Sam Wang

Founder, Princeton Election Consortium blog
Professor, Princeton University

A pioneer of prediction through big data.

Add to Shortlist "Princeton Election Consortium" Blog @SamWangPhD

Biography

Sam Wang pioneered the science of data-based political prediction popularised by Nate Silver. Like Nate, Sam has harnessed the power of big data to yield astonishingly accurate predictions of the last several American elections. In 2008 and 2012, Sam called 49 out of 50 states correctly; in 2004, he was 50 for 50.

His project, the Princeton Election Consortium, analyses polls across the U.S. to create a single accurate snapshot of the nation at any moment. His methods have yielded highly accurate predictions of final results, high-resolution tracking of the race during the campaign, and key insights into where campaign money can be most valuably spent. The Princeton Election Consortium and its predecessor, the Meta-Analysis of State Polls, have attracted millions of hits and tens of thousands of visits per day during campaigns.

His statistical analysis in 2012 correctly predicted the presidential vote outcome in 49 of 50 states and even the two-candidate popular vote of 51.1% to 48.9%. That year, the Princeton Election Consortium also correctly called 10 out of 10 close Senate races and came within a few seats of the final House outcome.

A highly recognised biophysicist and neuroscientist, Sam has applied his statistical and probabilistic methods to complex experimental data with great success.He is the author of Welcome To Your Child's Brain and Welcome To Your Brain, popular books about neuroscience. Both books have been translated into over 20 languages worldwide.

Sam was selected by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as a Congressional Science and Engineering Fellow. He also served on the staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources.

Credentials and Honours

  • Associate Professor of Molecular Biology, Princeton University and Princeton Neuroscience Institute
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship
  • Rita Allen Foundation Young Scholars Fellowship
  • New Jersey Governor's Council on Medical Research and Treatment of Autism
  • NIH BRAIN Initiative Investigator
  • Distinguished Young Investigator Award from the W. M. Keck Foundation
  • CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.

Books

Welcome to Your Child's Brain

How the Mind Grows from Conception to College

Sam Wang

How children think is one of the most enduring mysteries-and difficulties-encountered by parents. In an effort to raise our children smarter, happier, stronger, and better, parents will try almost anything, from vitamins to toys to DVDs. But how can we tell marketing from real science? And what really goes through your kid's growing mind-as an infant, in school, and during adolescence?

Neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang (who is also a parent) explain the facets and functions of the developing brain, discussing salient subjects such as sleep problems, language learning, gender differences, and autism. They dispel common myths about important subjects such as the value of educational videos for babies, the meaning of ADHD in the classroom, and the best predictor of academic success (hint: It's not IQ ). Most of all, this book helps you know when to worry, how to respond, and, most important, when to relax.

Welcome to Your Child's Brain upends myths and misinformation with practical advice, surprising revelations, and real, reliable science. It's essential reading for parents of children of any age, from infancy well into their teens.

Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (September 4, 2012)

Praise

"...cutting-edge research on the growing brain, from birth to the age of 21....with its clear graphics, this is a useful companion guide for educators and families."
Nature

"...A fresh approach to brain research...offering parents practical tips along the way....The authors are consummate myth busters: birth order, research reveals, has little impact on personality, and the left-brain is as emotionally charged as the right....Thought-provoking revelations."
Publishers Weekly

"Dr. Wang and Dr. Aamodt playfully and engagingly introduce us to the hidden talents of our children’s brains."
— Dr. Mehmet Oz, host of The Dr. Oz Show

"Few humans are as neurotic as parents, frantic about the disastrous lifelong consequences of every errant hiccup. In this smart, funny, accessible, and supremely sane book, Aamodt and Wang explain that our supposed knowledge in this realm is riddled with urban myths and that a child’s brain is tough and resilient in the face of adversity. This is a terrific, fun, educational book."
— Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D., author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

"Fact-filled and fascinating, Welcome to Your Child’s Brain will answer many of parents’ most urgent questions. Neuroscientists Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang present the real data that will help parents understand and nurture their children of all ages."
— Dr. Lise Eliot, associate professor of neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University and author of What’s Going On in There? and Pink Brain, Blue Brain

