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Publisher's Summary

Audie Award Finalist, Business/Educational, 2014

Once considered tedious, the field of statistics is rapidly evolving into a discipline Hal Varian, chief economist at Google, has actually called "sexy". From batting averages and political polls to game shows and medical research, the real-world application of statistics continues to grow by leaps and bounds. How can we catch schools that cheat on standardized tests? How does Netflix know which movies you'll like? What is causing the rising incidence of autism? As best-selling author Charles Wheelan shows us in Naked Statistics, the right data and a few well-chosen statistical tools can help us answer these questions and more.

For those who slept through Stats 101, this book is a lifesaver. Wheelan strips away the arcane and technical details and focuses on the underlying intuition that drives statistical analysis. He clarifies key concepts such as inference, correlation, and regression analysis, reveals how biased or careless parties can manipulate or misrepresent data, and shows us how brilliant and creative researchers are exploiting the valuable data from natural experiments to tackle thorny questions.

You’ll encounter clever Schlitz Beer marketers leveraging basic probability, an International Sausage Festival illuminating the tenets of the central limit theorem, and a head-scratching choice from the famous game show Let’s Make a Deal - and you’ll come away with insights each time. With the wit, accessibility, and sheer fun that turned Naked Economics into a best seller, Wheelan defies the odds yet again by bringing another essential, formerly unglamorous discipline to life.

©2013 Charles Wheelan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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Statistics is like a high caliber gun, very useful

This book will not teach you the mathematics behind statistics. This book is about making you understand what you are doing when you are doing statistics. Thus it is a great complement to a university course where you might learn how to plug in numbers in SPSS or MATLAB and get a p-value but don't really understand the assumptions involved and the potential pitfalls that must be considered.

Though I have studied some statistics at university level this book still provided a fresh valuable perspective on many statistical issues. It also gives examples of many, often costly mistakes scientists made in the past using statistics.

The analogy I used in the title (taken from this book), really captures an important aspect of statistics. If used properly statistics can tell us if a medication, or a certain policy is effective. If used improperly, it can lead to erroneous medical advice with fatal consequences, in the literal sense.

I would recommend this book if you are taking statistics but often don’t know what you are really doing or how what you are doing relates to real life issues. Alternatively, this book can also be read by people who don’t know any statistics but want to understand what it is all about without having to learn to do the actual math. If you are already an advanced student in statistics and know what you are doing (and know what not to do), then this book might not be for you.

30 of 30 people found this review helpful

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  • Phil O.
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 05-17-13

Basic, but very well explained

This is a very good entry point (or refresher) for statistics. The author obviously invested time in putting together clear and simple examples. More advanced stats people might be disappointed. I like this better than another broad-audience statistics book, "The Signal and the Noise" by Nate Silver. For me, the explanations here are clearer and the concepts flow better.

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

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Excellent Round the World Encapsulation of Stats

What was one of the most memorable moments of Naked Statistics?

Wheelan's treatment of the Central Limit Theorem was well thought out and expertly illustrated. For most readers this will be a rehash-- but a welcome rehash as it is one of the most important concepts in all of statistics.

What about Jonathan Davis’s performance did you like?

The reader had a very deliberate style. You can tell he took great pains to convey and reinforce the message. Mr Davis was easily one of the best readers I've had the chance to listen to on Audible.

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Statistics...made refreshing

Any additional comments?

Every manager and data analyst worth their salt should take the time to listen to this book. There is solid substance on offer here-- without the typically lengthy historical rehashes.

18 of 18 people found this review helpful

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A little understanding can be worse than no unders

Part of my job is dealing with statistics for program evaluation for a non-profit. So I have to think about how to accurately look at statistics quite frequently.

Naked Statistics is a very good introduction to the proper use (and lots of examples of improper use) of statistics. This is intended for the average person and while it includes a little bit of math, the main focus is trying to help the reader develop an intuition for how statistics are supposed to work and be used and not really explain the math behind how they work.

