Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

by Charles WheelanCharles Wheelan
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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 Deal—and 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393071955
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 01/07/2013
Pages: 302
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.10(d)

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why I hated calculus but love statistics ix

Acknowledgments xvii

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

Notes 261

Index 269

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