A Reading List for Stats Fans

Andrew Gelman, a statistician at Columbia University, offers some reading suggestions for fans of statistics (no, they are not as numerous as fans of, say, Harry Potter, but still …). On his list: The Bill James Baseball Abstracts, Judgement Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases, How Animals Work, The Honest Rainmaker and How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk. “The math that we can all understand from high school is just not going to be enough to capture the interesting features of real world patterns,” says Gelman. “Statistics, however, can capture a lot more patterns at a less technical level, because statistics, unlike mathematics, is all about uncertainty and variation. So all the books that I thought of, they’re all non-technical, but they’re all about variation and comparison and patterns.” [%comments]

Carl Lavin

I was captivated by "Super Crunchers," the descriptions of how anyone can use huge sets of data to make predictions (what is the best title for a book, when will a baby be born). It doesn't hurt that the author, Ian Ayres, contributes to this blog.


"... statistics, unlike mathematics, is all about uncertainty and variation."

I hope Gelman's intention is that the word "all" is the part that's unlike mathematics; otherwise he has a gross misunderstanding of what mathematics is (or perhaps is unaware of anything beyond "[t]he math that we can all understand from high school").


@Greg: I strongly expect that Dr. Gelman knows about mathematics, given that he has an S.B. in mathematics (and an S.B. in physics) from some little school called MIT.

Gelman's writing for a general audience here (and most members of a general audience haven't, say, taken courses in non-Euclidean geometry or diff eqs). He made explicit that he is using "mathematics" as "the mathematics that we can all understand from high school" (where most people stop with basic geometry or algebra II).

BTW, if you want to find out about who Gelman actually is (instead of casting aspersions on him), just follow the handy link the Freakonomics folks provided; that leads directly to his page, which has his CV, which would then tell you that, yep, he knows his math.