Black Magic 2: Rumble in New South Wales

About 90 per cent of an iceberg lies beneath its surface. So it is with political commentary. It’s easy enough to open a national broadsheet newspaper after an election and scan the pages filled with phrases like “hostage to entrenched interests” and “politically fabled Labor heartland” and assume that all political commentary is equally and uniformly silly.

But that would be lazy. Each columnist is unique, and by careful examination of the underlying data, using only the most up-to-date and high-tech statistical techniques, we can actually explore the heterogeneity of hacks. Whose commentary is based on nothing more than vague impression and anecdote, and whose is instead based on dodgy mathematics? Today I propose to you that we undertake such analysis. And who better to begin with than an old friend of ours?

Readers of my blog and my Twitter feed will no doubt be aware that, of the hucksters and charlatans that enliven the Australian scene, John Black is my favourite. Perhaps, just possibly, on a good day—maybe depending on which way the wind is blowing through the turbines?—he can be beaten by Graham Lloyd. But on average, in expectation, John Black is the man for me. Read the rest of this entry »