I read with interest today Fast Company’s list of the Most Creative People in Business for 2013. Two names in particular stood out to me because of the nature of the work I do. At Number 1 is Nate Silver, the author of “The Signal and the Noise”, who became famous for his predictions of both baseball and politics (he correctly predicted the winner in 49 of the 50 states for the 2008 US Presidential election; and then 50 out of 50, plus DC, for the 2012 election).
So here we have Silver – a statistician – and he’s #1 in a list of the most creative people. At first, this seems like an oxymoron until you realise that creativity and forecasting are not mutually exclusive – in fact, knowing what to include in a model and what to exclude, as well as how to interpret the results, inherently requires creativity, not just statistical knowledge. Continue reading