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.
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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
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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."