'Bill Gates walks into a bar,' a middle class parable

Charles Wheelan

This isn't the start of a joke. It's part of Charles Wheelan's engaging parable for what's happening to the American middle class.

To us, actually.

That's Wheelan, who teaches public policy and economics at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., on the left.

Listen to our recent conversation. In it, he explains how Gates dropping by for a drink boosts the average income for everyone in the bar, but it doesn't really make the other patrons any richer.

It's from his new book, Naked Statistics, Stripping the Dread from the Data (W.W. Norton & Co., $26.95).

Wheelan provides a surprisingly readable take on how statistical analysis can be used to solve life's most vexing problems, from avoiding cancer to picking the right door on Let's Make A Deal.

Click here to read a transcript of my conversation with Charles Wheelan.