Applying Statistics to
the Important, Unexpected or Fascinating

Compiled by Ramón V. León, University of
Tennessee.

· To get credit for a book report on any of
these books students need to use this book report template.

· Reports on short videos and the like can be
more informal. In particular, students would not need to use the template to
write their reports.

· 15% of your grade comes from the reports

Reports
on books 1 and 2 and video 4

Reports
on books 1 and 3 and video 4

1. *Principles of Applied Statistics* by D. R. Cox and Christl A.
Donnelly. David Cox and Christl Donnelly distil decades of
scientific experience into usable principles for the successful application of
statistics, showing how good statistical strategy shapes every stage of an
investigation. As you advance from research or policy question, to study
design, through modeling and interpretation, and finally to meaningful
conclusions, this book will be a valuable guide. D. R. Cox is one of the most revered statistician alive for his contributions to XX century
statistics.

2. *Calculated Risks: How to Know When Numbers
Deceive You** *by Gerd Gigerenzer. This
important book not only shows how one can make mistakes interpreting
probabilistic statements in the press and such, but develops an approach for
thinking about probability that one can use to avoid mistakes and make
probabilistic statements meaningful to the intelligent layman. This book has
had substantial impact on how probability is taught to doctors.

3. *Uncontrolled:
The Surprising Payoff of Trial-and-Error for Business, Politics, and Society*
by Jim Manzi. This book gives criteria for effective experimentation in many
areas from astronomy to social policy.

4. *The Theory That Would Not Die: How Bayes' Rule Cracked the
Enigma Code, Hunted Down Russian Submarines, and Emerged Triumphant from Two
Centuries of Controversy* by Sharon
Bertsch McGrayne. This book received rave reviews in the *New York Times
Book Reviews*, *Scientific American* and Science magazine.

5. *The Danger of Science Denial
*by Michael Specter.
This TED talks discusses numerous dangerous mistakes
that the public makes because they do not understand science or even worse deny
it.

6.
*Thinking, Fast and Slow* by Daniel Kahneman. Selected by
the *New York Times* as one of the ten
best books of 2011. Daniel Kahneman was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in
Economics. He is notable for his work on the
psychology of judgment and decision-making, behavioral economics and hedonic
psychology. With Amos Tversky and others, Kahneman established a cognitive
basis for common human errors using heuristics and biases. Many of the errors
that he identified they pointed out are the result of a poor understanding of
probability and statistics.

7. *The Black Swan: The Impact of
the Highly Improbable*
by** **Nassim Nicholas Taleb**.**). This was a NYT best-seller for two
years; and even now is one the top selling paperbacks listed in the New York
Times (NYT). The new ideas
presented in this book are considered very important by top thinkers such as
Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman the
seminal thinker with Amos Tversky of *Behavioral
Economics*. Personally, this book changed in a radical way how I
think about the application of the normal distribution to answer questions in
the real world. Other, share my experience. One of the applications of his
thinking concerns the failure of the risk models used in finance in
anticipating the (almost?) financial breakdown resulting from the sub-prime
loan crisis.

8.
*Red State, Blue State, Rich
State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do (Expanded Edition)
*by
Andrew Gelman. A masterful use of data to understand why voters vote the way
they do. I have not read this book but will as I teach the class. I lieu of my commentary here are
excerpts from three book reviews:

· This book already analyzes far more data than do most. On that note, it is worth lauding another of this book's strengths: its rich graphical presentation of evidence. Its numerous figures often allow the reader to see the data and to draw one's own inferences, and they render the book accessible to those with little statistical training. -- Gabriel S. Lenz, Public Opinion Quarterly

·
Gelman and a group of fellow political scientists
crunch numbers and draw graphs, arriving at a picture that refutes the [idea] .
. . of poor red-states voting Republican against their economic interests.
Instead, Gelman persuasively argues, the poor in both red states and blue still
mostly vote Democratic, and the rich, nationally speaking, overwhelmingly vote
Republican. -- Leo Carey, New Yorker

·
Gelman works his way, state by state, to help us
better understand the relationship of class, culture, and voting. The book is a
terrific read and offers much insight into the changing electoral landscape. --
Sudhir Venkatesh, Freakonomics blog

9. *The Drunkard's
Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives* by Leonard Mlodinow. A wonderful read
that made it to the NYT’s best-sellers list.
Mlodinow is one of the best contemporary popular science writers and a
physicist. He coauthored with the physicist Stephen Hawking the book *The Gran Design* which also made it to the
NYT’s best-sellers list. A friend of mine who is a professional physicist
found the philosophical ideas in this book about physics and its applications
to cosmology important.

