurring and an event in the future can have any probability between 0 and 100%, while for Bayesians it's all about how much information is available to you: we each have our own probability about any event, and while everyone's probability of a future event is going to be greater than 0 and less than 100%, each person's probability could be different. For events in the present or past, someone who knew what had happened would still have a probability of 0 or 100% but someone who didn't know would have a probability somewhere in between, based on what other information they did have.

So to take an example, a frequentist (assuming they agreed Nate Silver had made the best possible prediction) would say that the chance of Obama winning the election was 86.3%, and that it's meaningless to say that's Nate Silver's probability (in an only-applies-to-him sense, not in a giving-him-the-credit sense!) or your probability or my probability - it's just "the" probability. But for a Bayesian, you and I (and Nate Silver) could have different probabilities of Obama winning. If I haven't been keeping up with the news about the election and all I know is that there are two candidates (one named Obama) who realistically have any chance of winning, my probability of Obama winning could be 50% because that's the best I can do with the information I have. You might have been following all the coverage and possibly have some different probability for Obama winning. Nate Silver has analysed a considerable amount of information (I imagine) and his probability is 86.3%. Of course, the fact that Nate Silver's probability is 86.3% is itself a piece of information and if I go from my informationless state to hearing about that then I may revise my probability of Obama winning to be much closer to 86.3% (how much closer depends on my estimate of how accurate I expect Nate Silver's probability calculations to be, which again depends on how much information I have, about his statistical competence and about his past predictions and how they've turned out).

Tomorrow, after the results are in, the frequentist will either say the probability of Obama winning is 100% or 0%. For a Bayesian, if you have heard the results, your probability will be the same as the frequentist probability. But if I haven't heard them yet, my probability will still be the same as it was today (or updated with any extra information I've gained in the intervening time, from exit polls or early declaring states) - until I do hear, when it also becomes 0% or 100%.

(Disclaimer - I believe that's what Bayesians would say but I may have remembered wrong or misunderstood).

Although I do most of my work with the frequentist framework, I do have the same problem as you and think the Bayesian approach (or my understanding of it...) is more correct. It doesn't really make a difference for the work I do so it's fine that professionally I'm mostly frequentist, but I think that on a personal/philosophical level I'm a Bayesian.

ike
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:12 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby ike » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:09 pm UTC

fasces349 wrote:Both options are the same. The reason most people end up thinking this is because the president actually has significantly less power then people think and so can actually do very little compared to what is expected.


both want to bomb Iran.
both are against due process.
both are against government transparency and accountability.
both want to continue running a deficit for the foreseeable future.

Just because you chose to fixate on some superficial differences doesn't make them different in any meaningful sense.



Corporations control politics. If this was the case then Dodd-Frank wouldn't have been passed. In past recessions companies that employ thousands of workers got bailout when they were failing. This wasn't because the CEOs and the politicians were good friends but simply if it didn't happen the recession would have been much worse (can anyone name keynes?) as unemployment would skyrocket.


as long as you have an economic model that equates year on year growth with stability, like Keynes's does, economic downturns will always happen by virtue of the fact that year on year growth produces an expodential curve when graphing resource consumption over time and that the Earth, or for that matter The Milky Way Galaxy, is finite.

As far as unemployment, it might skyrocket but I doubt it would of have more than it did anyway. If GM/Chysler went bankrupt, it would of provided cheap start-up capital for Tesla Motors, Campagna Motors, and others.


To big to fail isn't because they buy politicians but because they have such a high stake in our economy that if they failed so would the US economy.


Tim Guithner.


This being said, EpicanicusStrikes brought up a good point about lobbying, the NRA (a non-profit so doesn't count as a corporation) is on average the largest campaign contributor for republicans and the teachers union is on average the largest campaign contributor for democrats. Obviously as a result Republicans are pro-guns (but this doesn't mean democrats are anti-guns) and democrats are pro-union.


firstly, unions recieve representation in corporatist systems. This is no secret. Even Mussilini brought unionist to the table. Secondly, the Republicans nor the NRA are pro-firearm in any meaningful way. Sure, they usually oppose new firearm regulations but they damn near never support repealing exisiting regulations.



