Book Review: Naked Statistics

Naked Statistics
By Charles Wheelan

The first weekend of the New Year, a bunch of dames and I get together for brunch. We talk, we eat and we have fun. We also set intentions. It's a great practice for the beginning of the year. Some ladies share. Some don't. Yet we all take that time to write down a plan or a thought for the new year. One of my intentions was to do the math.

It's time to discover my inner mathematician. So I read a book about statistics. My dad, my lifelong math tutor, would probably laugh his butt off. Yet, reading a narrative about mathematics actually kind of took the edge off. Who knew?

Naked Statistics brushed me up on some things I already knew about - standard deviations, standard errors and regression analysis. At one point in college, I MUST HAVE learned about the central limit theorem, but was happy to learn about it again. And the author pointed out a whole slew of mistakes that could be made with the improper use of statistics. Again, I'm pretty sure I learned this in undergrad, but this book gave me a great way to brush off the cobwebs.

Much of this might seem like elementary to some, but my interest in math came a bit late. Perhaps one of my favorite lessons from this book was one of the very simplest: the difference between accuracy and precision. Accuracy is being correct (or how close you got to correct). Precise is being just that: precise. You can be very precise and very wrong. For example, if I were to tell you that I was 4 years, 3 months and 21 days, 6 hours and counting old - I would be pretty precise, but totally inaccurate (though maybe not figuratively???)

Wheelan is a pretty swell writer. His humor is dorky. It's like dad-joke city throughout, but it's not annoying at all again is another way the book takes the edge of "the maths," as my friend and I jokingly call it. Be warned, there IS math. In fact, it gets a little thick at times, but it's worth slogging through. I think all the examples and explanations are worth wrapping your head around. Also, the last chapter is awesome! I really, really appreciate when an author, especially one of non-fiction, finishes strong. Nothing is worse than a lazy finish! Wheelan delivers on the final chapter. Really the last two are really great.

This book is great for folks that are made nervous by math. There are plenty of practical examples. When I start my super awesome personal library one day, this will be one to adorn the shelves.

I didn't take too many notes, because I really, really needed to focus and honestly, sometimes just to get through. Sometimes I'll tweet though. Here's the one from this book:
From "Naked Statistics" - Mark Twain said there were three types of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.
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