We are inundated by scientific and statistical information, but what should we believe? How much should we trust the polls on the latest electoral campaign? When a physician tells us that a diagnosis of cancer is 90% certain or a scientist informs us that recent studies support global warming, what should we conclude? How can we acquire reliable statistical information? Once we have it, how do we evaluate it? Despite the importance of these questions to our lives, many of us have only a vague idea of how to answer them.
In this admirably clear and engaging book, Mark Battersby provides a practical guide to thinking critically about scientific and statistical information. The goal of the book is not only to explain how to identify misleading statistical information, but also to give readers the understanding necessary to evaluate and use statistical and statistically based scientific information in their own decision making.
Mark Battersby is Professor of Philosophy at Capilano University.
"Using timely and important examples, Professor Battersby provides a careful and well-documented discussion of statistics, and does this without sacrificing liveliness or readability. Is That a Fact? is a fascinating book about statistics to give to all your friends."
"Is That a Fact? should be compulsory reading for every journalist, especially anyone calling themselves a 'science writer' or 'investigative reporter'. This sometimes humorous and well illustrated guide to the world of data, graphs, and statistics is well written and fun to read. Finally we learn the difference between a correlation and an association and how to tell one from the other. Battersby also shows how to spot classic fallacies of reasoning, and how to read scientific articles with a critical eye. Highly recommended."
"One of the intellectual currents of our time has been a revolution in the study of reasoning and argument. Philosophers and other academics have broadened their horizons and turned their attention to the study and analysis of the reasoning, arguments and attempts at persuasion that inundate our lives. Mark Battersby has been an integral part of the movement in this direction. In Is That A Fact? he provides an engaging and thoroughly readable introduction to critical thinking on statistical and scientific claims. It can usefully inform the thinking of everyone who has to contend with such claims in their professional or personal lives."
"Is That a Fact? provides an entertaining and enlightening tour of the often confusing world of probability and statistics, always with an eye on their proper role in good reasoning. A delightful discussion that beautifully clarifies what is all too often confusing or just plain confused. The book help will ordinary citizens to better understand and evaluate all sorts of scientific claims as they occur in the popular press and public policy debates. Hats off to Mark Battersby!"
"Is That a Fact? is conceived as an updating for the Internet Age of Darrell Huff's immensely popular 1954 classic, How to Lie With Statistics, with a somewhat broader focus. ...The book is studded with extensive discussions of real-life examples that touch on matters of concern to everyone, such as the health risks of second-hand smoke and cell-phone use. It is amply illustrated with figures, charts and cartoons that bring home key points vividly. ...Huff's book has sold more than a million copies. Is That A Fact? deserves a similarly large readership."