Chambers’ Ad Hominem


Dean Chambers, the man behind Unskewed Polls, demonstrates perfectly how to execute an ad hominem attack. Contrary to popular misconception, an ad hominem is not merely an insult; it’s a logical fallacy wherein one argues against the truth of someone’s claims by referring to some irrelevant personal trait that they disapprove of. Chambers aims this ad hominem at Nate Silver:

Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound.

None of which has anything at all to do with whether Silver’s work is good or his arguments are valid. The rest of Chambers’ article is devoted to the argument ad labelum version of an ad hominem:

Nate Silver, like most liberal and leftist celebrities and favorites, might be of average intelligence but is surely not the genius he’s made out to be. His political analyses are average at best and his projections, at least this year, are extremely biased in favor of the Democrats.

Apparently, Nate Silver has his own way of “skewing” the polls. He appears to look at the polls available and decide which ones to put more “weighting” on in compiling his own average, as opposed to the Real Clear Politics average, and then uses the average he calculates to determine that percentages a candidate has of winning that state. He labels some polling firms as favoring Republicans, even if they over sample Democrats in their surveys, apparently because he doesn’t agree with their results. In the end the polls are gerrymandering into averages that seem to suit his agenda to make the liberal Democrats candidates apparently strong than they are.

All he does is label Silver “liberal” and “leftist” and accuse him of bias, without any substantive argument for why he’s wrong. It’s the perfect opportunity for a wager, which I’m guessing Silver would be happy to make. The day before the election, Silver will undoubtedly make his final predictions. Chambers should, and likely will, do so as well. Let’s see which one of them is closest. My money is on Silver.

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    It’s also worth pointing out that 538’s prediction is not all that far off from Real Clear Politics’ prediction, so it’s weird for Chambers to be saying that the one is so much better than the other.

    Actually, all of the vaguely credible aggregating sites, as well as the betting markets, all are pretty close to consensus. So I’m not sure what the complaint is…?

  2. Trebuchet says

    May I guess that “Unskewed Polls” is the same sort of ironic titling we see in Billo’s “No Spin Zone” or Faux News’s “Fair and Balanced” reporting?

  3. says

    Nate Silver is like an Italian choir boy whose testicles were removed or damaged in order to prevent testosterone production and preserve his high-pitched singing voice?

    Oh, no, of course that’s not what Chambers (and Limbaugh) are saying. They’re saying that Silver is ball-less and therefore not manly, but feminine. Oooh, burn.

    I’d mention that we castrate male cats not just to make them more calm and affable but to prevent them from pissing all over the couch, but people like Chambers and Limbaugh probably enjoy pissing all over the couch.

  4. StevoR says

    Its a very tired and overused cliche – but really there is only one “poll” that actually matters. Election day.

    For whatever little its worth* (FWLIW?) my guesstimated prediction is that Mittens wins the popular vote but loses in the electoral colledge with key states falling Obama’s way meaning Bracak remains in the White house 4 more years and maybe things get better.

    As noted on an earlier thread here that’d be apt “karma” for the 200 Gore-Bush election. Perhaps a result that may finally create a bipartisan agreement toreform the S political system, which in my no doubt overly arrogant opinion it could use?

    &&&&&&

    * My previous prediction had you asked me say a week or two ago would have been for an Obama landslide. Now seems much less likely, surprisingly. (Shrug.)

  5. StevoR says

    ^ “Surprisingly” there because, well, really USA? Mitt the Shitt Rmoney? Really? Romeny is the guy you’re contemplating as an alternative POTUS? Ewwww!

    (Not quite as bad as santorum true but that ain’t saying much.)

  6. says

    I understand that 538’s track record of predictions is quite good. Why doesn’t Chambers address that?

    Speaking of insults, after the third U.S. campaign debate, I thought Ann Romney was subtly trying to pick her nose or scratch an itch, but others, noting that she used a middle finger to do so, suggest that she was making an obscene gesture at President Obama. Her smirk at the time suggests that might be the case.

  7. Doug Little says

    For whatever little its worth* (FWLIW?) my guesstimated prediction is that Mittens wins the popular vote but loses in the electoral colledge with key states falling Obama’s way meaning Bracak remains in the White house 4 more years and maybe things get better.

    Nate doesn’t think so. His latest article address this somewhat and also looks at the current consensus among state poll aggregators. He is basically saying that something has got to give either the states polls are wrong or the national polls are wrong. He also goes on to say that historically the states polls have been more accurate in the past.

  8. jamessweet says

    For whatever little its worth* (FWLIW?) my guesstimated prediction is that Mittens wins the popular vote but loses in the electoral colledge with key states falling Obama’s way meaning Bracak remains in the White house 4 more years and maybe things get better.

    This is certainly well within the realm of possibility, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Silver is putting the odds of that outcome at about 5% or so. One of the things I like about Silver’s predictions is that he has a probabilistic model that he can run thousands of times and see how often specific outcomes like this emerge.

