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How to Lie with Statistics

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3.87  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,616 Ratings  ·  528 Reviews
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.
Paperback, 142 pages
Published September 1st 1982 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1954)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Riku Sayuj
Apr 30, 2014 Riku Sayuj rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, r-r-rs

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics: The Pirates of the Powerpoint

Darrell Huff uses a simple, but effective literary device to impress his readers about how much statistics affect their daily lives and their understanding of the world.

He does this by pretending that the book is a sort of primer in ways to use statistics to deceive, like a manual for swindlers, or better, for pirates. He then pretends to justify the crookedness of the book in the manner of the retired burglar whose published remin
...more
Eric Phetteplace
Sep 10, 2011 Eric Phetteplace rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who don't want to be ignoramuses their whole lives
Shelves: lis-web
This is one of those rare books I would recommend to almost anyone. It's clear, concise, funny, not too complex, and above all important for anyone who wants to understand politics, economics, science, or life in general. Statistical analysis is so vital to determining how things actually stand and where we should be moving that people lacking awareness of basic logical/statistical fallacies are doomed to live within delusions. Being informed necessitates understanding and being skeptical of sta ...more
Seth
Jun 05, 2008 Seth rated it it was amazing
Yes, it has all the stuff you hear about: how people use stats to subtly (and not-so-subtly) misdirect the reader/listener, how to systematically recognize (or create) misinterpretations, and a strong implicit call to action for clearer information in public discourse.

But in the billion years since this classic came of age, we've all learned that other ways, some of them better presented. When it was written, many people believed the information they received in the papers, in magazines, and on
...more
Fiver
Nov 10, 2009 Fiver rated it really liked it

It seems a little shallow to rate this semi-pamphlet at four stars, as one of the must-read books, but that's exactly what I'm going to do.

This book earns four stars from me simply from its concisiveness and practicality. You can churn through this beauty in one sitting. It is entertaining, has excellent examples, introduces concepts in a wry, witty tone, and after ten years of courses, articles, books, and opinions, I have yet to learn a single thing about misleading statistics that wasn't taug
...more
Sebah Al-Ali
Mar 15, 2010 Sebah Al-Ali rated it liked it
أحب الرياضيات و تستهويني الأرقام ، لكن علم الإحصاء كان حاجزا لم أكن أستطيع تجاوزه ، و بالأخص ثلاثة مفاهيم (عقدتني) :
mean, mode, & medium
كنت دائما أقرأها في الدراسات التي أطلع عليها دون أن أفهمها أبدا ، و أشتهي لو أني أستطيع توظيفها في أبحاثي التي تعتمد على الأرقام .

فكّ هذا الكتاب عقدتي ! ، أخيرا فهمت ما تعنيه هذه المفاهيم من خلال تخطيط رسمي مبسط (<- بديل منزلي للسكانر العطلانة) ، لم أجده في أي من كتب الإحصاء !. متعة أني أخيرا عرفت معنى هذه المصطلحات تفوق الكثير من المتع !. سعيدة جدا بهذ
...more
Russell
Oct 23, 2007 Russell rated it really liked it
I'm just going to quote the Amazon.com review:

"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 ex
...more
Grace
OK, first off, it isn't normal that I give a math book 5 stars. I often find them dull, boring, and difficult to read. However, How to lie with statistics was as funny as it was informative. Duff does a good job of not only explaining what tricks people use on statistics to twist the facts, but he gives poignant examples that were just as relevant when he wrote this book as they are today. What I found most interesting is how he dissected the "logic" that uses these techniques to explain how the ...more
Mary
Jun 07, 2011 Mary rated it liked it
Recommended by both Jamie S. Z. and my Statistical Foundations professor. Really engaging and common-spoken, eager to make us adroit critical thinkers of statistical information. The main problem, of course, is its age, which enthusiastically describes plush neighborhoods with an average income of $15,000 and the enormous profits of $42 a week. Still, it has the fervor to educate us because, as H.G. Wells once prophesied, "Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizensh ...more
Nate
I still wonder why Trigonometry and Calculus are offered in high school, but Statistics is not. It's such a broad subject that is used in so many fields-even forgetting all of the numbers we read in magazines. I digress.

This book specifically focuses on the facts and figures that we see everyday, pretty much everywhere. I thought it was well written and extremely thorough, going from problems that happen during study collection, to the cherry picking and presentation of data itself. I had to gr
...more
Erin
Jan 15, 2012 Erin rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2012
This book was published in 1954, before Excel, and it hasn't been updated yet it's still being reissued. After reading this, I can only assume that B.E. (Before Excel) statistics were presented more often with illustrations rather than bar graphs and pie charts, which would just be weird now since it's so easy to prepare graphs in Excel. Or maybe the whole point of the book is that if you use illustrations you will be able to confuse your audience with more ease. Either way, I didn't really lear ...more
John Hibbs
May 08, 2011 John Hibbs rated it it was amazing
This book was published in 1954 and some of the examples are dated but the principles it puts forth are still valid today--if not more so than ever--and the material is delivered in clear, concise, and even entertaining anecdotes and illustrations. It is also an easy read that can be easily finished in one day of concentrated effort.

