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 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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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Nelaine More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.