Thursday, May 16, 2013

Live from FOCI 2013 - Discriminating Between the Data Signal and the Data Noise

You may not recognize the blog FiveThirtyEight, but you are likely to know the name Nate Silver. Nate is the author of The Signal and the Noise and is most well known for his predictions of the election returns in November of 2012.  FiveThirtyEight appears in The New York Times with the mission of providing clear patterns and interpretations from the glut of data that inundates our contemporary world.  Be sure to check out FiveThirtyEight for the latest Nate work.">

Nate thinks probabilistically, as his success at online poker will attest.  He capitalizes on his incredible capacity in data analysis to provide rigorous data-driven interpretations in culture, economics, politics, polling, public affairs, science, sports – and you’ll be happy to know – on-time airline flights. 

FiveThirtyEight is produced in conjunction with graphic and interactive journalists at The New York Times, including their team of correspondents, political editors, and polling experts.

 Nate provided four suggestions for market researchers when dealing with data and conducting research. 

Suggestion #1 - Think probabilistically
Suggestion #2 – Know where you’re coming from
Suggestion #3 – Survey the data landscape
Suggestion #4 – Try, and err

Each suggestion was accompanied by amazing graphics and amusing stories that people may recognize as having similarly occurred in their own lives.  A favorite Nate Silver story will be the example of a New York City cab driver following the route suggested by his GPS - a route that snaked back and forth across Central Park as the GPS tried in vain to locate a low-traffic road interior to the park.  That road was low traffic indeed - it was closed to traffic!  The cab driver's blind devotion to his GPS made Nate 45 minutes late to an event at the Guggenheim.  The common sense straight route would have saved about 30 minutes.   

Nate has the innate (pun intended) ability to make complex data accessible, and to apply his algorithms to questions that are of concern to an enormous following.  

Gigi DeVault writes a market research column for
Market Research Guide
About, Inc.

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