Friday, April 10, 2009

The Tiger That Isn't (Seeing Through a World of Numbers) by Michael Blastland & Andrew Dilnot

If you attempt to blank out the statistics that the media throw at us daily, you are not alone. Whether it is because you don't understand them, or because you don't trust them, this book will give you the critical skills to appraise them - and it does so in a completely accessible way, even for the non-Mathematician.

The tiger of the title is a reference to how when we see a pattern of stripes in the shadows, we panic and believe there is a tiger. The same thing happens when looking at statistical information.

Chapter by chapter the authors take example of how numbers get mangled and misunderstood and show you some simple questions to ask in order to see through the fog. Sometimes it is the desire for a great headline that makes a mockery of the facts. Sometimes it is a genuine error in compiling or interpreting the information. But once you have read this book, you are much less likely to be taken in.

I thoroughly recommend this book. Easy to read, easy to understand and a vital tool in our soundbite world.