Kaiser Fung is a professional statistician with over a
decade of experience applying statistical methods to marketing and
advertising businesses. He holds an MBA from Harvard Business School, in
addition to degrees from Princeton and Cambridge Universities. He is Vice
President of Business Intelligence and Analytics at Vimeo, a high-quality
video hosting platform for creative people. He previously worked at Sirius
XM Radio, American Express, [X+1], Exodus Communications, and Sonus
Networks. His acclaimed blog, Junk Charts (http://junkcharts.typepad.com),
pioneered the critical examination of data and graphics in the mass media.
He is also an adjunct professor at New York University teaching practical
statistics. Biography 2013:
Kaiser Fung blogs at Junk Charts (JunkCharts.Typepad.com) where he "critiques and reconstitutes graphics
from the mainstream press." while "recycling chart junk as junk art."
Pop-stats books and Statistical Education
- Kaiser Fung, New York Univ. 2011 ASA JSM
How to Use Big Data to Your Advantage
by Kaiser Fung
Amazon Jun 20, 2013
Everyday Statistics is the book that makes introductory
probability and statistics simple, accessible and engaging for high school
and college students of all ages. Its clear, visual presentation brings
usually confusing statistical topics alive for students; engaging examples,
cute stories, and relatable subject matter make key statistical topics more
fun and more memorable; detailed, step-by-step explorations of
often-confusing calculations help even struggling students to feel
Table of Contents
PART 1. SOCIAL DATA
1. Why do Law School Deans Send Each other junk Mail?
2. Can a New Statistic Make Us Less Fat?
PART 2: MARKETING DATA
3. How Can Sellouts Ruin a Business
4. Will Personalizing Deals Save Groupon?
5. Why Do Marketers Send You Mixed Messages?
PART 3: ECONOMIC DATA
6. Are They New Jobs If No One Can Apply?
7. How Much Did You Pay for the Eggs?
PART 4: SPORTING DATA
8. Are You a Better Coach or Manager?
"we live in
a world of Big Data, where there is no escape from people hustling numbers.
With more data, the number of possible analyses explodes exponentially.
More analyses produce more smoke. The need to keep our heads clear has
never been more urgent. P. 4
"My idea of big data is more
expansive than the industry standard [terabytes]. The reason why we
should care is is not more data, but more data analyses." P. 4.
"People in industry who wax on
about Big Data take it for granted that more data begets more good.
Does one have to follow the other? When more people are performing
more analyses more quickly , there are more theories, more points of view,
more complexity, more conflicts and more confusions. There is less
clarity, less consensus and less confidence." P. 11
Numbersense is difficult to
teach in a traditional classroom setting. There are general principles
but no cookbook. It cannot be automated. Textbook examples do
not transfer to the real world. Lecture materials elevate general
concepts by cutting out precisely those elements that would have burned a
practioner's analysis time. The best way to nurture Numbersense is by direct
practice or by learning from others." P. 14-15
Welcome to the era of Big data,
and look out!" P. 15
No subjective metric can escape
strategic gaming. ... The possibility of mischief is bottomless.
Fighting ratings is fruitless, as they satisfy a very human need. If
one scheme is beaten down, another will take its place and wear its flaws.
Big Data just deepens the danger. The more complex the rating
formulas, the more numerous the opportunities there are to dress up the
numbers. The larger the data sets, the hard it is to audit them.
Having NUMBERSENSE means: * Not taking published data at face value.
* Knowing what questions to ask. * Having a nose for doctored
statistics. * P. 40
How to make simple sense of complex statistics--from the
author of Numbers Rule Your World.
We live in a world of Big Data--and it's getting bigger
every day. Virtually every choice we make hinges on how someone generates
data . . . and how someone else interprets it--whether we realize it or not.
Where do you send your child for the best education? Big
Data. Which airline should you choose to ensure a timely arrival? Big Data.
Who will you vote for in the next election? Big Data.
