Customer Reviews


7 Reviews
5 star:
 (2)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding statistics for good decisions
This is a book about reading and understanding statistics. It is not a book on research methods. As a book that helps to analyze and think critically about statistics, however, it is a book on methodology: the critical comparison of method issues.

Best's point is a central issue in modern industrial democracy. If we are going to make effective policy choices as...
Published on 10 Aug 2001 by Ken Friedman

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Could've been better
Useful but, could've been more if it had only focused on 'tricks of the trade' and what to watch out for in practice. However setting that aside it does at least force your mind to challenge more readily the information presented to you - it is amazing how 'facts' are born out of ignorance ultimately.
Published on 26 Oct 2009 by KMcG


Most Helpful First | Newest First

37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding statistics for good decisions, 10 Aug 2001
By 
Ken Friedman "Ken Friedman" (Oslo, Norway, and Copenhagen, Denmark) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
This is a book about reading and understanding statistics. It is not a book on research methods. As a book that helps to analyze and think critically about statistics, however, it is a book on methodology: the critical comparison of method issues.

Best's point is a central issue in modern industrial democracy. If we are going to make effective policy choices as citizens and voters, we must understand the issues on which we make decisions. The same holds true for the decisions we make in business life and in research. Many of the choices we make are based on statistical evidence. To make informed choices, therefore, we must be able to think about statistics.

A quick summary of the issues and topics in this book offers a good overview of clear thinking on statistical issues. Chapter 1, "the importance of social statistics," explains where statistics come from, how we use them, and why they are important. Chapter 2, "soft facts," discusses sources of bad statistics. Guessing, poor definitions, poor measures, and bad samples are the primary sources of based statistics. Good statistics require good data; clear, reasonable definitions; clear, reasonable measures; and appropriate samples.

Chapter 3 catalogues "mutant statistics," the methods for mangling numbers. Most of these arise from violating the four requirements of good statistics, but a new problem arises here. Where is relatively easy to spot bad statistics, mutant statistics require a second level of understanding. As statistics mutate, they take on a history, and it becomes necessary to unravel the history to understand just how - and why - they are mutant. Transformation, confusion, and compound errors create chains of based statistics that become difficult to trace and categorize.

Chapter 4, "apples and oranges," describes the dangers of inappropriate comparison. Dangers arise when comparisons over time involve changing and unchanging measures, and projections. Comparison among places and groups lead to problems not merely in the data measured, but in the ways that data may be gathered and collated. Comparison among social problems also creates unique difficulties. Best offers logic of comparison to help the reader understand how to make sense of good comparison and bad.

Chapter 5, "stat wars," describes the problems that arise when advocates use questionable numbers to make a case. Chapter 6, "thinking about social statistics," sums up Best's advice on understanding statistics. Don't be awestruck in the face of numbers, and don't be cynical about them, he suggests. Be critical and thoughtful.

This book is recommended for every non-statistical researcher who is required to make some use of statistical results in his or her work. It will be especially helpful for those designers who belong to the 2% of the population that one study identifies as victims of UFO abduction.

Ken Friedman
Professor
Norwegian School of Management, Oslo, and Denmark's Design School, Copenhagen

This review originally appeared in Design Research News
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awe-struck by big numbers, 7 Aug 2011
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
The indelicate title of this book is taken from the well-known aphorism "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics" attributed to either Mark Twain or Benjamin Disraeli. It nearly caused me to not read it, unjustly, because the language between the covers is perfectly gentlemanly.

Most people, Best tells us, are innumerate. This means that they don't readily spot implausible numbers, and all big numbers are more or less the same to them, whether a million or a billion. Not only the people who hear statistics are often innumerate, but also the people who report them, and not infrequently even the people who generate them.

Statistics can be wildly off course for many reasons. They may originate in a guess. But even when they originate in research, there are many factors that can influence their accuracy. The researcher may have interviewed people using leading questions. The subject of the research may be poorly defined. The method of measuring it may be flawed. The sample on which the research is based may not be representative. Or perhaps a comparison was made between two entities that aren't comparable. Numbers may have been mangled by someone who quoted them, such as a reporter. Or the condition described mutates into something else during the retelling. The finesses of complex statistics may be overlooked. Basing new statistics on older ones may result in a chain of bad statistics. And, unavoidably, they are influenced by the interests of the party who compiles them.

The author does not mention the statistics used in modern medical mega-trials, but everything he says about statistics in general applies to those as well.

He warns us not to be nave or awestruck by statistics, but not to be cynical either. Statistics, he says, are a valid and useful tool. Not all statistics are bad statistics. So we shouldn't reject all statistics off the bat, just be critical. Of course we should always be critical about everything anyway, he concedes, not just about statistics. I'm afraid I'm not going to take Best's advice. He provides fine questions to ask when examining statistics, but who will answer them? So I am going to join his cynical group, and remain suspicious of all statistics.

Best's writing style is refreshingly uncomplicated. This little gem of a book is suitable for a broad audience, including the less sophisticated reader, readers for whom English is a second language, and people who, like me, are innumerate.

Best has since (2004) published a sequel to this book, called More Damned Lies and Statistics.

Copyright MeTZelf
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book for social statistics, 23 Jun 2009
By 
M. Sperrin - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
This is an excellent book describing the social side of statistics - a real eye-opener making us all remember that statistics are not perhaps as 'concrete' as we first thought. Although statistics may be calculated, in some sense precisely and numerically, this book reminds us that however precise the numbers seem to be, they are based on people's definitions and driven by their motivations, and we should bear this in mind when interpreting statistics.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Good discussion but not entirely objective, 21 Mar 2012
By 
B. Kjosnes "beritk25" (Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
This book absolutely raises an interesting discussion, in regard to how much we can trust statistics.

In the discussion different relevant issues is raised in regard to validity and reliability of the data.

It is helpful that it also discuss potential conflicts of interests, and the necessity of comparing an apple with an apple.

However to believe that this book is entirely objective is an utopi, but then which human can be entirely objective?
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Could've been better, 26 Oct 2009
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
Useful but, could've been more if it had only focused on 'tricks of the trade' and what to watch out for in practice. However setting that aside it does at least force your mind to challenge more readily the information presented to you - it is amazing how 'facts' are born out of ignorance ultimately.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Lies and Statistics, 8 Sep 2009
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
A very interesting and thought provoking book.

Daily, we are bombarded with "facts and figures" from all sorts of places. This book makes you stop and think just what's behind these so called "facts". You start questioning what is presented as "fact".
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Summary of the background to social statistics, 16 Sep 2001
This review is from: Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists (Hardcover)
Interesting explanation of the background to social statistics and the bias that can result from activist's interests. Easy to read book that requires no more than a basic maths ability.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians and Activists
Used & New from: 0.46
Add to wishlist See buying options
Only search this product's reviews