#### Top positive review

*4.0 out of 5 stars*Okay overview of the very basics

Reviewed in the United States on July 15, 2020

I already have a good knowledge of statistics but got this to as a general reference, since it is more succinct than many other stats books.

For actually learning, I think this book is good if you struggle with basic concepts like standard deviations, z-scores and dice roll probabilities. If you are taking your first stats class in college, this book by itself would maybe get you to a B (depending on the teacher). The material ends at linear regression, and doesn't say much more about it that isn't obvious, so I don't think this will teach you any techniques that would actually be useful in the real world. It will however give you part of a foundation for learning those.

I think the book falls into the common trap of similar books that try to make complicated concepts accessible. It spends way too much time overexplaining the easy parts of the subject, which is probably already not hard for most people. The middling material is not given as much attention, so is not that much easier. However I feel that stats textbooks often have a particularly bad habit of overcomplicating simple things, so relative to those this one is quite good. It will only put you to sleep a little bit. When you get to the hardest parts of the subject, the whole accessibility begins to fall apart in the face of irreducible complexity, and the veneer of simplification actually makes it harder to understand. This one ends with regression, and I found that chapter confusing despite already knowing regression. Although then again, most other stats books are even worse. However, usually when I'm looking for a simplified description of a subject, I'm interested in the simplification of the hard parts. I figure that if I need a simplified version for the easy parts, the harder parts will be hopeless anyway, so the problem is that I lack some important foundation rather than how the material is explained. Maybe the assumption is that most people never finish the book so its better if the early chapters are done best, but the early chapters of this would cover maybe your first midterm. And usually that is not the one you need help with.

Ordinarily I love concrete examples and vignettes for explaining stats because I think it's not really a complicated subject, it's just easy to get lost when you don't have the right intuition. However the cartoons and stories in this book don't really add much, they have a lot of filler that just tells a story to tell a story, and doesn't actually help explain the concept at hand. Maybe if the material was new to me they would help ward off boredom. The humor is pretty dated but to the point of being quaint, so I can't really fault it, having indeed been amused if not in the intended way. It might have been better to include humor *about* statistics, rather than barely relevant jokes that sort of tangentially reference statistics.

Statistics is the kind of subject where just learning 10% of it gives you some useful tools for understanding a few common real-world situations (including those studied by other subjects) and learning about 30% will equip you to deal with most situations you face when not deliberately looking for tough problems, ie. doing statistics research. This book gives you about 5% which is to say it teaches you enough to solve toy problems, but falls short of teaching you to apply it to real ones. For example it teaches the t-test for comparing normally distributed variables, which is indeed a very useful test. But often variables are not actually normal. There's usually some tricks you can do to fix that (eg. taking the log), but the book doesn't go into it. Or it doesn't cover the chi-square test, which is closely related and arguably comes up more often in life (and almost as often in stats exams).

As I said, if you read this book very carefully it will give you okay understanding. If you want a good understanding the best thing is probably to find someone to show it to you with realistic examples. As far as learning from books, I would consider this one a warm up before you start on the real thing.