Or so I argue in today’s Boston Globe, where I review Silver’s excellent new book. I considered trying to wedge a “The Signal and The Noise” / “The Colour and the Shape” joke in there too, but it was too labored.
Prediction is a fundamentally human activity. Just as a novel is no less an expression of human feeling for being composed on a laptop, the forecasts Silver studies — at least the good ones — are expressions of human thought and belief, no matter how many theorems and algorithms forecasters bring to their aid. The math serves as a check on our human biases, and our insight serves as a check on the computer’s bugs and blind spots. In Silver’s world, math can’t replace or supersede us. Quite the contrary: It is math that allows us to become our wiser selves.
I’m still a little dubious about the Kurt Cobain analogy since Silver doesn’t seem to feel like a sell-out. But the review was fantastic and definitely sold me on the book!
Just as there are punks who think Kurt Cobain was a sell-out, there are statisticians who think Silver is too watered-down. I enthusiastically disagree with both views!
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