Janina Bąk - Statystycznie rzecz biorąc 2. Czyli jak zmierzyć siłę tornada za pomocą gofra

by: Artur Dziedziczak

January 8, 2024

Why this book?

I picked this book as I read the first one, and right after I learned there was a sequel, I bought it and started to read

Janina Bąk is a Polish author who is extremely good at writing entertaining books about statistics. She always comes up with crazy comparisons and presents amazingly weird research

Sadly, the book is written in Polish. I wish she translated it, as this book is such high-quality research material

Short review

The book itself is divided into loosely coupled chapters that have one thing in common. Statistic. As a result, I discovered a few interesting quotes/researches that stuck with me while reading this book

Skinner’s behaviorism

Janina Bąk shares interesting experiments made by Burrhus Frederic Skinner which involved (pidgeons)[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._F._Skinner#%22’Superstition'_in_the_Pigeon%22_experiment]. The experiment involved birds that were put in the cage and fed with a device that was rationing food at regular intervals. During the experiment, Skinner noticed that pidgeons started to associate food time with some random actions that they performed during it

One bird was conditioned to turn counter-clockwise about the cage, making two or three turns between reinforcements. Another repeatedly thrust its head into one of the upper corners of the cage. A third developed a 'tossing' response, as if placing its head beneath an invisible bar and lifting it repeatedly. Two birds developed a pendulum motion of the head and body, in which the head was extended forward and swung from right to left with a sharp movement followed by a somewhat slower return

Interesting right?

Blinded experiments

Here, Janina references different types of blinded experiments. Apparently, there are multiple levels of it. I was only aware that there is such a thing as double blind study, but I was not aware that there is also [triple blind study](https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/double-blind-study/). A triple-blind study occurs when participants, researchers, and data analysts are not aware of the assignment. This is done, for example, by not specifying to data analysts which numbers represent which groups

Numbers for suicidal hotlines

This is something I was not expecting during the read. At almost the end of the book, Janina touches on another topic that is related to mental health and research on it. It’s the only serious part of the book, and it’s really well written. You can feel the change in her tone. The whole book is extremely funny, and then this part comes with reflections on science and human issues. At the end of the chapter, she also shares contact information for groups that help people in emotional crisis situations

This is a really well-written piece of text

Natural experiments and field experiments

In this part, Janina explains what natural experiments are and presents some successful ones. 

[Natural experiment](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_experiment) is a kind of study where individuals are exposed to experimental and control conditions that are determined by nature or other factors that are outside of the control of the investigators

She quoted different research there, but the one that I noted down as most interesting was a [field experiment in Tanzania](https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/10901981211010421). Experiments have shown that the usage of mass media can influence audiences policy priorities, such as their demand for local access to HIV/AIDS medical care