Nate Silver, the FiveThirtyEight statistician who predicted the outcome of the presidential election correctly in both 2008 and 2012 (he got every state right, as well as the national numbers) did an online Q&A with Deadspin readers. Here are two of my favorites:
Q: Did you let people copy off you in college statistics, or were you selfish and covered up your paper?
A: In middle school, I once put down a bunch of fake/wrong answers on a math test since I knew that people were peeking. By my senior year in college, however, I was reasonably burned out so it was buyer beware if anyone was trying to cheat.
Q: Who gave the most ridiculous refutations of your work? Old school baseball guys, or GOP media a couple weeks ago?
A: It’s much worse in politics, I think.
1) People in sports will make lots of silly refutations of your arguments. But they do tend to deal with your arguments, rather than attack your character or your integrity.
2) A lot of people in politics operate in a “post-truth” worldview, whether they realize it or not. Less of that in sports.
3) In sports, scouts actually contribute a lot of value, even though statistics are highly useful as well. In politics, the pundits are completely useless at best, and probably harm democracy in their own small way.