How often do you hear statistics bandied about in the media or used to try to prove some special-interest point? "Of course" the people quoting the figures must be r
...more
Andre Simonsen
Feb 07, 2016 Andre Simonsen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essential
Uma das frases que abrem o livro, de H. G. Wells, diz que "Statistical thinking will one day be as necessary for efficient citizenship as the ability to read and write". ("Pensar estatisticamente um dia será tão necessária para cidadania efetiva quanto a habilidade de ler e escrever").

É possível ir além e afirmar que aprender como estatísticas realmente funcionam e como elas são utilizadas para mentir e avançar as mais diversas agendas é equivalente a realmente aprender a ler.

Um livro essencial
...more
Ali
Jun 03, 2016 Ali rated it really liked it
I was and still fascinated by the power of #statistics as a tool that can present and display data towards reaching a set of defined and accurate conclusions that abide with common sense but this #book #How_to_Lie_with_Statisticswritten byDarrell Huffin 1954 has unvieled something else about the dependepility of this tool. Huff was a journalist who wrote many "how to" articles as a freelancer, but was not a statistician.
#Wikipedia writes the following about the history of this book: "The book is
...more
Jordan
Sep 18, 2015 Jordan rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
While this book was written in the 1950s and therefore includes a wide variety of dated examples, the point is still relevant today. Perhaps, even, the book is more relevant now than when it was first published! The goal of the book is to arm the reader with the skills to read statistics in advertising, the news, and anywhere else with discernment. As the author puts it, he wants to make sure you don't learn "things that aren't so."

The book does an excellent job making statistics accessible, giv
...more
Dennis Cassidy
Sep 24, 2008 Dennis Cassidy rated it it was amazing
ever have the feeling that all 97.2% of statistics are bullshit? that's probably a low estimate. everyone should read this book. bogus statistics (58% of americans believe x) are everywhere. huff systematically destroyed this crap 50 years ago. unfortunately, some of the examples are dated, but you'll get the idea.
Vadim
Dec 12, 2014 Vadim rated it it was ok
В начальной школе нередко снижают оценки по математике, если рядом с результатом вычислений в скобочке не поставлено пояснение, что это за цифра (км\час; руб\кг и т.п.). Книга "How to Lie with Statistics" объясняет, что школьные учителя были правы. Цифры не говорят сами за себя и потому нуждаются в пояснениях. Чтобы полагаться на цифру, следует знать кто ее получил, как именно, и сравнить ее с другими цифрами (сегодняшний показатель со вчерашним, показатель прогноза с показателем вероятной ошибк ...more
Alexandre
Mar 13, 2012 Alexandre rated it really liked it
This is a small classic – very funny – introduction to statistics (illustrated).
Andrew
Feb 01, 2016 Andrew rated it liked it
How to Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff, is a classic book on statistical analysis, and how much of society can alter or utilize stats to create certain impressions, or reach conclusions that are not necessarily true. Mark Twain may have said something about "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" at one point, but Huff explains the basic problems with statistical data as advertisement, and why a consumer or layman should be skeptical every time they view or hear about some new this or that proven ...more
Neveen
Jun 28, 2015 Neveen rated it really liked it
This book caught my eye as one of the recommended books to read by Bill Gates for Ted Talks discussions this year 2015, therefore, I grabbed it.

Although "How to Lie with Statistics" is a bit dated (having been written in the 1950's), the principles it puts forth are still valid today--if not moreso than ever--and the material is delivered in clear, concise, and even entertaining anecdotes and illustrations.

It shows all the little tricks that advertisers and propagandists, government agencies inc
...more
Dorothea
May 18, 2012 Dorothea rated it it was amazing
This book is a brief and charming reminder of how percentages, graphs and charts, and survey results may be used to create an impression not actually indicated by the numbers.

I say "reminder" because I've taken intro-level statistics and encountered these ideas before, but I think that How to Lie with Statistics should be comprehensible to anyone who knows practical arithmetic.

