Reviewers take note: For your convenience, we've posted an image of the front cover (TIF, 1.6 MB) and the April 28, 2008 news release announcing the publication of the book (PDF, 48k). If you are a journalist and would like to receive a review copy, contact us and mention the address to which you'd like the book to be sent and the publication where the review would appear. If you are a professor and are considering the book for a class, please go to the IPG web site and request a desk copy.
IT analyst Mike Tarrani, in his guide to sorting through data and presenting information on Amazon.com, writes
Once you've gathered the 'right' data you need to turn it into verified, validated information. One outstanding book that covers this process is Turning Numbers into Knowledge: Mastering the Art of Problem Solving. This book isn't as much about numbers as it is about how to think. In fact, numbers aren't introduced until chapter 27, which is exactly midway through the book...This 221 page book is a masterpiece because it's clearly written, offers sage advice and contains easy to perform--yet powerful--exercises throughout.
Turning Numbers into Knowledge was a finalist for the 2003 Readers Preference Editor's Choice Awards in the Science and Mathematics category.
Professor Michael Maniates, in a review appearing in the September 2003 issue of the journal Energy Policy, writes
Dr. Koomey could have written a book for policy elites on the arcane details of energy analysis and policymaking. Instead, with Turning Numbers into Knowledge, he chose to craft a volume that speaks to the neophyte: the beginning citizen-activist, the advanced undergraduate and beginning graduate student, the lay community researcher, the person taking an entry-level job in policymaking and looking to make a difference. Remarkably, the book also has much to say to the accomplished policy practitioner.
By explicating in accessible and challenging detail the nuts and bolts of critical thinking and illustrating the essentials of quantitative analysis, Dr. Koomey has provided a great service. His book deserves to be widely read and shared, especially by those who take seriously the fragile yet critical role of an informed citizenry in increasingly complex democratic societies.
Univision.com, the Spanish language media giant, reviewed Turning Numbers into Knowledge in June 2003:
Koomey, un virtuoso del análisis y la investigación, ha creado esta obra única para mostrar como a partir de los números se puede llevar una vida de éxito. Enseña las técnicas para enfrentar y resolver problemas, crear estilos y sistemas de trabajo a base de tablas numéricas y convertir la información en un factor de beneficio en todo momento.
In a review appearing on Slashdot.org in November 2002, R. Cooper Richey writes:
Turning Numbers into Knowledge is one of those rare books that is simple in its presentation and quietly leaves a deep understanding of its topic. Chapters read like common-sense and jibe with everyday experience in a satisfying way. Koomey is a masterful analyst who has distilled his years of experience into a well-thought-out, well-written book on the "art of problem solving." Koomey's tone is conversational and succeeds in making a potentially dry topic interesting and relevant through genuine insight, clear prose, and real-world examples.
The Metcalf Institute's Environment Writer newsletter wrote in their June 2002 issue
Turning Numbers into Knowledge wasn't written specifically for environmental journalists. But it could well have been.
Author Jonathan G. Koomey, Ph.D. provides practical insights on critical thinking that many environmental reporters will find useful, at least as a refresher.
Beth M. Schlesinger, writing in the May 2002 issue of Mathematics Teacher, the magazine of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, had this to say about Turning Numbers into Knowledge:
This book is very well organized and includes an extensive set of suggested readings. It is written in clear language with appropriate exercises and many wonderful cartoons and quotations. It is very readable. I highly recommend it for teachers and advanced students.
In a review of Turning Numbers into Knowledge in the Winter 2002 issue of the journal Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship, Allison V. Level (reference librarian at Colorado State University) said
Turning Numbers into Knowledge is an engaging and readable book on quantitative problem solving and the process used to transform data or numbers into clear and useful information.
The reader will learn
how to take a critical eye to the analysis presented in reports, newspaper stories, or books. What do the numbers say? What's important? Is the source credible? Does the author of the study have genuine knowledge in the field? Koomey's expertise lends itself to these sections where he gives wonderful examples of what to do, what not to do, and how to question authority. He also tips his hat to librarians and encourages researchers to seek out help from the information professional.
The book is written for broad audience appeal with short clear chapters and lots of visuals including tables, charts, and cartoons ...This book is recommended for all university and public libraries.
