The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter

At University I had a fabulous professor of statistics, so that year it was one of the subjects I liked best. By chance I’ve seen a book about statistics, The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter, that was published this year. Thus, I borrowed it from the library and I was eager to read it.

In the description it mentioned that there are some topics talked about in the book, like the chances a passenger had to survive following the Titanic disaster, the serial killer Harold Shipman and if he could have been caught sooner, how many trees are on the planet. All these are making the book more fun to read. At times it does get a bit too technical, but it is still very enjoyable.

The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter

At the end of the book, Spiegelhalter mentions 10 questions to ask when faced with a claim, that I think are the most important to share with my readers. These rules are meant to help anybody to make sense of the many claims and stories we see everyday in the newspapers:
1. How rigorously has the study been done? For example if there is a control group or if the sample is representative.
2. What is the statistical uncertainty in the findings? These include margins for error, sample size, systematic bias.
3. Is the summary appropriate? See the relative and absolute risks.
4. How reliable is the source of the story? Newspapers (and not only) are biased, so make sure you are aware of this.
5. Is the story being spun? It matters how the claim is framed, including emotional appeal through quoting anecdotes about extreme cases, misleading graphs.
6. What am I not being told?
7. How does the claim fit with what else is known? The context is important and what other studies have shown is just as important.
8. What’s the claimed explanation for whatever has been seen? It’s a big difference between correlation and causation.
9. How relevant is the story to the audience?
10. Is the claimed effect important?

The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter

Details about the picture: I imagine most people would associate a pie chart with statistics, so I just had to make a pie.
My rating: 5/5 Stars.
Would I recommend it: Yes
Published by: Pelican
Year it was published: 2019
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): Mathematics
Pages: 426

About the author: Sir David Spiegelhalter studied at the University of Oxford and University College London. After graduating, he worked as a research assistant at Brunel University before going to Berkeley, California.
Currently, Sir David Spiegelhalter is the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge. For his work, he was awarded an OBE in 2006 for services to medical statistics. In 2014 he has received a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for services to statistics.
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