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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data Paperback – January 13, 2014
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- New York Times
“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
“[Wheelan] does something unique here: he makes statistics interesting and fun. His book strips the subject of its complexity to expose the sexy stuff underneath.”
- The Economist
“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, NPR’s Planet Money
“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
“A well written, surprisingly funny, and enthusiastic primer on statistics…It is hard to imagine a more accessible introduction to a field with an undeserved reputation for inaccessibility.”
- New Republic
“With humor and an engaging conversational style, [Wheelan] walks the reader through the basics of statistical concepts and their applications, using real-world examples to illustrate how statistics work and why they matter. All in all, it’s an excellent book.”
- Science News
“Naked Statistics is the book that I wish I had in 1991, the year that I took stats during my first semester at grad school…Wheelan is a master of explaining the core concepts and methods of statistics in a way that is both accessible and relevant. He is clearly a master teacher, and his gifts are in abundant display in Naked Statistics.”
- Inside Higher Ed
About the Author
- ASIN : 039334777X
- Publisher : W. W. Norton & Company; 1st edition (January 13, 2014)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780393347777
- ISBN-13 : 978-0393347777
- Item Weight : 8.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #12,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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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.
Top reviews from other countries
I wasn't expecting much, but Wheelan blew me away with the awesomeness which he squeezed into this book. If it isn't already, this should be on the reading list of every undergraduate at University. Heck, it should be on EVERYONES' reading list! It starts with an introduction to the basics and progresses into more advanced material. All along the way, he explains all of the concepts extremely well and uses examples to get the point across. It's a shame a lot of his examples are Americanized, but you still get the point he's trying to make.
As a graduate student, I kept up with this and found it a useful refresher and something which I can revisit to clarify topics in the future on a couple of the more advanced points. But, being honest, this is approachable for anybody with an interest in statistics and its usefulness in everyday life. If you have a really basic knowledge, you might have to re-read some of the concluding chapters once or twice, but Wheelan writes very well so I wouldn't expect this to be much of a chore.
Just to conclude, it's a shame that more statistics book aren't like this. He makes a terrifying subject A LOT more approachable and something (SHOCK!) that we can find fun in! Wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.
The first two thirds of the book is particularly good, breezing competently through key statistical concepts up to and including the Central Limit Theorem.
Many people may be drawn to the book because of the growing importance of 'big data'. Wheelan takes this topic on board with a focus on regression analysis, and is not afraid to discuss the pitfalls as well as the benefits of the more abstract 'darker' arts of statistics. However, given the choice between a candid acknowledgements of the fundamental limitations of statistics and an uncomplicated view that 'as long as its done well all will be fine', Wheelan goes in the simpler, more positive direction, even when cheerfully supporting claims that over half of the top-flight peer reviewed scientific papers that draw conclusions from the techniques he proposes are likely to be wrong.
Instead, Wheelan argues that brilliant statistical research simply requires brilliant researchers (guess who?) - and that brilliance is not about being good at the maths, but about a having a creative and intuitive grasp of what works. There are two problems with this. One is that observant readers may well spot flaws in the exemplars Wheelan presents as brilliant. The second (and more important) is that the power of statistics is meant to be its ability to reveal insights that are drawn entirely objectively, yet it is clear that many mistakes in statistical research are due to failings in the researchers' subjective and interpretive skills - in other words, the maths disappears - advanced stats is a matter of judgement (so why not rely on judgement and abandon the somewhat bogus claim of objectivity?).
Consequently (and slightly disappointingly), Wheelan's concluding chapter is all about the amazing contribution statistics will continue to make to solving the world's most pressing problems, rather than a more reflective assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.
All this said, this is a likeable and workmanlike book that treats a potentially dry subject with significant flair.