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REVIEW: "Head First Statistics", Dawn Griffiths

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  • Rob, grandpa of Ryan, Trevor, Devon & Han
    BKHFSTAT.RVW 20081203 Head First Statistics , Dawn Griffiths, 2009, 978-0-596-52758-7, U$34.99/C$34.99 %A Dawn Griffiths %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A,
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 20, 2009
      BKHFSTAT.RVW 20081203

      "Head First Statistics", Dawn Griffiths, 2009, 978-0-596-52758-7,
      %A Dawn Griffiths
      %C 103 Morris Street, Suite A, Sebastopol, CA 95472
      %D 2009
      %G 978-0-596-52758-7 0-596-52758-6
      %I O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
      %O U$34.99/C$34.99 800-998-9938 707-829-0515 nuts@...
      %O http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596527586/robsladesinterne
      %O http://www.amazon.ca/exec/obidos/ASIN/0596527586/robsladesin03-20
      %O Audience i- Tech 2 Writing 1 (see revfaq.htm for explanation)
      %P 677 p.
      %S Head First
      %T "Head First Statistics"

      As with other similarly introductory books, there is a summary table
      of contents followed by a second, more detailed one. In this work,
      there is also an explanatory paragraph, for each chapter, in the
      itemized table. In the introduction, the author states that the
      reader of this text will learn to use statistics, for whatever purpose
      they may wish, in a stimulating and easy manner. (Most of the
      introduction is a promotion for the visual, conversational, and
      emotional style of the Head First series.)

      Chapter one champions the idea of visualizing information. Charts and
      graphs are explained, but the examples are sometimes forced.
      Determining the central tendency can be problematic, and chapter two
      raises the issues of concern, but doesn't really resolve them.
      (Confidence in the book is not helped by arithmetic errors: 10,000
      multiplied by 1.1 does not equal 12,000.) Range, quartiles, box
      plots, standard deviation, and standard score are all means of
      measuring variability, but the conversational style of the material
      does not help once we get into the more advanced topics, and the
      content starts to become confusing at this point. Chapter four does
      fine on calculation of the basic probabilities, but, again, the move
      into set theory and dependencies strains this format. (As a security
      analyst I was particularly interested to see how Bayesian functions
      were handled, but this section was far too terse to be useful.) The
      formulae for discrete probability distribution are presented fairly in
      chapter five, and the inclusion of permutation is handled in six, but
      when we get to geometric, binomial, and poisson distribution in seven,
      the style is once again impeding the explanation.

      Chapters eight and nine, using the normal distribution, are really
      starting to get into calculus. Statistical sampling, in chapter ten,
      is primarily involved in issues of sample choice, rather than
      mathematics. Chapter eleven does use some of the calculations
      introduced previously to predict, based on random populations. Using
      material from chapters three and four, chapter twelve examines issues
      of confidence in our figures. Testing of statistically-based claims,
      as well as standard error types, is covered in chapter thirteen.
      Chapter fourteen introduces the chi-squared distribution for goodness-
      of-fit and independence. Correlation and regression are dealt with in
      chapter fifteen.

      On the title page is a photograph of a teenaged girl with a thought
      balloon reading, "Wouldn't it be dreamy if there was a statistics book
      that was more fun than an overdue trip to the dentist? But it's
      probably just a fantasy ..." Unfortunately, for this book, that wish
      does seem to be relegated to the realms of the fantastic. There are
      parts of the book that are fun. There are parts that explain
      statistics. However, they aren't the same parts ...

      copyright Robert M. Slade, 2009 BKHFSTAT.RVW 20081203

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      rslade@... slade@... rslade@...
      Doubtless you are the people, and wisdom will die with you! But
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