Super Crunchers

  • by Ian Ayres
  • Narrated by Michael Kramer
  • 7 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Why would a casino try and stop you from losing? How can a mathematical formula find your future spouse? Would you know if a statistical analysis blackballed you from a job you wanted? Today, number crunching affects your life in ways you might never imagine. In this lively and groundbreaking new audiobook, economist Ian Ayres shows how today's best and brightest organizations are analyzing massive databases at lightening speed to provide greater insights into human behavior. They are the Super Crunchers. From Internet sites like Google and Amazon that know your tastes better than you do, to a physician's diagnosis and your child's education, to boardrooms and government agencies, this new breed of decision-maker is calling the shots. And they are delivering staggeringly accurate results. How can a football coach evaluate a player without ever seeing him play? Want to know whether the price of an airline ticket will go up or down before you buy? How can a formula out-predict wine experts in determining the best vintages? Super crunchers have the answers. In this brave new world of equation versus expertise, Ayres shows us the benefits and risks, who loses and who wins, and how super crunching can be used to help, not manipulate, us. Gone are the days of solely relying on intuition to make decisions. No businessperson, consumer, or student who wants to stay ahead of the curve should make another keystroke without listening to Super Crunchers.

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What the Critics Say

"Lively and enjoyable....Ayres skillfully demonstrates the importance that statistical literacy can play in our lives." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Great book on

There is an old expression, "the man who knows 'how' will always have a job... reporting to the man that knows 'why'".

This is a fantastic book on the 'what' and 'why' of statistical analysis but if you are looking for a book on 'how' to do a regression analysis, you would want to find a different book.

I teach Six Sigma Black Belt classes and after listening to this book I ordered 25 copies to give to everyone in a class I am teaching. What I really liked about this book is that the author uses a wide variety of examples, from medicine to casinos to car dealers to credit cards to hiring practices, etc. etc. In each example, the author explains how data mining and number crunching has been used to make amazingly accurate predictions that most experts in that particular field did not think possible.

The book is fascinating from beginning to end. It is also a little Orwellian in places as you begin to realize that the surveillance technology show cased in books such as "1984" and movies such as "Minority Report" are much closer to reality than most people realize.

Between audible.com and traditional books, I read/listen to about 30 books a year and I would place this book in my top 5 favorite list over the past couple of years.
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- Jon

Very Interesting but drawn out

This was an extremely intersting book on how the analysis of information is used to improve decision making, sales campaigns, medical decisions etc. It demonstrates the power of collecting objective information in virtually all endeavors to assess the success of your decisions and how to make the next decision. There is virtually no actual math or technical descriptions about how information is collected or how it is analyzed - most just making the case that you should collect the data and that you should analyze it. In this sense, it is not a 'how to' book but rather 'why you should' book. Although I am great believer in this approach and in fact, do it for a living, after about the 2/3 mark, I found that the book became a bit tedious as there many examples of the same thing and there was little description of how people are actually collecting information.
I realize these types of books are difficult to write because they try and balance information and entertainment with minimal actual technical detail. However, I thought there should have more technical detail in fewer examples. I am guessing that readers attracted to this book have more than a passing intested in the technology and methods.
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- Stephen

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-20-2007
  • Publisher: Books on Tape