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)
Psychology and Biology nerd. Chemistry enthusiast. Fan of good research-based science books, comedies and crime.
Nate gives a great view of how big data can and should work (or not). I particularly liked that while some case studies had clear central messages, he avoided reductionism and reapplied lessons from other chapters.
This is a must read for any one interested in being correct about the world we live in.
The way the book ties together so many different threads with a single consistent hypothesis is praiseworthy
I now understand part of the reason I kept seeing Bayes' Theorem referenced everywhere when this book was released.
I like how the focus is on confronting priors. not eliminating them, but seeing the effect they have on your view. I confess I will be doing some basic calculations in the coming days.
this does make the second book read by Chamberland that basically slams you with data. much more approachable than Gig Calories, Bad Calories.
Not for everyone and some of the chapters were a bit long, but still a great book dealing our ability to see into the future.
Silver accomplishes a difficult task - statistics are not only understandable they are fascinating. Silver applies his grasp of statistics to real world problems and provides insights into how to navigate financial markets, public threats such weather forecasting or predicting terrorist strikes. The prose is readily accessible and free of jargon. This is a real treat.
Silver’s ability to dissect each of the scenarios into relevant and comprehensible examples shed light into how easily we can become entrapped and misguided by information.Chamberlain's reading is very well done and conveys the book's messages powerfully.
the world is much more complicated than you think. I was surprised with the open perspective of this book, it challenged me to reevaluate some of my own preconceived ideas. I don't think the author get everything right, but his thinking is on the right track. definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to think more critically about their predictions.
Interesting book about forecasting, statistics, and why simply having more data is not going to result in better predictions. The writing is mostly entertaining and accessible to all, but if you're interested in the details there's enough there that I was able to correctly answer 3/4 questions on a Bayesian theory test a friend coincidentally posted on Facebook while I was reading this book.
The direction seems a little scattered though, it's more like a series of case studies or vignettes without a clear and cohesive direction. The most important information in the book (in my opinion) is Bayesian theory and how we can and should use it to keep our forecasts realistic; yet it isn't mentioned till over half way into the book and then isn't consistently emphasized through till the end. The rest of the book is examples of predictions gone right or wrong and examinations why; interesting but a little disjointed seeming at times. Still, very interesting read and worth picking up.
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