Nate Silver, the baseball statistician whose analysis of political polls has made his fivethirtyeight.com one of the top independent political websites in the country, has turned his eye on New York and picked Park Slope as our top neighborhood.
According to the News, Silver’s list, which will appear in New York‘s Neighborhoods issue, gives housing costs the greatest weight of a list of factors including diversity, safety, and nightlife. Spots 2-5 are filled by the LES, Sunnyside, Cobble Hill/Boerum Hill and Greenpoint (at least three of which must have done extraordinarily well in other areas to overcome the housing costs issue).
Silver developed the weighting for his study partly using responses from self-identified “major city” dwellers to an online survey at his site
One thing that’s difficult to know, however, is how to rate the different factors relative to one another. And because New York has a lot of great neighborhoods (the top two-dozen or so are all within a couple of points of one another), the weighting happens to make quite a bit of difference. Toward that end, I could use some help from those of you who currently live or have recently have lived in a major city by taking a brief survey. What is a “major city”? You tell me, but I’m generally thinking about cities that are both large enough and dense enough enough to support a number of distinct and “livable” neighborhoods within the city limits — cities like New York, Chicago, Boston, Seattle, San Francisco, Washington, London, Toronto, along with what I’m sure are many others.
Silver, generally not a fan of online surveys, says in this case “a blunt instrument is better than nothing.” The American Association of Public Opinion Researchers, who released a report last month blasting online polls as “unrepresentative” of “the attitudes of the general population,” doesn’t rule that out.
Not all research is intended to produce precise estimates of population values and so there may be survey purposes and topics where the generally lower cost and unique properties of Web data collection is an acceptable alternative to traditional probability-based methods.
Still, while it never pays to bet against Nate Silver, if your neighborhood does poorly you might want to keep in mind that someone who says they live in Seattle or Toronto might not have the same priorities you do (or, let’s face it, you’d be there or they’d be here).