Book Review: A Statistician Teaches Us How to Communicate Big Data

A book recommendation from John Phipps, Illinois farmer and Top Producer columnist. ( AgWeb )

Although many reviews of this book have highlighted the hopeful message of the late author, I find his more lasting achievement may be his effective example of how to communicate the fruits of Big Data to a population largely allergic to statistics.

For example, my first contact with Rosling was a TEDTalk where in 15 minutes he made clear to me why linking religions to population growth was flawed. Not only were my confident assumptions on this topic genially dismantled, I still find echoes of its implications as I imagine the future. (If you have never seen the power of an animated bubble chart, here is where to begin.)

In "Factfulness: Ten reasons why we’re wrong about the world - and why things are better than you think," he stocks a toolkit for us to remodel our understanding of many of the major issues of our times—from population growth to crime and healthcare. In the process he delivers some quiet mind-bogglers. “The center of gravity of the world market will shift over the next 20 years from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean.” 

As he proceeds through ten ways to cope in a world we think we know but don’t, it gradually dawns that we are not making good decisions personally or collectively despite more and better information. His theme is non-partisan but not apolitical; expert but not obscure; readable but not over-generalized. Highly recommended. (Note: Kindle format ruins the crucial graphics.)

Watch one of his fantastic video presentations (you can find more here).

You can find more of his book content on his various TEDTalks. Here's a good one: