My list of books to read grows much more quickly than I actually end up reading the books on the list, but I tend to prioritize books that are recommended to me. In the case of Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan, I read about it on Stephen Few’s blog which is as good as any recommendation.
Statistics and data analysis are inevitably linked, but the truth is that you can do a lot of good analysis with just a few basic statistical ideas and methods. This book does a great job of touching on most of those ideas and methods. Each chapter focuses on a separate concept and is illustrated with examples (both contrived and real-life).
If you are scared of math, fear not. You can’t have statistics without math, but Wheelan does a great job of easing the reader into it and thoroughly explaining all the notation he uses. In some cases, the math is even moved in a chapter appendix so it is the reader’s choice to skip or read it.
My only criticism of this book is that it might be a bit too short. I was hoping to read a little bit more about probability and Bayesian methods, but to be fair, statistics and probability aren’t exactly the same thing.
The best thing about this books is it really hammers home how important statistics are in the modern world. You don’t need to be an expert, but anyone who is interested in the way the world works should have a basic understanding of statistics. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an entertaining introduction to to the huge world of statistics and how they affect everything from the economy to healthcare to education.