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G Gigerenzer. Allen Lane Penguin Press Penguin Books Ltd, 2002, £14.99, pp 310. ISBN 0713995122
Gerd Gigerenzer has a passion for improving statistical numeracy which is rarely encountered in the normally dry statistics texts. He has researched and published extensively on how doctors and other professionals interpret risks and convey that information to their patients. He has also shown how clinicians' understanding of risk can be improved dramatically by changing the way they process information about risk.
The early chapters of the book look at Gigerenzer's research into clinicians' understanding of statistics and Bayes's rule, and shows just how poor senior clinicians' understanding of risk is. He shows that similar problems exist in other professions as well. He indicates how confusing it can be for our patients when we try to convey our understanding of risks to them. There is a section devoted to how companies and researchers try to change our opinion, to their advantage, with statistics. He then proceeds to show a more intuitive way to deal with statistics. Gigerenzer's methods are powerful tools for explaining to a patient the true nature of their risks.
This book has been written for the general public, but if you find risk statistics difficult to interpret and convey, then this book is definitely for you. It is written in a gently instructive and well thought out style, and covers a diverse range of problems encountered in everyday as well as clinical life. I think it should be on the curriculum for all postgraduate medical courses.