How to Lie with Statistics, a Book Review
Mark Twain is reputed to have said: "There are
lies, damned lies and statistics.", which is a lie in and
of itself, and is actually attributed to Disraeli in the front cover
of the book How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff (Norton),
is essential to any programmer survival kit, because
misleading color graphics are everywhere.
The author teaches you how to talk back
to a statistic.
This brief, humorous, and
entertaining book "is a sort of primer
in the ways to use statistics to deceive....the
crooks already know these tricks. Honest men must learn
them in self-defense." The author shows how to take a graph and
make it say anything you want.
But suppose you wish to win an argument, shock a reader, move him
into action, sell him something. For that, this chart lacks schmaltz.
Chop off the bottom. Now that's more like it ....The figures are the
same and so is the curve ....nothing has been falsified - except the
impression that it gives ... a line that has climbed halfway up the
chart, all because most of the chart isn't there any more ....Why
stop with truncating? Simply change the proportion between the
ordinate and the abscissa ....That is impressive isn't it.