- Paperback: 192 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (10 July 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1846681111
- ISBN-13: 978-1846681110
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 37,853 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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.
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.
- natural variation - how quite surprising coincidences can happen by chance
- the dangers of using an average to imply 'normal' (e.g. most people earn less than the average salary - and households with two people on the average salary are pretty rare)
- the perils of using a single number to represent a complex subject
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