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The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter

The Art of Statistics by David Spiegelhalter
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£16.99

“To put it bluntly, statistics can be difficult,” writes David Spiegelhalter in The Art of Statistics. He’s right, but they’ll nonetheless seem “much less” so if you read this “excellent book”, said William Leith in the London Evening Standard. Spiegelhalter, a professor of risk studies at Cambridge University, has a knack for elucidating tricky concepts. Using the example of bacon sandwiches, he clearly explains why journalists’ failure to distinguish “absolute” and “relative” risk frequently leads to medical studies being presented in overly alarmist terms.

Spiegelhalter’s examples are “lively and well chosen”, said Stuart Ritchie in The Spectator. How likely was it that the skeleton dug up in Leicester in 2012 was really that of Richard III? Less than 1%, he explains. He also claims that a model he designed for flagging up abnormally high mortality rates for doctors could have saved 175 of Harold Shipman’s estimated 250 victims, had it been in place at the time. In an “age of scientific clickbait, ‘big data’ and personalised medicine”, a good grasp of statistics has never been more vital, and that’s why “everyone would benefit” from reading this book.


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