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How to Lie with Statistics (Penguin Business) [Paperback]

Darrell Huff
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

12 Dec 1991 Penguin Business
This book introduces the reader to the niceties of samples (random or stratified random), averages (mean, median or modal), errors (probable, standard or unintentional), graphs, indexes and other tools of democratic persuasion.

Frequently Bought Together

How to Lie with Statistics (Penguin Business) + Statistics without Tears: An Introduction for Non-Mathematicians (Penguin Science)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (12 Dec 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140136290
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140136296
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 12.5 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 26,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


A pleasantly subversive little book, Guaranteed to undermine your faith in the almighty statistic.

About the Author

Darrell Huff (1913-2001) was a professional writer. He lived in Carmel, California.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
"THE AVERAGE Yaleman, Class of '24," Time magazine noted once, commenting on something in the New York Sun, "makes $25,111 a year." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable basic primer on how not to use numbers 27 July 2006
By Marshall Lord TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This excellent book is something very unusual.

First, it's about numbers but manages to be both extremely easy to read and very entertaining.

Secondly, although it is so accessible that a ten-year old of average intelligence should be able to understand everything in this book, the points it makes are so universal in application that even someone with much greater mathematical knowledge - and I write this as a graduate with two degrees in a discipline which requires statistical understanding - can find it full of useful reminders and even the odd valuable idea you might not have thought of or heard of.

The book is about how numbers can be manipulated, by accident or design, to trick people into making false conclusions, and how to spot when you are being fed misleading numbers. In this day and age the ability to spot bad statistics is extremely important to everyone and can literally be a life-saver.

I was very surprised indeed to see that a previous reviewer had described this book as "not for everyone." I could not disagree more strongly.

If every voter read this book, fewer bad politicians would be elected on the basis of dishonest campaign statistics, if every consumer read it, fewer bad products would be sold on the basis of dishonest advertising statistics, and if every journalist read it there might be less harm done by scare stories based on bad statistics.

Despite the fact that this book was written many years ago, every single word in it is still very relevant today.

However, anyone with a serious interest in the subject who wants an update on some of the more recent examples of how statistics are misused should still start by reading "How to Lie with Statistics" and then follow up with the equally good "Damn Lies and Statistics" by Joel Best, which is more current and nearly as accessible. The two books complement each other very well.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read, but detailed and enlightening. 10 Feb 2005
I first read this book when I was about 12, and re-read it now that I'm in my 20s, and am amazed by how good it is. It's got the complexity of a textbook, but the writer has no pretensions and has managed to get the information across in a way so simple a child can easily read the book and understand some of his lessons and examples.
There are plenty of lessons about how we should interpret the numbers we come across every day in adverts and (potentialy biased) news reports and there is nobody living in the developed world who can't benefit from the enlightenment that this brings.
The only disappointing aspect of this book is that it's so short, an accomplished reader with some knowledge of statistics could get through the book in a single (if lengthy) sitting.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A primer for critical thinking 17 July 2002
By LBatik
While anyone who has dealt with statistics in a professional capacity is probably familiar with the contents already, it is still a handy little reference. And for anyone in an introductory course of study or who is simply concerned enough to wonder about the truth of what they read, this is absolutely invaluable.
It is not a long book, and some of the examples are dated (physicians recommending brands of tobacco, for instance), but the meat of the book is both accurate and extremely readable. It covers the ways that statistics can be made to show pretty much anything, both through deliberate manipulation and through simple sloppiness. The main chapters cover issues such as inadequate and biased samples, how to provide subtly and not-so-subtly misleading (though technically accurate) visual charts and representations, how to manipulate perception by eliminating inconvenient precision and adding spurious precision, how to manipulate perception by supplying numbers without context or by simply leaving inconvenient facts out, and how to confuse people thoroughly about correlation vs. cause-and-effect. The final chapter provides a nice summary: the questions you absolutely must ask about any figure you are presented with, in order to judge its worth.
As the author himself says, it may read something like a graduate text on dishonesty, but one can assume that people who deliberately wish to mislead have figured out how already; this is to educate the honest person who wishes to be alert. It is frequently used as a text in undergraduate statistics courses, for good reason.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare, truly memorable classic 22 April 2004
The worst part of this book is the cover - it nearly stopped myundergraduate son from reading it! I had remembered it from my ownundergrad days. I bought it to re-read on holiday - yes, it IS that easyto read - and my son sneered as he walked by.
So I engaged him in debate, using one of the examples from the book. Badmistake. I didn't see the book again for the next two days; it's slim butvery thought provoking so he'd read a bit and come and argue with me aboutit. He nearly damn stole the book at the end of our break.
Everyone should read this book in young adulthood.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I first bought this book in 1977 when I was doing an Open University course. It is still as useful now as it was then. Anyone concerned at the spin and lies that gush from our friends in the government should possess this book. An approachable and essential guide to bulls**t detection.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best short introduction to statistics 11 Nov 2003
Don't be put off by the catchy title. This engaging short book will help you to see your way through graphs and understand how to manipulate numbers appropriately - and it will do it easily, without losing you in mathematical complications. I loved this book when I first read it at school, still loved it through my maths degree, and now that I've forgotten all my maths I go back to it occasionally to refresh myself.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Simplified, basic and outdated.
The book gives a basic outline of how statistics in especially commercials are made, through examples from what the author finds around him. Read more
Published 13 days ago by Nils Toudal
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
This little book is really useful to familiarise yourself with statistics and how they work. Written in user friendly language it does not set out to impress just give clear... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nita Cuff
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on statistics
This book is a great eye opener. Even though I had a good knowledge of statistics before reading this book. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Christopher Ejugbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent for statistics!!
This book gives you a great insight on statistics and how it's easy to be manipulated. The book gave real life situations and examples.
Published 11 months ago by C L COBERLY VAN DER HEYDEN
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
I first read this in my teens (I'm now seventy). It was well worth buying this new copy. Makes you think! Great even for those not keen on maths.
Published 12 months ago by Mrs Julia Harrold
4.0 out of 5 stars alright
decent to read and quite funny but not particularly helpful (it was recommended by my university lecturer to help with my statistics module)
Published 14 months ago by domsheep
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read - don't believe the stats you see - ask
Politicians, marketeers and pundits all try to fool us with numbers. It must be right if you have a graph or some numbers that back it up, right? Read more
Published 14 months ago by Darren H.
5.0 out of 5 stars well written book
how to lie with statistics is a great book and even though it was recommence by the OU for studying it is actually a very good read
Published 14 months ago by Mr. Neil H. Mortimore
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book
I suggest this book to anyone and everyone.

As has been suggested its out of date but the information within is still in practice today and still gives insight into the... Read more
Published 14 months ago by MunKy
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny guide to statistics
I found this a interesting and quite funny guide to statistics. Glad to have this on my desk as I do reports and stats for a living.
Published 15 months ago by wes
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