- 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: 456 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,844 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.”
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I found out about this book after hearing Bill Gates mention it as one of his favorite books of all time.
Author Darrell Huff managed to create a wonderfully light and humorous read while still managing to convey a tremendous amount of information. This relatively short book is practically a quick introduction and handbook for many of the most common means of manipulating statistics. It is down-right amazing how many questionable practices you are able to spot after learning the content in this book. From tooth paste advertisements to election polls, the truly essential skills taught by this book help teach you how to dissect claims, and understand what is behind the marketing twists and biases.
One of the most wonderful aspects of this work, is the ability to convey a tremendous amount of information in a way that any laymen would be able to pick up and understand. The topics covered include: how sampling introduces bias, the various ways of reporting "averages" (mean, median, mode), how advertisers pick and choose among statistics, unreported probable error, manipulation of graphs, irrelevant data, and (of course) correlation vs. causation. One might go so far as to say that this handbook guide is an advertiser's worst nightmare, pointing out the many ways that numbers are used to convince us of incorrect conclusions.
While I certainly wasn't new to statistics, this book brought forth a breadth of information, presented in a fun, light-hearted way, and broken up with amusing illustrations. But, don't let its length or appearances fool you, the things you can learn are extraordinarily useful. I would highly recommend this book to a wide audience, anyone with a passing interest in how numbers are being used to deceive.
'How to lie with Statistics' is an old-fashioned, honest manual (despite its name) on statistical artifices that has withstood the knocks of time and is still as pertinent as it was 60 years ago. The fact that it's a recommended book in some of the undergraduate statistics courses around the world is in itself a grand testimony to its relevance. I strongly recommend this book to those who have a tangential knowledge of statistics and those who work with data day in and day out and feel besotted by all the graphs, trends and averages.