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The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

Book rating: 01 Paperback

By (author) Nate Silver

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  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 544 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 196mm x 26mm | 380g
  • Publication date: 18 April 2013
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0141975652
  • ISBN 13: 9780141975658
  • Sales rank: 2,700

Product description

Every time we choose a route to work, decide whether to go on a second date, or set aside money for a rainy day, we are making a prediction about the future. Yet from the financial crisis to ecological disasters, we routinely fail to foresee hugely significant events, often at great cost to society. In "The Signal and the Noise", the "New York Times" political forecaster Nate Silver, who accurately predicted the results of every single state in the 2012 US election, reveals how we can all develop better foresight in an uncertain world. From the stock market to the poker table, from earthquakes to the economy, he takes us on an enthralling insider's tour of the high-stakes world of forecasting, showing how we can use information in a smarter way amid a noise of data - and make better predictions in our own lives.

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Author information

Nate Silver is a statistician and political forecaster at The New York Times. In 2012, he correctly predicted the outcome of 50 out of 50 states during the US presidential election, trumping the professional pollsters and pundits. He was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the world, and one of Rolling Stones' top Agents of Change. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Customer reviews

By ross armstrong 25 Sep 2013 1

This book suffers from not being edited by someone who knows more about the topic than Silver. It is too long and too often Silver strays into areas way out of his ken and naively thinks he has something worthwhile and original to offer on topics such as global warming and earthquakes. He doesn't.
His discussion of conditional probability and Fisher is deeply flawed. It is a good example of a core problem with this book which is Silver's reluctance or inability to go deeply into technical subjects. He skims the wave tops technically then rushes to making profound pronouncements. The message is 'I know a lot about this topic, I'm and expert, I'm really sciency but still cool, so just trust me and know what I'm saying is right'.
Some of the stuff is laughable eg his baseless extrapolation of earthquake data and terrorist attack data.
He often unknowingly makes the same mistakes he solemnly points out in others.
The book is clearly an aggregation of blog commentaries etc , it is clumsily assembled, self-referential and often confused.
I wouldn't recommend this book. If you are mathemtaically and statistically literate there are much better books. If you're not you won't see the flaws and will finish it thinking you know a lot about prediction, you won't. This is about as useful and worthwhile as a book on 'brain surgery for beginners'.

Review quote

Outstanding... I was hooked -- Tim Harford Financial Times One of the more momentous books of the decade The New York Times Book Review A lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically Guardian The inhabitants of Westminster are speed-reading The Signal and the Noise... They will find the book remarkable and rewarding Sunday Telegraph Is there anything now that Nate Silver could tell us that we wouldn't believe? Jonathan Freedland Fascinating... our age's Brunel -- Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times A surprisingly accessible peek into the world of mathematical probability -- Daily Telegraph The Galileo of number crunchers Independent A 34-year old Delphic Oracle Daily Beast