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The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics by…
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The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics

by Grady Klein

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This is indeed a marvelous introduction to the concepts behind statistical analysis, with clear emphasis on the inherently tentative nature of any statistical conclusion. In wacky scenario after wacky scenario, the cartoon characters who populate this good-sized book encounter problems that require statistical analysis and attempt to resolve them using introductory methods, all the while reiterating the fact that they’re dealing in probabilities and not certainties.

From a pedagogical perspective, I really appreciate a few different choices the authors made in this and the previous volumes. First, each major concept or theory to be introduced has its own weird situation: for teaching about the central limit theorem, there’s a giant barn full of hypothetical cans of worms, stacked by average worm length in each can, for instance. And whenever the CLT is discussed in later portions of the book, the cans of worms are brought back up visually as well as verbally, so the visual aid really reminds you of the whole thing you learned a couple of chapters ago. And second, there’s a lot of that kind of repetition and a lot of acknowledgement of the reader’s likely comprehension struggles. In fact, there’s sometimes a little more repetition than necessary, which for the casual reader isn’t quite as fun, though I can see it’d be really useful for someone using the book as a study guide or refresher.

As a person who’s never formally studied statistics, I can’t say for certain just how useful this book would be as a student or teacher in the subject. But I can say it’s engaging and fun and makes me consider (again) taking a course or two at the community college, just because. I even tried comprehending the “Math Cave” at the end of the book and mostly succeeded–though the few real statistical formulas included stretched my wimpy math muscles to the limit. So, all in all, I think this is a great visual introduction to statistics, especially (though not exclusively) for the just-curious reader.

(A tad more may be found here.)
  InfoQuest | Nov 14, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809033593, Paperback)

A hilarious and bold graphic adventure into the world of big data

Statistics help us create Internet technologies, develop medicines, win elections, invest in stocks, predict the weather, and much more. But the methods that produce important numbers remain beyond many of us. How do we determine the proper size of a sample? How, exactly, do we calculate standard deviation? And just what is the central limit theorem?
     In The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics, Grady Klein and Alan Dabney cut through the confusion and take us on a tour of this dynamic subject, helping us stay afloat on the sea of data that is our increasingly complex world. Separating the book into two main parts (hunting statistics and gathering parameters) for readers both in and outside the classroom, they explore the key foundational concepts of statistics and the perils of improper methods. They round out the book with the “Math Cave,” which provides easy access to the formulas every student will want to have close at hand.
     Through cheeky and irreverent examples bound to engage anyone grappling with the difference between histograms and boxplots, Klein and Dabney have created a rollicking narrative about the best ways to make confident statements based on limited information. Timely, authoritative, and a pleasure to read, The Cartoon Introduction to Statistics is an essential guide for students and for curious readers who want to better understand the world around them.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:42:51 -0400)

A journey into the world of big data introduces the methods used to produce numerical information with accessible coverage of such foundational concepts as sample sizes, standard deviation calculations, and the central limit theorem.

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