One thing Nate Silver couldn't forecast, was the boost his number crunching would give his book
When Nate Silver, the 34-year-old numbers wizard behind The New York Times‘ hugely trafficked FiveThirtyEight blog, made the bold prediction on Nov. 6 that Barack Obama had a 90.9 percent chance of winning reelection, he drew fire from pundits on both the right and the left. But election night was good for Silver: Not only did the statistician correctly predict the winner in every state, he pinpointed the popular vote to within .3 percent. One thing Silver couldn’t forecast, though, was the boost his number crunching would give his book, The Signal and the Noise, which skyrocketed 850 percent to No. 2 on Amazon after election night, forcing his publisher, Penguin, to hastily order a fifth printing. ”My whole life seems like a 1,000-to-one long shot that came through,” says Silver. ”I’ve been getting really odd perks that don’t usually happen to geeks like me.” But anybody who understands probability knows winning streaks can’t last forever. ”I might be setting myself up for a big blow in the 2016 election,” he says.