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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Review: Naked Statistics

Naked Statistics is a non-technical introduction to statistics. In terms of explaining the science of statistics to laymen, it does a passable but not stellar job. The basics are straightforward: nearly everyone should know the difference between mean and median (the book doesn't cover "mode"), and Wheelan does a fine job of explaining the difference.

Where the book starts to fall apart is on items such as the Central Limit Theorem and Regression analysis. Both topics are technical enough that you really should just get out a statistics or math textbook and work through examples yourself. The book separates out the technical details in an appendix to each chapter, but I found that treatment unsatisfactory. On the other hand, I'm also the kind of person who'd read a textbook if  I really wanted to review this material as preparation.

The book is sprinkled with lots of examples, some of which are fun, but doesn't into enough depth about the anecdotes to really get at the gist of the matter. The author says he was inspired by How to Lie With Statistics, but in my opinion anyone who wants to read this book should read the original instead.

Not recommended. Go read a textbook instead, or the original source of inspiration instead.

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