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The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  1,410 ratings  ·  159 reviews
The definitive guide to statistical thinking
Statistics are everywhere, as integral to science as they are to business, and in the popular media hundreds of times a day. In this age of big data, a basic grasp of statistical literacy is more important than ever if we want to separate the fact from the fiction, the ostentatious embellishments from the raw evidence -- and even
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published September 3rd 2019 by Basic Books (first published March 28th 2019)
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Tim Roast
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I am not writing witty and informative reviews on Goodreads/Amazon my day job is as a Government statistician. Therefore when offered the opportunity to read this book I thought it would be useful for me to do so. And I do believe it is helping me in my work. I am thinking more about how best to present my statistics and what analytical techniques I could use too. So this book works from that perspective.

This book takes real world questions and shows you how they've been answered introducin
Vuk Trifkovic
Jun 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Pretty good, but there are a few chapters where the author basically goes "I'm not explaining this very well, but I know you won't get it so let's just move on". I also wish there were a few more "digital" / web analytics cases, but that's just because it would help me.

Overall, an interesting and useful read.
This amazing piece can somewhat be seen as the equivalent of Angrist&Pischke's "Mastering Metrics" for bread and butter statistical problems instead of intuitive econometrics. It covers everything one has to know when it comes to scientific studies that rely on data. All aspects and elements are touched, but math and formulas are relegated to an appendix. Thus the book is well suited for experts with year-long experience, college students of all fields, but especially science writers or people t ...more
Bari Dzomba
Sep 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't like the first 60% of the book. It was too dumbed down even for me and not enough original storytelling for explaininf concepts to non math students. I even gave this feedback to the author. The last 1/3 of the book was much better,getting into p hacking, data quality, and data ethics.
☘Misericordia☘ ~ The Serendipity Aegis ~  ⚡ϟ⚡ϟ⚡⛈ ✺❂❤❣
A classic example of how alternative framing can change the emotional impact of a number is an advertisement that appeared on the London Underground in 2011, proclaiming that ‘99% of young Londoners do not commit serious youth violence’. These ads were presumably intended to reassure passengers about their city, but we could reverse its emotional impact with two simple changes. First, the statement means that 1% of young Londoners do commit serious violence. Second, since the population of Lon
M. Nasiri
Feb 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Statisticians study patterns in data to help us answer questions about the world.
When reported accurately, statistical research can enrich storytelling and inform the public about important issues. Unfortunately, there are a great many distorting filters that research has to pass through before it reaches the public, including scientific journals and the media. As statistical data creeps into our lives more and more, there is a growing need for us all to improve our data literacy so we can appr
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stats
Very nice overall, not much algebra but focus on the reasoning behind, interesting examples. Good for nonscientists.
Travis Valdez
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
As a data scientist, I enjoyed the non-technical aspects of this book more than the technical (though the review was welcome). Statistical training should include more courses and resources like this that remind us there is more to the practical use of statistics than just the mathematics. Publication, ethics, review, interpretation and communication all play a vital role in how studies benefit society at large. These concepts are more useful and accessible to the general population than, say, t ...more
Arun Babji
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The book dealt with the spirit of applying statistics. It has very apt examples, and a clear style of writing. Reading this book can help a great deal before the reader jumps into the mechanics of Machine Learning using various models. Concepts like the 6 principles of P values, types of uncertainty, bootstrapping as an equivalent of sampling with replacement, bagging as a bootstrapping method using multiple decision trees and a consensus prediction are explained very well.
I really wanted to like this book. But at times it felt like it’s trying to cover too much ground and a lot of it not deep enough. Often times more technical details would have aided proper understanding of the subject.

It was also quite surprising to see supervised learning being defined as classification, which seems incorrect and also doesn’t explain what supervised learning actually is.
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I don’t really know when I started Work/Reading but I really like it. This book was great and I am glad the author included this last chapter! Some parts may seem painful but overall it was very informative.
Nick Davies
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I can't remember where I read reviews of this being very good, but they were right. Here Spiegelhalter ("Spiegelhalter, Spiegelhalter an der Wand, wer ist die Schönste im ganzen Land?") attempts to explain the uses and abuses of statistics and probability. It's well put together, well explained, well illustrated. The pace is good, the examples well-chosen. I can't really complain, and I'm only really giving it a harsh four stars because.. well.. it's a book about statistics. A very good one, an ...more
Oscar Despard
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This volume is a worthy, pacy introduction to statistics. Spiegelhalter is an engaging writer; he peppers his explanations of core concepts with pleasing anecdotes, exemplifying the principles of honest, yet exciting storytelling from data that he propounds. He explains clearly, and from from the most basic ideas, elements of statistics that can be obscured by a risk to apply them mathematically, and is honest about the disconcerting complexity of its underlying concepts.

My only wish is for a s
Daniel B-G
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, favorites
I never really got statistics when I did Maths when I was younger. The most esoteric parts of pure maths were a breeze, but statistics never clicked, in large part because nobody was able to explain to me what some of the core concepts actually mean. Chief villain in the piece is standard deviation, something I considered to be the height of charlatanism. Fast forward 20 years, and I am working in a role that actually needs to know statistics, and I'm regretting my youthful intransigence.

This bo
Roozbeh Daneshvar
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
I did need this book and I wish I had read it much earlier. It goes over the basics of statistics and the mistakes one might make, all in an easy, straightforward and amusing narration. It also has plenty of good examples.

I liked the subtle humor (maybe a British one?) and I was a bit disappointed with the numerous errors and typos (I gelt that it was published in a haste).

