The Best Books To Think Clearly About Data

The Books I Picked & Why

The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

By David Spiegelhalter

The Art of Statistics: How to Learn from Data

Why this book?

Professor David Spiegelhalter is perhaps the greatest living statistical communicator – a superbly clear and reassuring voice about probability, statistics and risk. This is his masterpiece: a highly readable book that starts with the basics and takes the reader through some deep statistical concepts.


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Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

By Caroline Criado Perez

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men

Why this book?

After fifteen years thinking and writing about data, this was the book that made me sit up and realise how much I’d been missing. Perez writes with serious fire about injustice, but she also rigorously analyses what is going on. Her argument is that the world has been built with “male” as the default and “female” as a special case – whether this is the design of smartphones or the design of stab-proof vests for police officers. Nowhere is this more true than in the data we collect and the research we conduct – or, all too often, fail to collect and conduct.


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Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong about the World--And Why Things Are Better Than You Think

By Ola Rosling, Anna Rosling Rönnlund, Hans Rosling

Factfulness: Ten Reasons We're Wrong about the World--And Why Things Are Better Than You Think

Why this book?

I was lucky enough to meet Hans Rosling several times while he was alive. He was a simply magnificent communicator, a superb advocate for the power of data, a man whose optimism was always realistic and based on reality. This book, written with his daughter-in-law and son, really captures the man. It’s as though Hans is speaking – and what a voice he had.


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Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms

By Hannah Fry

Hello World: Being Human in the Age of Algorithms

Why this book?

This is a clever and highly readable guide to the brave new world of algorithms: what they are, how they work, and their strengths and weaknesses. It’s packed with stories and vivid examples, but Dr Fry is a serious mathematician and when it comes to the crunch she is well able to show it with clear and rigorous analysis.


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The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Life

By Andrew Dilnot, Michael Blastland

The Numbers Game: The Commonsense Guide to Understanding Numbers in the News, in Politics, and in Life

Why this book?

I should declare an interest here: I present a BBC Radio show that Blastland and Dilnot created. This book was effectively my “how to” manual on the way into the studio that they had vacated. It’s a wise and varied guide to the power and the pitfalls of data, poetically written and full of subtle wisdoms.


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