The Signal And The Noise Book Report

Decent Essays
The Signal and the Noise Why So Many Predictions Fail- but Some Don’t is a book written by Nate Silver an American statistician and writer who analyzes baseball and elections. The Signal and the Noise was published on September 27, 2012 in the United States after its first week in print it reached the New York Times Best Sellers list as No. 12 for non-fiction hardback books. The Signal and the Noise opens with an Introduction that looks at the rise of information availability over the past several centuries. It notes that though the increasing levels of information has lead to advantages in many areas (such as boosting the economy), it has also increased the sheer amount of incorrect or misleading information (the ‘noise’) that exists in the…show more content…
In this chapter he talks about the swine flu ‘epidemics’ of the late seventies and of 2009 serve as an example of how extrapolation can lead to improper predictions, particularly if you assume that things will keep proceeding as they have in the recent past. It notes that self-fulfilling and self-canceling prophecies complicate the process of determining the future, by altering which directions the given traits proceed and altering their progress. The efforts to change the progress of certain events, helping the good and thwarting the bad, mean that many traits change their course from their initial progress (as when the swine flu outbreaks were stopped shortly after starting). Self-fulfilling predictions can be caused by the sheer act of releasing the prediction. For example, when news about H1N1 flu is broadcast, more people go to doctors and more H1N1 is identified. Self-cancelling predictions can also occur. Navigation systems show where the least traffic is but simultaneously invalidate the route by sending all traffic there en masse. Chapter 7 deals with the dangers of extrapolation and overly simplistic assumptions, using misfiring flu-predictions as an example. Also discussed here are self-fulfilling and self-cancelling predictions. Often the very act of prediction can alter the way people behave (an observation that also John Adams makes with regard to risk - a form of prediction, of course -
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