The problem is, the more data we have, the more difficult
it is to interpret it. From world leaders to average citizens, everyone is
prone to making critical decisions based on poor data interpretations.
In Numbersense, expert statistician Kaiser Fung explains
when you should accept the conclusions of the Big Data "experts"--and when
you should say, "Wait . . . what?" He delves deeply into a wide range of
topics, offering the answers to important questions, such as:
How does the college ranking system really work? Can an
obesity measure solve America's biggest healthcare crisis? Should you trust
current unemployment data issued by the government? How do you improve your
fantasy sports team? Should you worry about businesses that track your data?
Don't take for granted statements made in the media, by
our leaders, or even by your best friend. We're on information overload
today, and there's a lot of bad information out there.
Numbersense gives you the insight
into how Big Data interpretation works--and how it too often doesn't work.
You won't come away with the skills of a professional statistician. But you
will have a keen understanding of the data traps even the best statisticians
can fall into, and you'll trust the mental alarm that goes off in your head
when something just doesn't seem to add up.
Praise for Numbersense
"Numbersense correctly puts the emphasis not on the size
of big data, but on the analysis of it. Lots of fun stories, plenty of
lessons learned—in short, a great way to acquire your own sense of numbers!"
Thomas H. Davenport, coauthor of Competing on Analytics and
President’s Distinguished Professor of IT and Management, Babson College
"Kaiser’s accessible business book will blow your mind
like no other. You’ll be smarter, and you won’t even realize it. Buy. It.
Now." Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist, Google, and author,
Web Analytics 2.0.
"Each story in Numbersense goes deep into what you have to
think about before you trust the numbers. Kaiser Fung ably demonstrates that
it takes skill and resourcefulness to make the numbers confess their
meaning." John Sall, Executive Vice President, SAS Institute
"Kaiser Fung breaks the bad news—a ton more data is no
panacea—but then has got your back, revealing the pitfalls of analysis with
stimulating stories from the front lines of business, politics, health care,
government, and education. The remedy isn’t an advanced degree, nor is it
common sense. You need Numbersense." Eric Siegel, founder, Predictive
Analytics World, and author, Predictive Analytics.
Numbers Rule Your World: The
Hidden Influence of Probabilities and Statistics on Everything You Do
by Kaiser Fung.
January 25, 2010
Table of Contents:
1. Fast Passes / Slow Merges: The
Discontent of Being Averaged.
2. Bagged Spinach / Bad
Score: The Virtue of Being Wrong.
3. Item Bank / Risk Pool:
The Dilemma of Being Together.
4. Timid Testers / Magic
Lassos: The Sway of Being Asymmetric.
5. Jet Crashes / Jackpots:
The Power of Being Impossible.
1. The Discontent of Being Averaged.
Always ask about variability.
Averages are like sleeping pills: they put you in
a state of stupor and if you overdose, they may kill you.
Statistical thinking begins with noticing and
Variability leads to uncertainty which creates anxiety.
2. The Virtue of Being
Wrong. Pick useful over true
3. The Dilemma of Being
Together. Compare like with like
4. The Sway of Being
Asymmetric. Heed the give-and-take of two errors
5. Power of Being
Impossible. Don't believe what is too rare to be true
"The present obsession with data warehouses and
data-mining systems in the service of national security will surely face, as
the statistical science of predicting rare events cannot provide sufficient
precision to cope with the heavy costs of both false-positive and
false-negative mistakes. 'Better than chance' is surely not
sufficient." P. 197.
"Simpson's Paradox: the
simultaneous and seemingly contradictory finding that no difference exists
between high-ability blacks and high-ability whites; no difference exists
between low-ability whites and low-ability blacks; and when both groups are
combined, blacks fare significantly worse than whites. To our
amazement, the act of aggregation manufactures an apparent racial gap."
