It started in 2005 with Freakonomics. The big, scary field of study previously reserved for educated economists was offered to the layperson in the form of a witty and easy to read bestseller and the layperson ate it up. We got a second helping with SuperFreakonomics in 2009 and the trend was very much the same. Regular people with no background in Economics, and perhaps not even a prior interest in world affairs, read Steven Levitt’s book about the “hidden side of everything” and were hooked.
Three years later we see a continued interest in math and science focused on everyday applications. In November, I talked about Nate Silver’s emergence as the golden child of statistics and sure enough, his star has been rising. The Signal and the Noise has average people interested in statistics, a notion unimaginable just ten years ago. And now in 2013 I’m excited for the release of Naked Statistics by Charles Wheelan, author of Naked Economics. While Naked Economics wasn’t met with quite the same fervor and praise as Freakonomics, we are living in an almost entirely different time and Mr. Wheelan’s new book is sure to ride the wave of popularity that statisticians like Nate Silver have enjoyed.
I’m still amazed at how many people to this day view statisticians as back room number crunchers doomed to a life of anonymity. Clearly this is all changing, and Mr. Wheelan’s book is just the latest example of statistics’ prevalence in our common popular culture.