31 | INFORMATION GURU

Will the real surprise winner of the 2008 election please stand up? With all due respect to America's first black president, the title goes to another guy from Chicago: Nate Silver, the soft-spoken sports geek who's proved himself to be one of the most reliable forecasters in politics—and now in almost everything else. Silver's election-polling blog, fivethirtyeight.com, accurately predicted November's results in 49 states, and nailed Obama's popular vote to within four tenths of a percentage point—beating almost every expert in the country. Now there are TV appearances, speaking gigs, magazine columns, and a two-book deal worth a reported $700,000. In between, Silver's put the finishing touches on this year's Baseball Prospectus, a massive volume of predictive player stats based on his own algorithm. "It's a little surreal to me," he says of the attention he's received recently. At last count, the Facebook group "There's a 97.3 Percent Chance That Nate Silver Is Totally My Boyfriend" had 906 members, a fact that Silver, usually so adept with numbers, is still not comfortable with. "I'll be out drinking somewhere and someone will say, 'Hey, are you Nate Silver?'" he says. "That's definitely still really weird."

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