Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Is Nate Silver trying too hard?

I should mention - 1.I appreciate the job Nate Silver does and 2.I only have an issue with the first part of his post.

At issue, in Nate Silver's mind was the following passage from the Washington Post: In one of the first internal struggles of the incoming Obama administration, environmentalists and smart-growth advocates are trying to shift the priorities of the economic stimulus plan that will be introduced in Congress next month away from allocating tens of billions of dollars to highways, bridges and other traditional infrastructure spending to more projects that create "green-collar" jobs.

Notes Silver:
1. The term environmentalists is a loaded term
2. The infrastructure package has not been decided, therefore environmentalists cannot technically 'shift priorities of the stimulus plan' away from anything.

My counterpoints:
1a. "Whaaa?" I suppose 'environmentalist' is a loaded term if you also believe the world is flat. Hasn't the mass media been pushing the benefits of living a 'green' lifestyle on us since before Al Gore lost in 2000? I know I've been recycling since then (which is not an attempt to pour adulation upon myself, more to point out the fact that I have disassociated the term 'hippie' and 'environmentalist' long ago.

1b. It would behoove Nate Silver to proffer an alternative term if he dislikes the term environmentalist so much.

2. Nate Silver is very precise. I'm sure it comes with the job when working in statistics. That being said, this is the type of argument (semantics) that gets people combining the terms "liberal" and "elite" into a single phrase. While the argument has merit because the target is a newspaper, it doesn't carry an ounce of emotional persuasion because most Americans cannot identify a dangling modifier.

I appreciate Nate Silver, but he should let his statistics do the talking. It will help keep him from complaining about media bias where none exists.