Thursday, May 1, 2014

Unplugging statistics

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A while ago I wrote a post recommending a few intro to stats books. Those ones are still favorites of mine, but they have some shortcomings. Naked Statistics is a fun explanation of the main ideas behind quantitative thinking, but it's not very practical, as it barely illustrates how to apply them to real cases. Discovering Statistics Using R is amazingly comprehensive, but its nearly 1,000 pages may be a bit daunting.

I try to take a look at as many statistics textbooks as possible, as every semester I recommend my infographics and visualization students at the University of Miami to read at least one*. Besides the books mentioned above, last year I also reviewed this one, this one, and this one. All of them are good, but none of them is perfect for journalists and designers, I believe.

Enter Statistics Unplugged. I stumbled upon it while looking for books on charts, read the glaring reviews, and ordered a copy. I feel tempted to praise it already, even if I haven't finished reading it yet. It's written in a conversational style, it explains matters very clearly (making good use of constant repetition, offering tons of examples,) and it's short. It's on its 4th edition, so it seems to be pretty popular. If you're looking for a book to teach designers or journalists how to play with numbers, this might be a good choice.

*If you have any favorite book that isn't listed here, let me know.