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How to Lie with Statistics
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How to Lie with Statistics

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  3,333 ratings  ·  400 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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Riku Sayuj

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
Eric Phetteplace
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
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
I'm just going to quote the 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

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
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
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
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
John Hibbs
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
Jan 15, 2012 Erin rated it 1 of 5 stars
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
Dennis Cassidy
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.
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
This is a small classic – very funny – introduction to statistics (illustrated).
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
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
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
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
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
The Tick
Nicely snarky. I also really enjoyed how outdated it was. (Not sarcasm.) I wish there had been more new information in there, though--despite never having taken any kind of stats class or even read any other books about it, most of this really wasn't new information.
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
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 :)
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
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
Karen Mardahl
Marvelous little book. It's from 1954 and some things are obviously dated. That makes some things, like mentions of prices, very funny. However, his points are timeless.
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
I think that the premise of this book is really important. Huff explains statistics and ways that they can be stretched for advertising or other purposes. However, he writes in such an arrogant and demeaning fashion I found myself hating him more with every page instead of taking notes on the importance of investigating statistical claims.

There have got to be better ways to learn this subject than to read this book. If I hadn't have had to read it for grad school, I would have stopped after the
Het was denk ik fijne collega Jan die mij er op wees dat Bill GatesHow to Lie with Statistics aanraadde.Een klassieker, uiteraard. En natuurlijk had ik het al gelezen, meer nog: ik heb een oude vierdehandse papieren versie in huis.

Gekocht op een markt ergens, ettelijke jaren nadat ik het ontdekt had tijdens een vakantiejob in de bibliotheek van het Europacollege, waar het gezellig in de afdeling Economie stond, tussen de lijvige boekwerken over econometrie en anderedingen waar mij het zweet van
Filip Ligmajer
page 5 | location 67-70 | Added on Saturday, 15 March 2014 22:47:01

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
Alex Helander
This book is rather quite simple and a quick read. The author explores how organizations lie with and misuse statistics. He points out flaws in common statistics given by advertisements and other groups, and gives readers tips on how to identify these bad stats. He also does it in a simple way so anybody can understand and it is also accompanied by very nice illustrations ( I know that sounds childish but it adds to the simplicity and gives the book a lighthearted, friendly tone. Also, at some p ...more
"How to Lie with Statistics" has had incredible resilience for a book written over 60 years ago. The book remains accessible and potent. This is partially because the book tackles the fundamentals of statistics, which really haven't changed in 60 years. "How to Lie with Statistics" purpose of teaching how to warp perceptions and dupe consumers with statistics(really how not to be duped) has only grown in relevance as now there are many more avenues for communication and highly likely a much high ...more
Ajay Menon
The writing is kind of severely dated, but it's a nonetheless excellent primer on how people abuse statistics for their benefit.
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“a difference is a difference only if it makes a difference.” 3 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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