Quick Reads: “The Signal and the Noise” by Nate Silver

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail—But Some Don’t 

By Nate Silver

PENGUIN PRESS

Nate Silver, now the New York Times‘ resident stat-head, began earning his rep as something of a whiz by devising a probabilistic model that changed the way baseball franchises evaluate players. And during the 2008 election, he correctly predicted the winner of 49 states and all 36 Senate races. But his book isn’t a victory lap, it’s a confession: We’re not as smart as we think we are. From the housing bubble to political science, the best and perhaps the brightest routinely blow the biggest calls because they can’t separate the signal (truth) from the noise (distractions). We’ll risk one prediction, though: Silver’s book will be hard to put down.

This review originally appeared in our September/October issue of Mother Jones. 

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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