Silver market predictions
FORTUNE — Statistician Nate Silver isn’t famous because he’s a mathematical genius. (Although, he is.) Silver’s well-known because he knows how to apply his craft to the real world. The country’s most popular data cruncher is known for his spot-on election predictions — he accurately called the winner in all 50 states of November’s presidential election; in 2008, he went 49 for 50 — but Silver’s big data analytics have also translated to the worlds of sports (March Madness, Major League Baseball), gambling (Silver will play in his third World series of Poker event this summer), and even dating. Silver once wrote for the baseball website Baseball Prospectus but has since expanded his offerings; he is now a published author, a political pundit, and the creator of his very own New York Times blog, FiveThirtyEight.
Silver was in San Francisco Thursday to talk analytics as the keynote speaker at Lithium Technologies’ annual LiNC Conference. Fortune sat down with him to talk about big data’s limitations, its role in the stock market, how it applies to dating, and even his predictions for the 2016 presidential election. A lightly edited transcript follows.
Fortune: I’m sure you get people coming up to you all the time to discuss how you helped them win their NCAA March Madness pool.
Nate Silver: I went against my bracket in my own pool because I thought other people would be using it. I would have gotten second place if I had taken my own advice.
Maybe take a small royalty fee next year?
Absolutely. Or we need to put out a fake bracket [first], and then put out a real one [later]. Oops, there was a coding error! [Laughs]
You started out using stats to better understand and predict success in baseball — why did you move towards politics?
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