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
"Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise is The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century." (Rachel Maddow, author of Drift)
There are a lot of charts in the text version, but it isn't necessary to the story as they aren't often directly referenced in the narrative but are more optional illustrations of concepts. Very good overall
The comparisons between weather and earthquake forecasting, and how they differ.
Thinking about earthquake and terrorism forecasting in a similar light struck a chord with me.
The concept introduced was amazing, but the author hasn't really presented any specifics or practical insights. Yet, the general idea is very essential and mind opening and everyone should believe in the general concept introduce here. Putting my comments together, this book is only an introductory level book.
Truly worthwhile content that goes beyond traditional "critical thinking", and has us start to have probabilistic thinking. I just wished that it had been read by the author
Just the one - the annoying assumption that everyone and their uncle knows baseball vernacular. The book is good, the concept coherent but the examples mystified more than explained.
Nothing wrong with the performance
Silver's book provides a miriad of views on our natural interest of the future. Provinding example after example of interesting predictions without excessive detail, Silver contrasts the problems of our wishful thinking verses weighing reasonable probability with far less bias.
I thought the text of book worked well in an audio format, and the pace of the reader, Mike Chamberlain, appropriate. Worth listening to more than once.
People with background in statistics will find little new. Stories are interesting. Dont expect too detail.
The book starts strong with an interesting historical narrative about Protestantism and the advent of the printing press. Then it sort of meanders through some anecdotes of failed or successful predictions for what seemed like most of the body, the conclusion was also good, though felt like it should have been supported by clearer points made in the body.
I came away thinking the conclusion as a proposition was well written and fairly compelling, and what I took as weakness in the body might have been signs that the book was penned opportunistically on the heels of Silver's media attention rather than bringing anything new to the discussion about social psychology and the lack of statistical reasoning in the general (US) public.
Report Inappropriate Content