Today we think statistics are the enemy, numbers used to mislead and confuse us. That's a mistake, Tim Harford says. We shouldn't be suspicious of statistics-we need to understand what they mean and how they can improve our lives: they are, at heart, human behavior seen through the prism of numbers and are often "the only way of grasping much of what is going on around us."
Mr. Harford, a British economist and journalist, hopes to persuade us not to give up on data, urging us to embrace thoughtful skepticism and avoid easy cynicism. As he expertly guides us through the many ways in which data can trick us, we see how difficult such an effort can be.
Conquering the intimidating world of statistics is a daunting task, but Harford has a knack for making complex subjects accessible. On the surface, this is about making use of statistics, but at its core, Harford’s book is focused on encouraging readers to maintain a sense of curiosity about information and data. He presents ten rules, which he expertly weaves into historical contexts to explain the importance of each tenet. These rules will not trigger flashbacks to math class or economics 101, instead they have to do with intuition and asking the right questions. The Data Detective is sure to be another success from Harford, and is a powerful tool, especially in the current climate, one that will give readers the confidence to delve into data and statistics in a new and meaningful way.