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The Number Bias Reviews

The Number Bias by Sanne Blauw

The Number Bias: How Numbers Lead and Mislead Us

Sanne Blauw

4.00 out of 5

3 reviews

Category: Non-fiction
Imprint: Sceptre
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date: 1 Apr 2021
ISBN: 9781529342772
4 stars out of 5
9 Aug 2020

"A provocative look at how we can be misled by numbers"

Blauw is impeccably clear, and only once had me scratching my head with her explanation of the “p-value”, the statistical measure of the importance of a correlation. (I had to look up other sources, and I’m still not sure I get it so maybe it wasn’t her fault.)

And don’t be put off by the rather flat title. The original Dutch edition was called The Biggest Bestseller Ever (With This Title), a joke that gives a better idea of what to expect from this playful, provocative book.

Reviews

4 stars out of 5
Steven Poole
15 Jul 2020

"a punchy, sardonic history of the deliberate misuse of correlations"

In such a brief survey, some of her topics inevitably beg for deeper treatment: the discussion of p-hacking (a way of massaging numbers to make something look significant) in scientific research, for example, is explained at more satisfying length in George Zaidan’s excellent recent book, Ingredients. But the digestibility of Blauw’s offering is also a public virtue in itself, if it encourages more people to read it and immunise themselves against the virality of numerical disinformation.

4 stars out of 5
Daniel Finkelstein
3 Jul 2020

"Maths is a language, but even if you are fluent, it’s easy to misunderstand someone when they speak it"

This is a valuable short book. For those who aren’t very statistically minded it is a simple introductory guide on how to avoid pitfalls when using data. Those who know a bit more will find many of the arguments familiar, but they are well marshalled, with good stories. And you can never read the points Blauw makes too often.