The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail--but Some Don't Author Nate Silver
ISBN-10 0143125087
ISBN-13 9780143125082
Year 2015-02-03
Pages 560
Language English
Publisher Penguin Books
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One ofWall Street Journal sBestTen Works ofNonfictionin 2012 New York Times Bestseller 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 Warcould turn out to beone of the more momentous books of the decade New York Times Book Review Nate Silver sThe Signal and the Noiseis The Soul of a New Machine for the 21st century Rachel Maddow author ofDrift A serious treatise about the craft of predictionwithout academic mathematicscheerily aimed at lay readers Silver s coverage is polymathic ranging from poker and earthquakes to climate change and terrorism New York Review of Books Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance predicted the 2008 election within a hairs breadth and became a national sensation as a bloggerall by the time he was thirty He solidified his standing as the nation s foremost political forecaster with his near perfect prediction of the 2012 election Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight com 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 goodor 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 rudimentaryand dangerousscience 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 Silvers insights are an essential read

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