Books January 2015
A review of How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking by Jordan Ellenberg.
To write a book with a title like this you need to get everything right (check), explain the math without glossing over anything (check), and do it with words (and maybe a few figures and graphs) but no equations or formulas (check). This is a book to be taken seriously as mathematical exposition for the ordinary intelligent reader. As Ellenberg rightly says, “mathematics is the extension of common sense by other means.” That is a perspective conducive to giving the ordinary reader an insight into the concepts that give mathematics its power, while staying anchored in our ordinary knowledge of how the world works.
At the center of the book are explanations of certain statistical concepts that provide tools for understanding the mass of quantitative data that informs, or should inform, policy decisions in business, government, economics, science, and medicine. The custom of having the country run by people with humanistic skills and law...
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