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Standard Deviations

Flawed Assumptions, Tortured Data, and Other Ways to Lie with Statistics
Narrated by: Tim Andres Pabon
Length: 9 hrs and 20 mins
4 out of 5 stars (12 ratings)

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Summary

Did you know that baseball players whose names begin with the letter "D" are more likely to die young? Or that Asian Americans are most susceptible to heart attacks on the fourth day of the month? Or that drinking a full pot of coffee every morning will add years to your life, but one cup a day increases the risk of pancreatic cancer? All of these "facts" have been argued with a straight face by credentialed researchers and backed up with reams of data and convincing statistics.

As Nobel Prize-winning economist Ronald Coase once cynically observed, "If you torture data long enough, it will confess." Lying with statistics is a time-honored con. In Standard Deviations, economics professor Gary Smith walks us through the various tricks and traps that people use to back up their own crackpot theories. Sometimes, the unscrupulous deliberately try to mislead us. Other times, the well-intentioned are blissfully unaware of the mischief they are committing. Today, data is so plentiful that researchers spend precious little time distinguishing between good, meaningful indicators and total rubbish. Not only do others use data to fool us, we fool ourselves.

With the breakout success of Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise, the once humdrum subject of statistics has never been hotter. Drawing on breakthrough research in behavioral economics by luminaries like Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely and taking to task some of the conclusions of Freakonomics author Steven D. Levitt, Standard Deviations demystifies the science behind statistics and makes it easy to spot the fraud all around.

©2015 Gary Smith (P)2016 Gildan Media LLC

Critic reviews

"A very entertaining book about a very serious problem. We deceive ourselves all the time with statistics, and it is time we wised up." (Robert J. Shiller, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics)

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  • Andreas Johansson
  • 11-08-17

Good read for all empiricist

I have a MSc in statistics, and I have seen countless examples of miss-used statistics in medicine and economics. This book offers a great overview of the most common pitfalls, including several examples of each.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Tom
  • 08-03-17

Great examples of failing to understand methodology and lying with stats.

This book will help you become a skeptical consumer of stats and the conclusions drawn from them.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-09-18

Great and informational audio book

Great book about the assumptions that we make and ties together many differnet fields with statistics. Also great narrator!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jan Madsen
  • 25-02-18

Good but stumbles on macro economics

Very good read and certainly recommendable. Just ignore the "USA can print money to pay off its debt" nonsense in the Reinhart & Rogoff section.

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  • CalebThomas
  • 03-01-18

Not a beach read. But worth it

This book highlights all the ways people misuse statistics, and debunks a lot of common myths and pop medical reports. Definitely not for the faint of heart (or faint of mind). But if you can swim through the math it will change the way you read headlines

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  • Cliente Amazon
  • 03-02-18

Payed twice

Would you try another book from Gary Smith and/or Tim Andres Pabon?

Interesting them and competent author.

Any additional comments?

The audio book has no companion. Amazon.com.br does not provide the kindle copy for Brazilian listeners, although its tax free benefits.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Chris P.
  • 20-03-17

Authors personal Bias gets in the way

The author literally will explain how something is incorrect or should be doubted. Because it only had correlation and not causation. But he feels he can dispute it by claiming there are other correlations...

5 people found this helpful