Book Review: The Manga Guide To Statistics

The Manga Guide To Statistics, by Shin Takahashi

This book is surprisingly awkward to read.  To be sure, this book has plenty of funny material in it.  Unfortunately, the framing of this material is more than a little bit uncomfortable, as the heroine is a lovesick teenager who convinces her father to have one of his coworkers tutor her in statistics so that she can seduce a handsome executive at his company and ends up being disappointed initially that she is being taught by a nerdy but surprisingly eccentric (or unsurprisingly eccentric if you happen to know a lot of nerdy people) quant from her father’s company who happens to be interested in a lot of the same things that she is and interested in her as well.  Even though she is a high school student and he is at least in his 20’s or 30’s (the book does not explain exactly how old he is, but he is an adult and almost certainly a college graduate and he does not appear to be new on the job either, so he’s at least a few years older than she is), this book views the budding romance between the two characters as unproblematic, and not the way it would likely appear in real life.

This book is about 200 pages long (the usual for this series, at least from what I have seen so far), and is divided into seven chapters.  After a preface and a prologue that explores statistics with heart-pounding excitement, the book begins with a determination of data types (1).  After this there is an exploration of how to understand numerical data including distribution tables, measures of central tendency, and standard deviation (2).  After this there is a brief discussion of categorical data and cross tabulations (3), which are vital in understanding political polls and their biases (not discussed in the book, notably).  This leads to a discussion of standard score and deviation score (4) as well as how one obtains the probability based on normal and chi-square distributions of data (5).  After this the book explores the relationship between two variables (6) for correlations as well as hypothesis tests that either reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis (7).  The book then closes with an appendix that discusses how to calculate statistics using excel, something many people are proficient at or at least interested in exploring.

It seems unlikely in real life that a business executive would invite a single and nerdy person to spend a lot of time tutoring a flirtatious teenage girl and spending a lot of time alone together.  This sort of action would either be exposing one’s teenage girl to a lot of flirtation (or worse) from an older man, which most parents are rather leery about, or would be exposing an employee in their company to all kinds of compromising positions that naturally result from being in a situation where he-said/she-said situations can develop.  This book even shows such a compromising position happening at the very end of the story, leaving a cliffhanger as to what will happen afterwards, but in no way suggesting that what happened was at all inappropriate.  There are definitely occasions, and this is one, where manga provides situations that are rather dangerous as being entirely okay, and leading readers down very dangerous paths of behavior if they are unaware of the risks and dangers that they are running into regardless of which character in the book they happen to more closely resemble.  This book is one where not all of the lessons included are worth following, and some may be quite harrowing for the reader if they are imitated.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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