Preface - Better Business Decisions from Data: Statistical Analysis for Professional Success (2014)

Better Business Decisions from Data: Statistical Analysis for Professional Success (2014)


I am not a statistician, so it may seem odd that I have put together a book on statistics. Some explanation is required.

In my work, first as a research scientist and then as a manager of engineering departments, I needed to use basic statistics and to have some appreciation of the more complex statistical methods. With a limited education in statistics, I struggled to find textbooks that gave me what I needed concisely and in a way that I could readily understand. I have sympathy for those who find themselves in a similar situation. I have also worked for nearly twenty years as a private tutor, and the one-to-one contact with students has confirmed the difficulties that can arise in coming to grips with statistics.

In addition, I have sympathy for statisticians. They do an excellent job but they get a bad press. The general view is that they can fiddle around with numbers and prove anything they wish to prove. I feel concerned for the majority of the population who hold this general perception, and I would like to see them achieve a better understanding of statistics. We have figures thrown at us, supposedly proving statements ranging from the trivial to the life-threatening, and often contradictory, and this helps to reinforce the prejudices.

This book is the result of these experiences and concerns. It is the book I have dreamed of, the book I wanted and couldn’t find many years ago. It is for those who want an understanding of basic statistics and an appreciation of more advanced methods. It is, as the title indicates, for decision makers—but not only for the decision makers in business and industry but also for each one of us struggling to make sense of the statistics forced on us daily in shops, in newspapers, and on television. The book is also in praise of statisticians and the work they do and seeks to bring a little more understanding and respect for statistics among the general public. It is a book to enjoy, not struggle with, written by someone who really does understand where the difficulties are.