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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

Paperback

By (author) Nate Silver

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  • Publisher: ALLEN LANE
  • Format: Paperback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 230mm
  • Publication date: 1 October 2012
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1846147735
  • ISBN 13: 9781846147739

Product description

In this enthralling insider's tour of the high-stakes world of forecasting, Nate Silver reveals how we can all learn to make better predictions in our own lives. 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 global financial crisis to 9/11 to the Fukushima disaster, 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 explores the art of prediction, revealing how we can all develop better foresight in an unpredictable world. In his quest to build a more accurate crystal ball, Silver visits hundreds of expert forecasters in a range of areas, from the stock market to the poker table, from earthquakes to the economy, and studies what lies behind their success. What can we learn from their techniques? What patterns have they uncovered? And in a world of Big Data, are we getting any closer to the truth? As Silver discovers, most predictions fail because humans are wired to detect patterns, and we often mistake noisy data for a signal. By analysing the rare prescient forecasts, and applying a more quantitative lens to everyday life, Silver distils the essential lessons of prediction, from the importance of embracing uncertainty to the need to think small. In the course of his investigation, Silver discovers unexpected patterns and connections, such as what earthquake detection can teach us about terrorist attacks, and how the insights of an 18th century English mathematician help unlock the 21st century challenges of global warming and disease.

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Author information

Nate Silver is a statistician and political forecaster at The New York Times who became a national sensation in the United States when his predictions during the 2008 presidential election trumped most mainstream polls. He is a contributor to The New York Times Magazine and has appeared as a commentator on CNN and MSNBC. He has spoken at TED and SXSW, and was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the world.

Review quote

One of "Wall Street Journal"'s" "Best Ten Works of Nonfiction in 2012 "Mr. Silver, just 34, is an expert at finding signal in noise... Lively prose -- from energetic to outraged... illustrates his dos and don'ts through a series of interesting essays that examine how predictions are made in fields including chess, baseball, weather forecasting, earthquake analysis and politics... [the] chapter on global warming is one of the most objective and honest analyses I've seen... even the noise makes for a good read." --"New York Times" "Not so different in spirit from the way public intellectuals like John Kenneth Galbraith once shaped discussions of economic policy and public figures like Walter Cronkite helped sway opinion on the Vietnam War...could turn out to be one of the more momentous books of the decade." --"New York Times Book Review" "A serious treatise about the craft of prediction--without academic mathematics--cheerily aimed at lay readers. Silver's coverage is polymathic, ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism.""--New York Review of Books" "Mr. Silver's breezy style makes even the most difficult statistical material accessible. What is more, his arguments and examples are painstakingly researched..." --"Wall Street Journal" "Nate Silver is the Kurt Cobain of statistics... His ambitious new book, "The Signal and the Noise," is a practical handbook and a philosophical manifesto in one, following the theme of prediction through a series of case studies ranging from hurricane tracking to professional poker to counterterrorism. It will be a supremely valuable resource for anyone who wants to make good guesses about the future, or who wants to assess the guesses made by others. In other words, everyone." --"The Boston Globe" "Silver delivers an improbably breezy read on what is essentially a primer on making predictions." --"Washington Post" ""The Signal and