Welcome to Your Brain

Why You Lose Your Car Keys but Never Forget How to Drive and Other Puzzles of Everyday Life

by Sam Wang and Sandra Aamodt

We are using our brains at practically every moment of our lives, and yet few of us have the first idea how they work. Much of what we think we know comes from folklore: that we only use 10 percent of our brain, or that drinking kills brain cells. These and other brain myths are wrong, as demonstrated by the work of neuroscientists who have spent decades studying this complex organ. However, most of what scientists have learned is not known to the world outside their laboratories.

In this readable, lively book, Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang dispel common myths about the brain and provide a comprehensive, useful overview of how it really works. In its pages, you'll discover how to cope with jet lag, how your brain affects your religion, and how men's and women's brains differ. With witty, accessible prose decorated by charts, trivia, quizzes, and illustrations, this book is great for quick reference or extended reading.

Both practical and fun, Welcome to Your Brain is perfect whether you want to impress your friends or simply use your brain better.

Bloomsbury USA (December 23, 2008)

Praise

“Welcome to Your Brain is a delightful and engaging romp through neuroscience by two of its leading lights — a marvelous collection of facts and findings that answer the questions we all have about our own minds. If the human brain came with an owner's manual, it might well look like this.”
— Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

“Welcome To Your Brain is a lucid and fascinating journey into the inner life of the mind, an essential manual for one of nature's most amazing technologies. You'll never think about yourself — or think about thinking — quite the same way again.”
— Steven Johnson, author of Mind Wide Open and The Ghost Map

“People need to know how the brain works. How else can you competently serve on a jury, or vote for what the government should spend money on, or decide what to make of your child having trouble learning to read? But here's the problem: lots of people find science difficult. Welcome to Your Brain is a great solution. Written by two top neuroscientists, it's great on the facts — accurate, up to date, focuses on all the important topics — AND it's crystal clear and witty and irreverent and wonderfully written. This is a terrific book.”
— Robert Sapolsky, Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers

“If all scientists could write like this, professional science writers would be out of a job.  Welcome to Your Brain is clear, understandable, entertaining and fascinating.  A description of how, in a noisy room, to hear a caller on your cell phone is just one of the many good reasons to buy this book.”
— Sandra Blakeslee, co-author, The Body Has a Mind of its Own

Topics

Sam tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Big Data In National Political Races

Fun With Big Data: From Predicting Elections To Finding Science Genes (This Combines Election Prediction With Human Neuroscience, Two Very Different Topics)

Welcome To Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College

Five Myths About Children’s Brains (The Myths: Redshirting Is Good For Children’s Success, Willpower Can’t Be Built, Breastfeeding Increases IQ, Autism Is Caused By Vaccines, Videogames Are Bad For The Brain)

Learning, Stress, And The Growing Brain

Videos

Politics & Polls #2: Does the VP Pick Still Matter? | WOOCAST Podcast

Politics & Polls #1: Goldwater, Brexit, and The Party Decides | WOOCAST Podcast

Understanding Autism | AMNH SciCafe

Inside the 'great nerd fight of 2014'

Will Power | TED

Feedback

A four-year public liberal arts university:
[Sam’s presentation] went quite well. He visited a class yesterday before his lecture, and that was well received (the class is co-taught by [the university]’s president). We had an excellent turn-out for his lecture — we ended up having to unblock all of the seats and open up the balcony at the venue to accommodate the attendees. We were very pleased.

An independent, coeducational, college-preparatory day school:
I wanted to let you know that the event went really well. We had about 250 people (parents, faculty, administrators and even a few students) at the talk. Dr. Wang did a great job! He was well prepared, engaging and did a great job of taking some complex scientific ideas and explaining them in a way to make them accessible to a non-scientist. The Q&A was particularly interesting.

We were also very grateful that Dr. Wang agreed to sign books. We were so happy with our choice of Dr. Wang for the [ . . . ] Speaker Series.