Book review: The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don’t by Nate Silver.
This is a well-written book about the challenges associated with making predictions. But nearly all the ideas in it were ones I was already familiar with.
I agree with nearly everything the book says. But I’ll mention two small disagreements.
He claims that 0 and 100 percent are probabilities. Many Bayesians dispute that. He has a logically consistent interpretation and doesn’t claim it’s ever sane to believe something with probability 0 or 100 percent, so I’m not sure the difference matters, but rejecting the idea that those can represent probabilities seems at least like a simpler way of avoiding mistakes.
When pointing out the weak correlation between calorie consumption and obesity, he says he doesn’t know of an “obesity skeptics” community that would be comparable to the global warming skeptics. In fact there are people (e.g. Dave Asprey) who deny that excess calories cause obesity (with better tests than the global warming skeptics).
It would make sense to read this book instead of alternatives such as Moneyball and Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment, but if you’ve been reading books in this area already this one won’t seem important.