Doctorate of Humane Letters, honoris causa

Nate Silver is a statistician and writer best known for his analysis of baseball and elections. Currently, he is editor-in-chief of ESPN’s “FiveThirtyEight” blog and a special correspondent for ABC News. An avid fan of baseball and numbers since his youth, Silver first gained recognition for devising the Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm (PECOTA) to forecast the career development of Major League Baseball players. He sold PECOTA to Baseball Prospectus in 2003 and joined the writing team there, eventually becoming managing partner. In 2007, under the pseudonym “Poblano,” Silver analyzed the 2008 U.S. presidential election, publishing predictions for its outcome in “Daily Kos,” a political blog. After launching his own website,, Silver revealed his identity and correctly predicted presidential election results in 49 states (missing only Indiana, which went for Obama by just one percentage point). He also accurately forecasted each winner in the 35 U.S. Senate races that year, earning widespread popularity and frequent invitations to work with national media. He licensed his blog to The New York Times in 2010, before taking it to ESPN.

Born in East Lansing, Mich., Silver studied economics at The University of Chicago, spending his third year at the London School of Economics before graduating with honors in 2000. He wrote for the Chicago Maroon on campus and the Chicago Weekly News and then worked as a consultant with the audit, tax and advisory services firm KPMG in Chicago before his successes with PECOTA and blogging.

“FiveThirtyEight” was named “Best Political Blog” by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences in 2010 and earned Silver Webby Awards in 2012 and 2013. Silver is also the author of the New York Times best-seller The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—but Some Don’t, which won the 2013 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science. Amherst celebrates Silver’s contributions to the field of statistics, which the college recently adopted as a major to be offered starting in the 2014–2015 academic year.