AirTalk for October 26, 2012

Nate Silver, America’s pollster, explains ‘why so many predictions fail – but some don’t’

16th Annual Webby Awards

Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images

Nate Silver attends the 16th Annual Webby Awards at Hammerstein Ballroom on May 21, 2012 in New York City.

Accurately predicting future events could not only save money, but in some cases such as in forecasting natural disasters, it could even save lives. Predictions and probabilities can get very complicated very fast, which is why prediction expert Nate Silver has dedicated himself to examining why so many predictions fail and to documenting his findings in his new book “The Signal and the Noise.”

The author researched predictions of everything from hurricanes, to basketball games, to the stock market in order to pinpoint where many prediction methods go wrong. Because prediction is not an exact science, Silver maintains that approaching the task with more humility may allow for more clarity when interpreting data. Silver asserts that in order to accurately predict something, one must clearly distinguish the clear signal of a circumstance from the background noise.


Nate Silver, author of “The Signal and the Noise” (Penguin), runs the Five Thirty Eight blog for the New York Times.

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