The Power of Facts

The facts are more powerful than punditry.

If coverage of this presidential campaign proved anything, it was that the power of numbers – real numbers, and real methodology – might have signaled the end of television’s (and print and online journalism’s) overpaid bloviating blowhards who “predict” election results but are really nothing more than loudmouthed partisans with ties and spray-on tans.

This is something to bear in mind: we’re in an age when people prefer truth over tale-telling.

The numbers-crunching Nate Silver, who writes a popular polling column for The New York Times and is the author of the book, The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t, became the poster child for this new kind of prediction-based-on-numbers rather than “gut” or “prejudice.” (He called the election correctly, and was spot-on with state results, too.)

These numbers folks are referred to sometimes as “poll quants,” geeky types who have created mathematical models of state and national polls, and who are surprisingly accurate. Thank you, scientific method.

This is part of what we look for today: transparency. These guys don’t merely look at a single poll, they manage to find the truth by combing through all of the polls and creating predictive models based on the available information. People might not agree with them (depending on their particular political leanings), but anyone is free to come up with alternate models. So far, no one has: it’s difficult to argue against mathematical facts, even if you don’t like what they say.

For you, as someone who is creating or building a platform to expand your message and draw an audience, this means that you, more than ever, should feel free to speak the truth about what you feel. Be bold about your positions: people want boldness, backed by real figures (rather than your gut instinct about something). Readers want you to engage with them in a direct and honest manner, and not to manipulate facts to suit yourself, but arrive at conclusions based on facts.

You’ve got math on your side. But more important, you’ve got the power of facts, truth and an audience that wants to hear about what’s real, raw and relevant.

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