How to Lie With Statistics

Huff, Darrell
Publisher:  W.W. Norton, New York, USA
Year Published:  1954  
Pages:  142pp  
Dewey:  310H922
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX6326

Illustrates how statistics are misused and misunderstood.

Abstract:  This humorously written work explores ways in which statistics are used to manipulate and deceive public opinion. Huff uses examples to illustrate each of the manipulation techniques used by various companies and professionals. The chapters cover various types of statistical research, such as poll collection and how results can be twisted to appear fair and honest, but are actually twisted to represent a very small sample that is biased towards the educated upper class.

Huff delves into the misuse of the word average, and how it is distorted by those who present certain figures as averages, and carelessly misunderstood by the general public. There is also lengthy discussion on blowing small mathematically demonstrable differences out of proportion in order to promote something, despite the figure being too insignificant and minute to matter.

The use of graphs and pictures is deconstructed to show how the editing and size work in creating visually distorted impressions. Following from this, Huff discusses how certain data may be completely irrelevant to what it is meant to represent. The forging of a cause and effect relationship between two separate occurrences or trends are analysed to highlight the misleading nature of such a practice. The book ends with a chapter providing the reader with guidelines on how to avoid adopting false impressions because of statistical manipulation.

[Abstract by Sara Jaffri]

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