It is difficult for me to imagine many vocations or arguments where you would not use and need to react to STATISTICS. “Studies show” is a regular part of serious discussions. In addition we use “evidence shows” on a regular basis to buttress arguments. And even if we do not, others will be inundating us with data and research results to move our minds in one direction or another.
I understand (I really do.) that many are anxious around numbers in any form. I recall very well the palpable discomfort of my peers in law school in a class called “Accounting for Lawyers” whenever a simple balance sheet was placed on the overhead. And I think the anxiety is enhanced by the efforts of many of us who do have an appreciation for statistics. We want so badly to teach what we know that we want to share everything we know about statistics, and in that excitement we go too fast and flood the fearful with many marginally important elements that are indeed difficult for many people to understand.
I discovered a book that understands this anxiety and explains all the statistics most of us have much use for with a light humorous touch. The prose is accessible; at times the reader new to statistics will need to reread and reflect, but that attribute is present in any thoughtful book teaching new skills.
But best of all from my perspective the book is written by a statistician with no discernible tendency to oversell statistics. He does not confuse statistical significance of data with its social significance. And critical thinkers will appreciate his cautions concerning the interpretation of statistics.
Take a look at Charles Wheelan’s, NAKED STATISTICS: STRIPPING THE DREAD FROM THE DATA.