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An edition of The Signal and the Noise (2012)

The signal and the noise

The art and science of prediction

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Last edited by Kevin Smith
November 29, 2014 | History
An edition of The Signal and the Noise (2012)

The signal and the noise

The art and science of prediction

  • 3.79 ·
  • 39 Ratings
  • 55 Want to read
  • 2 Currently reading
  • 41 Have read
Publish Date
Penguin Books

Previews available in: English

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 often fail to foresee hugely significant events. In The Signal and the Noise , the New York Times' political forecaster and statistics guru Nate Silver explores the art of prediction, revealing how we can all build a better crystal ball. In his quest to distinguish the true signal from a universe of noisy data, Silver visits hundreds of expert forecasters, in fields ranging from the stock market to the poker table, from earthquakes to terrorism. What lies behind their success? And why do so many predictions still fail? By analysing the rare prescient forecasts, and applying a more quantitative lens to everyday life, Silver distils the essential lessons of prediction. We live in an increasingly data-driven world, but it is harder than ever to detect the true patterns amid the noise of information. In this dazzling insider's tour of the world of forecasting, Silver reveals how we can all develop better foresight in our everyday lives.

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Edition Availability
Cover of: The signal and the noise
The signal and the noise
2013, Penguin
Cover of: The Signal and the Noise
The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't
2012, Penguin Press
Hardcover in English
Cover of: The signal and the noise
The signal and the noise: The art and science of prediction
2012, Penguin Books
Hardcover in English

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Book Details

Published in

London, UK

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1. A catastrophic failure of prediction 19
2. Are you smarter than a television pundit? 47
3. All I care about is W's and L's 74
4. For years you've been telling us that rain is green 108
5. Desperately seeking signal 142
6. How to drown in three feet of water 176
7. Role models 204
8. Less and less and less wrong 232
9. Rage against the machines 262
10. The poker bubble 294
11. If you can't beat 'em... 329
12. A climate of healthy skepticism 370
13. What you don't know can hurt you 412
Conclusion 446
Acknowledgments 455
Notes 459
Index 515

Edition Notes

Copyright Date


Dewey Decimal Class

The Physical Object

Number of pages
846 grams

ID Numbers

Open Library

Work Description

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 thirty. The New York Times now publishes, 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 read.

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