Nate Silver is most famous for steadily predicting Barack Obama’s reelection (which, as you may have heard, happened). Yet his new bestseller The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t is a fine all-around introduction to the science and art of forecasting, with interesting examples drawn from many fields.
For example: You know those ten-day weather forecasts? Predicting the first week has gotten reasonably reliable, but the ninth and tenth days, Silver reports, are useless. They may even be negatively correlated with what actually transpires.
The Signal and the Noise starts weakly with the oft-told cautionary tale of how credit-rating agencies such as Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s missed the subprime mortgage bubble. Fortunately, it improves as the author turns to topics with which he has more personal familiarity, such as sports, gambling, and sports gambling.
Indeed, The Signal and the Noise is one of the better Frequent Flyer books of recent years.