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Some non-fiction books can make my head spin with highly technical information, but this book keeps it real. It presents what can be a rather complicated subject, statistics, in a fun and understandable manner. It explains how others can manipulate statistics to their advantage, how repeating statistics often mangles them, and other interesting facts about all those numbers we see every time we pick up a newspaper or hear a plea from a charity or cause. It warns the reader not to take statistics at face value and teaches us how to untangle the "good" statistics from the bad.
While it deals mainly with statistics, it also deals with the psychology surrounding statistics. We are much more likely to accept a statistic that seems to verify an aspect of our own world view, for instance, and more likely to question statistics (or even discard them completely) if they don't correspond to what we ourselves believe. The author presents the material in a balanced way, without bias, and points out that social statistics are never exactly measurable given the fluid nature of society.
The author starts this book out with a humorous and outlandish example of a mangled statistic that hooks you right in. Unlike many nonfiction books, this book flows right along and keeps you listening for the entertainment value alone.
Patrick Lawlor does a wonderful job with the narration, adding vitality to the subject, understanding and portraying the authors wit flawlessly.
I'd recommend this book to anyone who doesn't want to go around accepting ever number presented to them. If you are an independent thinker, then this book is for you.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
This is one of those books everyone should read—but would anyone ever get elected again? Author Joel Best shows you exactly how stats can be manipulated to prove anything.
If every statistic released were to be believed, then the whole country would be sick, pregnant, violent, dead, or addicted to porn. Using examples from the New York Times, the Washington Post, U.S. Census, and other major media outlets, Best unravels the many fascinating examples of the misuse and abuse of statistical information.
There are no innocents.
My stats professor used to quote Mark Twain to every class: “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” It's possible to twist statistics to say virtually anything; for every study out there that makes one claim, there's another that "proves" the exact opposite. How can you know which one is true? Best lets you know how to spot the BS and wade through fraud studies and stats.
4 of 5 people found this review helpful
An extremely sharp witted look at statistics and how they get misrepresented in popular culture.
Interesting to listen to, quite light hearted for it's subject matter of stats, and makes you aware of common misrepresentations of statistics used by various groups (social change groups, media)