2012 Election | Conan O'Brien | Nate Silver | News

Nate Silver And Conan O'Brien Talk Serious Jibber Jabber: VIDEO


Conan O'Brien is more than just a funny face hosting a nighttime television show. He's also a person with a brain who likes to talk with other people who also have brains, which is why O'Brien hosts "serious jibber jabber" sessions with some of the world's most brain-having people.

The latest edition features Nate Silver, the gay statistician who has already called every election for the next 1,000 years. Yes, even the intergalactic races. (Kimara Cretak is a lock for Romulan Senator.) But don't worry, Silver still has plenty to talk about, like his new book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't.

Watch O'Brien and Silver's entire 49:54 minute conversation AFTER THE JUMP, because being a brainiac is sexy.

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  1. If you want to give yourself a good laugh, just imagine the counterfactual situation in which Leno conducts this interview.

    Posted by: Lars | Dec 8, 2012 5:53:03 PM

  2. You call this smart?
    Silver blames the loss of partisan agreement on cable TV? Oh my. No mention of the corporate offensive of the last thirty years, through endless think tanks and using the entire media.
    Reviewing clear and obvious polls, he predicted the election and outperformed fox news. Big whoop.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Dec 8, 2012 7:15:19 PM

    At least he's making a contribution. What are you doing, exactly? You know, besides leaving snarky comments on the internet.

    Posted by: Emmy | Dec 8, 2012 8:16:22 PM

  4. @Emmy

    What, exactly, is Nate Silver "contributing"? He's making a living, as he is here, by promoting his book, but he's not trying to cure Alzheimer's. He doesn't even have the best track record in his niche (see Sam Wang at Princeton Election Consortium http://election.princeton.edu/). Also, the chapter in his book dealing with climate change has been severely criticized by many climate scientists.

    Nate Silver has said himself that he's not doing anything that someone else would have done eventually, and that the only reason no one did it sooner was that we never had so much state poll data to work with before.

    As for his statements regarding partisan agreement, or the lack thereof, perhaps the most interesting thing is that he had to ignore a lot of data to come to the conclusion that he apparently has.

    Look, I like Nate, but let's not deify him and say that we can't criticize some of his ideas unless we're having our 15 minutes of fame too.

    Posted by: Eric | Dec 8, 2012 9:33:46 PM

  5. @Eric: Uhh did you not answer your own question? He is 'contributing' is a statistical model, with whose output he pairs his own analysis. Is he supposed to cease making this contribution simply because his is not the only person aggregating polls? By that logic, Wendy's should close up shop because Burger King is already 'contributing' plenty of cheap/fast burgers, thank you very much.

    Why exactly is it cool to hate on Nate? Am I wrong to sense a hint of envy in the flagellation?

    Posted by: Lars | Dec 8, 2012 10:10:00 PM

  6. @Lars:
    Criticizing is not about hate. It's about judging the issues logically.
    Nate Silver is another snake oil salesman of the commercial media. Just because he predicted an election does not make him qualified to speak on every issue. And he is not qualified. He talks about the noise of bad data then serves up plenty of it himself.
    But I see that gay celebrity worship is still habitual. Remember the experiment of the monkeys that went without food in order to kiss up to the popular monkey. And get some perspective.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Dec 9, 2012 11:15:58 AM

  7. His contribution is that he dismantled a large portion of the media's addiction to partisan spin. His unyielding focus on objective criteria and changed the face of election coverage--and thereby returned some integrity to the electoral process.

    It's a pretty significant contribution, significant enough to deserve better than your mindless, dull snark.

    Also, the fact that he survived an ugly right-wing attack on his sexual orientation is significant.

    And the fact that he emerged as a poster boy for an overlooked segment of the gay community--non-pretty, non-macho, non-buff, non-Will-and-Grace, non-Glee, non-bear, non-twink, non-upscale, non-working-class, non-anything in particular except smart, geeky and thoughtful--is something to celebrate.

    Posted by: JeffNYC | Dec 9, 2012 11:30:00 AM

  8. @JeffNYC,
    I agree with your last point, about celebrating something other than looks and bodies. If only the community would.
    The rest is wrong. You say he dismantled partisan spin, yet here he compares msnbc with fox as if they're the same. It's the standard con man's tactic of false equivalency.
    And mindless dull snark is name calling. Where's your evidence that it's snark? Silver says plenty that is too stupid for words, starting with his blaming everything on cable news, leaving out the larger propaganda war that's been waged by the right for thirty years.
    I for one am not going to abandon my critical thinking just because the celebrity we're worshiping today happens to be gay.

    Posted by: Wilberforce | Dec 9, 2012 12:21:20 PM

  9. WILBERFORCE = Rick's alter ego for Sundays

    Posted by: Felix | Dec 9, 2012 12:44:44 PM

  10. Silver keeps saying "right?" over and over at the end of each of his points. It's a very annoying tick. Stop it Nathan!! Right?

    Posted by: NE RichS | Dec 9, 2012 2:12:55 PM

  11. @Lars

    Wow, you just totally misunderstood and/or misrepresented everything I wrote.

    To be absolutely clear, the only thing I might even come close to *hating* about Nate is his habit of saying "right?" after every goddamn sentence.

    As for fame, I think it's one of the worst things that can happen to a person, especially in the United States.

    Posted by: Eric | Dec 9, 2012 4:01:04 PM

  12. Right, right? Right.

    Posted by: Randy | Dec 9, 2012 6:28:40 PM

  13. I'll begin by saying I haven't had a chance to read Silver's book. Based on what I have read on TR and elsewhere: I think he should be judged on his intentions. THIS IS A POPULAR BOOK. I highly doubt he was pretending to give solid analyses of topics he isn't familiar with.

    @Lars: re Leno: LOL. You've clearly explained why O'Brien didn't do sufficiently well in the earlier time slot.

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Dec 9, 2012 9:26:44 PM

  14. @WILBERFORCE I'd say it's back to the drawing board where your "critical thinking" is concerned.

    Posted by: jamal49 | Dec 10, 2012 1:40:04 AM

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