Math has had a good run. Its virtues were extolled during the presidential debates and in endless news stories calculated fiscal scenarios. New York Times blogger Nate Silver was pilloried by math, then vindicated. Still, mathematics and the data-driven statistics that guide decisions from Wall Street to the dugout to your insurance rates are woefully misunderstood.
“Statistics cannot be any smarter than the people who use them,” writes Dartmouth professor Charles Wheelan in his new book, Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data. Wheelan uses vivid examples—and blessedly little math—to teach us about the promises and pitfalls of data and probability.