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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

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Performance
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  •  
    Ben Head 03-09-16
    Ben Head 03-09-16 Member Since 2015
    ratings
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    3
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    Story
    "The intellectual implications are tremendous!"

    Life would imprive for all people if every human would at least consider the wisdom of Nate Silver's research and methodology.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew 02-29-16
    Matthew 02-29-16
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    Story
    "stretch the way you think"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Blythe California 02-27-16
    Blythe California 02-27-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting tidbits, but a bit scattered."
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexander Burns 02-11-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Slow Start, but Important Stuff"

    What a great set of lessons! I have listened twice, spoke to me both times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MR 01-31-16
    MR 01-31-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Great book, well suited for audio"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matt 01-30-16
    Matt 01-30-16
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    "Good review of forecasting and what can be done"
    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Signal and the Noise?

    The comparisons between weather and earthquake forecasting, and how they differ.


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

    Thinking about earthquake and terrorism forecasting in a similar light struck a chord with me.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Saad H 01-20-16
    Saad H 01-20-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Nice book yet not a practical"
    Would you try another book from Nate Silver and/or Mike Chamberlain?

    Not sure


    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    very easy


    Did The Signal and the Noise inspire you to do anything?

    Not really


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jacob J. Walker Loomis, CA USA 01-14-16
    Jacob J. Walker Loomis, CA USA 01-14-16 Member Since 2015

    M.Ed.

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    "Should be required reading in every high school"

    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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gautam Sinha Boston, MA 11-02-15
    Gautam Sinha Boston, MA 11-02-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Needed: Baseball enthusiast (to understand book)"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    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.


    Has The Signal and the Noise turned you off from other books in this genre?

    Absolutely not.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Mike Chamberlain’s performances?

    Nothing wrong with the performance


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrea 10-24-15
    Andrea 10-24-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Where are the probabilities in predictions?"

    Save yourself the book. Take a look at Bayes Theorem and put it in practice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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