"While reading this book, it may dawn on you that
numbers of all kinds rule your world. When you drive on the highway,
engineers are measuring your speed at the one-and off-ramps. If your
family goes to Walt Disney World, you may notice that cameras pick up your
movement between rides, or you may bump into Len Testa or his crew counting
heads. You now know that credit scores don't have to make sense in
order to work in your favor. But when the FDA recalls this food or
that, you would want to know if the agency has located those lot codes.
If you or your children have taken a standardized test, you should know how
the test developers choose questions that are fair to everyone. Those
living in hazard-prone areas can now see why private insurers are staying
away. The next time you hear a busted athlete complain about a witch
hunt by steroid testers, you may wonder about those negative samples lying
around in the labs. When the next lie detection program arrives to screen
out potential terrorists, you may wonder about those innocent people put
behind bars by mistake. After you board a plane, you will relax,
knowing that you have nowhere to run. And when you decide to lay the
lottery, you will look closely at the person selling you the ticket.
If you react in these ways, as I hope you do, you will be
thinking like a statistician." p. 182.
WHAT ARE THE ODDS YOU'LL WIN THE LOTTERY?
How long will your kids wait in line at Disney World?
Who decides that “standardized tests” are fair?
Why do highway engineers build slow-moving ramps?
What does it mean, statistically, to be an “Average Joe”?
NUMBERS RULE YOUR WORLD
In the popular tradition of eye-opening bestsellers like
Freakonomics, The Tipping Point, and Super Crunchers,
this fascinating book from renowned statistician and blogger Kaiser Fung
takes you inside the hidden world of facts and figures that affect you every
day, in every way.
These are the statistics that rule your life, your job,
your commute, your vacation, your food, your health, your money, and your
success. This is how engineers calculate your quality of living, how
corporations determine your needs, and how politicians estimate your
opinions. These are the numbers you never think about-even though they play
a crucial role in every single aspect of your life.
What you learn may surprise you, amuse you, or even enrage
you. But there's one thing you won't be able to deny: Numbers Rule Your
"An easy read with a big benefit."
—Fareed Zakaria, CNN
"For those who have anxiety about how organization
data-mining is impacting their world, Kaiser Fung pulls back the curtain to
reveal the good and the bad of predictive analytics."
—Ian Ayres,Yale professor and author of Super Crunchers: Why Thinking By
Numbers is the New Way to Be Smart
"A book that engages us with stories that a journalist
would write, the compelling stories behind the stories as illuminated by the
numbers, and the dynamics that the numbers reveal."
—John Sall, Executive Vice President, SAS Institute
"Little did I suspect, when I picked up Kaiser Fung's
book, that I would become so entranced by it - an illuminating and
accessible exploration of the power of statistical analysis for those of us
who have no prior training in a field that he explores so ably."
—Peter Clarke, author of Keynes: The Rise, Fall,
and Return of the 20th Century's Most Influential Economist
"A tremendous book. . . . If you want to understand how to
use statistics, how to think with numbers and yet to do this without getting
lost in equations, if you've been looking for the book to unlock the door to
logical thinking about problems, well, you will be pleased to know that you
are holding that book in your hands."
—Daniel Finkelstein, Executive Editor, The Times of London
"I thoroughly enjoyed this accessible book and
enthusiastically recommend it to anyone looking to understand and appreciate
the role of statistics and data analysis in solving problems and in creating
a better world."
—Michael Sherman, Texas A&M University, American
Biography 2010: Kaiser Fung is a statistician with more
than a decade of experience in applying statistical methods to unlocking the
relationship between advertising and customer behaviors. His blog, "Junk
Charts," pioneered the genre of critically examining data and graphics in
the mass media. Since 2005, "Junk Charts" has received rave reviews from
Science magazine, the Guardian, Yahoo!, and Stanford University Libraries.
He is an adjunct professor at New York University where he teaches practical
statistics to professionals, and holds statistics, business, and engineering
degrees from Cambridge, Harvard, and Princeton Universities. Fung is also a
fellow of the Royal Statistics Society."