Karl Pearson, a british mathematician and arguably the father of modern statistics, is credited with the quote, "statistics is the grammar of science".
I certainly hope I don't cause him to log roll in his grave as I complete pre-publication edits on my new book, Improving Numeracy in Medicine. The idea for the book and subsequent subject matter evolved from a year of frequent travel and engagement with colleagues and stakeholders from across the globe.
The central thesis to many of the conversations whether I was presenting, attending as media, or serving in an advisory capacity--data.
Experts in their fields described how data is used to mislead, misinform, or sensationalize research findings or industry objectives. A cardiology resident approached me and sighed. "We don't get much numeracy in our medical education." I decided to create a tool that might ameliorate the confusion. Maybe this goal was a little jaunty so here is what I think. My revised goal is to start asking questions. I want to create a conversation. We don't need another statistics or biostatistics book. I can literally recommend dozens and have an equal amount on my bookshelves alone.
Maybe what is needed is an accessible guide for our dusty statistics books. A companion book that we can use to illuminate the imperfect world of prediction and analyses. Here is a page proof from the front of the book. Improving Numeracy in Medicine is being offered at a low pre-publication rate of $5.99.
Many of the photos included in the book will start a side conversation of what it takes to create a narrative. I always have a camera when I am on the road and wanted to have touch points from some of the meetings and conversations that fueled the story. Once we hit publish the price will increase to at least double or triple the introductory rate. Go ahead and pick one up. Make a donation. Or share the link with a colleague. Let's get the conversation started. One datum at a time.
Writing a book is hard but not for the reasons you might think. Identifying the main focus from all of the competing ideas can be like playing a carnival game of Whack-a-Mole. Each conversation ignites a fresh spark of ideas and before you know it--the sky is ablaze and you have lost the thread.
This book isn't perfect. Far from it. But the premise is well-intentioned. A book about the numbers written by a non-statistician, to help clarify the language of our data. We shouldn't need complex computations to describe a strong association or relationship if one truly exists in a meaningful way.
If your experiment needs statistics, you ought to do a better experiment--Lord Ernest Rutherford
There aren't equations or theories in the book. Just context and a few examples of how we might unpack the simpler concepts in research data.
"Statistics are like swimwear - what they reveal is suggestive but what they conceal is vital."
-Ashish Mahajan, Lancet 2007
Still available for pre-order through Amazon. Donations starting at $10.00 (click in the side-panel) will automatically include a PDF of book or published print copy if received prior to publication.
Additional formats will roll out post-production at the final published price.
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In a world of "evidence-based" medicine I am a bigger fan of practice-based evidence.
Remember the quote by Upton Sinclair...
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”