We take a respite from our darkness-cursing for a bit of candle-lighting.
Suppose you were convinced that the susceptibility of the voting public to statistical b.s. (as for example the claim that “faith-based” prison programs have been shown to reduce recidivism) constituted a major threat to the viability of republican government in an increasingly complex and data-drenched world. And suppose further that you wanted to do something about it. What might that be?
Here’s a suggestion: buy two copies of What the Numbers Say, one for you and one to give away.
The book is a joy, written in a breezy style and with a wealth of examples. It’s build around two simple ideas: quantitative reasoning is essential, and it doesn’t have much to do with “math” either in the axiom-theorem-proof sense or the memorize-this-formula sense. What Niederman and Boyum call “quantitative reasoning” is just applying common sense to situations where quantity — “more” or “less” — matters.
Full disclosure: David Boyum is a long-time friend and sometime collaborator.