Review by Vincent J Felitti, MD, FACP
Summer 2009 - Volume 13 Number 3
Sometimes when reading medical articles we find a flood of statistical details and jargon that seems to be inserted by an unsubtle hand to force the reader into accepting that something meaningful is being said. "These guys say Cohen's kappa is really solid. I don't know what that means, but they seem to." By contrast, I recall years ago subscribing to the Statistical Bulletin of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company. This small journal, from a big company whose livelihood was totally based on statistics, was the epitome of clarity and interesting text. Graphs were always simple; the text was impeccably understandable; nowhere was there an anxious clutter of arcane symbols, followed by decimal numbers in parentheses.
Here are three wonderful new books on how to think about the need, basis, and validity of statistical analysis of a problem. They do not teach statistical methodology; rather, they teach how to think about analyzing problems, and how statistics sometimes help and sometimes cow readers into thinking less perceptively than they might.