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Naked Statistics

Stripping the Dread from the Data

Charles Wheelan (Author, Dartmouth College)


“Brilliant, funny . . . the best math teacher you never had.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called “sexy.” From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you’ll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.

For those who slept through Stats 101, this book is a lifesaver. Wheelan strips away the arcane and technical details and focuses on the underlying intuition that drives statistical analysis. He clarifies key concepts such as inference, correlation, and regression analysis, reveals how biased or careless parties can manipulate or misrepresent data, and shows us how brilliant and creative researchers are exploiting the valuable data from natural experiments to tackle thorny questions.

And in Wheelan’s trademark style, there’s not a dull page in sight. You’ll encounter clever Schlitz Beer marketers leveraging basic probability, an International Sausage Festival illuminating the tenets of the central limit theorem, and a head-scratching choice from the famous game show Let’s Make a Deal—and you’ll come away with insights each time. With the wit, accessibility, and sheer fun that turned Naked Economics into a bestseller, Wheelan defies the odds yet again by bringing another essential, formerly unglamorous discipline to life.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • January 2014
  • ISBN 978-0-393-34777-7
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 304 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“This book is one of the most important clinical contributions of the past 20 years to the understanding and treatment of borderline pathology. Meares and his co-authors conceive of the borderline personality as the outcome of a disintegration of the mind-brain function. The authors have found that a conversational rhythm based on 'analogical responsiveness' constitutes the most effective way of working with borderline patients, which they convincingly illustrate. This book is essential reading not only for clinicians working with borderline patients, but for all those interested in rethinking the very structure of the way we talk with our patients.” — New York Times

“Justly admired for his erudition and originality, Russell Meares has inspired a group of clinicians to enter into a unique form of 'conversation' with patients with borderline personality disorder. This manual, the record of their experience, recounts how 'conversation' comes alive with the verbal and nonverbal communications that form the foundation of human relatedness and the individual's coherence and cohesion of self. While they seem deceptively simple, the conversations of the model can and do touch the dissociative patient's sense of self as powerfully as a mother's acknowledging glance to her baby: I know you! And through my knowing you, you will come to know yourself. The reader will learn how a deep understanding of the traumatized self emerges from the analogic links and metaphoric connections the method promotes. The therapist converses in language that is not jargon, intellectual, or theory-based, but is direct, empathic, and attuned to the patient's own mode of expression. The explanations of how each minute particular of conversation fits into a larger system provide a valuable learning experience for both experienced and inexperienced therapists. This manual is a delight for developmentalists and a source of learning and inspiration for therapists who treat patients with BPD and other disturbances of self.” — San Francisco Chronicle

Naked Statistics is an apt title. Charles Wheelan strips away the superfluous outer garments and exposes the underlying beauty of the subject in a way that everyone can appreciate.” — Hal Varian, chief economist at Google

“Meares and colleagues have produced a truly inspiring and moving guide to conversational model therapy. This book is a profoundly humane account of a theoretically compelling, evidence-based treatment for borderline personality disorder, full of vivid and rich case material. All therapists, no matter their theoretical orientation, will find this book of immeasurable value.” — Frank Newport, Gallup editor-in-chief

“A fun, engaging book that shows why statistics is a vital tool for anyone who wants to understand the modern world.” — Jacob J. Goldstein, "Planet Money" on NPR

“Two phrases you don’t often see together: ‘statistics primer’ and ‘rollicking good time.’ Until Charlie Wheelan got to it, that is. This book explains the way statistical ideas can help you understand much of everyday life.” — Austan Goolsbee, professor of economics at the University of Chicago and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers

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