The Signal and the Noise – Nate Silver
(Jan. 12, 2014) Subtitled: “Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t” Written by Nate Silver of the FiveThirtyEight Blog. Silver and his blog achieved a great deal of notoriety during Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign as he predicted – with stunning accuracy – how Obama would win. He is a “stat head” and his grasp of predictive modeling is astonishing.
The concepts presented here are so interesting. It makes so much sense . . . once you wrap your mind around what he is saying. He illustrates his points with chapters that apply his theories to examples in everything from politics and poker to baseball and climate change. Some chapters were quite interesting to me and others were just tedious to get through – mainly the ones related to predicting the weather.
I will admit that I found it difficult to stay engaged with the book and therefore kept leaving it for long periods of time before starting back up again. It took me months to get through this book. I’m the farthest thing from a “stat head” imaginable, but I think it’s critical to separate out “noise” from meaning in a time where big data makes us believe we are more accurately predictive. We are not. We have lots of data and weak models of analysis. In a nutshell, that’s what this book is all about. I think Nate Silver has done a good job in putting complex concepts into laymen’s terms, it was just too long and too much information for me personally.