- 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: 446 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,343 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
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! :)
Before you watch any newscast, or listen to any advertisement, or let any salesman give you a nice sales pitch full of statistics, charts and graphs, you should read this little, fast read, entertaining book.
I bought this paperback to make sure I always have a copy, even when my 51 year old hardbound dies. I want my grandchildren to read it. It is so easy to convince the il-informed using statistics... it is so easy to lie. This book lets you see right through the lies that are presented to you every day in the news, in ads, by salesmen, and even by friends. Worth every penny.
For those who have fleetingly or never studied statistics, this is a good place to start. It is a quick and easily understandable read, written in plain English and with plenty of examples to prove the author's points. Personally, I have studied statistics (use and misuse) in various jobs, and have seen the positive as well as the detrimental aspects. Even with my background, I still found items of interest and was able to correlate some of Mr. Huff's thoughts to present day use.
The author's final chapter goes further than the explanations of the previous pages and outlines what the average person can do to avoid being fooled by deceptive statistics. The entire book is fun to read and informative. Four stars.