If you deal with data and statistics, either professionally or even if in the daily and mundane level, you might find this b
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book was just okay - I can't help but feel that if Spiegelhalter did one of the things he wanted to accomplish in this book it would have been great, but he tried to make this book all things to all people and it ended up being too shallow on both fronts.

I'm beating around the bush a bit but essentially Spiegelhalter wanted to 1) teach the audience about statistics and how they can make life better and 2) present some cool scenarios where statistics can get us an approximate answer to some
James Miller
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read a lot of pop-maths books and enjoy them (Hannah Fry, Du Sautoy, Simon Singh, and pervious books by Spiegelhalter). This one is a bit more chewy. Where Sex by Numbers uses statistics to tell you things, this book is much closer to a textbook on how statistics should be done and what can be learned from it.

I have learned a great deal from this and his discussions of Harold Shipman and of 95% accuracy tests giving far more false positives than accurate responses (inter alia) have been really
Tony Fitzpatrick
Oct 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Sir David Spiegelhalter is a noted Professor and internationally recognized authority on statistics and risk - part of his remit is "the public understanding of risk". This book attempts to explain the basis of statistical theory and equip the reader to understand concepts such as confidence intervals, legally permissible statistical evidence, and some of the deceptions used by journalists (and academics) to "big up" their findings. The narrative is very good, and enlightening. The maths is howe ...more
Daniel Wrench
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent. Entertaining and insightful, even (or especially) for someone who has just finished their degree in statistics and is looking to make it their career. Great examples and explanation of how we can trip up when it comes to stats and probability.
Mar 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had some interesting thoughts and did a pretty good job of explaining in non mathematical terms how statistics work. I personally think it’s easier to explain if you include the math, but hey that’s just my bias. When I read books like this I’m reminded of how the media, the government and I guess everybody else distorts what the statistics are really saying. I’m beginning to believe we should just let real statisticians tell us what the data mean and what they don’t mean . If they cou ...more
Andrew Dalby
Feb 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The clearest and best introduction to statistics written by one of the greatest living statisticians. This book does not dumb down the content it presents the latest thinking about data in a clear and accessible way. I would recommend this book to anyone who is really interested in learning about data and trying to separate facts from fiction, but it is also a perfect introductory text for an undergraduate statistics course for those who are afraid of statistics. It is a pleasure to read.
Jo Bennie
Apr 01, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: s
Written by an experienced forensic statitician this is a well-informed insight into the use and, often, sadly, misuse of statistics that is generated from the data surrounding us. It gives a good grounding in the correlation vs causation, algorithms, probability and critical thinking that gives the lay reader the tools to assess and appraise the figures shouted at us in the news, on social media, in government decision-making
Feb 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This is an undeniably interesting book and there werechunks that I thoroughly enjoyed, but as someone not blessed with most statistical brain, I found swathes of it largely unintelligible.
For the right person, the entire book will be manna from heaven. That person is - sadly - not me.
Alexandros Potapidis
David Spiegelhalter demonstrates, in the most simple and comical manner, how data and statistics can be a force for good or ill. His examples, ranging from data of heart surgery of little children and the association of bacon in increasing the chances of having cancer, to the probability of certain Titanic passengers having more chances of survival than others, or how parents' hight affects the hight of their children. The author takes us step by step to reveal how statistics and data can be man ...more
Jun 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was exceptional! If you have ever wanted to learn more about the ubiquitous statistics that are a part of our lives, but worried you were going to end up reading a mathematically laden statistics text, this is the book I'd recommend!

Yes, there are some charts, graphs, and a few equations (mostly in the glossary). However, Spiegelhalter does a great job getting into the basics and provides much help in deciphering the "how did they come up with that?" that we all experience when reading an a
Kade Flowers
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As somebody who is massively into statistics, and reading different interpretations on teaching statistical concepts, this book was a beautiful and welcome breath of fresh air. It starts of lightly by exploring different methods of reviewing statistical data, and visualising and summarising their core messages using graphs and tables respectively, and then progresses on to more difficult to grasp concepts such as algorithms and probability theory. This book is excellent for people who are scient ...more
Ignasi Navarro
Jul 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent insight into the statistics world.

So many times I've picked up a book about a topic I don't know much about and end up disappointed because it is either too shallow or too technical for me to follow.

David Spiegelhalter has found that difficult balance when writing this book: It is entertaining, fairly easy to follow but at the same time it's full of knowledge. It also explains a bit of its history and provides interesting examples of how statistics have been used (wrong and rightly) i
May 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I cannot count how many books (including textbooks), online classes, tutorials and commentaries about Statistics I have read/taken. And even if I don’t fully grasp the principles, I still don’t get tired of it, not even with the basic concepts.

“The spirit is willing, but the brain is weak.”
“For I am stupid and have fallen short of the glory of Statistics.”

This book is one of the best statistics books I have read so far. While I still do not understand everything (I promise to re-read parts of
Samarth Chauhan
Sep 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I particularly like the flow by which David takes the reader into the world of statistics by showing them the value of data analysis. Gradually with the last chapters there's not in-depth explanation so a lot of Googling and double-reading is required for better understanding.

Overall the book is well written and includes notes and summary for each chapter with glossary for eminent statistical jargons. If your work is related to data in any sense, you'd love to have a go at the book.
Omri Har-shemesh
Aug 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: statistics
An engaging book about statistics. Explains things in a very nice and easy way. Very good for beginners. For more advanced applications may be too simple...
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