It’s a petite book with less than 150 pages. It’s not really a book on ‘Statistics’ but on how Statistics are used and abused both consciously and unconsciously by advertisers, surveyors, sales people and others alike or ‘Statisculation’ (Statistical Manipulation)
Here’s a little summary/review of the book:
Many a times the surveys/findings that we read/hear about are bound to be incorrect because of the bias while collecting samples. Either the sample chosen for doing survey isn’t well defined or doesn’t reflect well on the overall set.
Averages – Mean/Median/Mode . Choosing an average to depict some statistics is very important and for the layman’s eye it is very easy to draw wrong inference in some cases by mean or average without knowing about the range. Average salary alone for example doesn’t reflect the information correctly so its important to know the range and also the median.
Missing little figures: Using a very small group to draw a trend, not providing enough information about a particular % in question to even as much as not labeling an axis in a graph. Often one needs to question the completeness of the statistic provided.
Keep an eye on Probable and Standard errors with measurements in question for ex: IQ of 101 and 98 could just be 101 and 98
A difference is only a difference if it makes a difference
Graphs can be manipulated in various ways namely cutting the graph from bottom(to reduce the visible area), changing the measures of axis to make the graph looks better or worse
In charts with more than 1 D, using double the area to show double dimension is misleading. Varying size of objects to show increased number often gives an impression of the change in actual size of object in question over time.
Semi-attached figures, post hoc and many more
How to talk back to a statistic ?
Ask the following questions
Who says so ? (To understand biases)
How does he know? (Source and reliability of information presented
What’s missing? (Actual numbers in case of %s, base in case of index or other things)
Did somebody change the subject? (Switch between raw figures and their conclusion)
Does it make sense? (Apply commonsense on the data, and try extrapolating the trends to check sanity)
A quick read for the initiated which will change how you see statistics used around and hopefully save you from deriving false conclusions
Here’s a goodie for all software developers(especially web). The mavericks at 37signals have compiled their thoughts on software development in form of a book aptly titled “Getting Real“.
What is getting real ?
Getting Real is about skipping all the stuff that represents real (charts, graphs, boxes, arrows, schematics, wireframes, etc.) and actually building the real thing.
Getting real is less. Less mass, less software, less features, less paperwork, less of everything that’s not essential (and most of what you think is essential actually isn’t).
Getting Real is staying small and being agile.
Getting Real starts with the interface, the real screens that people are going to use. It begins with what the customer actually experiences and builds backwards from there. This lets you get the interface right before you get the software wrong.
A couple of days back I got to know about a new book titled “Free: The Future of a Radical Price” by Wired Magazine editor and author of bestseller “Long Tail” Chris Anderson. Next thing I got to know was true to it’s name “Free’s audio book is available for download for free“. While downloading the audio book I was wondering if the book is free just for audio format or will it’s e-book also be available for free ?
While browsing the web today I found out that Free’s e-book is also available for free. Excited, I clicked the URL to get my hands on the free e-book.
But to my unpleasant surprise, I ran into this
Frustrated by this(hypocrisy?) I searched around to realize that the not only is the e-book restricted to just US, it’s just free to read and not download. There you go again.
When I got to know about the free audio book I decided to buy a paperback copy for myself soon but given the weird policies regarding book’s availability in other formats I am not sure if I’ll be doing that anymore.
While Chris Anderson & Co figure out what’s the right way to market the book without screwing their economics you can either listen to it’s audiobook or read the book on Scribd(using a DNS proxy like hidemyass.com in case you aren’t in the US) or read it here.