Non-Fiction Review: Kaiser Fung’s Numbersense”

“the discontent of being averaged”- pg 130

I absolutely love this line. In five words, Mr. Fung compresses all the wisdom in his book and drills you with a fast-ball right between the eyes.

Numbersense is impressive. It does exactly what it promises to do – to “clear the fog of ‘Big Data’.” I am quite proficient with numbers and data on a personal scale, house budgets and the like. However, I recently have begun some work in areas that deal with the vast accumulation of data that Mr. Fung is addressing here, in which I have always felt a little out of my depth. That is what initially led me to pick up this book.  Now, 160 pages later, I have new confidence and a new insight on how to approach not only my work, but every aspect of life around me.

First and foremost, this was straightforward read, enjoyable even. Mr. Fung strikes the perfect balance between technical terms and explanations, rewording and illustrating concepts in such a way that I actually felt like I was understanding and absorbing the points he put forth. The reader isn’t talked down or pandered to, which really made me respect the book and its author. Mr. Fung talks to the reader directly, calling them out. By asking questions, making the reader think, and bringing forth examples from the everyday world, Mr. Fung guides the reader in the same manner as any of the other great teachers I have had in my life.

At its core, Numbersense seeks to instill in consumers a healthy “flake-factor” filter for all of the marketing, hype, and “statistics” that are fed to us each day. Wherever we look, we are told to trust certain ratings, to put faith in certain statistics, and value certain “deals”. Numbersense hits the pause button on all of the cacophony trying to get our attention and tells us to ask one question: Why?

Why do we believe them? And should we?

Data, especially “Big Data”, is a good thing, it is how we run the world today. Yet, it is the interpretation of the data that we pay too little attention too, and that is putting us at a disadvantage. In eight chapters, Mr. Fung walks his readers through a new understanding of data interpretation, and gives them tools to go forth into practical application.

I truly believe this book needs to be a staple at the beginning of any business major’s education. My brother is currently in school to become a CFP, and I will be making sure he gets a copy!

I received a review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.


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