Innumeracy savagely attacked

Crunched by numbers: Theodore Dalrymple reviews Reckoning with Risk by Gerd Gigerenzer

In order to understand them and make fully informed decisions, a comprehension of statistical reasoning is essential: a comprehension that the author of this truly indispensable book says is lacking among doctors, patients, lawyers and politicians, indeed among almost everyone who needs it. He is probably right (he can prove it with statistics as well as by anecdote) and they all ought to read his book forthwith.

The author, a German professor of psychology, has the gift of exposition, so that what at first sight might seem a dry and difficult subject becomes exciting and several times gives the reader that Eureka! feeling. The book will change the attentive reader’s way of looking at the world, or rather at information about the world, very much for the better. He will become more constructively critical and at the same time more difficult to fool.

Take (as the author does) two statistical arguments used in the O. J. Simpson trial, one for the defence and one for the prosecution, both of them false, but not obviously so until examined critically.

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The book can be purchased from Amazon [ .co.uk / .com ]

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