- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (January 13, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039334777X
- ISBN-13: 978-0393347777
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 452 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,063 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data 1st Edition
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“While a great measure of the book’s appeal comes from Mr. Wheelan’s fluent style―a natural comedian, he is truly the Dave Barry of the coin toss set―the rest comes from his multiple real world examples illustrating exactly why even the most reluctant mathophobe is well advised to achieve a personal understanding of the statistical underpinnings of life.”
- New York Times
“The best math teacher you never had. [Naked Statistics] is filled with practical lessons, like how to judge the validity of polls, why you should never buy a lottery ticket, and how to keep an eye out for red flags in public statements.”
- San Francisco Chronicle
“Naked Statistics is an apt title. Charles Wheelan strips away the superfluous outer garments and exposes the underlying beauty of the subject in a way that everyone can appreciate.”
- Hal Varian, chief economist at Google
“I cannot stress enough the importance of Americans’ need to understand statistics―the basis for a great deal of what we hear and read these days―and I cannot stress enough the value of Wheelan’s book in giving readers an approachable avenue to understanding statistics. Almost anyone interested in sports, politics, business, and the myriad of other areas in which statistics rule the roost today will benefit from this highly readable, on-target, and important book.”
- Frank Newport, Gallup editor-in-chief
“A fun, engaging book that shows why statistics is a vital tool for anyone who wants to understand the modern world.”
- Jacob J. Goldstein, "Planet Money" on NPR
“Two phrases you don’t often see together: ‘statistics primer’ and ‘rollicking good time.’ Until Charlie Wheelan got to it, that is. This book explains the way statistical ideas can help you understand much of everyday life.”
- Austan Goolsbee, professor of economics at the University of Chicago and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers
About the Author
Charles Wheelan is the author of the best-selling Naked Statistics and Naked Economics and is a former correspondent for The Economist. He teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College and lives in Hanover, New Hampshire, with his family.
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I purchased this book as a step on my journey to build up certain skill sets and knowledge in a field that I wish to break into and combine with my current expertise. This book was a great read on statistics. In my opinion, the author did a fantastic job explaining concepts and how the associated formulas worked in a slightly technical way, but mostly leading into explanations in layman' terms. In particular, the examples he used to further explain the material really brought everything together and made it easy to understand and retain. They weren't just the typical generic and sterile situational type of examples, rather something that the vast majority of readers can relate to or, at least, visualize more simply. Something that was more interesting to get the reader vested in the material.
Thanks to the author for taking the time to write this. I have your other books on my reading list now.
Wheelan claims that "Statistics is like a high-caliber weapon: helpful when used correctly and potentially disastrous in the wrong hands." This is an incredibly important topic as we move forward into our increasingly connected world where we are creating data at an accelerating rate. The data is only raw knowledge, how we analyze that data is what allows us to derive useful information to create actionable knowledge. The tools we use to analyze the data is, like it or not, statistics. Wheelan gives us an easy to follow and understand overview of statistics. Even if you didn't like math in school, you will find this book useful as well as insightful.
Here's the rub. No matter how hard we try, when using descriptive statistics, we lose the detail in the data. We've "summarized" it and just like the summary of a good book, we will miss a lot of the nuance in the story. Neither this review nor the summary of data known as descriptive statistics is an exception to that rule. And because of that loss of fidelity, we will find as Wheelan puts its, "Smart and honest people will often disagree about what the data are trying to tell us."
Wheelan includes many examples of how statistics is enlightening and infuriating. The examples are from everyday life and you are likely to recognize them; things like "Money Ball" and the "Wall Street failure." You will learn about correlation, basic probability, the Central Limit Theorem, Inferences, Polling, Regression Analysis and more. All without tears!
So why should you be interested? Because the big questions will be answered by statistical analysis and you will want to know at least enough to not be "taken in" by those who would purposely try and confuse you or convert you to their views using statistics and data. Wheelan believes that there are five "large" questions that statistics will help us answer in the future.
1. What is the future of football? Will it die of concussions?
2. What (if anything) is causing the dramatic rise in the incidence of autism?
3. How can we identify and reward good teachers and schools?
4. What are the best tools for fighting global poverty?
5. Who gets to know what about you?
Wheelan doesn't answer these questions. The data is still being collected and analyzed. What he has done, however, is set the reader on the right path to understanding the complexity of those questions and why there aren't any easy answers. He has given the reader at least a working knowledge of statistics so that we can decide for ourselves who is doing the best job of presenting the information and knowledge buried in ever expanding universe of dots for us to connect. The sub title of this excellent book is "Stripping the dread from the data." What I found is that now I know how to make sure that I strip the dread from the statistics which applies to the data. The dread is when the proper use of statistics on that data shows my cherished beliefs to be ill conceived!
We (meaning college professors) typically do a great job of scaring the daylights out of students about the really very logical statistical concepts. What we need to do is to a great job of helping people get past the fear so they can use the tools in every day life -- and keep from getting snookered. Now there's a way for everyone to get past the fear: get Wheelan's book.