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In fact, skipping the math in the book does nothing to reduce the book's usefulness nor your reading enjoyment. Read this if you think gambling is a solution to money problems. In fact, after going through this highly readable and entertaining book you may be tempted to skip the lottery tickets and put the money in casino stock instead!


The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. By Larry Gonick. (HarperCollins, 223 pp, 1993) GFBR *** Teen-adult. "You'll find lucid explanations of probability, distributions, error functions, hypothesis testing, and other basic tools of statistics." And, best of all, it's written in the form of cartoons.


Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists. By Joel Best. (U. of Calif. Press, 196 pp, 2001) HS-Adult. In an effort to turn people into critical thinkers, Best presents three questions to ask about all statistics and the four basic sources of bad ones. He shows how good statistics go bad; why comparing statistics from different time periods, groups, etc. is akin to mixing apples and oranges; and why surveys do little to clarify people's feelings about complex social issues. Random samples, it turns out, are rarely random enough. He also explains what all the hoopla is over how the poverty line is measured and the census is counted. … How many men were really at the Million Man March? How is it possible for the average income per person to rise at the same time the average hourly wage is falling? And how do you discern the truth behind stat wars? Learn it all here before you rush to judgment over the next little nugget of statistics-based truth you read.”


How to Lie With Statistics. By Darrell Huff. (Many editions; about 140 pages) GFBR *****. Teen – adult. “’There is terror in numbers,’ writes Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics. And nowhere does this terror translate to blind acceptance of authority more than in the slippery world of averages, correlations, graphs, and trends. Huff sought to break through ‘the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind’ with this slim volume, first published in 1954. The book remains relevant as a wake-up call for people unaccustomed to examining the endless flow of numbers pouring from Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and everywhere else someone has an axe to grind, a point to prove, or a product to sell. … Although many of the examples used in the book are charmingly dated, the cautions are timeless. Statistics are rife with opportunities for misuse, from "gee-whiz graphs" that add nonexistent drama to trends, to "results" detached from their method and meaning, to statistics' ultimate bugaboo--faulty cause-and-effect reasoning. Huff's tone is tolerant and amused, but no-nonsense. Like a lecturing father, he expects you to learn something useful from the book, and start applying it every day. Never be a sucker again, he cries!”


Innumeracy. By John Allen Paulos. (Hill & Wang, 208 pp, ) GFBR ***. HS-Adult. “This is the book that made "innumeracy" a household word, at least in some households. Paulos admits that "at least part of the motivation for any book is anger, and this book is no exception. I'm distressed by a society which depends so completely on mathematics and science and yet seems to indifferent to the innumeracy and scientific illiteracy of so many of its citizens. But that is not all that drives him. The difference between our pretensions and reality is absurd and humorous, and the numerate can see this better than those who don't speak math. I think there's something of the divine in these feelings of our absurdity, and they should be cherished, not avoided. Paulos is not entirely successful at balancing anger and absurdity, but he tries. His diatribes against astrology, bad math education, Freud, and willful ignorance are leavened with jokes, mathematical or the sort (he claims) favored by the numerate. It remains to be seen if Innumeracy will indeed be able, as Hofstadter hoped, to ‘help launch a revolution in math education that would do for innumeracy what Sabin and Salk did for polio’--but many of the improvements Paulos suggested have come to pass within 10 years. Only time will tell if the

Science and Math Books You Can Read – page 24 out of 30

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