The Manga Guide to Statistics

Reviewed by Major Keary

The Manga Guide To StatisticsContrary to some opinions, manga is not a recent creation, but is a very long-standing Japanese tradition. "Manga, literally translated, means 'whimsical pictures'. The word first came into common usage in the late 18th century with the publication of such works as Santo-Kyo-den's picturebook Shiji no yukikai (1798), and in the early 19th century with such works as Aikawa Minwa's Manga hyakujo (1814) and the celebrated Hokusai manga containing assorted drawings from the sketchbook of the famous ukiyo-e artist Hokusai." [Wikipedia]

The manga genre has, perhaps, been around as long as the study of statistics, which can be traced to the relationship between Blaise Pascal and Antoine Gombard, gentleman card sharp who devised wagers that gave him a statistical advantage. The use of the manga style to present a lucid introduction and guide to statistics is a remarkably clever innovation. The book is designed to serve:

  • Those who need to conduct data analysis for research or business;
  • those who are interested in understanding the world of statistics; and
  • those with a general knowledge and who want to learn more.
    The comic-book format has been used with remarkable effectiveness as a vehicle for what is normally a dry subject; readers are given a soft ride that absorbs the mathematical bumps, and engages attention that might otherwise wander.


There are those of us who are leery of statistics spouted by politicians; we share the view attributed to Benjamin Disraeli by Mark Twain: There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. In order to question, or challenge, people who throw up statistics to support some thesis it is necessary to at least know the jargon—and even better to have some understanding of the mathematical techniques. If you have never studied stats before, or are rusty, this title is well worth having. If you have to perform some function that involves stats, whether in the collection, recording, or analysis of data, this could provide an invaluable insight to the art.

Chapter contents indicate the book's scope:

  • Data types
  • Understanding numerical data
  • understanding categorical data
  • Deviation score
  • Probability
  • Relationship between two variables
  • Hypothesis tests
  • Using a spread sheet for a range of calculations

Anyone teaching stats should look at the Manga Guide; it may not seem to be kind of text to include in a formal reading list, but is well worth considering.

Shin Takashi: The Manga Guide to Statistics
ISBN 978-1-59327-189-3
Published by No Starch Press, 215 pp., RRP AU$ 37.95

No Starch Press titles are distributed in Australia by Woodslane


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