Sunday, February 10, 2013

The New New (again) - writing without reference

Here's an older post about writing as though the past doesn't exist.  Target at the time was Chuck Klosterman, who is very good at recalling obscure-yet-relevant pop culture, but not so good at grounding his thoughts in any existing body of work.

I was thinking of this when, I went to the library to find the Nate Silver book.  Publication date 2012.  It had been set aside "for internal review" since we got to Dunedin, but now the computer told me it was on the shelf.  It was missing from the shelf, and the librarian said "that's not good" and frowned.

Next to where "The Signal and the Noise" should have been, I found a book on misleading statistics called "Calculated Risks."  Publication date 2003.  It was fairly interesting but somewhat difficult to read due to German being the author's native language (as well as specific axes to grind). 

Mr. Gigerenzer in turn referred to a classic book called "How to Lie with Statistics," which was pretty much the same book, but so well written that it appeared to have been authored by Strunk and White.  Publication date 1954.  Good reading.

Mr. Huff in turn refers to a classic book by Willard Cope Brinton.  Publication date 1939.  And from what I've seen so far, it's great.  

But Mr. Huff closes his book with a quote from Mark Twain, who had statistics completely sussed out...publication date 1874.  And so it goes.  I'm pretty sure I can get "The Signal and the Noise" from the university library, but now I may not need to.

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