Tag Archives: prediction

Two Sitcoms Joked About Bruce Jenner Being A Woman Years Before He Came Out

This is dialog from a 2009 Family Guy episode (season 7, episode 14) called “We Love You, Conrad“:

Brian: Bruce Jenner is a man

Stewie: No, Brian. That’s what the press would have you believe, but he’s not. Bruce Jenner is a woman: an elegant, beautiful, Dutch woman.


And a decade before that, in 1996, Married… With Children showed the Bundys’ boyish-looking next door neighbor, Marcy, being mistaken for Bruce Jenner. This is from the 25th episode of season 10, “Torch Song Duet”:

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via Uproxx and Happy Place

Nate Silver Predicted Most Of The Oscar Winners, Too

Nate Silver is now a famous statistician, after correctly calling the presidential election in every state for 2012, and all but one state for 2008. For his next trick, he’s applied his calculus on the movies: on the Friday morning before the Oscars, he published predictions for the main categories and got four of the six right:

  • Best picture: correctly called Argo, with Zero Dark Thirty being a distant second
  • Best director: incorrectly called Spielberg (Lincoln) as a narrow favorite over the actual winner, Ang Lee (Life of Pi). In the write-up, he explains that this was a shaky prediction to make, because his top two choices — Ben Affleck for Argo and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty — were actually not even nominated.
  • Best actor: correctly called Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln), with Bradley Cooper being a distant second (Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Best actress: correctly called Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook), with Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) not being far behind
  • Best supporting actor: this was a pretty big mistake, as he predicted the winner would be Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), with Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) as a second possibility not that far behind. But he forecast that the actual winner, Cristoph Waltz (Django Unchained), was third most likely to win — though very closely behind Hoffman.
  • Best supporting actress: correctly called Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables), with Sally Field (Lincoln) being a distant second.

Not bad at all. He made the predictions by looking at historical data for 16 other awards shows, like the Golden Globes, SAG Awards and BAFTAs. Now if only he could bring that kind of forecasting accuracy to economics.

Nate Silver


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From The New York Times, via Slashdot

Proof That Economists Make Wild Guesses, Not Forecasts

A study by the Reserve Bank of Australia found out that their economic predictions could’ve just as easily been done by a monkey throwing darts at a chart:

  • Only 70% of inflation forecasts were accurate
  • Unemployment estimates were as good as a roll of the dice
  • Economic growth predictions were somewhere in between

They looked at 20 years’ worth of forecasts for the year ahead to get that data. Bottom line: forecasting the economy is like trying to forecast the dice in craps, but instead of losing money to the casino, you get paid a high salary and get mentioned in the news every year. Why? Because we need to plan for something in the future… even if those plans are based on fiction.

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From Australian Broadcasting Corporation, via Slashdot


Nate Silver’s Election Forecast Was Deadly Accurate Again

Nate Silver is a statistician that gained some fame after developing a system for predicting the performance of baseball players. That field is now known as sabermetrics, and is the basis for Moneyball — both the book and the movie. In 2008, Silver turned his attention to politics and started a blog called Five Thirty Eight (which is the total number of electoral votes), where he developed a system that, using all polling data available, correctly called not only the presidential election, but how 49 out of the 50 states voted, and how all of the 35 senate races turned out. (Indiana was the one state he missed, which went for Obama by 1%.)

For the 2012 election, the algorithms were even better: he got the all 50 states completely right.

Nate Silver's election forecast on the morning of the election


CNN's election map the day after the election


On the morning of the election, his blog — which was bought by the New York Times in 2010 — predicted, with a confidence level of 90.9%, that Obama would win the election. To anyone following this and other polling data, like Princeton’s Election Consortium‘s, the results on election night amounted to a complete lack of surprise. But of course, all pundits on the news coverage of the election ignored these predictions and instead spent the entire night making their own, much less rigorous forecasts, based on personal knowledge and gut instincts instead of mountains of polling data and algorithms. Then again, how else would a dozen news networks fill as many hours of programming, except by pretending that the future is unknowable?

The always insightful xkcd hit the nail on the head:

The comic’s hover text reads:

As of this writing, the only thing that’s ‘razor-thin’ or ‘too close to call’ is the gap between the consensus poll forecast and the result.

(Updated November 9th to reflect that Florida was called for Obama.)

From Five Thirty Eight and xkcd

Bam Margera ‘Predicted’ Ryan Dunn’s Death

You’ve probably heard about that one guy from Jackass, Ryan Dunn, having died a couple days ago in a fiery car crash at 130 mph. Today, it turns out he was ridiculously drunk, judging from his blood-alcohol concentration that was 2.5x the legal limit; a fact that the now-voiceless Robert Ebert predicted shortly after the accident, as evidenced by his tweet on the matter: “Friends don’t let jackasses drink and drive.” (He has since apologized for his callousness.) And now there’s a mysterious video on YouTube consisting of audio from somewhere of another Jackass, Bam Margera, talking to his mom and a guy named Tim Glomb that worked with them, in which they predict he’s going to die in a car accident. “Predict” in the same sense that I will now predict the price of oil will go up.

Dunn (on the left) posted this photo on Tumblr a few hours before he died


Bam: Well Dunn learned his lesson when he rolled his car a couple months ago.

Mom: Oh yeah, sure “he learned his lesson” — he’ll never learn his lesson.

Bam: Dunn destroyed his own car by rolling it, by driving like an asshole.

Mom: He always drives like an asshole.

Bam: Too true.

Mom: I’m serious! Like…

Bam: He’s the worst driver too!

Mom: He’s a grandstander. I’ll tell you, he’s gonna eat it someday in a car accident.

Bam: He already has — plenty of times.

Mom: I know, but I mean like… that’s his thing.

Bam: No duh! “He’s gonna eat it one of these times”. He’s wrecked six other people’s cars and three of his own.

Glomb: I have him in the death pool for

Mom: I know that

Glomb: … for death by vehi — vehicle

Mom: Yeah, he’s the vehicle guy.

Bam: He put that new engine in that 314ti BMW — it’s like so light — that, that engine was so powerful that he actually — I thought that he was gonna loop out the first time he drove it and hit a telephone pole, but he just missed it, dude.

Glomb: Dude!

Bam: I’m not even kidding.

Mom: He just has this grandstand attitude about cars, and I mean he’s just that guy.

Bam: He always has to have the best car and drag about — and brag about how fast he drives and he’s the worst fucking driver.

Mom: Yeah…

Glomb: He really is!

Mom: He is not good.

Via The Superficial