Archive for November 18, 2008

How to Lie With Statistics


How to Lie With Statistics is a nifty little book written back in 1954. Anyone who is exposed to advertising, reads the news, votes in elections or is affected by corporate operations should read this book. If you have an interest in issues like breed-specific legislation, mandatory spay / neuter or pet limit laws – you MUST read the book.

Author Darrell Huff teaches you how to lie (or better yet, how to recognize a lie) with built-in sample bias, well-chosen averages, small data sets, truncated charts, creative scaling, manipulation of proportions and good-old fashioned sleight of hand post hoc and straw man fallacies. At only 142 pages and liberally peppered with cartoons, jokes and case histories – it’s a simple and amusing read — and Huff’s ideas are as relevant today as they were a half-century ago.

We have come to rely too much on a main-stream media that is blatantly biased and shamelessly sensationalistic — and misrepresentation the creative use of statistics is one of the main tools that the media uses to spread its propaganda message. Educate yourself on how to recognize these lies — and how to take them apart and expose their weaknesses to others. As Joseph Pulitzer said “A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will in time produce a people as base as itself.”  Well… if we’re all doomed to be cynical mercenaries, we should at least take the time to be well-educated ones.


...or Pulitzer Prize winning journalism


November 18, 2008 at 7:03 pm 5 comments

Because A Dog’s Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste


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November 2008