Big Data, Big Crush


Jews who find geeks cute finally have a replacement for Jonah Lehrer.

But it is not getting in the way of Kosherfest, the annual trade show of the kosher food industry scheduled for Nov.13-14.

Remember him, the intellectual It boy? He fell from grace this summer after revelations that he fabricated Bob Dylan quotes.

But now, after falling back on the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein and, for those who prefer a bit more gray, Paul Krugman, they’ve got fresh meat in Nate Silver, the 34-year-old statistics whiz who rode the “big data” wave to fame, fortune and fans by predicting President Barack Obama’s victory early and often.

He also correctly called the results in all 50 states on his FiveThirtyEight blog, syndicated by The New York Times.

A Michigan native and a math prodigy who made his name as a baseball statistician before moving onto politics, Silver told Politico he’s “half Jewish.”

But he wholly fulfills the dreamboat dork stereotype adored by some Jews and exemplified by others. And he’s been so anointed by such heavy-breathing media as Vanity Fair and Paper magazine, who called him statistics heartthrob and geek heartthrob, respectively.

There’s also a photo-based blog created by his fans on titled “Silver. Nate Silver,” that expresses their conviction that his appeal is equal to that of James Bond.

The pictures capture Silver in all his bespectacled, geeky glory: at his laptop, gesticulating during an interview, in a suit and tie.

“Hey girl,” reads one. “I won’t screw this up. I never do.”

Another: “Hey girl. You’re definitely within my margin of error — don’t fight it.”

He also inspired a “drunk Nate Silver” meme on Twitter, like this tweet from @jfruh: “Drunk Nate Silver waits 20 minutes for the G train, nods silently when it arrives, walks out of the station.”

Silver is promoting a book, “The Signal And The Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail — But Some Don’t” (Penguin Group), so he welcomes the attention. But before the election, he confessed deprecatingly that the intensity of the media frenzy was making him nervous, lest the election results prove him wrong.

He has been wrong before. He didn’t think Scott Brown would win the Massachusetts Senate special election after Edward Kennedy died.

But he’s also modest, and honest about the limits of what he does. “If you can’t make a good prediction, it is often very harmful to pretend that you can,” he writes in the book.

As of this writing, the book is 11th on the Times’ nonfiction hardcover bestseller list.

I’m sure Nate knew that already.