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The Signal and the Noise Audiobook

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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  •  
    Arthur MEMPHIS, TN, United States 10-27-13
    Arthur MEMPHIS, TN, United States 10-27-13 Listener Since 2009
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    "A must read if you gamble or invest in stocks."
    What did you love best about The Signal and the Noise?

    Nate explains things very well. Easy to listen to and you will learn a lot. You don't have to know math to enjoy this book.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew 09-16-13
    Andrew 09-16-13
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    "A great read on one of the least understood topics"
    Would you listen to The Signal and the Noise again? Why?

    Maybe - I don't tend to read books over and over again.


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

    Not sure - he was a good narrator though.


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

    Bayesian thinking. I've been familiar with Bayesian mathematics for a while but I'd never quite thought about applying it to probabilistic thinking the way Nate discusses it.


    Any additional comments?

    This book was an amazing read. Nate uses lots of great examples from a wide-variety of disciplines and professions to show the usefulness and limitations of statistics and prediction models.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda Colorado Springs, CO, United States 07-27-13
    Linda Colorado Springs, CO, United States 07-27-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Statistics made interesting"

    Through different disciplines, the author explores how statistics can inform. It's not told in "geek speak", rather in everyday, intelligent stories. And, as happens in academia, it cautions about listening to the noise of information instead of seeing what's truly informative.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jargon Scott Hoboken, NJ 07-16-13
    Jargon Scott Hoboken, NJ 07-16-13
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    "More data for a data-driven world"

    Nate Silver's book jumps underlying topics casually (baseball stats, gambling, weather patterns, natural disasters) and uses the science of prediction as a throughline. This creates a little cognitive noise in its own signal. Other than that, it's a good, armchair introduction to the science of Bayesian statistical methods.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 07-11-13
    Raleigh greensboro, NC, United States 07-11-13 Member Since 2009
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    "high priest of the modern age"

    nate silver is the son of a michigan state professor
    his careers in poker, finance, and baseball proved unfulfilling
    i suspect the wolf of insignificance was nagging at his door

    he needed a new and meaningful focus for his considerable intellect
    he now aspires to be the high priest for our digital and data-driven age
    the wise sorter of signal & noise / truth & lie / wheat & chaff

    the book isn't entertaining because nate silver isn't entertaining
    he wants to tell you the truth and show you how to recognize a lie
    he then applies his focus and filter to the ocean of data we swim in

    at heart, the book is a sturdy compass and a very necessary tool
    we live in an expanding jungle of useless and biased information
    nate silver wants to lead us to the promised land of the true signal


    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Soo Lee Davis 06-01-13

    Soo Lee Davis

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    "The best critical thinking book to read now"
    Would you listen to The Signal and the Noise again? Why?

    Yes - profound lessons in how to think and solve problems


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Signal and the Noise?

    Thinking like a fox.


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

    A hint at humor.


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

    So many! Must read again


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    G. Hopkins Brooklyn, NY 05-02-13
    G. Hopkins Brooklyn, NY 05-02-13 Member Since 2013

    I'm an artist. I have always loved to read but work with my hands and eyes. I listen to books these days to get my fix and keep working.

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    "There's too much data!"

    Nate Silver guided me through the 2012 election with detailed analysis of the polling data he posted on his NYTimes blog 538. I was drawn to this book because I prefer his dry scientific reasoning, and how he explains his steps along the way.

    In this book he talks about polling for elections, for which he has proven an expert and baseball statistics for which he designed a system a few years ago that gained him much fame and respect in the moneyball arena. He also describes in detail the successes and failures of several predictive techniques and reasons why humans are so bad at predicting the future. He describes why people continue to err factually even though we live in an information age. Namely, that there is too much data to gather without allowing our human subjectivity to taint the results.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Michael J. Thomas Rochester Hills, MI 05-02-13
    Michael J. Thomas Rochester Hills, MI 05-02-13
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    "Loved it"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book does a good job giving insight into the difference between noise and signal and the value of being able to tell the difference


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben BELLINGHAM, WA, United States 04-27-13
    Ben BELLINGHAM, WA, United States 04-27-13 Member Since 2010

    Ben ji

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    "Not just statistics"

    I became aware of Nate Silver during the last election and was amazed at his sensible, no nonsense approach to polling. I had expected this book to be technical and statistics oriented, but it turned out to be a particularly fascinating insight into his life, how he got to where he is now, and of course a lot of explanations about statistics, how they work, and how things can so easily go wrong.

    It was a great listen. His style of writing is excellent and he tells a good story. Well worth the time.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Edward OMAHA, NE, United States 03-13-13
    Edward OMAHA, NE, United States 03-13-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Very thought provoiking"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Signal and the Noise to be better than the print version?

    I don't think so. There are a lot of graphs in the print version that are hard to understand in the audio version. It was nice to switch between the two.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    The stories told were very cohesive and the author built his ideas upon each other.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I loved the part about everyone thinking Derek Jeter was an amazing shortstop because he had to dive for catches when in reality he was a slow mover and had to dive because he wasn't a great defensive shortstop!


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

    Things can be predicted if we can open our minds to the possibility they can happen--the most dangerous thing we can do is deny that something could EVER happen.


    Any additional comments?

    very compelling book and thought-provoking.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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