38 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Invaluable basic primer on how not to use numbers,
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This review is from: How to Lie with Statistics (Penguin Business) (Paperback)
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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Initial post: 9 May 2013 12:27:33 BDT
Anyone who relished this book should also try the equally relevant, and very engagingly written, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which explains the way "compliance professionals" - that's everyone from advertising comapnies and car salesmen to health education boards - use our innate psychology to get us to do what they want. And it's funny, too!
In reply to an earlier post on 19 Oct 2013 20:09:29 BDT
Marshall Lord says:
Thanks for that - I shall look it up.
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