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Review: Manga Guide to Statistics

The Manga Guide to Statistics is a cartoon book in the same style as the publisher's Manga Guide to Calculus, which I reviewed a while back. It's been close to thirty years since I studied statistics (in High School) and reading this book brought back memories.

For the same reasons that I liked Manga's Calculus book, I enjoyed this one. It tells a story. It has pictures, so it engages the visual sense as well as the "word processing" sense. It takes a subject that can be taught in a very dry way and brings it to life, showing how statistics has meaning in real life problems; the importance justifies the mechanical machinery that is central to the study.

Here's the start of the plot:

"Grade 10 Up–Rui is introduced to "statistics with heart-pounding excitement" when she develops a crush on Igarashi, her father's market-research business associate. In an attempt to impress him, the teen asks her father for a personal tutor and is devastated when he enlists Yamamoto, a bespectacled geek, as her instructor. As Rui gamely struggles through some basic lessons, readers learn about distribution tables and deviation scores. Naturally, love finally blossoms. In a moment of frustration, Rui knocks off Yamamoto&'s glasses and sees his eyes for the first time, and hers fill with hearts."

The book provides a very elementary coverage, good for demystifying statistics for the very beginners, especially those not comfortable with Math. The book has seven chapters:

  1. Determining Data Types
  2. Getting the Big Picture: Understanding Numerical Data
  3. Getting the Big Picture: Understanding Categorical Data
  4. Standard Score and Deviation Score
  5. Let's Obtain the Probability
  6. Let's Look at the Relationship Between Two Variables
  7. Let's explain the Hypothesis Tests

Each chapter has a summary, an exercise, and answers. The book also has a nice appendix that walks the reader through using Excel to perform calculations. This is a great idea since most of us have Excel or some clone of it.

The Manga Guide to Statistics has been well received on Amazon. Most reviews are 4 or 5 stars. There are a couple of criticisms one should be aware of, though. One concern was that there was a lack of depth of explanation, i.e. what are the motivations for using the particular formulas. Another concern was with the accuracy of some of the content. I can't speak to the second concern, because my statistics is VERY rusty. Regarding depth or lack thereof, I'd like to hear of a book that has all the qualities of this book and does a better job of explaining the why. Until I see one I won't knock this book.

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  1. Hello Sol,
    my gut feeling is that extended explanation of “high-level statistics” are not common at all. I am content with the basics, so this book should be ok with me.

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