Book Review: Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data, Charles Wheelan.  ISBN 978-0-393-34777-7.  New York, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, copyright 2013 (first published as a Norton paperback 2014).

I read this book as a class assignment; it would have to have been a class assignment for me to read it.  It wasn’t bad, actually, and I may have (stunner of stunners, shock of shocks, {whatever of whatever}) actually learned something from it.  The book was a dumbed down stats book without insulting the reader.

Wheelan tries to teach the reader how to understand and read data and various studies that discuss that data.  The main issue I have with the book – and it’s no small matter either – is that as the topic got more difficult, the explanations were poorer.  For example, the explanation of the Central Limit Theorem was lacking.  I wound up going to my statistics textbooks to get a better grip on what that theorem is and why it’s important.  Reading that it’s “the LeBron James of Statistics” doesn’t really say much to me.  What, it can’t hit a jumper either?

Seriously, the explanation was pretty wanting, as witness several of my classmates who said they had to read the chapter 2-3 times to understand the contents.  Something that’s supposed to make statistics understandable shouldn’t require even math-phobic library science students to read it 2 or 3 times to understand its point.

On the other hand, it did a reasonably good job of explaining regression analysis and other fairly complex ideas so it’s not all bad.  That’s no small feat and I appreciated those discussions.

Would I recommend this book?  For pleasure reading, no.  But for understanding at the broad level, for understanding statistics when stats are/is not required for a degree program, yes.  It’s almost ideal for that.


About flatpickingjd

Just your average, liberal vegetarian redneck. Yes, I'm a liberal. Proudly so. I see nothing wrong with that and wear that label with pride. Yes, I'm a vegetarian. I used to be fat, very fat. Then I started taking care of myself, lost a bunch of weight and found it easier to keep that weight off by not eating meat. Or cheese. Or eggs. Or any good stuff. Man, I miss pizza. And, yes, I'm a redneck. I like camping and fishing, listen to bluegrass music and live (from time to time) in the south(west). So, yup, I'm just your average, liberal vegetarian redneck. Serious details about me: I make my living as a lawyer. My practice focus is business law, but I've dabbled in other areas including personal injury, family law, real estate, and water law. I also hold three master's degrees with plans to earn a doctorate. I hope you enjoy your time here, and feel free to comment!
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One Response to Book Review: Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data

  1. Pingback: Previous Book Reviews | fjdsbookreviews

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