Book Review: The Signal in the Noise

Published: 2019-05-14 15:06:34
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Nate Silver wrote the book The signal in the Noise with an aim to study predictions on elections. According to him, there ought to be a definite reason why certain predictions turn out to be true while others fail. His predictions about the elections of the year 2012 in the USA were unsettling for most contenders. The media was awash with his predictions that suggested that Obama would win. Supporters of Romney were baffled by this prediction. Others were outright angered by the publicity awarded to the prediction. However, upon reading the book, one finds out that there is more to probability and statistics with regards to predicting election results.

Nate Silver has a different way of analyzing predictions. In his book, Nate decides to focus on the predictions that have failed rather than those that have succeeded. The success of analyzing this content has provided Nate with the necessary information to conclude a book that identifies the reason why such predictions failed in the first place. However, Nate also points out the successful predictions and works by other individuals. One such citation is the PECOTA system (Silver 64). Nate used this system in the prediction of base ball games. Silver would later use the same concepts in the prediction of the 2012 USA elections. However, the failures by different predictors provide the real information with regards to the possibility of a successful prediction.

Nate silver uses the data collected to differentiate between a forecast and a prediction. However, the book provides one with an understanding that both are estimations. According to the book, the prediction process requires one to estimate a future occurrence based on information. However, for this prediction to be correct, the information used needs to be truthful. In the modern day, the amount of data and information used is growing exponentially. This was the case during the 2012 elections. Based on this analysis, it is easy to understand Nates choice for topic of the book (Poynter 875). With too much information, and minimal ways of determining the truth, it gets difficult to determine the signal from the noise.

Other than focusing on politics, the book also provides an in depth understanding of predictions as a whole. The book allows one to understand theorems used in prediction. By breaking down these theorems, it is possible to understand why Nate thought that Barrack Obama would win the 2012 elections. The theorems, such as the Bayes and Bayesian theorems, are also used in the analyses of hypothesis. The author, Nate Silver, continues to discuss the advantages of using these theorems in analyzing predictions and hypothesis. By discussing the applicability of these hypotheses, the author identifies the reason why methods used were efficient in the prediction of the elections (Nate 150). It also helps one understand why predictions for a Romney win were a total failure.

The book The Signal and the Noise combines the science of prediction with the science of politics. When the author uses the methodologies accredited as effective in prediction, most individuals thought that the book was misplaced. However, the book provides one with the necessary information, skills, and proof of the effectiveness of the said theories. When Obama went ahead to with the elections, the predictions by Nate turned out to be true, thus catapulting the book into the lime light. Reading this book would provide one with a different perspective on politics, sports, music, among other everyday life events.

Works Cited

Silver, Nate. The Signal and the Noise: Why so Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't. New York: Penguin Press, 2012. Print.

Poynter, Ray. "Book Review: the Signal in the Noise: Why so Many Predictions Fail -- but Some Don't, by Nate Silver." International Journal of Market Research. 55.6 (2014): 875. Print.

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