Free Books! Statistics, Psychics

In the same spirit of generosity that led M. Anonymous to donate a Kindle, I am offering the books I have written, if we can agree to honor those scrawlings with that title, free.

The two titles are:

  • Breaking the Law of Averages. These are the notes I use to teach introductory statistics, in what I consider to be the modern way. The good news is that this on-line version contains a wealth of corrections, some new additions, and a few more homework problems.
  • So, You Think You’re Psychic? I had more of an interest in this subject at one time, back when CSICOP, the Skeptic Society, James Randi, and all those guys were not so rabidly political. They lost all their charm when they went from chasing UFOs to raving about George Bush. Despite its odd title, and skeptical tone, you really can use the experiments I describe to run your own professional psychic tests. The statistics in this book were from my green days, when I still thought there was something to frequentism. That said, the scores I develop are useful as a guide.

The PDF versions of these books are in great shape. But for those who download the Kindle versions, you might think I’m overcharging you. I used Calibre to do the conversion from PDF to mobi, and the results are mixed. The text came out fine, but tables are a mess, and the formatting can be quirky. The pictures have vanished, as have all super- and subscripts. Still, the meat is all there.

Of course, if you would like a hard copy of either book, just click the book covers on the left of your browser (I get about $4 per copy). Be aware that the statistics book is the old, typo-filled edition. Truth is, both of these, uh, tracts were written before I had learned to write. Regular readers of the blog might argue, perhaps persuasively, that the secrets of that gentle art still elude me.

Why give them away?

For Psychic, the answer is easy: there has a slight resurgence of interest in this topic among those who believe that, among other things, they can communicate psychically with goats. Why one would want to, I have no idea. Ghosts, I can understand. Dogs, maybe, although I cannot imagine they would have much to say. Many people have odd desires.

Most official peer reviewed papers in paranormal studies have atrocious statistics. Oh, didn’t you know that there are peer-reviewed journals in the paranormal? It’s science! Then again, many papers in more mainstream areas like medicine, education, and sociology are statistically bereft. The statistics in Psychic are not perfect, but they are far better than average. If somebody out there is in earnest, they cannot go far wrong by following the guidelines I have developed.

I want you to have Breaking so that, once you read it and become irritated with its shortcomings, you tell me of them. I will use your ideas and incorporate your complaints in the book—the real book—The Logic of Probability and Statistics, which I am now writing.

Funnily enough, when re-reading that last sentence, I saw that I had the typo “the book that I am not writing”, which is, most days, closer to the truth. But that book is not meant for the casual reader (neither is it geared to just academic statisticians).

Because I use Breaking as notes for class, I’ll tweak that text from time to time, and upload new versions as necessary. The links will remain the same. Given my knowledge of myself, I can predict that the Kindle version will lag significantly from the PDF version.

Hope these books are useful to you. And thanks for your support everybody! I make nearly all my living from this blog—soon, all of my living—and I could not do it without you.


  1. j ferguson

    The “causal” reader? I suspect you won’t find one here – maybe at Huffpost?

  2. Briggs


    You’re very generous. Thank you very much.

    j ferguson,

    All typos are free of charge.

  3. j ferguson

    Living off the proceeds of a blog?

    I’ve been working on SWMBO’s reluctance to spend money and think I will soon prevail. My argument is that the wit and insight that I savor on several of the blogs I frequent were they to be available locally would mean buying coffee retail instead of wholesale. Surely the delta$ should be shared with the hosts.

    Your success (?) with the conversion from text-pdf to mobi is about what I get. I suspect that there is a way to fix the tables. Petreus’ book is full of them – akkkk.

  4. SteveBrooklineMA

    Wow! That’s very generous.

    “They lost all their charm when they went from chasing UFOs to raving about George Bush.” Brother, you got that right! Though I’d say they never had a lot of charm to begin with. Too condescending at times for my taste.

    As for Psychic research, the recent Daryl Bem (a prof at Cornell) dust-up has been interesting. Essentially, using statistical methods common in Psychology, he claims to have detected psi effects.

    This puts other researchers in a bind. If those statistical methods are not good for Bem, why are they ok for everyone else?

  5. Bruce Foutch

    Thank you for these fine books. You have provided explanation that even I can understand, which is saying something. I do feel some obligation to return this kindness. Do you have this ‘Clothes and the Man’ book?

    If not, I will post you a copy in lovely condition on Friday, as tomorrow is a postal holiday.

  6. Eric Anderson

    Thanks for making these available and for free! I can’t wait to dive in!

  7. Briggs


    I do not. I have his Dressing the Man, which is excellent. Recommended to all.

  8. Greg F

    I had more of an interest in this subject at one time, back when CSICOP, the Skeptic Society, James Randi, and all those guys were not so rabidly political.

    Back in the mid 70’s when I was in collage I had the pleasure of personally meeting James Randi. He picked my office lock faster than I could open it with a key. He also demonstrated the “psychic” key bending trick, with my car key I might add, followed with a short instruction on how it is done. At that time he was on a crusade to expose the frauds passing themselves off as psychics and held gatherings after a performance to educate the public about these second rate magicians. He demonstrated how easily we as humans can be fooled with the simplest of tricks. It truly saddened me to see a once rational man go down the that irrational political rat hole.

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