Stat-Spotting: A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data

Bless the university presses.  They produce fascinating — and affordable! — titles.  And their catalogs are fun to peruse too.  Yesterday I received the Fall 2008 catalog from the University of California Press and picked out numerous books to buy, including this one:

Joel Best
A Field Guide to Identifying Dubious Data
 $19.95 [Thank you!]
140 pages, 5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches, 1 b/w photograph, 1 line illustration, 4 tables
October 2008, Available worldwide


“If you ever scan the newspaper, watch the TV news, or surf the blogs, you should read this charming book. If you’re a journalist [or reference librarian], read it twice.” — James M. Jasper

“As we now swim in information, much of it bogus or biased, spotting dubious data is super important. In Stat-Spotting, Joel Best plays off the format of field guides to give readers good, common sense ways not only to sense bad data but to understand what’s wrong. Broken up into short independent sections much like field guides to various flora or fauna, the book is easy and enjoyable to read. Easy, enjoyable, and valuable. I will recommend it to my students, and to others, as a resource for critical consumers of numbers.” –Bernard Madison, University of Arkansas


Are four million women really battered to death by their husbands or boyfriends each year? Does a young person commit suicide every thirteen minutes in the United States? Is methamphetamine our number one drug problem today? Alarming statistics bombard our daily lives, appearing in the news, on the Web, seemingly everywhere. But all too often, even the most respected publications present numbers that are miscalculated, misinterpreted, hyped, or simply misleading. Following on the heels of his highly acclaimed Damned Lies and Statistics and More Damned Lies and Statistics, Joel Best now offers this practical field guide to help everyone identify questionable statistics. Entertaining, informative, and concise, Stat-Spotting is essential reading for people who want to be more savvy and critical consumers of news and information.

Stat-Spotting features:

* Pertinent examples from today’s news, including the number of deaths reported in Iraq, the threat of secondhand smoke, the increase in the number of overweight Americans, and many more

* A commonsense approach that doesn’t require advanced math or statistics

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