Adacore wrote:
fasces349 wrote:I'm actually rather disappointed that nobody realized that my original post was a joke. noone (hopefully) is stupid enough to vote for the underdog in an election just because he is the underdog.

I didn't think it was a joke, but I did assume your reasons were more nuanced than most people who responded did. I figured you must want Nate Silver to have to write those blog posts because it'd help explain some fundamental statistics to a lot of people who might not understand it, and educating the populace (especially in statistics) is arguably more important than electing anyone as president.


that's a good reason to get rid of the Department of Education.



EpicanicusStrikes wrote:No candidate has an honest chance without corporate backing.


the Ronpaul at one point raised more funds than any other candidate and that was with near nill corporate donations and he never got air time or media attention even closely porportional to his fundraising or poll numbers. So apparently, money isn't the only factor determining candidate coverage.


We hardly have decent transparency when it comes to campaign support...


The government isn't transparent so why should the campaign for government office?



Aiwendil wrote:
BAReFOOt wrote:PROTIP: THE DEMS WILL ENACT THE REP CHANGES ANYWAY! AND THE REPS WILL ENACT THE DEM CHANGES ANYWAY! Because in both cases, they are controlled by the same lobbyists, have revolving doors with the same companies (all of them) and will show you the same propaganda on TV to brainwash you into believing whatever they want.


You sound rather a lot like some of those Nader voters in 2000 - you know, the ones who, however inadvertantly, gave us two unfunded wars


that the Democrats voted for!..... and expanded into who knows how many countries when Obama took office........ oh, and don't give me any crap about "Bush lied", yea he did. But that was known, even if the mainstream media sat on the story, before the vote to declare war on Iraq so the fact that he lied is completely irrelevent.


massive tax cuts for the wealthy


which did vastly less to redistribute wealth and purchasing power from the already poor to the already rich than the inflationary monetary policy that had been practiced for what was at the time 87 years.

myriad invasions of civil liberties, etc., etc.


That the Democrats didn't even make a passing effort to stop and expanded on once they got the executive office!


The American two-party system has many very serious problems, but if, after all that's happened over the past decade, you still think there's no difference between the Democrats and the Republicans, you're being willfully blind.


who the hell is willfully blind when you've deliberately ignored the fact that damn near everything you blame on The Republicans, The Democrats where equally complict in?

Moreover, a lot of Nader voters said in exit polls that if Nader weren't running they wouldn't of voted; but even if they where all going to vote for Gore it'd still not matter because it's people like you who tell The Democrats and The Republicans that "as long as you are ever so marginally better than the other guy, you've got my vote!" who ensure that both parties will suck even more than they would anyway.

Supporting the "lesser of two evils" is still supporting evil. If you actually where opposed to evil then picking between two evils is a matter of picking your enemy in a fight where you are not looking for a challenge, but just to win. When that is the scenario it'd make more sense to vote for the dumber of two evils than waste time trying to figure out which is actually more evil.



[edited]
[edited for numerious typos, spelling errors, grammar errors and ambiguities]
[edited for typo]
Last edited by ike on Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:12 am UTC, edited 2 times in total.

BigMcStrongmuscle
Posts: 65
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 9:45 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby BigMcStrongmuscle » Tue Nov 06, 2012 9:49 pm UTC

Wrt myriad invasions of civil liberties.

The reason the Democrats didn't stop the NDAA is because the NDAA is also the yearly bill that pays the salaries of the military. The jackasses in the House of Representatives stuck the "no due process" bits in there as a poison-pill rider so that Obama would be forced to either sign something that made him look like a tyrant or veto paying the salaries of our troops.

Incidentally, he responded by issuing a signing statement with his signature, saying, (paraphrased): "I'm not legally allowed to impose one-sided rules on future presidencies, but I refuse to use any of the powers granted me by this moronic law." I encourage you to look this up and get it straight from the horse's mouth.

J Thomas
Everyone's a jerk. You. Me. This Jerk.^
Posts: 1190
Joined: Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:18 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby J Thomas » Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:54 pm UTC

ike wrote:Supporting the "lesser of two evils" is still supporting evil. If you actually where opposed to evil then picking between two evils is a matter of picking your enemy in a fight where you are not looking for a challenge, but just to win. When that is the scenario it'd make more sense to vote for the dumber of two evils than waste time trying to figure out which is actually more evil.


