Statistics Book for an interested teen
August 15, 2014 10:57 AM   Subscribe

My teen aged niece has suddenly found a strong interest in statistics. What book would you recommend for a 14 year old who has good, but not advanced, math skills?
posted by honestcoyote to Science & Nature (18 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: It's not technically a math book, but I read How To Lie With Statistics around that age (as a genuinely poor math student) and understood it fine and learned some very valuable lessons.
posted by griphus at 11:02 AM on August 15, 2014 [8 favorites]

Best answer: The Cartoon Guide to Statistics

Gonick's "Cartoon Guides" are really excellent.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Lady Tasting Tea is sort of a history of statistics, and gives a good overview of how statistics is used.

Depending on how advanced she is, Multivariate Statistical Analysis: A Conceptual Introduction is a really nice book that tries to get to the heart of how these statistical tests work, without a lot of math.
posted by damayanti at 11:15 AM on August 15, 2014

Aside from a book, get her some dice. Get her a lot of dice. d6s, d20s, d10s. Due to having access to dice and being curious about numbers during my early D&D phase, I rolled into my high school stats class having some feel for how large groups of random elements would trend.

When I tutored, I would do a trick with a whole bunch of d6s wherein I would tell the student what total I was going to get, plus or minus some small amount. First comes shock, then amazement, then interest. They ate it up.
posted by adipocere at 11:18 AM on August 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Is she a fan of sports like baseball? For some of my friends, the statistics is half (if not more than half, as the Twins have sucked the last few years) of the fun of watching the sport. Moneyball was turned into a movie recently. As we approach the football season, what about the statistical analysis of a fantasy football league? This might open up some ideas for encouraging her interest, too.
posted by jillithd at 11:38 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: Naked Statistics was recommended to me and looking it up to mention it here has inspired me to get it at the library tonight.
posted by Zed at 11:54 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: I enjoyed Conned Again, Watson! Cautionary tales of logic, math, and probability by Colin Bruce. It introduces some useful concepts in a fun way, but without requiring much of a math background. Note that it does not provide a systematic introduction to statistics the way a textbook or Gonick's Cartoon Guide does.
posted by neutralmojo at 11:54 AM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: 2nding Gonick's "Cartoon Guide". It's fun and breezy but doesn't dumb things down.
posted by cosmicbandito at 12:32 PM on August 15, 2014

Best answer: I was assigned The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives for an intro class and really enjoyed it. Lots of interesting anecdotes and accessible explanation of probability theory.
posted by lookoutbelow at 1:03 PM on August 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

The Black Swan may not be quite what you're looking for but it's quite interesting.
posted by Laura_J at 1:11 PM on August 15, 2014

I'm a non-math person and I found Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk to be quite enjoyable.
posted by matildaben at 1:17 PM on August 15, 2014

The Joy of X was based on a series of newspaper articles, so it might be at about the right reading level.
posted by MrBobinski at 2:54 PM on August 15, 2014

Have her do an online course with a computing component, like this one on Udacity. Learn by doing!
posted by zscore at 3:12 PM on August 15, 2014

Nate Silver's The Signal and the Noise. He's definitely got the statistical credibility to back up his analysis.
posted by Rhaomi at 5:00 PM on August 15, 2014

She might enjoy Innumeracy. A lot of the 'mathematical illiteracy' that the book discusses is as much statistical illiteracy as anything else.
posted by matildatakesovertheworld at 7:34 PM on August 15, 2014

Along with the Gonick book, "The Manga Guide to Statistics", and " Introducing Statistics: A Graphic Guide"by Eileen Magnello, Borin Van Loon, are really good. Get all three!

(I'd post Amazon links, but my links don't look right here for some reason.)
posted by Chitownfats at 4:41 AM on August 16, 2014

There's some quite good basic vids on youtube, you'd have to take a rummage though.
posted by tanktop at 5:01 AM on August 16, 2014

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the help.

I think I'll start with the Cartoon Guide first and if she keeps her interest, move on to some of the others. I think she'll especially like How to Lie. I would have at her age.
posted by honestcoyote at 3:35 PM on August 16, 2014

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