Prediction by the Numbers

About the Show

Predictions underlie nearly every aspect of our lives, from sports, politics and medical decisions to the morning commute. But why do some predictions succeed spectacularly while others fail abysmally? And how can we find meaningful patterns amidst chaos and uncertainty? NOVA takes viewers from the glitz of casinos and TV game shows to the life-and-death stakes of storm forecasts and the flaws of opinion polls that can swing an election. It explores compelling success stories of statistics in action: how baseball legend Billy Beane developed the recruiting techniques made famous by 'Moneyball' to transform the fortunes of major league teams. Yet advances in machine learning and the data models that increasingly rule our lives are also posing big, disturbing questions. How much should we trust black box predictions made by computers when we don’t understand how they arrive at them? And how far can we really forecast how our future world will turn out?