What is particularly useful is the large number of relevant examples. Wheelan discusses Netflix recommendations, political polling, medical research, probability using lottery and other gambling games and a many other areas where statistics are commonly used, which in our world is almost everything area of life.

In our technocratic world, and one where advocacy groups often misuse statistics, it is very important that everyone have a basic understanding of statistics. I have read several other intro to statistics books like this to particularly remind myself how statistics are often misused. This is probably the best one I have read, both because of the relevant examples and because of the frequent use of humor.

It probably could have been cut a little bit, but I read the most recent edition that was updated last year and includes a number of up to date examples from recent economics, politics and technology.

I listened to the audiobook version and it was very well done, but there were several places that charts or graph would have made it easier to follow. There was an associated PDF with the audiobook, but I listen to audiobook when I often can’t spend time looking at a PDF. There were only a couple places where I thought it mattered (and with most of them I knew what was trying to be explained), but it is something to pay attention to if you have less experience with statistics.

(originally posted on my blog, Bookwi.se)

15 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Walnut Creek, CA, United States
  • 09-07-13

Starts well then becomes non-Audible

I love statistics and I am comfortable with equations and numbers so maybe this is just not the right book for me. The early chapters on mean, median and mode were great, even standard deviation, but then it got a bit tedious. There was no associated PDF and no ebook companion on Audible, but lots of equations read out verbally like; “S divided by the square root of sixty two equals thirty six over seven point nine or four point six. The difference between the sample mean of one hundred and ninety four and the population mean of one hundred and sixty two is thirty two pounds or well more than three standard errors”. I love equations, but I found this stuff tedious in Audible format (thus non-Audible).

I particularly did not like the presentation of reversion to the mean. Many people misunderstand this topic, and Wheelan’s description did not seem to help. The important thing to grasp is that if you first flip ten tails then need to guess the total number of tails after a hundred flips (ninety more flips) you should guess 55 tails NOT 50 tails. Wheelan does not make any mis-statements in the section, but it seemed to me, the section leaves the incorrect impression to the uninitiated.

I generally dislike throwing in Latin for no good reason. Wheelan introduces then repeatedly uses “ceteris paribus” meaning with other things remaining the same. Why use the Latin?

The author also seems to gloss over some of the deep weaknesses of statistics. One of the key weaknesses of statistics is the world sometimes changes in wildly unexpected ways. Using statistics to make predictions about such a changing world is fraught with risk.

The narration was very good both clear, expressive and lively.

127 of 134 people found this review helpful

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  • Lisa
  • Wilmington, NC, United States
  • 07-08-13

A stats audio that I could finish

What did you love best about Naked Statistics?

He did a great job making a very complex subject understandable in audio format. I did have to go back to a couple of topics and listen again, but that is just the nature of the subject. I think I did learn a few new things.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Kate
  • Victoria, BC, Canada
  • 12-09-13

Very Well Written

Would you consider the audio edition of Naked Statistics to be better than the print version?

I think this would be better in print. There were many formulas and references to figures that, while well described, don't really transfer well to audio.

Any additional comments?

If you've taken introductory statistics, this book is almost entirely review. But it did help to clear up a couple of concepts that I never fully grasped. There are also a few interesting facts thrown in. <br/><br/>If you've never taken statistics, everything is explained very clearly and in an interesting way.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Statistics: not stripped down, but made simple

Would you try another book from Charles Wheelan and/or Jonathan Davis?

No. This book was too remedial. If he covered a topic that I had NO basis for understanding I might consider it.

Has Naked Statistics turned you off from other books in this genre?

On the contrary, I love books about statistics, math, social economics. This book summarized my old high school statists lectures, nothing more.<br/>If someone has NO understanding of basic statistics this wold be a great place to start, but if you are already a fan of he genre it seems redundant.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Davis’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Have not listened to any other performances by this narrator, so no comparision possible.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment. I was hoping for eithre more advanced statistics made simple or applied statistics. There was too mch basic math.

