Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Databy Charles Wheelan
Pub. Date: 01/07/2013
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research
The best-selling author of Naked Economics defies the odds with a book about statistics that you’ll welcome and enjoy.
Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’ll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.
For those who slept through Stats 101, this book is a lifesaver. Wheelan strips away the arcane and technical details and focuses on the underlying intuition that drives statistical analysis. He clarifies key concepts such as inference, correlation, and regression analysis, reveals how biased or careless parties can manipulate or misrepresent data, and shows us how brilliant and creative researchers are exploiting the valuable data from natural experiments to tackle thorny questions.And in Wheelan’s trademark style, there’s not a dull page in sight. You’ll encounter clever Schlitz Beer marketers leveraging basic probability, an International Sausage Festival illuminating the tenets of the central limit theorem, and a head-scratching choice from the famous game show Let’s Make a Dealand you’ll come away with insights each time. With the wit, accessibility, and sheer fun that turned Naked Economics into a bestseller, Wheelan defies the odds yet again by bringing another essential, formerly unglamorous discipline to life.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Table of Contents
Introduction: Why I hated calculus but love statistics ix
1 What's the Point? 1
2 Descriptive Statistics: Who was the best baseball player of all time? 15
Appendix to Chapter 2 34
3 Deceptive Description: "He's got a great personality!" and other true but grossly misleading statements 36
4 Correlation: How does Netflix know what movies I like? 58
Appendix to Chapter 4 65
5 Basic Probability: Don't buy the extended warranty on your $99 printer 68
51/2 The Monty Hall Problem 90
6 Problems with Probability: How overconfident math geeks nearly destroyed the global financial system 95
7 The Importance of Data: "Garbage in, garbage out" 110
8 The Central Limit Theorem: The Lebron James of statistics 127
9 Inference: Why my statistics professor thought I might have cheated 143
Appendix to Chapter 9 164
10 Polling: How we know that 64 percent of Americans support the death penalty (with a sampling error ± 3 percent) 169
Appendix to Chapter 10 183
11 Regression Analysis: The miracle elixir 185
Appendix to Chapter 11 208
12 Common Regression Mistakes: The mandatory warning label 212
13 Program Evaluation: Will going to Harvard change your life? 225
Conclusion: Five questions that statistics can help answer 241
Appendix: Statistical software 257
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I'm a stat minor in college and this book helped me understand the essential topics and methods more intuitively. I read naked economics a few semesters ago and it made me enjoy econ, so i pre-ordered naked statistics, and so far naked statistics is doing the same for statistics. Examples are funny and insightful and the principles of statistics are clear and explained so that anyone can understand them, no prior knowledge of stat needed.
Mr. Wheelan's Naked Statistics is fun! I may be a warped spirit, but after too many research methods courses and graduate level statistics classes, I can now enjoy playing with the concepts. I found this book entertaining and enlightening. The author ties together concepts that before were left dangling. This is so much better than the advice I got in graduate school, "just learn it, you don't have to enjoy it."
I heard the author, Charles Wheelan, on CHICAGO TONIGHT and could not wait to get his book. I not only learned how intuitive--or not--statistics can be, but how to determine the truth, or its lack, that they tell. He promises to make it all engaging, readable, and comprehensible, and it is. I would love to take his course at Dartmouth. I have used the book in my AP American History class, as we examine the use of statistics in election campaigns, efforts to pass laws, and attempts to redo pension systems in various states. I relied on his words to take them to new understanding of their world and mine. I have also recommended the book to our math department, as we look at Common Core standards and expectations, which include the investigation of statistics and use of statistical analysis in high school math classes. My mind was so enlivened by all of this that I bought Wheelan's other two books. They are equally wonderful.
Josh, OSU Comp Student, Spring 2014 Wheelan's naked statistics is a great book for anyone looking for an introduction to the subject of statistics. With that being said, I would only recommend this book to anyone who is completely new to statistics. I, myself, have already taken an introductory statistics course and the book seemed to just reiterate a lot of the same concepts that I covered in the course. However, Wheelan is not trying to make anyone a statistical expert, he is simply trying to make the concepts of statistics more intuitive to his reader. In my opinion, Wheelan succeeds in two major ways by simplifying statistics and showing their misuses. He does a great job of simplifying statistics by the way he writes the book in such a casual language throughout the book. Anyone can read naked statistics without having to worry about being bogged down by complex mathematical lingo. Also, he uses graphs as an effective way to help better understand the concepts being covered. Wheelan's second area where he greatly succeeded is in how he showed the misuses of statistics by placing correct and incorrect uses of statistics side-by-side. By doing this, Wheelan made it simple to compare each situation and evaluate where the statistical methods went wrong. While Wheelan succeeded in simplifying statistics and showing their misuses, he ultimately failed to keep my interest throughout the book. Part of this I account to the fact that I had already taken a statistics course before reading the book, but I also credit this lack of interest to weak examples. Some of the examples Wheelan uses in the book are interesting and relevant, but more often than not I found myself questioning how the examples related to real-life in any way. Overall, naked statistics is a great book and does a superb job in helping readers understand statistics, however, as stated above, I only recommend this book to anyone who has no prior statistical experience.