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4.5 out of 5 stars
33
The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers
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VINE VOICEon 17 January 2013
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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on 23 October 2011
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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on 26 April 2014
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. Explains very well concepts like:

- 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

Highly recommended!
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on 1 August 2016
A very accessible book that puts numbers into the context that we are so rarely given by the media and public figures. You sense they are being selective, and comparing apples with cornflakes, but you can't quite figure out how. This helps you do that, to see through the veils, to figure out what is really significant, and what is just made to sound good (or bad). It's entertaining as well - what more could you want?
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on 19 April 2014
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 misleadingly stats are so often presented, especially in the press, and it does so using excellent, relevant, entertaining examples.
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on 13 November 2011
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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on 25 April 2017
A great book that begins to break down the fear of numbers. Should be made into a child's book, too?
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on 27 September 2017
Brilliant book. Taught me a lot and will hopefully serve me well in data analysis in uni
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on 18 February 2013
This book is an excellent, clearly written, highly amusing and approachable book that cuts through all the wooly thinking and misunderstanding of the nature of scientific proof. It is amazing how much misinformation there is in the media and elsewhere - probably mostly due to ignorance. If everyone read this book then so many health, education and other baseless scandles could be avoided - as this book is so well written there is no excuse not to be amoung the well informed !
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on 11 October 2017
Every researcher should read this book
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