- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (October 17, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393310728
- ISBN-13: 978-0393310726
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 460 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,825 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Lie with Statistics Reissue Edition
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"There is terror in numbers," writes Darrell Huff in How to Lie with Statistics. And nowhere does this terror translate to blind acceptance of authority more than in the slippery world of averages, correlations, graphs, and trends. Huff sought to break through "the daze that follows the collision of statistics with the human mind" with this slim volume, first published in 1954. The book remains relevant as a wake-up call for people unaccustomed to examining the endless flow of numbers pouring from Wall Street, Madison Avenue, and everywhere else someone has an axe to grind, a point to prove, or a product to sell. "The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify," warns Huff.
Although many of the examples used in the book are charmingly dated, the cautions are timeless. Statistics are rife with opportunities for misuse, from "gee-whiz graphs" that add nonexistent drama to trends, to "results" detached from their method and meaning, to statistics' ultimate bugaboo--faulty cause-and-effect reasoning. Huff's tone is tolerant and amused, but no-nonsense. Like a lecturing father, he expects you to learn something useful from the book, and start applying it every day. Never be a sucker again, he cries!
Even if you can't find a source of demonstrable bias, allow yourself some degree of skepticism about the results as long as there is a possibility of bias somewhere. There always is.
Read How to Lie with Statistics. Whether you encounter statistics at work, at school, or in advertising, you'll remember its simple lessons. Don't be terrorized by numbers, Huff implores. "The fact is that, despite its mathematical base, statistics is as much an art as it is a science." --Therese Littleton
“A hilarious exploration of mathematical mendacity…. Every time you pick it up, what happens? Bang goes another illusion!”
- The New York Times
“In one short take after another, Huff picks apart the ways in which marketers use statistics, charts, graphics and other ways of presenting numbers to baffle and trick the public. The chapter “How to Talk Back to a Statistic” is a brilliant step-by-step guide to figuring out how someone is trying to deceive you with data.”
- Wall Street Journal
“Illustrator and author pool their considerable talents to provide light lively reading and cartoon far which will entertain, really inform, and take the wind out of many an overblown statistical sail.”
- Library Journal
“A pleasantly subversive little book, guaranteed to undermine your faith in the almighty statistic.”
Top customer reviews
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With statistics, we see them everywhere and spewing from people's mouths constantly. But where do they come from and why are they unreliable and in what cases are they unreliable?
Darrell Huff kind of hits all aspects of statistics, and is sure that he hasn't crossed his own lines of creating bias; throughout the book he addresses each side the story. What sides am I referring to? The statistician's point of view, whoever's hands it was transferred to thereafter, the media that project this news to viewers, and the viewers point of view. He does this all with such a sense of reliability, because he never fails to leave out an aspect that would undermine his conclusions.
I found a lot of great information in this book, some that has reinforced my beliefs about statistics and others that have provided me with new views on information. With increasing amounts of information available, and that instant communication that allows us to share information faster, we need people to be reading more books like this so they avoid learning a bunch of value-less information from people who haven't "done their homework."
Sometimes statistical deceit is unintentional, while other times it's deliberate. Huff examines each cases, and attempts to provide understanding to all of his readers as to how we can avoid this and the 5 questions we can ask ourselves when we approach information.
If you've either:
- Wondered about news information and how it's history has influenced citizens (and how it really still applies)
- Needed refreshers on the importance of statistics as well as how to approach them
- Struggled with reading statistics or producing statistics
- Enjoyed being offered alternate perspectives on widely accepted practices like presenting information through statistics
- Curious about where people get their information, and why they're quick to spew statistics like it's true knowledge
THEN READ THIS BOOK! :)
The examples can sometimes feel dated (and numbers have certainly not been updated for inflation), but the content remains easily applicable to the world around us today.
Whether it's from this book or elsewhere, everything discussed in this book is something the general population ought to understand (and a quick glance at the papers will reaffirm the fact that most people don't).