How to Lie with Statistics

17 Oct 1993

by Darrell Huff

Over Half a Million Copies Sold--an Honest-to-Goodness Bestseller Darrell Huff runs the gamut of every popularly used type of statistic, probes such things as the sample study, the tabulation method, the interview technique, or the way the results are derived from the figures, and points up the countless number of dodges which are used to full rather than to inform.

Pages: 144

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company

Overall: 50% of the 233 mentions are positive, 32% are neutral and 18% are negative.

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233 mentions sorted by:
  • You should read this book. It's short; succinct and shows one problem with evidence - your view of the same data set can be skewed through clever manipulation. A few examples are in order. There are many instances in advertising where you want to show the average value of something; say the average weight loss for your new diet pill. "Average 20 pounds lost!" Well; that's quite a trick. What average? They're likely to choose the mean; rather than median; because it is more sensitive to extreme values and would increase the "average" for the same data set. They'll never tell you which average they used. There's a second trick in the example. 20 pounds lost? In what time span? Without specifying; which advertisers generally don't; it's not even clear if the pill is more effective than a proper diet. Another common example of how to skew perception: the choice of axes on graphs. Say the GDP falls from 50;000 to 49;000 per capita for a country. If you choose the axis of the plot to range from 48;500 to 50;500 or so; it'll look like a catastrophic drop. If you choose the axis to range from 0 to 100;000; the drop will look insignificant. If you plot on a logarithmic scale; it might be hard to tell there's even a difference! There are lots more examples. The problem is that data can be manipulated in tricky ways to reach whatever conclusion you want. Peer review in science is a counter-measure to this; which generally doesn't exist in politics.
    1 points in /r/changemyview by noott | 23 May 2017
  • "Your personal anecdotes" - how assholes dismisses your life; your first hand proof; while convincing no one of anything. Dude; the world is FULL of people who drink that have no problem. If you had a problem; it's just that: your fucking problem. Oh; and yes; statistics lie better then anyone. Obviously you don't have much of an education. "There are three kinds of lies: Lies; damned lies; and statistics" - Mark Twain "How to lie with statistics"
    1 points in /r/DunderMifflin by Gyrod | 10 May 2017
  • Reminds me of the fun book; How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff.
    1 points in /r/dataisbeautiful by RespekKnuckles | 09 May 2017
  • I completely agree that taking away one device does not solve a problem. I'd also argue that "solving" depression is a complex issue that won't be as immediately enforceable as a gun policy. So; why not both? Surely there's some good reason for a Republican to back the bill; no? ps; you might really enjoy reading "How to Lie with Statistics" (non affiliate link).
    3 points in /r/Portland by UseWhatName | 02 May 2017
  • > They source the OECD report.

    They source data from OECD and WHO and then do this.

    > Well it's not better than other countries health systems;

    Again based on what metrics?

    > and it cost more

    Is the French system worse then the Sinaporean system because France spends more?

    > I think it's a stretch to say it performs as well as it could.

    No healthcare system performs as well as it could. Even if we could rank efficacy position would be irrelevant from a policy perspective; you still need to improve even if you are ranked first.
    12 points in /r/AskEconomics by he3-1 | 13 Apr 2017

  • Here's a good read for you.
    1 points in /r/AskThe by TellMeTrue22 | 11 Apr 2017
  • I never had a statistics class in college; but back in high school I read a fascinating; skinny little book called How To Lie With Statistics. I read it multiple times and always seemed to find some new angle I missed the previous time. It sure opened my young eyes to how easy it is to mislead people by carefully manipulating how data is presented.
    1 points in /r/The by Rodney_Copperbottom | 09 Apr 2017