W&N to publish a guide to understanding news statistics

W&N to publish a guide to understanding news statistics

W&N has acquired "a toolkit for understanding numbers in the media" by cousins Tom and David Chivers.

Jenny Lord, publisher at Weidenfeld & Nicolson, acquired UK and Commonwealth rights in How to Read Numbers: A Guide to Stats in the News (and Knowing When to Trust Them) from Will Francis at Janklow & Nesbit. 

Lord said: "We are constantly being assaulted with statistics that appear to have a direct impact on our lives. But so few of us know how to read them in the right context, and we often get it massively wrong—this timely book could not be more necessary."

Tom Chivers is a science writer and author, who was awarded the Royal Statistical Society's Statistical Excellence in Journalism award in 2018, while David Chivers is an assistant professor of economics at Durham University.

Tom Chivers said of the project: "The media play a huge role in our understanding of the world: the risks we face individually and as a society, the decisions we make to avoid or mitigate them, they're all based, in large part, on the things we see and read in the news. Is it safe to walk through the park at night? Will that bacon sandwich shorten our lifespan? We learn about it from reading stories. But unless you understand the way that these numbers get produced and presented, they can paint a hugely misleading picture. We wanted to provide a simple, fun, understandable guide for the general public, and a manifesto for how the media ought to present numbers: a sort of statistical style guide."

The book will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in hardback, audio and e-book in February 2021.