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The Number Bias

Category: Popular Science
ISBN:   9781529342741
Publisher:  Hodder & Stoughton
On sale: August 2020
List price:
Format: Paperback
eBook ISBN

The Number Bias: How Numbers Lead and Mislead Us


Sanne Blauw


A playful, sharp-eyed myth-busting reassessment of the part numbers and statistics play in our lives.

'The Number Bias combines vivid storytelling with authoritative analysis to deliver a warning about the way numbers can lead us astray - if we let them.' - Tim Harford

Even if you don't consider yourself a numbers person, you are a numbers person. The time has come to put numbers in their place. Not high up on a pedestal, or out on the curb, but right where they belong: beside words.

It is not an overstatement to say that numbers dictate the way we live our lives. They tell us how we're doing at school, how much we weigh, who might win an election and whether the economy is booming. But numbers aren't as objective as they may seem; behind every number is a story. Yet politicians, businesses and the media often forget this - or use it for their own gain.

Sanne Blauw travels the world to unpick our relationship with numbers and demystify our misguided allegiance, from Florence Nightingale using statistics to petition for better conditions during the Crimean War to the manipulation of numbers by the American tobacco industry and the ambiguous figures peddled during the EU referendum.

Taking us from the everyday numbers that govern our health and wellbeing to the statistics used to wield enormous power and influence, The Number Bias counsels us to think more wisely.

'A beautifully accessible exploration of how numbers shape our lives, and the importance of accurately interpreting the statistics we are fed.' - Angela Saini, author of Superior

Sanne Blauw is the numeracy correspondent for Dutch online news site and publisher De Correspondent. She has a PhD in econometrics from the Erasmus School of Economics and the Tinbergen Institute, and was a journalist-in-residence at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study. Her first book, The Number Bias, was a bestseller in the Netherlands and spent several weeks on the bestseller lists.

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