Where Is Our Nate Silver?
In case you missed the 2012 presidential election in the United States, one election guru, Nate Silver, batted nearly 1.000 in predicting the state-by-state presidential results and just missed predicting the winners in all of the 33 Senate races. Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog is now the standard by which all other election predictions are measured.
But Silver did not just become a rock star level statistician as a result of his 2012 election predictions—he did two other things. First, Silver’s work has changed the election landscape. For the foreseeable future, election predictions will be made using modeling tools and data such as used by Silver. And, second, he has established in the minds of the public the credibility of statistical models as a tool for predicting political events. This latter accomplishment is not only significant in and of itself, but also because it offers a golden opportunity for other statistical based professions, such as actuaries, to capitalize on this realization to improve how they interact with their various constituencies.
In the February/March issue of the SOA’s the Actuary magazine, I wrote a “point of view” posing my thoughts on why the actuarial profession needs its own Nate Silver. There are at least two good reasons it would be helpful to have one or more actuaries with Silver’s public presence and communication skills/savvy. You can read about my reasons in the magazine however, here’s a hint — think raising visibility.
So, here, in the real-time cyber world, I’m encouraging a discussion. What do you think? How can we, as a profession, help develop or identify this person? Is there a role for the SOA to play in the development of our Nate Silver? What concrete, compelling examples can we offer that best highlight our expertise? Or, even better – do you know an actuary who is already our very own Nate Silver?