In one of their Speed Reviews (February 2002), Soundview Executive Book Summaries describes why they like the book:
Koomey['s] ... guidance is readily available in a user-friendly format that takes readers from examples to points succinctly and clearly. The short chapters keep the ball of information rolling... Each chapter then follows up its lessons with an exercise...By combining this compelling format with strategically placed cartoons and quotations that illustrate his timely topics, Koomey has created a well-conceived, fast-paced book that offers strong advice with expertise and wit.
In its Nov./Dec. 2001 issue (p.64), the Skeptical Inquirer calls Turning Numbers into Knowledge "a lively, well-written, attractively packaged book on the art of critical thinking" and The Midwest Book Review says it's "very highly recommended."
On 29 July 2001, Jonathan Koomey was interviewed by Dr. Moira Gunn of public radio's Tech Nation program. To download the file and listen to that interview using Real Player, click here. It was also reviewed favorably in the April 12-May 20th, 2001 edition of Chance News (an electronic newsletter for statisticians) and in the September 3, 2001 issue of the Fresno-based Business Journal.
Here's what some other folks are saying:
This splendidly clear and concise introduction to the craft should be a foundation of every students apprenticeshipand for those who missed it, a tool kit for a salutary retrofit later. How much more quickly and pleasantly we would discover truth if everyone followed these simple precepts!
Amory B. Lovins
Co-CEO (Research), Rocky Mountain Institute
This gem of a book should be required reading for anyone who analyzes information and that means everyone! Turning Numbers into Knowledge teaches readers to be critical of everything they hear, see, and read, thus making them more effective scientists, social scientists, and citizens.
Professor Richard F. Hirsh
Department of History and Science &
Technology Studies,Virginia Tech
Author of Power Loss:
The Origins of Deregulation and Restructuring
in the American Electric Utility System
All decision-makers need to read this book. It explains, in clear and useful terms, how to use the ever-growing flow of data in our society. But thats only the start. Turning Numbers into Knowledge will help the reader become a better thinker, and it is a rare book that can make that claim.
Turning Numbers into Knowledge is a terrific resource for students, and an essential aid for researchers, from undergraduates on up. Dr. Koomeys book will be required reading for my next research seminar.
Professor Eban Goodstein
Department of Economics, Lewis and Clark College
Author of The Trade-Off Myth:
Fact and Fiction About Jobs and the Environment
I like this book! Both practical and philosophical, Koomeys work gives readers the skills to extract, communicate, and most importantly to understand knowledge embodied in numbers.
Eric Bergman, Ph.D.
Editor of Information Appliances and Beyond
Dr. Koomeys book is a practical and powerful tool that addresses a critically important topic. It is exemplary for its clarity and accessibility.
History and Economics Instructor
The Colorado Springs School
Turning Numbers Into Knowledge is the best guide to practical problem solving that I have ever read.
Turning Numbers Into Knowledge is a godsend to analysts everywhere. It is the single best resource I have encountered on the practice of data analysis in the real world.
As information becomes ever cheaper, Dr. Koomeys book becomes ever more valuable. Masterful!
Professor Erik Brynjolfsson
Sloan School of Management, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Center for E-Business @ MIT
Co-editor, Understanding the Digital Economy
Dr. Koomey has produced an absolute home run! A witty, incisive primer on critical analytical thinking. Required reading for business analysts, planners, and strategistscritical insight for players in the Internet economy.
President and CEO
Here at last is the definitive guide for beating information overload and responding to the current anti-science, anti-environment backlash. This remarkable book will empower both professionals and neophytes.
Professor John Harte
Energy and Resources Group, University of California, Berkeley
Author of Consider a Spherical Cow:
A Course in Environmental Problem Solving
The greatest challenge facing educators, institutions, and businesses is the inculcation of rigor and fact-based analysis into the psyches of future leaders. Turning Numbers Into Knowledge is the tool for organizations to accomplish this essential task.
Founder, Therasense, Inc.
Through its excellent theoretical and practical insights, this book shows how to become a superb analyst. Read it!
Professor Lene Sørensen
Center for Tele-Information,
Technical University of Denmark
I thought I was good at crunching numbers until I read Turning Numbers Into Knowledge. Its a great tool for improving your own use of numbers AND for seeing through the smoke screens of others.
