Being “America's most popular statistician” sounds dubious, something like being “the smartest Jäger girl” or “the deepest Kardashian” — talk about damning with faint praise. But the odds have been in Nate Silver's favor for quite some time. Although the Michigan native achieved mainstream acclaim in November 2008 by accurately predicting the presidential-election winner in 49 states, he'd previously applied his foresight to Major League Baseball with great success before getting Indiana wrong by a single percentage point. (In the 2012 election, he aced all 50 states, to the dismay of Mitt Romney.) Silver's data-driven look at the world earned him a spot as one of Time's 100 Most Influential People in 2009, and a year later, the New York Times was on it. For two years, the media giant licensed his personal political site,, to the Grey Lady, though he, his posts and his prophecies are moving to ESPN. As part of USC's Holt Distinguished Lecture series, the best-selling brain behind The Signal and the Noise will tackle baseball, politics and the numbers behind them. Bovard Auditorium, USC, 3551 Trousdale Pkwy., University Park; Fri., Sept. 20, 11 a.m.; free.

Fri., Sept. 20, 11 a.m., 2013

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