How to Lie With Statistics Book Review

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How to Lie with Statistics Book Summary

The book How to Lie with Statistics written by Darrell Huff shows you how statistics are used to mislead; sometimes unintentionally, other times on purpose. It gives the readers the knowledge necessary to intelligently question and understand the story behind the numbers. In other words, it shows the tricks the crooks use, so that honest men can use this knowledge for self defense.

I think it’s particularly useful for a manager or an executive to read and understand this book, because they are usually presented with a lot of numbers, graphs and charts and are expected to make decisions based on these numbers. People collecting and presenting the numbers to management could employ some of the
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Another interesting concept explained in the book is the semi attached figure: if you can’t prove what you want to prove, demonstrate something else and pretend they are the same thing. When there is a comparison, you should carefully look at what the comparison product or group is. You should also control for all other potential risk factors when studying effects of factors. The most striking example in the book is the claim used by Navy recruiters: It was safer to be in Navy than out of it just by comparing the death rates of Navy personnel and NY citizens, even though these groups are not comparable.

Maybe one of the most common mistakes about statistics is to think that something is a result of something when they are correlated. However, correlation does not imply causation. A very common instance is where neither of the variables have any effect on each other but there is a real correlation. The book presents a great example for this with rum prices and ministers’ salaries. They seem to be correlated and you could decide that one is the cause of the other where in fact the rise in the prices is the real influence for both. Therefore, one should be very careful interpreting results because it is very easy to show a positive correlation between a pair of things.

This books shows that misinforming people by the use of statistical material is quite easy and widely used. Statistics is as much an art as it is a science and a
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