Monday night on “The Colbert Report,” host Stephen Colbert welcomed New York Times writer and author of The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail, but Some Don’t, Nate Silver.
After reading the book title, Colbert said, “Let me guess. Yours don’t.”
“They could,” Silver said, “but we’ll tell you how likely they are to fail.”
“But see, what you’re doing is, you’re taking bread out of my kids’ mouths,” said Colbert. “Those of us in the ‘punditocracy’ make our bread and butter by telling people what the truth is as we see it from our gut.”
“Yeah,” agreed Silver.
“Are you trying to put the pundits out of work?” asked Colbert. “Because CNN doesn’t need any more help.”
Silver confessed that he’s not very “pro-pundit.”
“C’mon, put your balls of the felt,” urged Colbert, “How do you feel about pundits?”
Silver said, “If pundits were on the ballot against, like, I don’t know…”
“Ebola,” suggested the host.
“Ebola,” Silver agreed, “I might vote Ebola. Or third party.”
Colbert brought up Silver’s recent bet with “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough of $1,000 to the Red Cross from either man if their candidate wins. Scarborough would not take the bet.
Regarding his polls and statistical model versus Scarborough’s gut feeling that the race is tied, Silver said, “We’re trying to do something very simple, which is to go and look at the polls and take an average, and then add up the states and see who has 270 electoral votes. It’s not really that complicated.”
“People treat it like it’s Galileo or something, right?” he continued. “Something totally heretical, but look, these polls are really simple little facts, right? There are many things that are much more complicated than looking at the polls and taking an average and counting to 270, right?”
Colbert replied, “That is the longest possible way of calling him a bullshitter.”
Watch the clip, embedded via Comedy Central, below: