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The Future of Everything: The Science of Prediction

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3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  68 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
Hurricane Katrina, the internet stock bubble, disease outbreaks — are these predictable, preventable events, or are we merely the playthings of chaos? A compelling, irreverent, elegantly written history of our future that addresses the most important issues of our time, Apollo's Arrow examines such questions as: How well can we predict the future? Can past discoveries help ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published January 7th 2007 by Basic Books (first published January 7th 2006)
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David
May 15, 2008 David rated it it was ok
A lot of words to reach an underwhelming conclusion.
E
Feb 16, 2009 E rated it it was amazing
Thought-provoking study of the limits of forecasting

This book is a fascinating, very readable look at the accuracy of modern forecasting. David Orrell begins with an overview of the history of telling the future, including humanity’s inherent need to try to decipher what tomorrow holds. He covers the current state of forecasting in fascinating detail, dwelling on weather and climate, economics and medicine. He points out the shortcomings in experts’ current ability – or lack thereof – to predic
...more
Mike Smith
Jun 19, 2012 Mike Smith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is about why it's so hard to predict certain things. In particular, it focuses on models and methods for predicting weather, health and wealth. The book begins with a historical overview of major scientific advances, from the Greeks to the 20th century, that improved our ability to predict things (like the motions of the planets) and shaped our expectations for our ability to control the future. Then it looks at methods for making short-term predictions and long-term predictions of its ...more
Dianne
Feb 07, 2008 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of this book is a little over-reaching, since it mostly just discusses the prediction of weather, the economy, and an individual's health over the course of his lifetime. That said, I thought this book was so interesting. It starts with a historical overview of the tools the ancients used to predict events in their world. For example, how the model of the earth as the center of the universe was so entrenched in their mind-set, and how that prevented them from moving forward even when o ...more
Mason
Mar 03, 2009 Mason rated it really liked it
I was surprised to find out how fuzzy predictions are--from those about the climate to those about what the economy will do. This doesn't mean that climate change isn't real, by the way.

Basic physics says that all our greenhouse gases will warm the planet substantially. But when researchers try to predict whether this warming will be moderate or catastrophic, they have to use computer models. And this book made me a lot more skeptical about their results. They're useful for showing what's possi
...more
Steve
Aug 05, 2014 Steve rated it really liked it
This is definitely something that you should read before you start putting a lot of trust into any long-term forecasting involving weather, genetic outcomes, and economics. As you would expect, lots of variables and assumption errors in models can - and do - produce wildly different results.

The only thing that I didn't care for was all the quotes that he used. Many of them were unnecessary for him to get his point across.
Bernd
Apr 12, 2012 Bernd rated it really liked it
Shelves: future
This book is a fascinating, very readable look at the accuracy of modern forecasting. David Orrell begins with an overview of the history of telling the future, including humanity’s inherent need to try to decipher what tomorrow holds. He covers the current state of forecasting in fascinating detail, dwelling on weather and climate, economics and medicine. He points out the shortcomings in experts’ current ability – or lack thereof – to predict the future accurately in any of these realms. Final ...more
Raghavendra Vadali
Feb 07, 2016 Raghavendra Vadali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A thoughtful book that gives an its own unique insight into current questions of the day. There is quite a bit of historical data and lots of models at the end of the book.
Charm
Jan 12, 2010 Charm is currently reading it
Literally just started this book. It was the only thing I asked for for Christmas (nerd I know).

I received a forward of the abstract from a Sr. Director from work who handles our analytics and promotions team. It explores the history & evolution of forecasting as well as the intriguiing limits of prediction, so far anyway. Looking forward to the rest of the read.
John Boettcher
Jul 28, 2013 John Boettcher rated it liked it
I thought the book was going to have more substance to it than what it did. I guess my expectations were a little higher than they should have been, but I was wooed in by the title and guess I was expecting some profound revelations revealed in the book. I guess in the long run, we're all dead! lol
Robert
Jul 10, 2010 Robert rated it really liked it
The bottom line - there are and always will be limits in making predictions about future outcomes. This is applicable to weather, human events, and medicine.
Tina
Jul 09, 2008 Tina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in philosophy,sciences, economics ...life!
Excellent Book! Combines the knowledge of the ancients with the science of the present and the future.
Alex Pang
Jun 17, 2012 Alex Pang rated it really liked it
A vastly underrated book about the limits of what we can know about the future.
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David Orrell, Ph.D. is a scientist and author of popular science books. He studied mathematics at the University of Alberta, and obtained his Ph.D. from Oxford University on the prediction of nonlinear systems.

His work in mathematical modeling and complex systems research has led him to diverse areas such as weather forecasting, particle accelerator design, economics, and cancer biology. He has au
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