I was on the math team in 7th-10th grades, and I thought I’d never recover from the emotional scars, where my love of numbers wrestled with the social stigma of being interested in them. Mind you, this was back in the dark ages – the 1970s – when being smart was not considered attractive in girls. I know, you’re finding that about as antediluvian as I found my mother’s stories about being fined by her sorority for not wearing a girdle. But a few computer entrepreneurs aside, people with numerical gifts haven’t exactly been rock stars. Until now.
In case you were too disgusted by the whole election craziness to pay attention (and I can understand that!), the breakout star turns out to be a mild-mannered psephologist and sabermetrician (I had to look them up – but it’s worth it, you can now use them in conversation!) who writes a blog about election forecasting. Nate Silver started out analyzing baseball statistics but turned his talents toward building models to analyze election polls a few years ago, and in 2008 became somewhat well-known for correctly predicting the electoral college results in 49 out of 50 states. The New York Times signed him on in 2010 and he got a book deal shortly thereafter. But he didn’t really get on the radar until his predictions consistently favored Obama, and the Fox News pundits and GOP strategists attacked his data, his methodology, and even his sexual orientation.
However, Silver proved them wrong, and this time he was 50 for 50. Suddenly he was all over news programs and even on The Daily Show, which makes him a true celebrity. The Internet news sites are all abuzz with how his numerical analysis is the way of the future (as opposed to wishful thinking and hysteria?), and throughout everything, he continues to come across as a softspoken, mild-mannered math geek who isn’t particularly partisan, even though Karl Rove & the like have given him ample opportunity to indulge in some major shadenfraude (another word worth looking up, unless of course you’ve seen Avenue Q).
I LOVE that he’s made math cool, and that he has a sense of humor about himself. He’s smart, funny, and boyishly cute: how could I resist having a crush on him? And for those of you who would point out that he’s openly gay, that’s a moot point. On top of the fact that I’m happily married, and old enough (sort of) to be his mother, celebrities aren’t going to go out with me no matter what their sexual orientation is, so why not admire whomever I like? (I still have a crush on Ricky Martin, and seeing him with his adorable partner & twin sons just makes him more lovable.)
So go ahead, ladies, join the Nate Silver fan club. I’ve even written us a theme song. I like to think that this is the first love song written about him – but it probably won’t be the last.