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Will the Real Nate Silver Please Stand Up?

DataVis1This year’s Oscar race has brought out the Nate Silver in everyone it seems.  The newest of these is the Social Oscars where you can click on a category and see what the percentages are.  Then there is Farsite Forecast which does the same thing.  We have our own Nate Silver in Marshall Flores who is a math whiz and has been following the Oscars for over a decade – he knows what I know and that’s the math don’t cut it. Why you only need look at the Best Actress race to figure that out.

Also, this year is an unprecedented year all the way around.  It was the first year that the Oscar ballots were sent in before the guilds announced.  We’ll find out if the guilds really do boss the Oscars around since the best director category left off the current Nate Silver favorite, Ben Affleck and Argo.  True Oscar stats would note the history and the precedent for Argo winning Best Picture with only seven nominations (fifth in line) + no director nomination.  If it happens it will be the first time ever in DGA/Academy history that their winner won Best Picture without a director nomination. It’s never happened. Never.  Yet we all know it’s about to. That defies the stats. Of course, these guys aren’t using historical record – they’re using precursors – which seem to back up mob mentality and groupthink. And there they are probably right.

Then there is Gold Derby, which tracks the odds based on what their pundits are thinking. I have removed myself from Gold Derby as a pundit because I don’t consider myself an expert on what will win. I am, however, an expert on what should.  [crooked smiley]. Predicting the Oscars is, to me, the least interesting part of the Oscars. It’s sort of like predicting whether it will rain on Saturday or whether the little mouse will pick door #1 or door #2.  What interests me more is the why, not the what.  I could say the same thing about the political elections. I don’t care what people are going to pick. I care who’s running for office.

The Vegas odds will tell you exactly what the Gold Derby odds are telling you. There is no difference because they are all drawing from the thought pool. The way things are going now, though, I wonder if there will ever be any surprises again.  I don’t think a movie like The Godfather I or II could run the gauntlet today and win. It couldn’t overcome the giant guilds picking what they facebook-liked over a masterpiece.  Nor nastiness we saw in this year’s race. Can you imagine?

You got a predictions site of a statistics site for Oscars enter it in the comments below.