The Chivers brothers, author of How to Read Numbers, examines our world surrounded by numbers, stats, graphs, and data. They were concerned “about how numbers were used in the media, and about how they can go wrong- and give misleading impressions.” One popular career field growing in silicon valley is the area of big data analysis. We read about how the wealthiest companies of our generation evolved from collecting data, processing data, presenting data, and selling data. The majority of people feel alarmed and overwhelmed by the growing amounts of numbers and data given to us daily. The book educates the readers to learn how data and statistics are presented to us and explains some of the complex pitfalls that can be misleading. The Chivers brothers give elaborate and practical suggestions to enhance our understanding of stats presented in our media and learn to make accurate decisions in the future.
Why does the media use numbers, graphs, and statistics? Why are we trained in schools to use numbers, graphs, and statistics? I agree with Chivers in arguing that math and numbers make people think and choose the correct answer based on their own decision. As human beings, we like to own our decisions by using numbers to back up our decision-making to appear logical. But numbers are often presented to us to support a desired conclusion or a certain kind of marketing reaction. This happens all the time in newspapers, media, research projects, church meetings, corporate meetings, and grocery shopping. Any leader of an organization must learn to read the numbers, process the numbers, and make the right decision based on those numbers. But, one area that is becoming difficult in this right decision-making process is the fact that there is overwhelming data to choose from and how those numbers relate to us personally.
In Chapter 9, the author asked this question: Is that a big number? Every day we are presented with so many big numbers and live visuals of what is happening worldwide. Chivers brothers reason “often numbers in the newspapers are presented without the context that you need to work out.” I heard the news talk about so much data and numbers in the past two years because of the global pandemic. One of the numbers that I got tired of hearing was the number of death in the US. The numbers kept on growing and growing, and by the time I visited D.C advance, it reached 681,510. It was a number that was discomforting to hear growing daily. My head told me this was a sad number, but didn’t have too many feelings attached to it. But, when I came across the acres and acres of white memorial flags, remembering the lost 681,510 it knocked on my heart. It wasn’t just a big sad number anymore, it became personal, and I connected with that number. As I read the personal notes written on those small white flags, I had to stop because my heart was moved to tears, and I lifted up prayers for those who lost their lives from Covid and their family members who will continue to suffer for the rest of their lives. 681,510 became a huge number that my heart connected to~ I’ve always grew up loving numbers and being natural with numbers. But, after reading this book, I gained a deeper insight into discerning numbers, but more importantly, to ask myself, what does this number mean to me in my decision making?
 Tom Chivers and David Chivers. How to Read Numbers: A Guide to Statistics in the News (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2021), 2.
 Chivers, How to Read Numbers, 63.