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The Number Bias

On sale

9th July 2020

Price: £20

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Selected: Audiobook Downloadable / ISBN-13: 9781529342765

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‘A beautifully accessible exploration of how numbers shape our lives, and the importance of accurately interpreting the statistics we are fed.’ – Angela Saini, author of Superior

Even if you don’t consider yourself a numbers person, you are a numbers person. The time has come to put numbers in their place. Not high up on a pedestal, or out on the curb, but right where they belong: beside words.

It is not an overstatement to say that numbers dictate the way we live our lives. They tell us how we’re doing at school, how much we weigh, who might win an election and whether the economy is booming. But numbers aren’t as objective as they may seem; behind every number is a story. Yet politicians, businesses and the media often forget this – or use it for their own gain.

Sanne Blauw travels the world to unpick our relationship with numbers and demystify our misguided allegiance, from Florence Nightingale using statistics to petition for better conditions during the Crimean War to the manipulation of numbers by the American tobacco industry and the ambiguous figures peddled during the EU referendum.

Taking us from the everyday numbers that govern our health and wellbeing to the statistics used to wield enormous power and influence, The Number Bias counsels us to think more wisely.

(P) 2020 Hodder & Stoughton Ltd


Angela Saini, author of SUPERIOR
A beautifully accessible exploration of how numbers shape our lives, and the importance of accurately interpreting the statistics we are fed. THE NUMBER BIAS will give even the most maths-averse reader the tools they need to navigate our data-rich world.
Tim Harford
The Number Bias combines vivid storytelling with authoritative analysis to deliver a warning about the way numbers can lead us astray - if we let them.
Daniel Finkelstein, The Times
Statistics and data can tell the truth, but they can also lie, as this valuable book explains . . . you can never read the points Blauw makes too often.
If you don't consider yourself a numbers person, then this is the book for you. It is an intriguing and accessible exploration of how digits can shape our lives, be it measuring academic progress, election results or economic growth. Sanne Blauw, the numeracy correspondent for Dutch news outlet De Correspondent, provides startling insight about how manipulated figures can lead us astray, laying bare the perils of blindly buying into the hyperbole of peddled statistics
Stephen Poole, Guardian
From Covid-19 to the tobacco industry to the climate crisis . . . a punchy, amusing history of the deliberate misuse of statistics . . . The digestibility of Blauw's offering is also a public virtue in itself, if it encourages more people to read it and immunise themselves against the virality of numerical disinformation.
Sunday Business Post
Aware that many readers are likely to be daunted by a book about numbers, Blauw soothes such anxieties through her accessible style, brevity (the book runs to 170 pages) and, particularly, by focussing on stories rather than statistics . . . Using a calm, unshowy approach, Blauw convincingly argues that numbers should inform our choices, but they cannot make decisions for us.
Irish Times
provocative . . . playful . . . necessary work, delivered with a light touch