Lie With Statistics Huff, Darrell Book Report

Pages: 3 (949 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Education - Mathematics

Perhaps the easiest way to distort survey results is simply to keep taking surveys of populations until the desired result is reached. The reason this result is produced is chance, however, rather than scientifically legitimate findings. The 'well-chosen' average is another example of this, whereby the survey sample is carefully selected to yield a figure desirable to 'prove' the contention of the reporter. Including or not including persons who would distort the average is another statistical lie. The presenter can also select the specific statistic that bests proves his thesis -- the mean, median or mode (the mean is the sum divided by the number of values, the mode is the number that occurs most often in the sample, the median is the 'middle' sampling of all listed numbers). For example, finding the 'average' American salary can produce wildly different results, given the discrepancies that can result between the median and the mean because of the high salaries of the small numbers of persons at the top, and other people who make very low salaries.

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Words are powerful: calling something 'flimsy and cheap' sounds much worse than calling something 'light and economical,' and even the words 'practicing celibacy' can sound ominous, because of the association of the word 'practicing' with something nefarious (Huff 102-103). The language with which statistics are presented can also cause an unwitting reader to believe in them: for example, saying 'it is obvious that the pollution is killing all of the birds, because 100% of persons surveyed said they have not seen a single bird flying this year." (The persons may not have been paying attention, for example, to the birds). More seriously, Huff gives the example of a manager who wants to construct an anti-union survey. The manager collects any and all of the complaints that have arisen about the union, and uses these complaints to 'prove' that no one wants the union on the premises. However, it is very difficult to find an entity with no complaints about it at all, so the conclusion that is arrived at is fundamentally self-serving and misguided because the survey population did not say that it disliked the union (Huff 82).

Book Report on Lie With Statistics Huff, Darrell. Assignment

Huff even derives a word to describe deliberately manipulating the hearts and minds of people with statistics: 'statisticulation' (Huff 102). Ultimately, the book's purpose is to encourage readers to 'talk back' to statistics so they can make rational, rather than irrational decisions. Stopping before buying or believing an advertisement is essential, so you can ask yourself, "is this believable' and 'what bias might the writer have?' Numbers, by virtue of being numbers, are not inherently truthful and relevant. It depends how they are used and a vague survey with little information about how it was conducted or how the 'average' was arrived at is no more accurate than a work of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Lie With Statistics Huff, Darrell" Book Report in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Lie With Statistics Huff, Darrell.  (2011, December 11).  Retrieved November 29, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Lie With Statistics Huff, Darrell."  11 December 2011.  Web.  29 November 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Lie With Statistics Huff, Darrell."  December 11, 2011.  Accessed November 29, 2020.