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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

Average Customer Rating

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  •  
    Jay Minneapolis, MN, United States 02-02-13
    Jay Minneapolis, MN, United States 02-02-13 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting, Especially If You're a Poker Player"

    Like lots of people, I followed online for two election cycles and came to believe that Nate had the best methods for election prediction. Because of that history, I was very interested in this book when it came out. While there was a lot of interesting information in the book, quite a bit of time is spent on Poker, the way he made a living for several years. Not knowing Poker, those sections were not meaningful to me. His analysis of baseball, another area where he did statistical work, was interesting to me although others may not care about it. The discussions of politics were also interesting to me but they were shorter than I expected. Overall, it's pretty good but no more illuminating than other well know books on prediction that you can find on Audible.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian South Beloit, IL, USA 01-19-13
    Brian South Beloit, IL, USA 01-19-13 Member Since 2004
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    "Disappointing"

    I was hoping for something more from the famous Nate Silver. If you have had a sophomore statistics class, then you won't find anything new here. I don't understand why this book gets such good reviews. It's not a bad book, but it's not ground breaking either.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Neil D. Brown Texas 01-15-13
    Neil D. Brown Texas 01-15-13 Member Since 2007

    readerdon

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    "Fascinating"
    Would you listen to The Signal and the Noise again? Why?

    Maybe


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    DNA


    What does Mike Chamberlain bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Probably miss out on the charts and illustrations which I presume are in book


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    If you liked Freakonomics or any of Gladwell's books then you will love this analysis

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Townsend Pearland, TX, United States 01-07-13
    Townsend Pearland, TX, United States 01-07-13 Member Since 2014
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    "FASCINATING"

    Data science for dummies.
    A very entertaining intro for those of us who aren't techno-current. Lots of different fields of enquiry used for examples. Enough of the author's personality to keep it lively.
    Fun for all --

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L. Oliveira Brazil 12-30-12
    L. Oliveira Brazil 12-30-12 Member Since 2010

    Motumbo

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    "Awesome, awesome book. Must read!"

    It's always refreshing to read a different way to tell the same stories. This book is a must read for anyone, absolutely anyone, that wants to have a better grasp of what it perceives as real.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DS 12-30-12
    DS 12-30-12 Member Since 2015

    Say something about yourself!

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    "FOOD FOR THOUGHT"

    A really smart book on why predicting stuff is hard and a really good argument for an open mind. Seeing the world as it really is, rather than how we want it to be, is the hardest thing we will ever do. But we really should try harder.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David NASHVILLE, TN, United States 12-27-12
    David NASHVILLE, TN, United States 12-27-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Excellent Listen"

    Much of this book seems obvious, but it is amazing how easy everyone can get caught up in the noise. I found it easy to stick with and enjoyed it very much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory Linwood, NJ, United States 12-25-12
    Gregory Linwood, NJ, United States 12-25-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Enlightening, entertaining, surprising."
    Where does The Signal and the Noise rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the most interesting books I have ever read.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    Humorous voice, easy to follow. I could believe that the narrator was the author.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jowanza United States 12-11-12
    Jowanza United States 12-11-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Great Read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I would recommend this book a friend. While this book has some technical aspects it's very accessible. It covers the topic of forecasting and prediction extremely well.


    What other book might you compare The Signal and the Noise to and why?

    I can't think of a book I could compare to Signal and the noise.


    Which character – as performed by Mike Chamberlain – was your favorite?

    I thought all of the characters were similar actually.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I thought a lot of the introductory content was moving.


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carrie Anthem, AZ, United States 12-11-12
    Carrie Anthem, AZ, United States 12-11-12
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    "Interesting, educational, and entertaining"
    What did you love best about The Signal and the Noise?

    The real-world examples for each concept made complex theories and concepts easy to understand


    Any additional comments?

    If you want to learn about why things work in the world, this is a fantastic book! Get it, it’s worth it!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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