Nobody knows anything, redux

A year ago, I wrote a post called Nobody knows anything. Here’s what I said:

The older I get and the more I learn about things, the more I realize that nobody knows nuthin’ about anything.

Those self-proclaimed experts are lying. Predictions are pointless. Anyone that tells you that they know for certain how something is going to turn out is probably going to be wrong.

All simplicity is a lie.

It was written in the context of baseball, but it was eerily prescient given the outcome of the Presidential election.

We have statistical models and advanced polling and supercomputers, and they all pointed to a decisive Hillary Clinton victory. They were all wrong. And what I think this shows – and where I think the failure of big data lies – is that people are wildly unpredictable and don’t fall neatly into models. Clearly, there’s a real anger that permeates throughout our country far more than we thought. Our echo chamber on Facebook and Twitter is not how the majority of this country thinks and feels.

I had trouble sleeping last night and woke up this morning with a feeling of profound anxiety. Then I took a shower and started feeling a little better. The sun still rose, the subway still came, I listened to my morning podcast, had my two cups of coffee like I always do, and life goes on. My mom texted me ‘it will be OK’ and I think that’s right. Things will be OK. They have to be.

But I can say that from a position of immense privilege. Things might not be OK for immigrants or Muslims or women or the LGBT community. And the new wave of anti-Semitism that’s been popping up on social media is absolutely terrifying. So part of me doesn’t know if things will be OK. I hope they are.

I was in London a few months ago. Everyone was fresh off the panic of Brexit, and people were endlessly fascinated with the US election. As soon as someone – a cab driver, a barista, a random person on the street – heard my American accent, they immediately asked about Trump.

Is he actually going to win this thing?

My response each time was a confident No.

But despite my confidence, people there weren’t so sure. Everyone I talked to thought Trump could win. Social stigma disappears in the booth, they said. People are angry. People want change. No one thought Brexit would happen, and then people voted, and then it did. The same will happen across the pond, mate.

They were right.

Donald Trump is our next President. No one knows anything.


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