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on 22 August 2017
A really good looking at how forecasting and prediction has performed in recent years. It also looks at Nate Silver's proposal on how to improve the collective forecasting performance through the wider use of Bayes theorem when assessing a prediction or testing a theory
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on 7 December 2017
Must read. Will give you a very clear view on the world. Especially if interested in finance.
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on 26 August 2017
Read the free sample and you've basically got the idea.
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on 16 June 2017
great read, very happy
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on 28 November 2012
Mr Silver clearly knows what he is talking about, but I'm less sure he knows how to talk about it. I assume he set out to write a chatty, non-challenging book, but the result is light on substance and structure.

The Nobel prize-winning physicist Niels Bohr famously said 'Prediction is very difficult, especially if it's about the future'. This pretty much sums up the first half of the book. Yes, the detail about the financial crisis, weather forecasting, earthquakes etc is mildly interesting, but in relation to prediction, you will be wading through a lot of noise to extract the signal ('human nature makes us over-confident predictors', 'without either good theory or good empirical data, you may as well just guess','the most confident pundits are usually the worst' etc).

The substance of the book comes in twenty pages in the middle, where Silver introduces Bayesian logic (I learnt in maths classes at school when I was fourteen so it wasn't new to me, and it doesn't need 200 pages of build up). The best section is where Silver contrasts Bayesian logic to Fisherian logic. Fisher created the maths that is used almost universally in medical and social science research to prove the efficacy of a treatment or theory. Silver explains how flawed this maths is - which is presumably why two thirds of the positive findings claimed in medical journals cannot be replicated. This is pretty heady stuff.

Silver claims that the second half of the book is about how to make predictions better. It is mostly more examples of failure, this time in chess, investment, climate and terrorism, with a few asides that might be considered signals ('testing is good', 'groups/markets tend to make better predictions than individuals'). The exception is the section on poker, which delivers the strongest message in the book: good gamblers think in probabilities (rather than dead certs) - when these probabilities diverge from the odds on offer by a suitable margin, they may place a bet. Bad poker players lose a lot more than good poker players make. The best is the enemy of the good...

Of course, the point of the book is that there is no silver bullet - good prediction requires detail, nuance, hard work, honesty and humility. It would be wrong to expect a check list for success at the end, and naturally, there isn't one. Even so, you are left with a craving for clarity.

'The Signal and the Noise' is a pleasant enough read, but it is mostly anecdote. Rather ironically, you are left to sort out the signal from noise yourself.
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on 14 October 2013
Book contains lot of cases to get acquainted with. Easy to read. Unfortunately I didn't get a point how things have to bee done in order to avoid problems and get positive result, especially during reading the beginning of the book.
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VINE VOICEon 16 July 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This took longer to read than I expected....and I couldn't bring myself to read the chapter on baseball as I have no knowledge whatsoever on the subject.

However, the chapters on weather forecasting, earth tremors, the stock exchange (I'll never think about investing the same way again!) and global warming were very interesting.

Nate makes a good argument for the perils and pitfalls of prediction. The overly optimistic forecasts are slashed down with his gentle reprimands and he explains in much detail why and how they are wrong. He also has big issues with the amount of data v.s what is relevant. It's no good having tons of information (the noise), if you don't understand what you've gathered.....to make a prediction (the signal).

His favourite form of prediction includes something called Bayesian reasoning, which is almost the basis of the whole book.

There are charts galore, lots of 'case examples' and the ins and outs of how he-got-to-where-he-is-now by actually immersing himself in his field (election & baseball forecasts) ....I was a little concerned to read about how he played on-line poker, winning thousands of $'s, then losing a big chunk in 2006/7 but with that admission, there came some humility where he describes (in great detail) not only how he won, but also WHY he lost so much....

I enjoyed the book, mostly....
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on 30 October 2017
Very interesting book, written in about 11 chapters, not all them equally interesting, some were more relevant then others, but some of the questions were really interesting and informing, the author confessed that he has a problem in writing long texts, so he glued some essays, some of them really interesting, I didn't find it to be a "contemporaneous instant classic though".
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on 10 June 2013
Part of my job is making forecasts so I was very interested in reading a book by someone successful in the field. Fortunately this is a well written book otherwise it could be a tedious read. It is a very interesting book, fascinating and even amusing in places. My only criticisms are that the author, despite being widely travelled, uses examples from North America assuming we all understand the rules and terminology of baseball. I had to skip 20 pages at one point. Secondly, I'd say the book was too long by 50 to 100 pages for a general audience. Definitely well worth a read though.
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on 6 July 2014
If you are really into measuring signals in noise this isn't for you. If you want to be told, page after page, how brilliant the author is at, for example, football (US) statistics then you will find something of interest. Don't expect to find any useful information on regression; Bayes; predictor-corrector; Kalman; entropy; ... or just about anything to do with prediction.
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