Biography

Nate Silver has become today's leading statistician through his innovative analyses of political polling. He first gained national attention during the 2008 presidential election, when he correctly predicted the results of the primaries and the presidential winner in 49 states. In 2012, he called 50 of 50 states.

Today, Nate is pioneering the new field of data journalism with his award-winning website FiveThirtyEight. Relaunched in partnership with ESPN, FiveThirtyEight will allow Nate to explore a wider range of areas than he covered at the New York Times, including politics, sports, science, and more. Nate’s approach to data-driven, probabilistic thinking is one of the great ideas of our time, and we at the Leigh Bureau look forward eagerly to seeing it transform more and more fields.

In addition to his work on FiveThirtyEight, Nate will appear on ESPN as an on-air commentator.

In a sense, Nate is returning to his roots: before he came to politics, he established his credentials as an analyst of baseball statistics. He developed a widely acclaimed system called PECOTA (Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm), which predicts player performance, career development, and seasonal winners and losers. He is the author of a series of books on baseball statistics, which include Mind Game, Baseball Between the Numbers, and It Ain't Over 'til It's Over.

His book, The Signal and The Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction, is a New York Times bestseller. Data-based predictions underpin a growing sector of critical fields, from political polling and hurricane watches to the stock market and even the war on terror. That means it's important to ask — what kind of predictions can we trust? What methods do the most reliable forecasters use? What sorts of things can be predicted — and what can't? Nate takes us on a tour of modern prediction science, uncovering a surprising connection among humility, uncertainty and good results. It's an essential read for anyone interested in how data can be used to understand the future.

Nate has written for ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Slate, New York Sun, and The New York Times. His work has been reported in such publications as The New York Times, Newsweek, The Huffington Post, and Vanity Fair.

He has been honored by a series of accolades. Most recently, Fast Company named Nate No. 1 of the100 Most Creative People in Business 2013 and Creativity magazine listed him in its Creativity 50 2013. He has also appeared in TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2009 and Rolling Stone's 100 Agents of Change. FiveThirtyEight.com won Best Political Coverage in the 2008 Weblog Awards.

Topics

These are topics that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest the speakers range and interests.

Nate tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Data and prediction

The Signal and the Noise

  • The Signal And The Noise

    Why so many predictions fail — but some don't


    New York Times Bestseller


    Nate Silver built an innovative system for predicting baseball performance, predicted the 2008 election within a hair’s breadth, and became a national sensation as a blogger — all by the time he was thirty. The New York Times now publishes FiveThirtyEight.com, where Silver is one of the nation’s most influential political forecasters.

    Drawing on his own groundbreaking work, Silver examines the world of prediction, investigating how we can distinguish a true signal from a universe of noisy data. Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

    In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explains and evaluates how these forecasters think and what bonds they share. What lies behind their success? Are they good — or just lucky? What patterns have they unraveled? And are their forecasts really right? He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary — and dangerous — science.

    Silver observes that the most accurate forecasters tend to have a superior command of probability, and they tend to be both humble and hardworking. They distinguish the predictable from the unpredictable, and they notice a thousand little details that lead them closer to the truth. Because of their appreciation of probability, they can distinguish the signal from the noise.

    With everything from the health of the global economy to our ability to fight terrorism dependent on the quality of our predictions, Nate Silver’s insights are an essential read.

    Penguin (18 April 2013)
    Allen Lane (27 Sep 2012)


    Reviews

    Mining Truth From Data BabelThe New York Times
    Reviewboingboing
    Quick ReadsMother Jones
    Looking aheadThe Economist
    The Silver FoxSlate
    The limits of Big DataFortune
    Stats Man Releases His First BookVillage Voice
    InsightfulLos Angeles Times
    Silver's 'The Signal and the Noise'The Washington Post

  • Conversations with Tyler | Mercatus Center
  • The Numbers Don't Lie | Chicago Humanities Festival
  • Solving The Expertise Problem | PDF 13
  • 'FiveThirtyEight' Statistician Reports on the 2016 Election | NPR Fresh Air

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