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# How to Lie with Statistics

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, 144 pages

Published
September 1st 1982
by W. W. Norton & Company
(first published 1954)

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## Community Reviews

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**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 remini ...more

Sep 10, 2011
Eric Phetteplace
rated it
5 of 5 stars

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

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

"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

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

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

Jul 31, 2014
Nate Capone
rated it
4 of 5 stars

Shelves:
do-not-own,
2012,
non-fiction,
science,
economics-stocks-business,
classics,
math,
favorites

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

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

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

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

*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

This is easily read and easy to understand. I have never had statistics in school and I am trying to make up for that. This is perfect. There is a lot of sensible wisdom that any responsible citizen can benefit from. You use this when reading the newspaper, advertisements, news from the government, etc., etc. A friend lent me thi ...more

The secret language of statistics, so appealing in a fact-minded culture, is employed to sensationalize, inflate, confuse, and oversimplify. Statistical methods and statistical terms are necessary in reporting the mass data of social and economic trends, business conditions, “opinion” polls, the census. But without writers who use the words with honesty and understanding and readers who know what they mean, the result can only be ...more

May 16, 2014
Jameel Hijazeen
rated it
5 of 5 stars

Recommends it for:
Doctors

Recommended to Jameel by:
No one

You could have read or heard Benjamin Disraeli's quote: “There are three types of lies -- lies, damn lies, and statistics.” (https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/4173...). I came across it many times before reading this book. I only thought that people could lie with statistics because it is very complex. But how? Only after reading this book I understood the meaning of this statement fully. I knew how easy can people lie with statistics. Moreover, I came to understand how to question statistics and
...more

The examples are dated, of course, and some watch outs, such as survivorship bias, are missing, but I still highly recommend this book as a great primer for those without much background in statistics and a quick ...more

Jul 07, 2014
Stephan Renkens
rated it
4 of 5 stars
·
review of another edition

Shelves:
marketing,
management

While Excel and Powerpoint made it only worse, people have always been easily cheated by data and graphs. This is well illustrated by Huff's booklet, that got not outdated at all since it was written more than sixty years ago.

Also then people were apparently struggling with making unbiased samples or getting lost in and (and cheated by) mixing up mean, median and mode. While a figure indeed can say more than a thousand words, Daniël Huff shows the good old and still valid techniques to blur the ...more

Also then people were apparently struggling with making unbiased samples or getting lost in and (and cheated by) mixing up mean, median and mode. While a figure indeed can say more than a thousand words, Daniël Huff shows the good old and still valid techniques to blur the ...more

A revelation that could bring the common man out of mass media's misguiding bluffs. Illustrations and case reports are hilarious. A must read for every man, the scientist and the layman alike. An eye opener (especially for people reviewing articles from medical journals). Concise and precise.

Cons:

Difficult to comprehend in some places. Could have used simpler sentences instead of complicated, hard to follow technical sentences. Some of the cases were little too obvious. One might have to r ...more

Despite being published six decades ago and drawing examples from dated topics, (the health risks/benefits of cigarettes seems to have been the hip controversy of the day), this concise primer on how to deceive with numbers remains more relevant than ever in the internet age of copy-and-paste Google scholars.

Everyone would benefit from studying the concepts discussed, such as the unqualified “average” (is the statisti ...more

I learned fairly early on in my studies that math can be one of the most creative subjects. Like all forms of creativity, it can be used for many things: an illustration of truth, a work of beauty, a bold statement... or a cover up for something trashy which makes it momentarily presentable. This book deals with that last kind of math, specifically how statistics can be used (intentionally or not) to mislead an audience to a false conclusion.

Giv ...more

- Old, so it uses outdated terms and examples that can be confusing and sometimes insulting - I didn't understand a couple of examples at all

- The use of maths is confusing - it says everything in word form instead of equations, which doesn't particularly help those with troubl ...more

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“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.”
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