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Drunk Nate Silver refers to both a Twitter hashtag and novelty accounts that are associated with tweets describing what the New York Times statistician Nate Silver would do under the influence of alcohol. The trend took off shortly after he correctly predicted the outcome of the 2012 Presidential Election in all fifty states.
Though the parody accounts @nateDRUNKsilver and @DrunkNateSilverp were registered in June and October respectively, the trend did not take off until November 7th, 2012, when campaign consultant Dan Levitan tweeted about Nate Silver getting drunk and predicting people’s deaths in the New York City subway. By November 9th, the tweet had 3,086 retweets and 1,043 favorites.
Drunk Nate Silver is riding the subway, telling strangers the day they will die— Dan Levitan (@levitandan) November 8, 2012
On November 7th, the phrase “Drunk Nate Silver” was mentioned on Twitter 9,163 times and the corresponding hashtag was used 3045 times in tweets jesting that the statistician was psychic and could predict the future. On November 8th, the trend was covered by several internet culture blogs and news sites including Gawker, the Huffington Post, CNN, Buzzfeed, the Inquisitr, the Washington Post, the Awl, the Atlantic, Wired and MSN Now. It was also discussed on message boards including MMO Champion and the Democratic Underground. The next day, more coverage of the trend appeared on The Week and NPR affiliate Capital Public Radio.
Nate Silver’s Response
On November 12th, an interview with Silver was published in Chicago Magazine where he said the tweets would make a good television show, but were kind of weird. He said when he does get drunk, he “[does] what everyone else does, which is argue about stupid things with my friends. I don’t become dark and ironically evil.”
On January 8th, 2013, Silver submitted an “ask me anything” (AMA) post to the /r/IAmA subreddit, specifically requesting queries related to his forecasts for the 2012 United States presidential election, evolution of polling practices, American budgetary politics and sports. In the comments, several Reddits began posting humorous Nate Silver “facts” (shown below) in the similar vein of #DrunkNateSilver tweets.
By the end of the day, Silver had answered a total of 30 questions, in which he revealed he uses the software programs Stata and Excel for data analysis, that he did not think Anonymous prevented Karl Rove from stealing the election and that he felt it is difficult to statistically prove that gun ownership rates are a cause of fatal crimes and accidents. Silver also disclosed that he gained his statistical insights and research know-hows through trying to win his fantasy baseball league and NCAA tournament pool. The highlights from Silver’s AMA post were subsequently posted on the New York Times Five Thirty Eight blog and the Internet news blog The Daily Dot.
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The Huffington Post – ‘Drunk Nate Silver’ Sweeps Twitter: Prognosticator Goes Mad With Power (TWEETS)
Capital Public Radio – ‘Drunk Nate Silver’ Parody Wakes Up After Real Nate Silver’s Big Score