Open Access
August 2005 Lies, Calculations and Constructions: Beyond How to Lie with Statistics
Joel Best
Statist. Sci. 20(3): 210-214 (August 2005). DOI: 10.1214/088342305000000232


Darrell Huff’s How to Lie with Statistics remains the best-known, nontechnical call for critical thinking about statistics. However, drawing a distinction between statistics and lying ignores the process by which statistics are socially constructed. For instance, bad statistics often are disseminated by sincere, albeit innumerate advocates (e.g., inflated estimates for the number of anorexia deaths) or through research findings selectively highlighted to attract media coverage (e.g., a recent study on the extent of bullying). Further, the spread of computers has made the production and dissemination of dubious statistics easier. While critics may agree on the desirability of increasing statistical literacy, it is unclear who might accept this responsibility.


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Joel Best. "Lies, Calculations and Constructions: Beyond How to Lie with Statistics." Statist. Sci. 20 (3) 210 - 214, August 2005.


Published: August 2005
First available in Project Euclid: 24 August 2005

zbMATH: 1100.62530
MathSciNet: MR2188917
Digital Object Identifier: 10.1214/088342305000000232

Keywords: Darrell Huff , social construction , statistical literacy

Rights: Copyright © 2005 Institute of Mathematical Statistics

Vol.20 • No. 3 • August 2005
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