Yale Law School professor and econometrician Ayres argues in this lively and enjoyable book that the recent creation of huge data sets allows knowledgeable individuals to make previously impossible predictions. He calls the data set analysts super crunchers and discusses the changes they're making to industries like medical diagnostics, air travel pricing, screenwriting and online dating services. Although Ayres presents both sides of this revolution, explaining how the corporate world tries to manipulate consumer behavior and telling consumers how to fight back, his real mission is to educate readers about the basics of statistics and hypothesis testing, spending most of his time in an edifying and entertaining discussion of the use of regression and randomization trials. He frequently asks whether statistical methods are more accurate than the more intuitive conclusions drawn by experts, and consistently concludes that they are. Ayres skillfully demonstrates the importance that statistical literacy can play in our lives, especially now that technology permits it to occur on a scale never before imagined. (Sept. 4)
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"In the past, one could get by on intuition and experience. Times have changed. Today, the name of the game is data. Ian Ayres shows us how and why in this groundbreaking book Super Crunchers
. Not only is it fun to read, it just may change the way you think."—Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics
"Data-mining and statistical analysis have suddenly become cool.... Dissecting marketing, politics, and even sports, stuff this complex and important shouldn't be this much fun to read."—Wired
"[Ayres's] thesis is provocative: Complex statistical models could be used to market products more intelligently, craft better movies, and solve health-care problems—if only we could get past our statistics phobia."—Portfolio
"When statistics conflict with expert opinion, bet on statistics....Businesses, consumers, and governments are waking up to the power of analyzing enormous tracts of information."—Discover
shows that data-driven decisionmaking is not just revolutionizing baseball and business; it's changing the way that education policy, health care reimbursements, even tax regulations are crafted. Super Crunching is truly reinventing government. Politicians love to tout policy proposals, but they rarely come back and tell you which ones succeeded and which ones failed. Data-driven policy making forces government to ask the bottom line question of 'What works.' That's an approach we can all support."—John Podesta, President of the Center for American Progress
"A lively and yet rigorously careful account of the use of quantitative methods for analysis and decision-making.... Both social scientists and businessmen can profit from this book, while enjoying themselves in the process."—Dr. Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize winning economist, and Professor Emeritus at Stanford University
“Ayres’ point is that human beings put far too much faith in their intuition and would often be better off listening to the numbers.... The best stories in the book are about Ayres and other economists he knows, whether they are studying wine, the Supreme Court or jobless benefits.... Ayres himself is one of the [statistical] detectives. He has done fascinating research.”—The New York Times Book Review
"Ian Ayres [is] a law-and-economics guru."—Chronicle of Higher Education
“Lively and enjoyable.... Ayres skillfully demonstrates the importance that statistical literacy can play in our lives, especially now that technology permits it to occur on a scale never before imagined.... Edifying and entertaining."—Publishers Weekly
presents a convincing and disturbing vision of a future in which everyday decision-making is increasingly automated, and the role of human judgment restricted to providing input to formulae."—The Economist
"Insightful and delightful!" —Forbes
From the Hardcover edition.