Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Review: "Super Crunchers" by Ian Ayres

I read the bulk of the now-infamous "Freakonomics" while waiting for a friend to join me for dinner. It was a very quick read, and good food for conversation.

"Super Crunchers" comes from another mind that runs in the same circles, breaking down real-life problems into equations, struggling to explain phenomena we see in life in terms of either random chance or human action.

Where "Freakonomics" was a bit of a ramble through a few applications of regression, "Super Crunchers" clearly brings regression analysis to center stage. Like the wheel, the screw, the lever, regression analysis and other experimental methodologies are simply tools. Each of these tools was initially expensive and required specialized knowledge, but over time became ubiquitous and universally understood. "Super Crunchers" chronicles the emerging ubiquity of making decisions based on statistical analysis. It also provides hints as to the changing role of thinking individuals in a statistics based world.

A quick read, and good food for thought. Buy it for (or loan it to) someone you plan to have dinner with and have at it.

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