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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data
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Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  2,824 ratings  ·  358 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 260 pages
Published January 7th 2013 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published December 31st 2012)
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There are many popular science books that try to teach basic statistical concepts, but more often than not they fall into the awful popular science trope of narrative over concepts that Malcolm Gladwell introduced into science writing and then Jonah Lehrer perfected into an awful, horrible art. Take Nate Silver's lauded book 'The Signal and the Noise'. Each chapter is about some specific area of prediction, and along the way some statistical concepts are introduced but rarely elaborated [I will ...more
I have already talked about statistics here, and not in good terms. It was mostly related to Nicholas Nassim Taleb`s works, The Black Swan and Antifragile. But this does not mean statistics are bad. They may just be dangerous when used stupidly. It is what Charles Wheelan explains among other things in Naked Statistics. Naked Statistics belongs to the group of Popular Science. Americans often have a talent to explain science for a general audience. Wheelan has it too. So if you do not know about ...more
Robert J.
I couldn't get through this book, mainly because I know too much about statistics and I know too much about the specific examples he gives to illustrate his points. Unfortunately, while at times Wheelan does convey the underlying concepts of probability and statistics in a way that would help you understand them at a basic level, he does so in what I would regard as a patronizingly oversimplified way. If you compare this book to Nate Silver's book on prediction or, indeed, to the book he says mo ...more
Elizabeth Theiss
An amusing, clear, and even fun introduction to basic statistics and probability, this gem explains foundational concepts and provides compelling examples to illuminate them. It covers correlation, normal distributions, the central limit theorem, significance, standard error, multiple regression, and so on in a way that math-phobes can likely handle without panic attacks. I wish I had read this before taking grad stats.

The truth is that students of statistics today can use Excel, SPSS, Stata an
Another good Wheelan, similar to Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. There are a few topics that overlap a bit, but the author does a good job of keeping them separate. This has much of the personal anecdotes / history that make the topic more interesting, and the author includes more silly scenarios in this one which keep you engaged, such as the continually missing & crashing buses of marathon runners and sausage festival attendees. Unfortunately, the third quarter of the book ...more
This is not the most exciting book ever, but it's way more exciting than you would think for a book about statistics.
More importantly, people: YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS STUFF. This is how you separate the lies from the damn lies from the nonsense that TV news shows spew at you. I don't care if you read THIS one, but please just fucking read a book about statistics. THANK you.
Very engaging.

There are 3 categories of readers who would enjoy or benefit from this book:

1. People who are generally curious about things and want to know why someone might say that statistics is becoming 'sexy'.

2. People who are just starting a statistics 101 class, or are about to, and would like some motivation.

3. People who know a fair bit about statistics but who would like a little perspective and history.

Wheelan, as advertised, is an entertaining writer who sort of draws you in with litt
Kerem Bozdaş
Good introductory material. Fun to read at times. Could be a little redundant if you're familiar with examples & concepts, yet still beneficial to go through. It won't teach you statistics, but it will give you hints regarding the underlying intuition.
How good is this book? After reading "Naked Statistics" I wanted to teach an introductory statistics course!

I could see myself engaging the students with really cool stories, confuse them with fun probability examples, only to wittily explain it clearly a minute later. I would pursue the connection between probability and inference and they would all clearly understand hypothesis testing. I would give great tales of statistics being misused and the students and I would chuckle together over how
Leland William
This book should be recommended as a companion to introductory statistics classes.

Wheelan is an excellent writer and balances the accuracy and precision needed to talk about statistics with an easy-going and humorous style. Like any well-balanced popular science book, this one comes chock full of anecdotes and stories to help solidify the concepts explored in the text. In this book Wheelan tackles descriptive statistics, probability, inference, polling, regression and the various ways to perver
Khalid Alnaqbi
I recommend this book for those who don't know anything about statistics, but not for those who took statistics course (,quantitative business analysis, or maybe stochastic). To be fair, I have benefited from the examples that he provided.
Great way to learn or update your intuitive models of statistics with practical examples.
Being a mathematics and statistics teacher, of course I am inclined to enjoy a statistics book. There were times I found myself a bit bored because I was being explained basic statistical concepts of which I already possess a wider understanding.

This book is an excellent recommendation to students just starting statistics as it gives practical and engaging examples of statistics and easy to follow. For those who already have a broad understanding of statistical topics as well as commonly used e
Definitely one of the very good books I have read recently. Whether you are a statistics geek or simply interested in research and studies, you would fall for this book.

It basically focuses on two aspects; first, explaining some fundamental concepts in statistics like Regression Analysis, Standard Deviation...etc and showing how these concepts are applied in real-life cases. On the other hands, it discusses the hidden pitfalls associated with using these tools/concepts.

I have always believed t
Mal Warwick
Understand how Netflix, Wall Street, and economists use (and misuse) statistics

In the unfolding Age of Big Data, no one who hopes to understand the way the world works can afford to be ignorant of statistical methods. Not a day goes by that statistical analysis isn’t behind some front-page story — in politics, sports, business, or even entertainment. The statistical concepts of probability, sampling, and statistical validity, once considered obscure and of interest only to geeks wearing pocket p
Fred Forbes
In my profession in the financial field I stay on the lookout for books that may make it easier to explain some of the concepts I use to the clients I work with so picked this one up to see how it handled statistical analysis and regression. I had long been a fan of the classic "How to Lie With Statistics" by Darrell Huff written in the 50's and this book is "an homage" to that work. I enjoyed it because I like statistics and I think the average reader will enjoy it but they may want to shy away ...more
This books shows no calculations and a very small number of formulas.

"The point of statistics is not to do myriad rigorous mathematical calculations; the point is to gain insight into meaningful social phenomena. Statistical inference is really just the marriage of two concepts that we've already discussed: data and probability (with a little help from the central limit theorem)." Given this emphasis I think almost anyone, with no background in statistics, could get a good feel for the meaning
Billie Pritchett
I won't pretend to have retained all the information in Charles Wheelan's Naked Statistics, but I do however think that Wheelan's book will serve as a useful reference book for me regarding the purpose and power of probability and statistics and how they can serve as powerful tools for very practical problems. Wheelan demonstrates that statistics basically provide people with a tool for a precise measurement of something people think worthy of measuring, for example the effects of smaller class ...more
Paron Sarampakhul
What I like about the book is that it discusses about statistics concepts in a way that it is easy to understand. It covers basic concepts of the subject: descriptive statistics, correlation, probability, CLT, inference, hypothesis testing, and regression analysis. The examples are clear and hilarious. Throughout the whole book it encourages us to see the usefulness of statistics, but it also lists out the limits, pitfalls, and even abuses of statistics for personal gain in politics, medical res ...more
Very well done, engaging examination of statistics, explained simply for the non-statistician. Really valuable information. Wheelan has a way of using examples--many hilarious--to explain statistical principles. He doesn't dive too deeply into the technical details and equations--a lot of this is in appendices at the end of chapters, but those of us who have had statistics can still get a lot out of the good explanations and "big picture" analysis. This would be especially good, though, for thos ...more
Chris Bauer
I'm not a stats guy. In my day job I have to use them quite a bit for analytics and other business intelligence applications, but most users / customers are perfectly content to just "see pretty pictures" instead of truly understanding the metrics and statistics behind them.

Wheelan does an excellent job of explaining not just *what* a specific aspect of statistics is, but why and how it is used in practice. And he goes all out to inject humor and anecdotes into the chapters of the book.

I can't c
Trey Hunner
This book largely focuses on (often humorously) explaining statistics intuitively and demonstrating the huge variety of ways that Statistics is used and misused. Baseball stats are mentioned multiple times throughout the book to help make analogies. I don't know anything about baseball, but I didn't find these segues too distracting.

This book explains the Gambler's fallacy, the Monty Hall problem, how information can (and can't) be extracted from population samples, how DNA evidence is used/abus
I was too frustrated with the author's tone to finish. He introduces the book by explaining why he doesn't like calculus. He recalls "schooling" his high school calculus teacher when his class was given the wrong version of the AP Calculus exam. The story felt unfitting and painted the author as a punk, and the tone continues. To paraphrase an example of accuracy vs. precision, "'Go through two lights, take a left at the second light and I'm the tthird house on the right' is accurate, 'I live 4. ...more
Mark Lawry
This was recommended by The Economist about the time my engineer (and lover of math and statistics) dad died and I’ve been meaning to get to it since. It is a great book for anybody about to take a statistics class in high school or college. I’ve taken both so this was mostly review, but a great review it was. It continually reminded me of lectures from dear old dad and would have been great to read this book first. This book will answer the question, “Why am I taking this class?”

He writes in a
Victoria Waddle
Ok, I’m not sure that most folks are quite ready to embrace the statement by Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, quoted on the book jacket. Varian says that the field of statistics is ‘sexy.’ But if isn’t quite that, it isn’t the dreadful bore that we think of it as. Wheelan, in Naked Statistics does a great job of making the field interesting; he does a good job of making it fun. Reading his book may open you to the possibility of a career that requires statistical analysis. And so—I think i ...more
Mark Mitchell
Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data is an excellent overview of statistics for the non-mathematician. Charles Wheelan presents core concepts, such as normal distributions, standard deviations, and the central limit theorem in a fun, engaging, conversational style. Most importantly, he gives guidance regarding which statistical tools to apply in which situations, how to think critically about statistical data presented in the news, and some of the pitfalls into which statisticians ...more
This was one of the best books about statistics I've ever read. Okay I made that sound like I spend all my free time reading statistics books - which, in case you're still wondering, I don't. I came at this book from a business viewpoint - I'm not a statistician, I'm not a math major, and I certainly wasn't looking for a deep theoretical or practical usage guide for statistical tools.

What I was looking for was a clear, plain English explanation of key statistical concepts that make sense in an i
Doug Clark
In March, I reasserted my essential nerdi/geekiness by reading a book about statistics. It was Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan. Wheelan is an economist and former columnist for The Economist. He currently teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College. His previous book was Naked Economics, and, as good as Naked Statistics was, I will have to pick it up and read it.

Naked Statistics is a whirlwind tour of statistics with the basic concepts explained extremely well and illustrated wi
Feb 10, 2014 Nat added it
Most interesting is the discussion of "natural experiments", in which events create "a treatment and control group by accident" (p.231). For example, researchers want to know whether putting more police on the street reduces crime. You can't find the answer by simply looking at crime rates and numbers of police on the streets in different cities because of an overwhelming number of potential confounding factors. But the system of terror alerts in Washington D.C., in which a high terror alert put ...more
I highly recommend "Naked Statistics" as a quick way to learn about the basics of statistical reasoning. Because the book came out within the past few months, I found the examples to be up-to-date and interesting. Wheelan does a good job of accurately explaining how statisticians come to conclusions. He also goes into appropriate detail pointing out the challenges of using statistics well. I teach a high school AP Statistics course and plan to recommend it as a good review for my students.
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