On this day in 1781, traitor Benedict Arnold orders the British soldiers under his command to burn New London, Connecticut.
Recommended for reading in full:
Pollster Nate Silver explains How To Handle An Outlier Poll:
To a first approximation, the best advice is to toss it into the average. Definitely do not assume that it’s the new normal. You don’t need to read dramatically headlined newspaper articles and watch breathless cable news segments about it. In a race with many polls, any one poll should rarely make all that much news. But you shouldn’t “throw out” the poll either. Instead, it should incrementally affect your priors. In the case of the Monmouth poll last week, for instance, you shouldn’t have assumed that the race had suddenly become a three-way tie, but you should have inched up your estimate of how well Sanders and Warren were doing compared with Biden.
For extra credit, pay attention to sample size. The Monmouth poll surveyed only 298 Democratic voters, which is small even by the standards of primary polls (which often survey fewer voters than general election polls do).
If a poll shows a significant change in the race, you should tend to presume it’s an outlier unless it’s precipitated by a major news or campaign event.
Corollary: You should be much more open to the possibility that a poll reflects a real change if it’s among the first polls following a major news or campaign event.
What do I mean by a “major” news or campaign event? Some fairly specific types of things. When I made you pinky swear earlier, I was asking you to stick precisely to this list:
- Candidates entering or exiting the race, or clinching their nominations.
- Primary and caucus results (e.g., the Iowa caucuses occur and that has knockoff effects on the next set of states).
- The conventions.
- The announcement of vice presidential candidates.
- The final week of the campaign.
- Spectacular, blockbuster news events that dominate the news cycle for a week or more. (There generally are only one or two of these per campaign cycle, if that many.)
Nell Greenfieldboyce reports Squirrels Eavesdrop On Birds, Researchers Say:
Squirrels eavesdrop on the casual chitchat of birds to figure out when it’s safe enough to be out in the open and foraging for food.
Researchers have found that a squirrel becomes incredibly vigilant when it hears the shriek of a red-tailed hawk, but it will relax and resume its food-seeking behavior more quickly if the predator’s call is immediately followed by the easygoing tweets of unconcerned birds.