15.*The Emergence of Probability: A Philosophical Study of
Early Ideas about Probability, Introduction and Statistical Inference*
by Ian Hacking. Hacking is one of the greatest Twentieth Century philosophers
of science. I read this book about thirty years ago as a graduate student. This
book is actually very easy to read.

16.*The Taming of Chance* by Ian Hacking. This
book was selected by The Modern Library as one of the 100 most important
non-fiction books published in English in the twentieth century. I have only
read the beginning of this book, but I found I read fascinating. Since I cannot
comment on it myself here is Amazon’s description of it:

· In this important new study Ian Hacking continues the enquiry
into the origins and development of certain characteristic modes of
contemporary thought undertaken in such previous works as his best-selling
Emergence of Probability. Professor Hacking shows how by the late nineteenth
century it became possible to think of statistical patterns as explanatory in
themselves, and to regard the world as not necessarily deterministic in
character. Combining detailed scientific historical research with
characteristic philosophic breath and verve, The Taming of Chance brings out
the relations among philosophy, the physical sciences, mathematics and the
development of social institutions, and provides a unique and authoritative
analysis of the "probabilization" of the Western world.

17.*The Myth of the Rational
Voter: Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies* by Bryan Caplan. This technical,
but still accessible book shows how voters vote against their interests because
they lack an elementary knowledge of statistics and economics. A large number
of empirical studies are presented by the author to buttress their conclusions.
The truth is that I did not read this book (except for the beginning) so my
comments here are largely based on some book reviews that I read (though I own
the book.) I simply found the book very dry and boring for me to want to read
it, in spite of all my good intentions because this book is supposed to be an
important book that breaks new ground in the scientific study of voter
behavior. One the basis of the research in this book *Nicholas Kristof*
of the NYT made a strong argument that elementary statistics and economics
should be part of every high school curricula.

18.*Scientific Reasoning: The Bayesian Approach, Second
Edition* by Colin Howson and Peter Urbach. This book is somewhat
hard to read, but it is still accessible to the intelligent layman. This book
discusses what the authors think is wrong with classical statistics and how the
Bayesian approach overcomes these problems. Bayesian methods have been almost
fully accepted by applied statistician since new computational techniques were
developed that made the application of Bayesian statistics practical.

19.*The Tiger That Isn't: Seeing Through a World of Numbers*
by Michael Blastland and Andrew
Dilnot. Errors that
people make interpreting statistics reported in the press. Short and a lot of
fun to read with a lot of practical insights.

20.*Innumeracy:
Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences* by John Allen Paulos. This book was a NYT
best-seller. Another great book on the consequences of ignorance about
mathematics and derived sciences such as statistics. This book led to many more
books of the kind by other authors because (I think) Paulos book made so much
money.

22.*THE FIRST MEASURED
CENTURY: An Illustrated Guide to Trends in America, 1900–2000*** **by
Theodore Caplow, Louis Hicks and Ben J. Wattenberg is a book about social
change in the United States during the twentieth century. It relies on
statistical trends to tell that awesome story. This is the book
accompanying a three-hour PBS series for which the footing is available and the
book is available free at their web site.

23.*Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to
Be Smart *by Ian
Ayres. This very
easy to read book discusses how statistics gives a competitive advantage to
businesses that uses it, especially, regression and randomized comparative studies.
The book has about fifty
interesting applications including how to predict the quality of wine, how to
predict which potential recruits will turn out to be good baseball players in
the major leagues, and which movies will do well based on their script. This
book is great for those who like to learn how one can use statistics to make
businesses more competitive. This book would also be of great interest to the
young who would like to see what a professional statistician can do.

24.*The
Numerati** *by Stephen Baker. How
assorted number crunchers use our shopping, blogging, phoning and Web surfing
habits to track and influence our behavior. These people sometimes know more
about us than we do. This book would also be of great
interest to the young who would like to see what a professional statistician
can do.

25.*Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game*
by Michael Lewis. How
the *Oakland Athletics* used statistics to almost
get to the World Series in spite of having one the smallest budget of any major
baseball team in the league. This book would be of great interest to the young
and the young in spirit. This book led to the movie *Money Ball*
starting Brad Pitt.

26.*How to Lie With
Statistics* by Darrell
Huff (Author) and Irving Geis (Illustrator). This is a classic that one could
say almost every statistician owns. It was one of the first books that
discussed how badly presented statistical plots in the press mislead us.

27.*The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized
Science in the Twentieth Century* by David Salsburg. A very light
introduction to the history of statistics in the Twentieth Century. Light on
concepts and full of fluff, but it has great stories about the statisticians
who developed statistics in the Twentieth Century.