The Best Books on Data and Decision-Making

recommended by Edouard Mathieu

These are my favourite books on data and decision-making, ranging from how to use data to make sense of the world, to rationality, behavioural economics and human biases.

  • 1

    Buy

    The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction
    by Nate Silver

    This is my favourite book about data, written by my favourite data expert. Nate Silver has gained huge notoriety since his successful predictions of the 2008 and 2012 American presidential elections, but his expertise also extends to baseball, poker, and many other subjects. "The Signal and the Noise" is a great introduction, because it covers so many topics where data plays a role today, and it references other authors from this list a lot (Tetlock, Thaler and Kahneman).

  • 2

    Buy

    Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction
    by Philip Tetlock & Dan Gardner

    "Superforecasting" deals with predictions, their tremendous importance in modern society, and why despite that, they are almost never made and judged properly. This book will teach you how to make better predictions, who to trust in science and the media, and why the loudest pundits aren't necessarily the brightest.

  • 3

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    Dataclysm: Love, Sex, Race, and Identity
    by Christian Rudder

    This is a lighter book than the rest of my selection, but with very interesting (and sometimes funny) insights from Christian Rudder, who was the co-founder of the dating site OKCupid. The wealth of data he had at his disposal meant he was able to learn about some quite dark aspects of people's decision-making, particularly when it comes to dating and relationships.

  • 4

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    Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioural Economics
    by Richard Thaler

    "Misbehaving" was published recently by Richard Thaler, recipient of the 2017 Nobel Prize in Economics. He's one of the fathers of Nudge theory, but this book is very interesting because it also tells the story of behavioural economics itself as a discipline. It's very interesting to see how much Thaler and his colleagues had to fight to convince other economists that behavioural experiments were disproving standard economic theory.

  • 5

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    Thinking, Fast and Slow
    by Daniel Kahneman

    "Thinking, Fast and Slow" by Kahneman (another Nobel Prize recipient) has become a reference on (ir)rationality and human decisions since it was published a few years ago. I'm choosing it last because it's quite dense: Kahneman really goes into the experiments he conducted over his career, explaining the protocols and results. But it's fascinating!

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