The Signal and the Noise Book Review

Nate Silver has established himself as one of the premier household names in the world of analytics. His 2012 book The Signal and the Noise tackles multiple fields and provides Silver's insight into the world of forecasting and probability.

The Signal and the Noise Book Summary

Analysis guru extraordinaire Nate Silver has written extensively about the world of statistics and forecasting, but The Signal and the Noise ranks as the first book to come from the FiveThirtyEight czar.

The Signal and the Noise (a.k.a. The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail–but Some Don’t) investigates the daunting task of pulling useful indicators out of heaps of data. This exploration of forecasting takes on everything from baseball to natural disasters.

The hard truth that Silver presents is that predictions can be a dangerous proposition. Our desire for answers can often be betrayed by analysis that’s tainted by human nature. That’s not to say that good forecasters are non-existent. Silver’s book places a spotlight on those doing a superb job of interpreting statistics and offers a bit of a finger wag at our history of sometimes overlooking the good (if sometimes unsexy) work in this field.

Silver’s analysis champions the value of predictions. We’re guilty of making of mistakes in our prognosticative practices, but if we’re willing to look past the more entertaining brand of crystal ball gazing there’s true insight to be garnered. The Signal and the Noise doesn’t ask the reader to subscribe to a hard and fast system, it merely presents a reasoned interdisciplinary analysis of what makes good predictions valuable and bad predictions troublesome. What Silver has crafted is a well-researched and interesting book that merits reading regardless of your relationship with numbers.