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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)

What Members Say

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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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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
  •  
    Ryan 07-31-15
    Ryan 07-31-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great Book!"

    Very interesting. I enjoyed the statistical information, stories, and predictive analytics discussed in this well written book. I've listened to it many times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Software IL, USA 06-24-15
    Joe Software IL, USA 06-24-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Finding the signal in " The Signal and the Noise ""

    Definitely a must read or listen for anyone that is concerned about what so called experts are saying. We all need to be wary of predictions and statistics especially in the hands of governments and corporations. This is an excellent primer on the topic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William F. Mccann Old Bridge, NJ USA 06-14-15
    William F. Mccann Old Bridge, NJ USA 06-14-15 Member Since 2012

    IamBillMcCann

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    "Statistics for the common man"

    I lined this book. The author highlights the issues of predictions and forecasts in plain language. The examples are relevant and interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David L Johnson 06-08-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Captivating and informative"

    This book was an interesting account of the natural limits and underlying processes of human thinking, technology, and how they are used in prediction. If the phrase "big data" annoys you, this book may provide a refuge from misinformed consensus views of problem solving. Mike Chamberlain did a fantastic job narrating this piece, which was likely made easier because the writing and themes of the book were so captivating. After listening to this book, I must admit my views are heavily biased due to the value I place on prediction.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tom Perrysburg, Ohio 06-06-15
    Tom Perrysburg, Ohio 06-06-15 Member Since 2004
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    "Good and though provoking information."

    The book is a little dry. I was hoping for something more in the realm of freakonmics or Blink, but, the information was good. It took me a long time to finish, which is my key indicator for whether the book was good. If you're into data, I would encourage you to check this one out, but otherwise, I'd stay clear.

    0 of 0 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
  •  
    Mike S. 05-08-15
    Mike S. 05-08-15
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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

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