Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail-but Some Don't will serve as the 2016 One Book One Northwestern and the newest addition to students' bookshelves.
For the forgetful, the One Book program was that thing your peers were either praising or complaining about in the class Facebook group. Each summer, the program sends a free book to the incoming class to serve as a centerpiece for campus conversation and programming, including lectures, essay contests and other provocative activities. Recent selections include Thomas King's The Inconvenient Indian, Claude Steele's Whistling Vivaldi and Roger Thurow's The Last Hunger Season.
Silver’s book is about applying statistics to make real-world predictions. The book explores the fields of chess, baseball, weather forecasting, politics and earthquake analysis, among others.
Silver is the editor-in-chief and founder of FiveThirtyEight, a data-driven journalism website. He correctly predicted the winner of the 2008 presidential election in 49 states and was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in 2009. He will be on campus in October to speak and sign books.
“Nate Silver’s work bridges the universe of people who deal with quantitation and those who deal with life,” said McCormick Professor Stephen Carr, One Book faculty chair, in a press release. “He makes the world of data science accessible, but he won’t tell you how he does it. He leaves that to the mystique of his craft.”
The only question: Did One Book accurately predict whether the incoming class will enjoy this book? We’ll have to wait and see.