Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Mastering the Art of Problem Solving / Edition 1

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Full of tools, tricks, and tips for solving problems in the real world, this book serves as an ideal training manual for those who are new to or intimidated by quantitative analysis and acts as an excellent refresher for those who have more experience but want to improve the quality of their data, the clarity of their graphics, and the cogency of their arguments. In addition to containing numerous updates to the contents—references, URLs, and reading lists—this second edition includes a new foreword, revised chapters, and an epilogue. Mastering the art of problem solving takes more than proficiency with basic calculations; it requires understanding how people use information, recognizing the importance of ideology, learning the art of storytelling, and acknowledging the important distinction between facts and values. Intended for executives, professors, and students, this guide addresses these and other essential skills.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"There is nothing else like this book out there. Nobody who deals with problems where numbers matter — and everybody in today’s world really needs to — should be without it."  —John P. Holdren, past president, American Association for the Advancement of Science, from the Foreword

"A lively, well-written, attractively packaged book on the art of critical thinking."  —Skeptical Inquirer

"Dr. Koomey's book deserves to be widely read and shared, especially by those who take seriously the fragile yet critical role of an informed citizenry in increasingly complex democratic societies."  —Professor Michael Maniates, Allegheny College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780970601919
  • Publisher: Analytics Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/2008
  • Edition description: Second edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 247
  • Sales rank: 1,403,935
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan G. Koomey, PhD, is a project scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a consulting professor at Stanford University. He is the coauthor of seven books, including Winning the Oil Endgame, and has been featured in Barron's, Financial Times, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post. He has also appeared on Nova, Frontline, NPR, BBC radio, CNBC, the California Report, and Tech Nation. He lives in Oakland, California. John P. Holdren is the director of the Woods Hole Research Center, the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at the Kennedy School of Government, a professor of environmental science and policy at Harvard University, and a professor emeritus of energy and resources at the University of California–Berkeley. He is also the former president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He lives in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

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Table of Contents

Foreword     xiii
Preface     xv
Acknowledgments     xxiii
Introduction: The Information Explosion     1
Things to Know     3
Beginner's Mind     5
Don't Be Intimidated     7
Information, Intention, and Action     9
Peer Review and Scientific Discovery     22
Be Prepared     29
Explore Your Ideology     31
Get Organized     34
Establish a Filing System     38
Build a Toolbox     41
Put Facts at Your Fingertips     44
Value Your Time     52
Assess Their Analysis     57
The Power of Critical Thinking     59
Numbers Aren't Everything     62
All Numbers Are Not Created Equal     65
Question Authority     68
How Guesses Become Facts     73
Don't Believe Everything You Read     76
Go Back to the Questions     81
Reading Tables and Graphs     84
Distinguish Facts from Values     87
The Uncertainty Principle and the Mass Media     90
Create Your Analysis     93
Reflect     95
Get Unstuck     97
Inquire     99
Be a Detective     102
Create Consistent Comparisons     105
Tell a Good Story     107
Dig into the Numbers     111
Make a Model     125
Reuse Old Envelopes     129
Use Forecasts with Care     136
Hear All Sides     143
Show Your Stuff     145
Know Your Audience     147
Document, Document, Document     149
Let the Tables and Graphs Do the Work     161
Create Compelling Graphs and Figures     166
Create Good Tables     177
Use Numbers Effectively in Oral Oresentations     186
Use the Internet     189
Share and Share Alike     201
Conclusion: Creating the Future     209
Epilogue: Some Parting Thoughts     213
Further Reading     223
Notes     241
Index     245
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