01/06/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts
pub: Penguin. 310 page illustrated indexed small paperback. Price: £ 3.50 (UK) if you know where to look. ISBN: 0-140-29786-3.
check out website: www.penguin.com
I thought I ought to have a look at this book after it getting a mention in 'False Science' that I reviewed last month. Before you start tearing your hair out as to why should you be interested in statistics let alone understanding how to interpret it, read on. I mean, it's not like you haven't seen enough about it in the media in UK over the election month. The real question that author Gerd Gigerenzer addresses is how you interpret the data. I mean, if you understand 1% means one in a hundred then you might not need this book. But when that information is applied to the odds of getting breast cancer, HIV and even DNA finger-printing then you can see if being applied to the real world. Gigerenzer also points out that very few professional people can understand what it means and has actual demonstration of that in his native Germany.
You don't get bogged down with too much maths although with his technique you can't help translating percentages into actual numbers and your chances of getting anything. When so many of these things is decided by how much risk you are in, then you should come away from this book if not better informed then capable of making sensible gambles.
Gigerenzer does spend a good chunk of this book pointing out the statistics related to breast cancer compared to the other subjects in the book. Whether this was because this was his subject or targeting a female audience is something you'll have to work out the odds out for yourself. An interesting read.
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