Very big and very small

Nate Silver describes his approach to forecasting – an approach much more widely applicable outside of forecasting in my view:

In the most competitive industries, like sports, the best forecasters must constantly innovate. It’s easy to adopt a goal of “exploit market inefficiencies.” But that doesn’t really give you a plan for how to find them and then determine whether they represent fresh dawns or false leads.  It’s hard to have an idea that nobody else has thought of. It’s even harder to have a good idea – and when you do, it will soon be duplicated.

That is why this book [The Signal and the Noise] shies away from promoting quick-fix solutions that imply you can just go about your business in a slightly different way and outpredict the competition. Good innovators typically think very big and they think very small. New ideas are sometimes found in the most granular details of a problem where few others bother to look. And they are sometimes found when you are doing your must abstract and philosophical thinking, considering why the world is the way that it is and whether there might be an alternative to the dominant paradigm. Rarely can they be found in the temperate latitudes between these two spaces, where we spend 99 percent of our lives.

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