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The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction Paperback – 18 Apr 2013
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Outstanding... I was hooked (Tim Harford Financial Times)
One of the more momentous books of the decade (The New York Times Book Review)
A lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically (Guardian)
The inhabitants of Westminster are speed-reading The Signal and the Noise... They will find the book remarkable and rewarding (Sunday Telegraph)
Is there anything now that Nate Silver could tell us that we wouldn't believe? (Jonathan Freedland)
Fascinating... our age's Brunel (Bryan Appleyard Sunday Times)
A surprisingly accessible peek into the world of mathematical probability (Daily Telegraph)
The Galileo of number crunchers (Independent)
A 34-year old Delphic Oracle (Daily Beast)
About the Author
Nate Silver is a statistician and political forecaster at The New York Times. In 2012, he correctly predicted the outcome of 50 out of 50 states during the US presidential election, trumping the professional pollsters and pundits. He was named one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People in the world, and one of Rolling Stones' top Agents of Change. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
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Having said that, this is a fairly readable book with some interesting chapters. It's not as clearly written as I hoped and the sections on weather forecasting (again mostly concerned with US Hurricanes) and poker (international I know and something Nate himself played professionally) are ok, but a bit woolly in their exposition.
Later chapters are much better - the one on chess playing computer programmes (and the effect of bugs therein) and another on climate change are well written, although the latter - like the one on stock market predictions - is steady rather than having astounding revelations.
As another review has pointed out the book is light on the maths itself, but we are constantly reminded of Bayes theorem and how we can use it for real world, complex problems to check whether we are on the right lines when we predict things.
I wasn't convinced by everything in this book, but it improved as it went on and if one can ignore the parochial nature of its US author it is certainly worth a read.
There's a good book trying to escape from the huge mass of words in here: a second edition with a decent editor to hack it down to size would be well worth a read, but with the current edition it's just too time-consuming to find the nuggets of wisdom.