Statistics has played a leading role in our scientific understanding of the world for centuries, yet we are all familiar with the way statistical claims can be sensationalised, particularly in the media. In the age of big data, as data science becomes established as a discipline, a basic grasp of statistical literacy is more important than ever.
In The Art of Statistics, David Spiegelhalter guides the reader through the essential principles we need in order to derive knowledge from data. Drawing on real world problems to introduce conceptual issues, he shows us how statistics can help us determine the luckiest passenger on the Titanic, whether serial killer Harold Shipman could have been caught earlier, and if screening for ovarian cancer is beneficial.
How many trees are there on the planet? Do busier hospitals have higher survival rates? Why do old men have big ears? Spiegelhalter reveals the answers to these and many other questions - questions that can only be addressed using statistical science.
There is just one problem with famous statisticians: they tend not to be very famous. One notable exception is the
late Hans Rosling, who made Time Magazine's list of the world's most 100 influential people in 2012. Perhaps his closest living equivalent is now Sir David Spiegelhalter. There is something in here for everyone. . . . A call to arms for greater societal data literacy . . . Spiegelhalter's work serves as a reminder that there are passionate, self-aware statisticians who can argue eloquently that their discipline is needed now more than ever.
-- Alan Smith * The Financial Times *
An important and comprehensive new book * The New Yorker *The Art of Statistics
is in the great educational tradition
of its publishing imprint, Pelican Books: an attempt to get everyone up to speed with the practical uses of statistics, without pages of terrifying equations or Greek letters. In a series of spry, airy chapters, he succeeds fabulously
. ... A book that crams in so much statistical information and nonetheless remains lucid and readable is highly improbable, and yet here it is. In an age of scientific clickbait, 'big data' and personalised medicine, this is a book that nearly everyone would benefit from reading
. (The Spectator
) * The Spectator *
David Spiegelhalter's The Art of Statistics shines a light on how we can use the ever-growing deluge of data to improve our understanding of the world
. . . The Art of Statistics
will serve students well. And it will be a boon for journalists eager to use statistics responsibly - along with anyone who wants to approach research and its reportage with healthy scepticism. * Nature *
This is an excellent
book. Spiegelhalter is great at explaining
difficult ideas . . . Yes, statistics can be difficult. But much less difficult if you read this book. * The Evening Standard *
Like the fictional investigator Sherlock Holmes, Spiegelhalter takes readers on a trail to challenge methodology and stats thrown at us by the media and others
. But where other authors have attempted this and failed, he is inventive and clever
in picking the right examples that spark the reader's interest to become active on their own. * Engineering and Technology *
What David Spiegelhalter does here is provide a very thorough introductory grounding
in statistics without making use of mathematical formulae. And it's remarkable
. Spiegelhalter is warm
- it's a genuinely enjoyable read ... This book should be required reading for all politicians, journalists, medics and anyone who tries to influence people (or is influenced) by statistics
. A tour de force
. * Popular Science *
David Spiegelhalter is probably the greatest living statistical communicator
; more than that, he's one of the great communicators in any field. This marvellous book will transform your relationship with the numbers that swirl all around us. Read it and learn. I did.
-- Tim Harford, presenter of 'More or Less' and author of 'The Undercover Economist'
Do you trust headlines telling you . . . that bacon, ham and sausages carry the same cancer risk as cigarettes? No, nor do I. That is why we need a book like this
that explains how such implausible nonsense arises in the first place. Written by a master of the subject
. . . this book tells us to examine our assumptions. Bravo.
* Standpoint *David Spiegelhalter combines clarity of thinking with superb communication skills and a wealth of experience
of applying statistics to everyday problems. The result is The Art of Statistics
, a book that manages to be enjoyable as well as informative: an engaging introduction for the lay person
who wants to gain a better understanding of statistics. Even those with expertise in statistics will find much within these pages to stimulate the mind and cast new light on familiar topics. A real tour de force which deserves to be widely read.
-- Dorothy Bishop, Professor of Developmental Neuropsychology and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow in the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of OxfordIf I had to trust just one person to interrogate statistical data, I'd trust David Spiegelhalter. He is a master of the art.
Here, he shows us how it's done. The result is brilliant; nothing short of an essential guide to finding things out - delivered through a series of detective-like investigations of specific examples ranging from sexual behaviour to murder
. The technical essentials are also all here: from averages to infographics, algorithms and Bayesian statistics - both their power and their limitations. All this makes The Art of Statistics
a first call for all those setting out on a career or study that involves working with data. But beyond that, it's self-help for anyone with a serious desire to become a clued-up citizen in a world of numbers. If you want pat answers, or meat for your prejudices, go elsewhere. But if you want to develop the skills to see the world as it is, and to tell it how it is - honestly and seriously - this is the book
. -- Michael Blastland, creator of BBC Radio 4's More or Less, and co-author of 'The Tiger That Isn't - Seeing Through a World of Numbers'
In this wonderfully accessible
introduction to modern statistics, David Spiegelhalter has created a worthy successor to classics
such as Moroney's Facts from Figures
. Using many real examples, he introduces the methods and underlying concepts, showing the power and elegance of statistics for gaining understanding and for informing decision-making. -- David J. Hand, Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at Imperial College London
H.G. Wells is frequently quoted as having said that "Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write." That day has certainly come. This wonderful book
provides a non-technical and entertaining introduction
to the basic tools of statistical thinking. Wells would have approved.
-- Professor Sir Adrian Smith FRS, Director, Alan Turing Institute