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Double-Lie

Last week, Darrell Huff's classic text How to Lie with Statistics was reviewed. Other books have been published on that same issue, but not with the same appeal or impact.

Though they have pre-1980 copyrights, you probably can find these other resourses in a library, on a dusty shelf in a used book store, or via an internet search. The texts I have used the most are:

  • W.J. Reichmann's Use and Abuse of Statistics (Oxford Univ.Press, 1961; Penguin, 1970) is a broad overview from a British pespective, more comprehensive than Huff but not as fun to read.
  • Stephen Campbell's Flaws and Fallacies in Statistical Thinking (Prentice-Hall, 1974) is at a higher level mathematically than Huff, while providing the same mixture of humor and real-life examples.
  • Gregory Kimble's How to Use (and misuse) Statistics (Prentice-Hall, 1978) includes more of the mathematics in his explanations, but addresses the same issues as Huff. Note: Amazon has a used copy for 3 cents!
  • David Newton's The Use and Misuse of Statistics (J. Weston Walch, 1973) offers more of the same, complete with loads of newspaper clippings.
  • Richard Runyan's How Numbers Lie (Lewis Pub., 1981) complements Huff by discussing things such as political polls, computer crime, government statistics, and educational testing.
Even other books exist on this topic but I have not seen them. The three on my list-to-find are Best's Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists (Univ. of CA Press, 2001), Hooke's How to Tell the Liars from the Statisticians (Marcel Decker, 1983) and Jaffe & Spirers' Misused Statistics (Marcel Decker, 1987). No rush though, as they all seem to say about the same thing as Huff...so if you find Huff or any one of the texts mentioned above, that should suffice.