Lee Schipper, Ph.D.
International Energy Agency
Turning Numbers Into Knowledge is an insightful, entertaining, and practical guide to critical thinking in the Information Age.
Professor Stephen J. DeCanio
Department of Economics,
University of California, Santa Barbara
Knowing what numbers really have to say in todays data-intensive world is knowing the difference between fact, fiction, and the yet unknownand key for personal and professional success. Turning Numbers into Knowledge is a must read!
Kathleen Hogan, Ph.D.
Director, Climate Protection Division
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Turning Numbers into Knowledge is the long-awaited Rosetta stone between two worlds: that of the undergraduate student aspiring to make a difference in the world, and that of the professional policy analyst working to makeof it. It will enlighten and empower a whole generation of students who want to change policy and need to know how.
Professor Michael Maniates
of Political Science and
Environmental Science, Allegheny College
Barbara Barkovich, Ph.D.
Barkovich and Yap, Inc., Consultants
Using numbers to describe the world is an art that takes understanding, skill, and courage. This book supplies the artist with perspective and the practitioner with reliable equipment Kim Taylor, Ph.D.
Kim Taylor, Ph.D.
Research Program Manager
U.S. Geological Service
We all have skills in evaluating word statements and in creating sensible word statements of our own. Imagine having such skills with numerical assertions! With clear, succinct and practical advice, Koomey shows how to do it.
Professor Marc Ross
Department of Physics
University of Michigan
This outstanding book teaches the tricks of the analytical trade. Theres no better guide to learning how to use numbers to understand the world.
Commissioner, California Energy Commission
Professor of Physics Emeritus,
University of California, Berkeley
Turning Numbers Into Knowledge contributes to the advancement of technical communication, without which knowledge is useless. It provides insight into breakdowns in both expression and interpretation, and offers tangible tools and techniques for identifying, correcting, and avoiding such breakdowns.
Dianne Hawk, Ph.D.
Barkovich and Yap, Inc., Consultants
Turning Numbers Into Knowledge deals with the fundamentals of analysis, research, and problem solving, not with their fashionable technical adornments. It is a tremendous resource for anyone wanting to critically review anything from technical studies to everyday rhetorical argument.
The adjectives that came to my mind as I read Turning Numbers Into Knowledge were, Engaging, comprehensive, down-to-Earth, well-researched, well-written, well-planned, well-documented, creative, helpful, entertaining, filled with useful resource material, user-friendly, personal, witty, and wise.
Whereas I had anticipated a ponderous technical tract, Turning Numbers Into Knowledge entertainingly deals with problem solving and analysis in its broadest context, including the often-ignored yet critical human elements. Because of its breadth, I can scarcely think of any scientist, social scientist, student, researcher, writer, or policy analyst who could not benefit from this book. Its lessons are brought home with cleverly chosen anecdotes and lucid examples. The reader is rewarded frequently with wonderful quotations and great cartoons.
What Koomey says about use of the Internet, web sites, and information dissemination over the Internet also has valuable implications for modern administrators, project managers, and executive directors whose organizational management responsibilities increasingly include management and dissemination of information.
As with other classics, I expect Turning Numbers Into Knowledge to be in print for a long time and would not be surprised to see students a generation from now relying on a future edition. Jon Koomey is a hard worker, clear thinker, and has produced an extraordinarily useful book that will help the practitioners of science, research, policy analysis, and journalism in the pursuit of truth.
John J. Berger, Ph.D.
Principal, John J. Berger and Associates
Author of Beating the Heat: Why and How we Must Combat Global Warming
This clear and readable book teaches the thinking skills needed to create informed public policies. As a legislator, I'm reminded daily of the pressing need for more widespread application of these skills to government decision making.
Martyn Evans MP
Member of Science & Innovation Committee
House of Representatives
If you would like to receive a review copy, contact us and mention the address to which you'd like the book to be sent and the publication where the review would appear (or the course and university where the book might be used).
For more details to incorporate into your review, you can download and read the August 2001 news release announcing the publication of the book (PDF, 48k, or Word 98, 1.1 MB), and download a graphics image of the front cover (TIF, 1.6 MB).