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The Signal and the Noise Audiobook

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

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (2489 )
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Performance
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  •  
    William Leawood, KS, United States 11-19-12
    William Leawood, KS, United States 11-19-12

    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
  •  
    B. Wagner Miami 09-13-16
    B. Wagner Miami 09-13-16 Member Since 2016
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    "nice performance of some compelling stories"

    Logged the whole thing in a couple days while driving. Great experience kept me engaged the whole time

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Peck 09-08-16
    Robert Peck 09-08-16

    Rob

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    "Too much noise."

    Too much noise imho. Enough useful information for an article. Not enough for a book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan Stiansen 08-31-16 Member Since 2015
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    8
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    "great to read, a new way of looking at the world."

    loved it but thought that possibility hammered the point home a bit to hard. really think this is a book all should read

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anders Lisdorf 08-15-16
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    17
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    "Overlooked gem"
    Would you listen to The Signal and the Noise again? Why?

    I really enjoyed this book. It had everything I look for in non-fiction books: a clear story line, well researched content, a plethora of surprising new insights (to me at least). I liked the author's style and had a feeling that a lot of work had been put into every detail of this book. I felt in good hands through the whole book it's right up there with Freakonomics, Outliers and Money ball - entertaining, informative and surprising.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    I liked the professional gambler. His house sounded cool and who doesn't like a guy who earns millions from watching sports on tv....


    Have you listened to any of Mike Chamberlain’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The part about earth quakes, although they are largely unpredictable they still follow a pattern...
    And the bayesian stuff. It was really explained very well although it is hard to understand.


    Any additional comments?

    I would recommend anyone who enjoy well researched well written science based non-fiction to read this

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeff Nunn Texas 08-01-16
    Jeff Nunn Texas 08-01-16 Member Since 2016

    JN

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    "Could've used more signal"

    A decent book. A little too much on the housing bubble, and a little too much of Silver shilling for his blog, 538. There were a few good chapters: one on baseball, one on chess, and a good introduction to Bayes' Theorem. However, the lead up to the best part of the book (the second half) was entirely too much noise.

    The narrator reads this book like a news story. He is dry and unemotional, and often chooses to end his sentences with a strange inflection. For a book of this length it gets tiresome pretty fast.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-18-16
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    "Wonderful book. Freakanomics but much better"

    Great book. This translates to an audio book very well. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would recommend it to friends.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen Springfield, OR, United States 06-25-16
    Karen Springfield, OR, United States 06-25-16 Member Since 2010
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    "separates science from voodoo"

    a must read to gain perspective on the news and all the claims made by "experts"

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tempelhof 06-10-16
    Tempelhof 06-10-16
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    "Excellent Insight"

    Excellent Insight into what's important, what's not and how to differentiate between the two states.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    dmitry 05-06-16
    dmitry 05-06-16
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    Story
    "too much water"

    too much water. overall this book lacks organization. there would be a single point made and then that point would be supported by an example in baseball, weather or market forecasting for the next 2 hours. as much as I love stories there's way more trivia in this book than it reasonably should allow. points are reiterated *a lot*. everything that the book says could be said and shown in a 20 pages essay.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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