Naked Statistics

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Naked Statistics

Postby denismurf » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:37 pm

Yes, that's the title of a new book by Charles Wheelan reviewed in today's NY Times. Even with the catchy title, it sounds like a book that might quickly drown me in concepts I can't grasp. Has anyone read it? If so, how would non-statisticians fare with it?
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby ilisira » Wed Jan 30, 2013 1:48 pm

denismurf wrote:Yes, that's the title of a new book by Charles Wheelan reviewed in today's NY Times. Even with the catchy title, it sounds like a book that might quickly drown me in concepts I can't grasp. Has anyone read it? If so, how would non-statisticians fare with it?


I have read naked economics from him, and will read this book after I finish the one I am reading. Will let you know..
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby red5 » Thu May 09, 2013 3:01 pm

denismurf wrote:Yes, that's the title of a new book by Charles Wheelan reviewed in today's NY Times. Even with the catchy title, it sounds like a book that might quickly drown me in concepts I can't grasp. Has anyone read it? If so, how would non-statisticians fare with it?


I'm in the middle of it now. It's a great book. It even has tidbits on investing, recency bias, survivorship bias. I took many stats classes in university but that was a long time ago and I am having an easy time following the book. He targets the lay person. I recommend it.
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby VictoriaF » Thu May 09, 2013 3:19 pm

I've read Charles Wheelan's Naked Economics and thought it was OK, but it's not my top choice for popular economics. Books I liked better included:
- Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
- Create Your Own Economy and Discover Your Inner Economist by Tyler Cowen, and
- The Undercover Economist by Tim Harford
and that not even counting Behavioral Economics books.

The negative Amazon.com reviews of Naked Statistics indicate that in the pursuit of humor, Wheelan obscures some key concepts. I'd check the book out but not put strong hopes into learning statistics through it.

Victoria
Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby scrabbler1 » Thu May 09, 2013 6:16 pm

I just finished the book a few days ago. I'd put it in the sane general cateogry as Freakonomics and SuperFreakonomics but I think those readers who don't have any statistical background will be turned off by quick-and-dirty statistics lessons. (I have a background in statistics at the college level so I was able to follow it; I did get a bit tired of all the regression analysis after a while.)

I'd suggest getting the book at the library (like I did) rather than buying it.
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby denismurf » Fri May 10, 2013 3:23 am

I did in fact buy the book and got through it in about a month. I took it slow; took notes; re-read parts to lock them in. I haven't done that with a book in a long time.

Even though I could not follow it in places, I now at least know in general terms where to look for statistical errors and intentional stunts. The bad news in a sense is that I see these shenanigans everywhere now.
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby Colorado13 » Fri May 10, 2013 8:41 am

I read both Naked Statistics and Naked Economics. Both cover basic concepts without a lot of depth, but the books provide an introduction to the topics by including a lot of "real world" examples. By doing so, Wheelan helps readers understand the relevance of the topics without focusing exclusively on theory. If you want a theoretical foundation or an in-depth introduction to stats, I would recommend checking out an intro to stats book from your local library. This book is more of a "how stats applies to daily life" than an academic book. I enjoyed both books, but was not expecting a deep level of intellectualism (because they don't pretend to provide that), so if you read the book with that in mind, you may enjoy it.
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby whomever » Fri May 10, 2013 8:53 am

Even though I could not follow it in places, I now at least know in general terms where to look for statistical errors and intentional stunts. The bad news in a sense is that I see these shenanigans everywhere now.


In that vein, How to Lie With Statistics is a book everyone should read. It's not any kind of hardcore stats text; it's a quick read about the tricks you see in many, many articles, e.g. if some value changed from 893 to 899 and you want to make it look like a huge jump, you do a bar chart with the X axis equal to 891, or cherrypicking data - picking start/end dates, or data from selected cities, where the selection influences the results. As you say, you see those tricks all the time.
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby TomatoTomahto » Fri May 10, 2013 10:30 am

Similar and interesting reads: A Mathematician Reads The Newspaper (required reading at my kids' high school) and Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, both by John Allen Paulos.
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Re: Naked Statistics

Postby livesoft » Fri May 10, 2013 11:30 am

Naked Statistics is my current airplane-travel reading book. I am about half-way through.

This book is for non-mathematicians and shall we say non-science majors; in effect it is a "Statistics for Storytellers" treatise. But that also makes it good for folks who use statistics and must explain their results to non-statisticians. Wheelan takes pains to avoid any equations in the book, but there are few equations in the parts I read.

For folks who ever wondered, "How did they get that data?" or "How do they really know that with any certainty?" or "Can I believe what my doctor is telling me?" I think this book is helpful on many levels.

For folks who know statistics and want some ideas on how to convey messages to non-statisticians, this book will give them ideas, too.
It's all about short-term opportunistic rebalancing due to a short-term change in one's asset allocation, uh, I mean opportunistic rebalancing, uh I mean rebalancing, uh I mean market timing.
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