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The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers Paperback – 10 Jul 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books; Expanded edition published in 2008 edition (10 July 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846681111
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846681110
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,889 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A very funny book...this is one of those maths books that claims to be self-help, and on the evidence presented here, we are in dire need of it... (Daily Telegraph)

This very elegant book constantly sparks "Aha!" moments as it interrogates the way numbers are handled and mishandled by politicians and the media. (Guardian)

If every politician and journalist were required to read this engaging and eye opening book before embarking on their career, we would live in a wiser, better, governed world. (Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive, Royal Society of Arts)

Book Description

A painless introduction to the maths of the real world by the team who created and present the hugely popular BBC Radio 4 series More or Less.

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4.4 out of 5 stars
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The authors have presented a BBC radio program on statistics and one of the authors was also a regular contributor to the BBC website with articles on the abuse and misuse of statistics. Here they present an equation free view of how statistics can be misused by both politicians and those who should know better, scientists.

Some of the reviews have said that the book is too simple. It is true that it does not contain any formulae but that is a good thing. Formulae are not everything in Maths and Statistics. Sometimes the deeper insights are in the words, because the formulae are only a way of trying to make the words unambiguous and more rigorous. The explanations of the limits of averages is particularly important and revealing. Especially when the policy makers are further exposed in later chapters as having no idea about who pays the most tax and how much is the median wage. Making sense of the way statistics is presented and getting a deep view of how they fit into the real world is essential. I hate maths texts that have endless theorems and proofs for idealised equations that bear no relationship to reality. This is a book firmly based in the real world.

I think it it perhaps the best book I have read about the abuse of statistics and number in general. It is ideal as a text for a short course on the misrepresentation of data and I am going to make it recommended reading for future years.
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Format: Paperback
"I think numbers are the best way to represent the world's uncertainties", "I see numbers, I question them and I can interpret them for the less numerate", "I see numbers and I freeze". These three possible options are based on a rough categorisation of the attitudes I have seen towards numbers. Depending on my mood, they can amuse me or cause me despair.

In fact, I believe that, with the right degree of scepticism, and a willingness and an ability to question numbers both in absolute and relative terms, it is possible for everyone to make sense of numbers thrown at us every day. That is pretty much the premise - and the promise - of The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through A World of Numbers, by the journalist Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, an Oxford Don. The book delivers brilliantly on the premise and the promise.

The introduction of the book says, rightly, that it is written from the point of view of the consumers of numbers; in fact, it is written for the consumers of numbers, which means people like you and me. Each chapter presents some examples that illustrate a typical problem with comprehending numbers, and then proceeds to demonstrate how to see those numbers in context and how to make sense of them. There are, in addition to the introduction, eleven chapters dealing with numbers-related issues including Size, Chance, Averages, Risk (my personal favourite), Data (my favourite heading in this book "Know the Unknowns") and Causation. While most of the examples are British - understandably because both authors are British - it is not difficult for the reader to apply the 'lessons' to numbers being bandied about in his or her own country.

Aimed at the non-numerate reader, the tone of the book is easy, the language accessible, the explanations lucid.
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Format: Paperback
Freakanomics got a big push by its publishers and was quite the book to be seen to be reading about a year ago. Here with "The tiger that isn't" is a similar book aimed at a similar market but with nowhere near the same exposure.

Essentially this is a very well written book that talks the layman (like me) through the fog of averages, chance and statistical anomalies. Yes, that does sound a bit dull but there are excellent down-to-earth examples and information that will stick in your mind. Did you know for example that you almost invariable have MORE than the AVERAGE number of feet?

It didn't get the full 5 stars as it is quite a slender tome (like Freakanomics) but it is always well written with thought provoking examples and a definite sense of humour.

If you want an intelligent and fun read on a topic that you are unlikely to know much about, or you want to know more about what numbers actually mean when they are grandly announced on the news then this is the book for you.

If you liked this there's more historical debate and fun at @HistoryGems on Facebook and Twitter
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Format: Paperback
A fascinating book. On the face of it, it is about statistics, but actually it is about something far deeper - how we perceive and interpret the information that affects all our lives deeply. Ex post, everything you read seems like common sense, ex ante however it is not. This simple, highly entertaining book will provide you with a practical sense of how to interpret much of what you hear in the press. You will never view a number in the same way again (and that is a very good thing).
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The book to read if you enjoy BBC Radio 4's More or Less. Very easy to read - you quickly learn why 300 million is a fairly small number whilst 6 is a very big number. Learn how journalist pounce on real numbers but distort the facts. An enjoyable read that chalenges while it entertains
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An excellent exploration of how badly statistics can be misinterpreted and misreported, both by those with their own agenda and those who are tasked with communicating the truth to the public - much like the authors, two BBC journalists. The book splits the problems faced in reporting numbers into one issue per chapter and demonstrates with plenty of examples how badly results can be reported.

It's a really good book that I would certainly recommend to anyone who has to use statistics, whether reporting them to the public or just internally within an organisation, and especially managers and politicians who need to base their decisions on these reports. Even in my own recent experience at work there have been people I've wanted to hit over the head with this book.

One thing that must be noted is that the book needs to be read in small chunks - a chapter at a time. It's not something to read in one or two sittings, and it's a book that probably needs to be returned to a few times for the messages to sink in. I'll be keeping it handy at work for when I'm faced with numbers, and plan to offer it around my colleagues too.
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