When it comes to questions like, which of these two evils do I want to control 20,000+ nuclear weapons -- I'm not at all sure I want the dumber choice.
The Law of Fives is true. I see it everywhere I look for it.

User avatar
Pfhorrest
Posts: 5447
Joined: Fri Oct 30, 2009 6:11 am UTC
Contact:

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Pfhorrest » Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:35 am UTC

ike wrote:Just because you chose to fixate on some superficial differences doesn't make them different in any meaningful sense.

John Johnson and Jack Jackson both want to kill all puppies and torture cute kittens.

But Jack Jackson wants to torture the kittens to death, whereas John Johnson only wants to torture them a little.

Also, Jack Jackson wants to stab you in the face, on top of all this animal cruelty. John Johnson has no problem with your face.

Sure, they're both monsters, but can you honestly say you would have no preference between them?
Forrest Cameranesi, Geek of All Trades
"I am Sam. Sam I am. I do not like trolls, flames, or spam."
The Codex Quaerendae (my philosophy) - The Chronicles of Quelouva (my fiction)

ike
Posts: 20
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:12 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby ike » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:09 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
ike wrote:Just because you chose to fixate on some superficial differences doesn't make them different in any meaningful sense.

John Johnson and Jack Jackson both want to kill all puppies and torture cute kittens.

But Jack Jackson wants to torture the kittens to death, whereas John Johnson only wants to torture them a little.

Also, Jack Jackson wants to stab you in the face, on top of all this animal cruelty. John Johnson has no problem with your face.

Sure, they're both monsters, but can you honestly say you would have no preference between them?


the one with a smaller security detail.

User avatar
Coyne
Posts: 1101
Joined: Fri Dec 18, 2009 12:07 am UTC
Location: Orlando, Florida
Contact:

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby Coyne » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:08 am UTC

ike wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:
ike wrote:Just because you chose to fixate on some superficial differences doesn't make them different in any meaningful sense.

John Johnson and Jack Jackson both want to kill all puppies and torture cute kittens.

But Jack Jackson wants to torture the kittens to death, whereas John Johnson only wants to torture them a little.

Also, Jack Jackson wants to stab you in the face, on top of all this animal cruelty. John Johnson has no problem with your face.

Sure, they're both monsters, but can you honestly say you would have no preference between them?


the one with a smaller security detail.


Now see, when you said that, I immediately had the Machiavellian thought, "No, the one to prefer is the one that can be suckered into killing the other, so the one is dead and the other goes to prison."
In all fairness...

rmsgrey
Posts: 3632
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:08 pm UTC

neremanth wrote:
mathmannix wrote:I've often wondered this about the weather forecast. It seems weird to say that the chance of it raining in London right now is 100% (because it is raining, at least according to this wonderful website: http://isitraining.in/London and similarly, you could say that the chance of it raining in London yesterday was 100% (or 0%, I really don't know.) But the chance of it raining in London tomorrow is 60%? (I just made this up.) Now bear in mind, I am a statistician. But something has always bothered me about this. If we had a time machine and could look at the future (without affecting it somehow), there wouldn't be any "60% chance of rain in London tomorrow" nonsense, it would be instead "It will rain tomorrow, starting at 10:15 AM and lasting until 11:45 AM, and then it won't rain again until nightfall." Or whatever, to be accurate. I can't be bothered to find out the actual prediction, but it's not really relevant.

But we could forecast the past if we didn't know it... based on where clouds are now, we could say that there is a 40% chance it was raining in Bristol yesterday, but really it would be either a 0% chance (if it didn't rain) or a 100% chance (if it did).


(Also a statistician...) Isn't it a frequentist vs. Bayesian thing? My understanding is that the frequentists say that an event in the present or past has a 0 or 100% chance of occurring and an event in the future can have any probability between 0 and 100%, while for Bayesians it's all about how much information is available to you: we each have our own probability about any event, and while everyone's probability of a future event is going to be greater than 0 and less than 100%, each person's probability could be different. For events in the present or past, someone who knew what had happened would still have a probability of 0 or 100% but someone who didn't know would have a probability somewhere in between, based on what other information they did have.