Apart from its subject matter, it's interesting to read this book published in 1954 58 years later to see what sorts of
...more
Maurizio Codogno
Sappiamo tutti, o almeno annuiamo quando ce lo dicono, che alle statistiche si può fare dire quello che si vuole. Spesso questo capita perché siamo noi che vogliamo essere ciechi davanti ai dati che ci vengono propinati: forse per paura dei numeri, o più banalmente perché non vogliamo fare fatica a leggere davvero quello che c'è scritto. Beh, adesso avete molte scuse in meno. Dopo solo cinquantatré anni dall'uscita dell'edizione originale, è stato finalmente tradotto il testo fondamentale di Dar ...more
Pat
Sep 18, 2013 Pat rated it it was amazing
This probably offers me the perfectly inappropriate opportunity to launch into a polemic against mathematics education in the US. I will refrain. However, I must say that if I were designing a statistics course then I would find Huff's book as a perfectly good cornerstone. If I were drafting a list of books to serve as pre-college summer reading requirements, How to Lie with Statistics would be towards the front. In the event that I regrettably had to attend a baby shower, I would be forgoing th ...more
Geneviève
Oct 30, 2014 Geneviève rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Petit livre publié en 1954, relativement simple mais étonnamment juste dans ses analyses. Les exemples sont assez comiques étant donnée l'époque. Les théories dans le livre ont été élaborées et décortiquées de tous les angles depuis 1954 mais reste que le fond reste plutôt valide, et soyons honnête: on est aussi peu intelligent aujourd'hui devant une statistique bien cuisinée et biaisée ou un graphique incohérent que dans les années 50. Comme dirait l'auteur, la statistique c'est à la fois un ar ...more
Keerthana Gopalakrishnan
Sep 30, 2015 Keerthana Gopalakrishnan rated it it was amazing
This is an amusing and extremely short read. Statistics is as much an art as it is a science, he claims. This book gave me an insight into the power of numbers in deception and persuasion. It alerted me to give a second thought into claims backed by stats, the major pitfalls to look for and the fact that even reputed organisations can make conscious and unconscious mistakes. It is empowering to be able to manipulate numbers to further your case depending on what side you're on.

A must read, I'd
...more
Sam
Jul 26, 2009 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: so-serious, college
buku ini pernah direkomendasikan oleh seorang dosen muda pada mata kuliah tingkat akhir jur HI UNPAD, nyarinya mpe blingsatan akhirnya ketemu jg, eh, begitu punya malah dikasi hadiah buku ini jg dari seorang teman.. lupa aq kasi siapa gtu ;p

intinya buku ini membahas soal statistik dan sejumlah kebohongan yang bisa dilahirkan dari susunan angka-angka tersebut... jd inget waktu diskusi dengan adek, kita menyimpulkan memang statistik dibuat agar kita tahu arah dan angka dari sebuah perhitungan, art
...more
Tirath
Jul 10, 2016 Tirath rated it it was amazing
Such a simple and yet extremely thought provoking book.

You may think that you know this topic - and even if you do, you will be surprised at how things can be played around with.

Can be read in under an hour
Fantastic book.

Conclusion: Disbelieve everything :) and invert to understand.
Chrisl
Jul 12, 2015 Chrisl rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1950s, dew001-499, dew500s
After HS, in USAF, I took a couple "extension" classes. One was statistics. During my first 25 years as a library director, in a county where the commissioners required the library to acquire funds via "operating levies," I found that statistics were quite useful in presenting our tax measure to voters. (And some stats, I kept to myself, like 7% of the borrowers accounted for 77% of the circulation. And about 1/3 of the population possessed current library cards.)

Comparing our library statistica
...more
Horia
Jul 09, 2015 Horia rated it really liked it
Brilliant little book that's still valid in today's world. I'll think of this next time I see a Powerpoint chart.
I admit I'm guilty of using some of the methods described in the book, but not to a large extent :)
David
Aug 29, 2011 David rated it it was ok
This book is older than I am, written in 1954, but it is still highly rated and Amazon reviewers said that it is still relevant. The basic principles are true and the way people lied with statistics then is still as popular and prevalent as ever. But the book is not only outdated in its examples (e.g., average per capita income is $5,000, or "is one cigarette really better than the next?"), the conversational style of writing is antiquated. The author sounded like an old TV commercial. The princ ...more
John Esterly
Sep 02, 2014 John Esterly rated it it was ok
I hate to be so negative about a book, but this one is almost unreadable. I diligently read the first two chapters, then paged through the rest. It was written in the 1950s, so much of the data examples are pretty archaic - the Yale Class of '24 and the Roosevelt Election of '36 for example. I tried to give the benefit of the doubt and read for substance, but found that much of the information Huff is passing on is covered in the most basic of statistics classes. Perhaps my background kept this ...more
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“a difference is a difference only if it makes a difference.” 5 likes
“The purely random sample is the only kind that can be examined with confidence by means of statistical theory, but there is one things wrong with it. It is so difficult and expensive to obtain for many uses that sheer cost eliminates it. A more economical substitute, which is almost universally used in such fields as opinion polling and market research, is called stratified random sampling.” 1 likes
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