  9. jamessweet says

    Okay, so this is neither here nor there, but I find it somewhat amusing that UnskewedPolls’ website bears a passing resemblance to the screen my company’s corporate firewall displays for “You are not allowed to view this page at work”.

  10. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    The day before the election, Silver will undoubtedly make his final predictions. Chambers should, and likely will, do so as well. Let’s see which one of them is closest. My money is on Silver.

    In general I disagree with this approach. Especially given how Rasmussen dials in their polling results as the election approaches. They then point to their final results, which are representative, to falsely claim all their results are representative. But that’s not true, previous results were purposefully not representative but instead favored Republicans; all in order to drum up excitement and therefore financial support for their clients, who are Republicans.

  11. scienceavenger says

    I understand that 538′s track record of predictions is quite good. Why doesn’t Chambers address that?

    Because Republicans give more credence to theory than data. This is why when pushing supply side tax cuts, they only talk about what should happen in theory, rather than reference actual data from the past when it was tried. Ditto for their anti-evolution screeds, their anti-gay marriage apocalyptic predictions, etc.

    They give a lot of lip service to the facts, but they never get around to actually looking at them.

  12. scienceavenger says

    I might also add that Chambers looks like every know-it-all-know-nothing lazy ass I ever met, surely a member of the Rush Limbaugh unfitness club. If we are going to play at stereotypes, I’ll take Silver’s nerdness any day.

  13. says

    @Michael Heath:

    Luckily, Silver has a running trendlines of his predictions on his site, so we can see how his projected average EV, percent chance of winning, and projected popular vote percent have tracked over time since June.

    I wonder what Chambers’ site will look like after Nov. 6?

  14. tomh says

    [Romney] wins states like Oregon (52-46, apparently).

    I wish it were a betting site. I would bet big money against this outcome.

  15. D. C. Sessions says

    The day before the election, Silver will undoubtedly make his final predictions. Chambers should, and likely will, do so as well. Let’s see which one of them is closest. My money is on Silver.

    That’s because Obama is going to have ACORN fix the election, under cover of FEMA disappearing Romney supporters in the confusion caused by the fake “hurricane Sandy” so-called “disaster.”

  16. dugglebogey says

    Shouldn’t he just say “FAGGOT” so his readers can more easily understand what he’s trying to say?

  17. abb3w says

    Hm. So, has anyone been taking snapshots of the Unskewed page, using one of those “freeze for citation” sites?

  18. says

    Nate Silver is a man of very small stature, a thin and effeminate man with a soft-sounding voice that sounds almost exactly like the “Mr. New Castrati” voice used by Rush Limbaugh on his program. In fact, Silver could easily be the poster child for the New Castrati in both image and sound.

    What? I mean, what? I’ve seen Silver on TV a few times, and while he comes across as a bit geeky and not entirely comfortable in front of the camera (just playing to type I guess) he is definitely not effeminate.

    Conservatives have a bizarre and unhealthy obsession with masculinity. I suspect it’s because, deep down inside, they are insanely jealous of those who have it.

  19. says

    That’s because Obama is going to have ACORN fix the election, under cover of FEMA disappearing Romney supporters in the confusion caused by the fake “hurricane Sandy” so-called “disaster.”

    You think you joke, but there is a webpage on that dude’s site saying something very similar to this. He even cites the non-existent ACORN. I’m too lazy to link to it, but it’s a masterpiece of cognitive dissonance. He’s covered all his bases — when it turns out that he’s dead wrong, it will be because Obama has stolen the election in a way that coincidentally makes it look like the mainstream polls were right all along.

    So to review: Obama is losing badly, all of the media and polling organizations are trying to convince you otherwise in order to discourage Republican voters, but it doesn’t matter because Romney is going to win in a landslide, but that doesn’t matter because Obama is going to cheat to win anyway.

  20. says

    Unskewed Polls was created to address the problem of the lack of polls showing Mitt Romney to be ahead. From what I understand, they take any poll showing Obama ahead and “rebalance” it to remove the liberal bias.

    If that were all they did, it would be more accurate. Here’s the methodology from which they get their latest ridiculous results:

    Methodology: For EACH state, all of the following information was considered: results from the last four elections averaged together, recent political trends in that state (such as Republicans winning control of both houses of the state legislature in 2010 in Maine and New Hampshire), recent trends in demographic makeup that affect the politics of the state (such as the growth of hispanics in Colorado causing the Democratic Party to become more competitive), and the degree to which one or both of the major campaigns are targetting that state, such as both campaigns making Ohio the most important state and campaigning there more than any other state, and any other relevant political factors and data such as public polls from a variety of pollling firms, as well as data from the QStarNews polls of the presidential race. From all of this information a percentage breakdown of each state is calculated between Romney and Obama. This projection is expected to be spot-on accurate for predicting the outcome in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and close to the actual popular vote.

    They don’t get around to committing violence against the polling data until after included all sorts of things that have little or nothing to do with how people will vote. And that last sentence is one of the most delusional things I have ever read.

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