Any additional comments?

If someone has NO understanding of basic statistics this wold be a great place to start, but if you are already a fan of he genre it seems redundant.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Awesome

Any additional comments?

If I were dictator, I would force Charles Wheelan to sit in a cell and write until he had completed a volume like this for every branch of mathematics. I am a numbers-phobe but also a graduate student in political science who understood NOTHING about statistics when I came out of not my first -- but my second methods course. I learned more by listening to this book than I deed in two years of courses. It is awesome. I would encourage anyone who wants to know about statistics but thinks what you are learning in a statistics class is impossible and not intuitive (which is how I felt) to listen/read this book. It brings clarity to all. Thank you Mr. Wheelan!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Chris
  • arnold, MO, United States
  • 12-05-13

Entertaining with statistics

I enjoyed the author's humor and the narrator's ability to deliver that humor. This book's description of the power and misuses of statistics is similar to books like, 'The drunkards walk' and Nate Silver's "The signal and the noise". I wish I would have discovered 'Naked Statistics" first. Many of the examples and stories I had already heard in the book's I have mentioned, however the author delivers them in a much more humorous way. I could not finish the book, and this is no way due to the fault of the author or the narrator, it's only due to the fact that I had already heard the information.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • AdrianYork
  • 07-22-15

Great intro to stats

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This is one of the best introductory statistics books I've listened to or read. It covers statistics as a general topic without getting bogged down in too much detail. Therefore, people are likely to come away with a clearer understanding of the topic overall. Many introductory texts focus on specific simple tests etc. and lose the overall concepts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • dot_stockport
  • 01-04-16

pretty decent stuff!

Right. for info I'm not a stats newbie so cannot speak for those who are. This is a clear and correct account of basic stats principles with relevant examples. it's designed for a us audience, so starting with baseball averages isnt great for those of us who arent frim baseball nations, but its not baseball all the way. The reading is at the better end of the scale for a non fiction book, there is some intonation and no horrible mispronouncition, but it still seems like the reader was bored or didnt understand at points. I found it a neat quick refresher.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Nichole DeMichelis
  • 09-19-17

Patronising tone ruined an interesting subject

What would have made Naked Statistics better?

Cringe-inducing dad jokes, constant jibes about how "math is hard", the authors strange obsession with weight and sausage--- literally everything that wasn't the math made this painful. I was hoping for a simple explanation of these concepts, but I got way more than I signed up for.

Would you ever listen to anything by Charles Wheelan again?

No.

What character would you cut from Naked Statistics?

The narrator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • firemonkey
  • 12-10-13

Great intro book

If you could sum up Naked Statistics in three words, what would they be?

A well told, easy listen, intro to statistics as a whole, some of the finer (beginners') points, stories, anecdotes, references, and ethics.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Naked Statistics?

Enjoyed hearing the statistical proof that 50% of published academic papers are trash, with a 50% chance of the published proof being trash :)

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

iStatistics

Any additional comments?

No more sausage club buses please!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Rashik Parmar
  • 05-08-17

Great reminder of many of the topics learned

The book takes fact filled approach to statistics that uses modern data to show that what can be inferred.

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  • Tom Saleeba
  • 11-27-17

More than 2 standard deviations above expectations

I really enjoyed this book. Charles explains things in an interesting way and keeps it relevant to real world situations. Jonathan Davis is fantastic to listen to too :D

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  • Ken Craig
  • 06-29-17

Light hearted approach to stats but not a great audiobook

Covers the topic well. I don't feel as though I learned a lot. No original insights.

The fluff is excessive and not that interesting or amusing to be honest. And then the math comes hard and fast and not suited to audiobook form.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-21-15

Accessible intro

Well narrated and easy to follow. There were a few references to charts, but mostly worked fine in an audio book format. Good intro to basic stats and its potential applications.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful