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Super Crunchers

Why Thinking-by-Numbers Is the New Way to Be Smart


Ian Ayres (View Bio)
Hardcover: Bantam Books, 2007.

Super Crunchers

Why would a casino try to stop a gambler from losing? How can a mathematical formula find your future spouse? Would you know if statistical analysis blackballed you from a job you wanted?Economist Ian Ayres has spent the better part of his career examining the power in numbers. Decisions used to be made by traditional experts based on experience, intuition, and trial and error. Nowadays, cutting-edge organizations are crunching ever-larger databases to find answers. Today's super crunchers are providing greater insights into human behavior than ever before - and predicting the future with staggeringly accurate results.A baseball coach evaluates a player without ever seeing him play. eHarmony puts a number on who you're most likely to marry. An equation outpredicts legal experts on how the Supreme Court will decide its cases. An economist outpredicts wine aficionados in determining the best vintages. A doctor uses statistical analysis to diagnose and treat a patient. How is this possible? In this lively and groundbreaking new book, Ian Ayres takes us behind the scenes into the bold new world of today's super crunchers - who they are, their techniques, and a future that is already here. The author sweeps over a dazzling array of topics with strange-but-true facts, wry wit, and a raconteur's talent for the fascinating anecdote.Entertaining, enlightening, and absolutely essential, SUPER CRUNCHERS is a book that no businessperson, consumer, or student—statistically, that's everyone!—should make another decision without first reading, and understanding that thinking-by-numbers is the new way to be smart.

"In the past, one could get by on intuition and experience. Times have changed. Today, the name of the game is data. Ian Ayres shows us how and why in this groundbreaking book SUPER CRUNCHERS. Not only is it fun to read, it just may change the way you think." — Steven D. Levitt, author of Freakonomics

"A lively and yet rigorously careful account of the use of quantitative methods for analysis and decision-making.... Both social scientists and businessmen can profit from this book, while enjoying themselves in the process." — Dr. Kenneth Arrow, Nobel Prize winning economist and professor emeritus at Stanford University

"Worried that your personal information is being collected and manipulated? Wonder why your favorite web sites know your taste in books and movies better than your own mother does? In SUPER CRUNCHERS, Ian Ayres answers these questions and more as he tells a numerical tale both exciting and cautionary." — Alexandra Vacroux, The Wilson Quarterly

"Data-mining and statistical analysis have suddenly become cool.... Dissecting marketing, politics, and even sports, stuff this complex and important shouldn’t be this much fun to read.... A Freakonomics for hardcore numbers nerds." — Wired Magazine

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