The Tiger That Isn’t: Seeing Through a World of Numbers (book #8)

Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, 2007.

On understanding data. Found it a bit basic, but there are some good discussions.

 “An email survey of hospital doctors found that an infeasible number of them were born on 11 November 1911. What was going on?
It turned out that many could not be bothered to fill in all the boxes on the computer and had tried, where it said DoB, to hit 00 for the day, 00 for the month and 00 for the year. Wise to that possibility, the system was set up to reject it, and to force them to enter something else. So they did, and hit the next available number six times: 11/11/11; hence the sobering discovery that the NHS was chock-full of doctors over the age of 90.
Try to measure something laughably elementary about people – their date of birth – and you find they are a bolshie lot: tired, irritable, lazy, resntful of silly questions, convinced that “they” – the askers of those questions – probably know the answers already or don’t really need to; inclined, in fact, to any number of other plausible and entirely normal acts of human awkwardness”

There is also a summary of the economist Jan Pen’s vision of the world’s population walking by and everyone’s height being proportional to their wealth, which I hadn’t come across before. This summary is almost word-for-word how the authors describe it.


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