My understanding is that even a frequentist would be willing to associate a 60% chance with it having rained yesterday in London, but only indirectly - something like "While there is either a 100% chance or a 0% chance of it having rained in London yesterday [specific event], over many days like today, the probability that there is a 100% chance it had rained in London on the previous day tends toward 60% as the number of days increases [general case]". The distinction between the specific event (which either happened or didn't) and what we know about the class of (sufficiently) similar historical (or simulated, or...) events (a fraction of which happened) gets around the frequentist's instinctive revulsion for the concept of a specific event which both happened and didn't happen in some proportion.

jfriesne
Posts: 25
Joined: Sun Oct 03, 2010 8:00 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby jfriesne » Wed Nov 07, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

W3ird_N3rd wrote:Obama and Hillary both seemed like a good choice. So I was actually disappointed Hillary dropped out. Why didn't McCain drop out? He was obviously the worst choice and if he would drop out, people would no longer have to worry about the elections!

I know better now. ;) (at least I would hope so)


It might interest/amuse you to know that the scenario you imagined is now possible in California's legislative races -- in those races, the top two vote-getters in the primary are the two candidates that appear on the general election ballot, regardless of party. Because of this there were several districts in yesterday's election where the ballot featured a choice between two Democrats (or two Republicans) only.

User avatar
bmonk
Posts: 662
Joined: Thu Feb 18, 2010 10:14 pm UTC
Location: Schitzoed in the OTT between the 2100s and the late 900s. Hoping for singularity.

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby bmonk » Wed Nov 07, 2012 4:36 pm UTC

peewee_RotA wrote:I'm definitely suggesting voting naked. Brings a whole new meaning to "pole watching".

Only if the guys get excited about voting--or about who is voting.
Having become a Wizard on n.p. 2183, the Yellow Piggy retroactively appointed his honorable self a Temporal Wizardly Piggy on n.p.1488, not to be effective until n.p. 2183, thereby avoiding a partial temporal paradox. Since he couldn't afford two philosophical PhDs to rule on the title.

SerialTroll
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Dec 20, 2010 5:28 am UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby SerialTroll » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:06 pm UTC

Fire Brns wrote:I'm laughing at you all.

The polls are all useless. Whenever I see a poll saying " 'Candidate A' guaranteed win in 'State A' " I immediately go to look at how they reached those numbers and can immediately call BS. One poll (which I am only using because it was obviously biased and no one can say I myself am being biased of it's results) said that Obama was guaranteed Ohio.

The poll included 46 Republicans, 19 Democrats, and 35 independents.
The poll had the numbers at 46/52 in favor of Obama.
Conclusion:If every Republican chose Romney and every Democrat chose Obama then 94% of independents had to have voted Obama. Those numbers don't agree with any other poll (but that doesn't matter because the other polls are wrong too) and the balance itself of 46/35/19 isn't an accurate cross section of the population.

Long story short: The only people who are actively polling are the people with a dog in the fight.


And yet, sites like electoral-vote.com managed to correctly predict EVERY state with the possible exception of Florida based on those polling numbers.

rmsgrey
Posts: 3632
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:35 pm UTC

Re: 1130: "Poll Watching"

Postby rmsgrey » Wed Nov 07, 2012 5:15 pm UTC

SerialTroll wrote:And yet, sites like electoral-vote.com managed to correctly predict EVERY state with the possible exception of Florida based on those polling numbers.


I feel a conspiracy theory coming on - how did they get such accurate results if they didn't rig them in the first place?

In other news, does anyone else remember the Isaac Asimov short story about the one voter? The premise is that polling had got so accurate and so refined that, rather than fund an actual election, people just accepted the final poll results as a perfect prediction of what the result would have been - and then, with polling techniques being able to get more and more accurate results from fewer and fewer people, the system reached its logical conclusion with a single person taking a computer-administered survey, from which the election results that would have happened are extrapolated...


Return to “Individual XKCD Comic Threads”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Cougar Allen, Google [Bot] and 43 guests