The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers Paperback – 10 Jul 2008
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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)
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was truly a great read put numbers completely into perspective for me because it helped me understand statistics in a real life context.!!!Published 8 months ago by Vicky
A great read. Must for all students when use research docs for their studiesPublished 16 months ago by Milfordmaid
one of the best books I ever read, changed the way I analyse news/books/articles etcPublished 20 months ago by ama
Worth every penny! Often we don't realise the power of numbers. When used accurately, numbers has the ability to summarise any situation succinctly and this book takes you on that... Read morePublished on 25 July 2014 by A. Ko
Listened to this on Audible. Interesting, well read and well written. Good, easy to understand, real-world examples that even someone with a tendency to loathe numbers can follow. Read morePublished on 16 July 2014 by L. Cripps
I first read this book in 2008, not all that long after it was released, pretty much in one go on a long haul flight. Read morePublished on 3 May 2014 by Dr. Simon Howard
A very clear and entertaining review of the way statistics and numbers are used in the media. Lots of fascinating insights, presented in a highly readable format. Read morePublished on 26 April 2014 by Mr. T. Hogan
This book should be read by all but the statistically literate. It is written very much for the layman - a tad too much in places - but it makes many excellent points about how... Read morePublished on 19 April 2014 by Piers Nye