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The Signal and the Noise

Why Most Predictions Fail --but Some Don't

Silver, Nate

Book - 2012
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Signal and the Noise
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. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2012
ISBN: 9781594204111
Branch Call Number: 519.5 SILVER
Characteristics: 534 p. : ill. ; 25 cm


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Dec 27, 2014
  • stewstealth rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

A look at statistical analysis and randomness with our inability to make predictions due to the complexity of dynamic systems. The narrative and layout is a bit disjointed but is otherwise an insightful read. Easily confirms my personal bias that most pundits have little idea of what they are talking about. Worth reading if you are interested.

Feb 04, 2014
  • geezr_rdr rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

This is a worthwhile book for those who would like a basis for skepticism about the information we get from news programs, although it could have been more concise. The most valuable chapter deals with the Bayes approach to making and updating predictions. If you can multiply, divide, add and subtract, you can use this formula as he directs. There is an error in the graphs on page 357 in that the grey areas represent "individual investors".

Nov 18, 2013
  • voisjoe1 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Nate Silver, who clashed with TV Republican political pundits on TV prior to the 2012 presidential elections, predicted correctly all 50 states in 2012, demonstrating that their opinions were political bluster rather than intelligent dialogue. In 2008, Silver correctly predicted 49 of 50 states, giving him a 0.990 batting average, whereas political pundits such as Peggy Noonan and Joe Scarborough were sent back to the minor leagues. In this book, Silver discusses how probability and statistics can be used to study such phenomena as earthquakes, climate change, poker, chess, terrorism, and financial bubbles, among other phenomena. This would be a good book for economists, business majors (including sports management), mathematicians, engineers and scientists (including political science). In fact, maybe this should be required reading for such majors. I was hoping Nate would describe some of his political predicting methods, but maybe he is saving that for his next book.

Oct 16, 2013
  • sharon711 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

The book has relevence but is way too academic for people who have no background in math or who have no interest in gambling or chess or baseball. It took me a month to slog through it all. I would have appreciated a condensed version that explained the basic concepts, for which I had to dig so deeply. What I came away with was an even deeper suspicion of science than I used to have. Science needs friends not enemies!

Sep 19, 2013
  • Jane60201 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

I expected the book to be about politics and was pleasantly surprised about the variety to topics covered. An extremely interesting book which kept my attention the entired way through.

Apr 22, 2013
  • writermala rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

An interesting, well-written book but I found it wasn't as user-friendly as I expected. It seemed to me that a lay person couldn't grasp all the concepts Silver had stated and explained.

Having said that I have to concede that this might well be the starting point for many of us to dig deeper and try to learn the statistics and Math involved in predictions.

I liked the way Silver explained the difference between risk and uncertainty and predictions and forecasts. All in all an eminently readable book.

Dec 30, 2012

An excellent analysis of how we get mis-led by predictions of so called experts---like pundits and TV weathermen---and how they deceive themselves or purposely distort their forecasts to get noticed.
A must read for any academic in almost any field and anyone else who wants to see how they can get mis-led and how to question what you read/hear.

Nov 19, 2012
  • binational rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

Excellent analysis, with enormous relevance for understanding not only highly accurate election forecasting (for which Silver is best known), but also weather forecasting, terrorism forecasting, accurate forecasting of the effects of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere. I probably would have given it five stars were it not for the extensive sections on sports and gambling, subjects I find terminably boring. Then again, that could interest a lot of you in reading this book!


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