economics | January 14, 2013

New Scientist: Charles Wheelan's Naked Statistics Is "Witty And Engaging"

Making statistics fun for non-statisticians is a tall order. Charles Wheelan bravely took on the challenge in his new book, Naked Statistics. A follow-up to his wildly successful Naked Economics, Wheelan's second venture uses intriguing real world examples to explore the benefits of understanding statistical analysis. Kevin McConway, a professor of applied statistics at The Open University, recently reviewed it in New Scientist. He says that Wheelan's style is "innovative and often witty," and that he may even borrow a few of Wheelan's examples to use in his own stats lectures.

While most of Wheelan's book focuses on basic statistical principles, the final chapter touches on broader applications that can be used to solve "the five big questions" in society. Wheelan includes a description of how statistics can be used to help end global poverty, which McConway calls "interesting, engaging and useful." While many people may find statistics boring, useless, or too difficult to study, Wheelan points out that we are more than willing to peruse sports standings or read articles featuring public opinion poll results. By bringing statistics into the real world, and stripping it down to the basics, Wheelan makes it easy for anyone to play the number game—even if they're not overly familiary with the discipline initially.

Wheelan is a regular contributer to NPR and writes Yahoo!'s popular "Naked Economics" column. He also teaches public policy at the University of Chicago. A former gubernatorial speechwriter, Wheelan has an excellent command of language and is an engaging story-teller. In his writing and speeches, he offers invaluable takeaways about economics, data, and public policy.

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economics | January 13, 2013