- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Gardners Books; New Ed edition (April 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140297863
- ISBN-13: 978-0140297867
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549,806 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Reckoning With Risk : Learning to Live With Uncertainty Paperback – April, 2003
"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb
"This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book." ―Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post Pre-order today
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'This is an important book, full of relevant examples and worrying case histories. By the end of it, the reader has been presented with a powerful set of tools for understanding statistics...anyone who wants to take responsibly for their own medical choices should read it' - "New Scientist". However much we crave certainty, we live in an uncertain world. But are we guilty of wildly exaggerating the chances of some unwanted event happening to us? Are ordinary people idiots when reasoning with risk? Far too many of us, argues Gerd Gigerenzer, are hampered by our own innumeracy. Here, he shows us that our difficulties in thinking about numbers can easily be overcome.
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Gigerenzer also shows how the presentation of the information can be used to makes something look worse/better than it actually is (relative vs absolute risk for instance). This will help me to sell studies to our review committees better. But it will also cause frustration when reading studies and seeing the lack of information to change relative risks into absolute risks.
I would have liked to see more examples outside of the medical field and perhaps less emphasis on the dialogues "he said/she said" examples. Other than that, this has been a good read and is recommended for anyone interested in risk management and analysis.
Gerd explains clearly how to avoid such traps. He gives wonderful examples, such as the incidence rate of breast cancer, and the extremes that some women go through to try to prevent something which is actually very unlikely (unless your family has an actual history of it). There are many other examples in the book. Well, why not just take a doctors advice? He's the expert, right? The problem is doctors are forced to tell you the worst case scenario, and that's the one that gets our attention. Potentially bad news wakes you up, right? But they do that mainly to avoid law suits, not to help understand risks, so we are drawn to the wrong conclusion. For some reason, we expect doctors (and many other professionals) to be right 100% of the time. We expect certainly from them. But that's totally absurd! That's not the way life is. If you want to do what's truly best for you, personally, you can't just abdicate responsibility and blindly do something without understanding the risk trade-offs and coming to your own conclusion. Gerd teaches us how to ask the right questions so we can come to logical, sensible and balanced decisions.
Like I said, this was the best book I read all year. I highly recommend reading it, and then taking charge of your own decisions instead of listening and knee-jerk reacting to information that, while true in and of itself, is almost invariably presented in a highly misleading way by journalists, scientists, doctors, drug companies, researchers, lawyers and government agencies. Everyone has an axe to grind, and no one (except Gerd) helps us understand how to properly interpret what we hear.
Summary: There are only two things in life that are certain -- death and taxes. Everything else is a trade-off between alternative risks. To treat or not to treat. Two risks. Learn to make such trade-offs wisely, not emotionally. Read the book !!!
This is not a conventional statistics book with equations and proofs. The book is about understanding uncertainty and is unusual in that it is not written from a technical perspective, which makes it a much more engaging read for most people. The focus is how to think about and understand what the statistic represents about the uncertainty being described. Mr. Gigerenzer does an excellent job of explaining his points using real world examples rather than mathematical equations and proofs. The examples are well explained and very clear. Mr. Gigerenzer also includes a full bibliography on his source material with suggested reads for areas of interest.
Another difference from typical books on uncertainty and statistics is that he uses extensive data from the medical field, with particular emphasis on prostate and breast cancer. This results in an eye opening look into the medical field and anyone who is dealing with cancer or AIDS would be well served by reading it.
Each chapter focuses on one topic, so the book also acts as a useful reference. In particular, the book contains the best explanation of Bayes' Theorum I have read and I have found myself refering back to that chapter on several occasions to explain Bayes' to others.
I think this book, or one like it, should be required reading in this world where statistics are constantly referenced (and misused) in the media, by industry and the government.