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The Signal and the Noise
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
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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