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The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don't | [Nate Silver]

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail - but Some Don't

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger - all by the time he was 30. The New York Times now publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data.
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Publisher's Summary

Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger - all by the time he was 30. The New York Times now publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters.

Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good - or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary - and dangerous - science.

Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.

With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential listen.

©2012 Nate Silver (P)2012 Penguin Audio

What the Critics Say

"Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." (Rachel Maddow, author of Drift)

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  •  
    William Leawood, KS, United States 11-19-12
    William Leawood, KS, United States 11-19-12 Member Since 2015

    Bill K

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Entertaining and instructive"

    A guide to logical thinking and alalysis of data that should be required reading for everyone. Covers somewhat different territory from that first plowed by Freakonomics and Super Freakonomics, but just as insightful.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mitch Buena Park, CA, United States 12-02-12
    Mitch Buena Park, CA, United States 12-02-12 Member Since 2014

    I am a documentary film producer from Los Angeles.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You must have the patience for useless details"

    While missing the point.
    This book is very hard to follow. It feels like there is not enough material and the author is blowing time and filling pages with useless details.

    I'd rather go for something by Michael Lewis or Malcom Gladwell

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    fred LAKE OSWEGO, OR, United States 10-30-12
    fred LAKE OSWEGO, OR, United States 10-30-12 Member Since 2012

    I'm Trying to see the world with my ears.

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    "Blessed are the Quants for they shall inherit the"

    .....Nate Silver is the wunderkind who burst onto the scene with his blog that supplied intellectual elbow grease to issues of probability analysis . In his new book he wanders like a modern day Socrates searching for those with true wisdom . And he finds it--among modest , hardworking , humble folks across an array of industries and government institutions . A wonderful read.

    5 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel Langhorne Clemens 05-18-15
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    "Needs a better non-monotonous voice"

    Very informative but needs to be rewritten to reach a wider audience (partially attentive people). Examples given in certain circumstances like the actual scientists' names such as ones that either proved right or wrong with their theories evoke human interest and makes it easier to absorb the material presented. The book is politically unbiased which is what will make is truly relevant in the long run. Might be considered a classic in the years to come if rewritten for different audiences.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Mike Smith 05-08-15
    Mike Smith 05-08-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Fascinating but repetitive"

    He makes the points multiple times.

    He makes the points more than once

    He's a bit redundant.

    Lots of great data.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cara North Carolina 04-01-15
    Cara North Carolina 04-01-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Intellectually engaging, but too long."

    Struggled to finish it, was too long for the ultimate takeaway of the book. Still an excellent overview of data analysis and predictions.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Stephen A. Cooperman San Fernando Valley, LA, CA 03-26-15
    Stephen A. Cooperman San Fernando Valley, LA, CA 03-26-15 Member Since 2004
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    "Wrong About Climate Change"

    Nate Silver has done a great job in describing many aspects of probability theory. But he spent too much time on sports and gambling and not enough on Climate Change, which he got wrong.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Audrian 03-13-15
    Audrian 03-13-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A lot of stories"

    A lot of stories and baseballs. Election, wwii and baseball. The beginning of this, that and baseball. But it's overall a little interesting read ... And baseball.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Sigurdur 02-19-15
    Sigurdur 02-19-15

    shelgason

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    "Good book and good narrator."

    Enjoyed the book, saved me while feeling irritated commuting to work. Quite often I stayed in the car in the parking lot finishing listening to an interesting chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    David 02-04-15
    David 02-04-15
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    "Great information backed even greater examples"

    Have you ever been curious as to why certain political officials get elected, why weather is more predictable than earth quakes, or how thinking probably can be beneficial to thinking in absolutes? Nate dives into all of these difficult questions and answers them with wonderful examples. Yes, it is complicated to understand, but that is the point of thinking probably. I enjoyed listening to this audiobook and look forward to more from Nate Silver.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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