The signal and the noise : why so many predictions fail--but some don't / Nate Silver.

Silver, Nate, 1978- [Browse]
New York : Penguin Press, 2012.
534 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


Summary note
  • The author has built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair's breadth, and has become a national sensation as a blogger. Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, he examines the world of prediction.
  • Human beings have to make plans and strategize for the future. As the pace of our lives becomes faster and faster, we have to do so more often and more quickly. But are our predictions any good? Is there hope for improvement? In this book the author examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy, ever-increasing data. Many predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. We are wired to detect a signal, and we 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, and the more we are willing to learn from our mistakes, the more we can turn information into knowledge and data into foresight. The author examines both successes and failures to determine what more accurate forecasters have in common. In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, he visits innovative forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. Even when their innovations are modest, we can learn from their methods. How can we train ourselves to think probabilistically, as they do? How can the insights of an eighteenth-century Englishman unlock the twenty-first-century challenges of global warming and terrorism? How can being smarter about the future help us make better decisions in the present?
Bibliographic references
Includes bibliographical references (p. 459-514) and index.
A catastrophic failure of prediction -- Are you smarter than a television pundit? -- All I care about is W's and L's -- For years you've been telling us that rain is green -- Desperately seeking signal -- How to drown in three feet of water -- Role models -- Less and less and less wrong -- Rage against the machines -- The poker bubble -- If you can't beat 'em-- -- A climate of healthy skepticism -- What you don't know can hurt you.
  • 9781594204111
  • 159420411X
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